Even before California was admitted to the United States on September 9, 1850, as the thirty-first state, there was great interest in it. After gold was discovered in 1848, starting the California Gold Rush, the population exploded, mostly “immigrants” from the United States. Travel between California and the United States, however, was arduous, time-consuming, and dangerous.
Not until the Transcontinental Railroad was completed from San Francisco to Omaha did travel become reasonably less time-consuming and much less dangerous. The railroads have always been a significant part of the State of California, and although the Eastern railroads are older, their history is no more significant than the California railroads.
Once the Transcontinental Railroad was completed to San Francisco, northern California, people began looking for a way to build a transcontinental railroad into southern California. The competition for the western terminus was between San Diego and Los Angeles. For a while it looked like it would be San Diego when the California Southern Railroad (a subsidiary of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway) built through the Cajon Pass in the early 1880s to connect Barstow and San Diego. Today, however, the Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway use the pass to reach Los Angeles. San Diego is a secondary afterthought.
The interesting Mojave Desert mountain scenery, as well as the many long trains that transit Cajon Pass, make for a fun day of train watching. The video below is a BNSF container train heading east, so the containers mostly likely are fully loaded with cargo from ships docking at the Port of Los Angeles. There are 117 railcars carrying 234 containers. Quite a load up a 2.2 – 3 percent grade. There are two front engines pulling and two rear engines pushing. All four engines have 4,400 horsepower each, for a total of 17,600 horsepower getting these 117 railcars over the Cajon Summit.
With my new high-flying drone and a new-as-of-today 150-600mm lens for my Canon 760D camera, I have plans to return to Cajon Pass for some great pictures and videos, both from the ground and from the sky, to satisfy my thirst for trains in unique places.