Tag Archives: trains

One of them might be unique

Railroads & Trains logo

Whenever I go out I’m always on the lookout for trains. When I was over in Palm Springs on August 21 with the Pacific Photographic Society, our bus came home via the Salton Sea. I have a few billion pictures of the Salton Sea but across from where our bus stopped, I saw this:

CSX 7679

Union Pacific enginesYou might say, “Meh. A train engine.” and that would be true in a sense. However, to train fanatics like me, it’s interesting. It was the fifth engine on that freight train, trailing four Union Pacific engines. What makes this interesting is that Union Pacific is the largest railroad in the nation, operating 32,000 miles of track, and this was deep into Union Pacific territory. Here is a map of the Union Pacific rail network:

Union Pacific Railroad network

CSX Transportation is the nation’s second largest railroad, operating 21,000 miles of track. Here is a map of its rail network:

CSX Transportation

Notice that it is a pretty good distance from the CSX tracks on the East Coast to Palm Springs, California, on the West Coast.

Although not unheard of, it is somewhat unusual for an engine from one railroad to be found on the tracks of another railroad. If such occurs, it often means that the competitor’s engine has been borrowed short-term or perhaps leased for a extended period.

There are various web sites where we train nuts can track the movement of train engines, and when I went there, I found that CSX 7679 had been built in May 1991 by General Electric. It is GE model C40-8W. You didn’t know train engines had model numbers and years, did you?

The first picture that shows up anywhere is from January 1, 1995, when it was in Huntington, West Virginia. It was seen in Fort Worth, Texas, on February 3, 2006, and then, six months later, back on the East Coast, in Selkirk, New York. It stayed on CSX tracks through June 1, 2017, when it was seen in Hamilton, Ohio. Thence, it disappeared until showing up in Norden, California (a southern suburb of Palm Springs) on February 12, 2018. My picture also was taken in Norden, but on August 21, 2018, pretty much indicating that CSX 7679 is on a long-term lease to the Union Pacific.

Next time you’re waiting for a train, check out those engines. One of them might be unique.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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Out & About — Sunrise, sunset

Out & About

While on my long road trip in late July, I was taking pictures of sunrises and sunsets, posting them to Facebook while never knowing for sure if any one would be my last sunrise or sunset.

Now that I’m home, doing better because I’m finding things to do (including trying to get back to blogging daily and visiting the blogs of all my blogging friends), I can sort through the many pictures I took and share them.

Following are the sunrises and sunsets, their locations, and dates.

Sunrise in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
July 24, 2018
The bridge in the first picture is the London Bridge which was bought by Robert McCulloch of McCulloch Oil for $2.46 million and shipped from London to Lake Havasu City where it was reassembled and opened on October 10, 1971.
Sunrise over London Bridge in Lake Havasu City AZ
Sunrise in Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Mid-morning at Pirate’s Cove Resort in Needles, California.
July 24, 2018
Sunrise at Pirate's Cove Resort in Needles CA

Sunset over the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
July 24, 2018
Sunset near Kingman, Arizona

Sunset in Brigham City, Utah.
July 25, 2018
Sunset in Brigham City, Utah

Sunset on Highway 50 (the loneliest road in America)
between Ely, Nevada, and Sacramento, California.
July 26, 2018
I call the first one “Clouds on Fire.”
Sunset west of Ely, Nevada
Sunrise near Ely, Nevada

Sunrise in Yosemite National Park.
July 29, 2018
The haze is smoke from the Ferguson Fire which started a few days earlier.
Sunrise in Yosemite National Park on July 29, 2018
Sunrise in Yosemite National Park

Sunrise in Panamint Springs, California,
gateway to Death Valley National Park.
July 30, 2018
Sunrise in Panamint Springs, California

These last pictures all were taken on July 31, 2018, in Barstow, California, so I included the time the picture was taken. You’ll understand why I have so many sunset pictures from one night in Barstow once you look at them.

Sunset in Barstow, California.
July 31, 2018, 7:31 p.m.
Sunset in Barstow, California

Sunset from the historic Harvey House in Barstow, California.
July 31, 2018, 7:35 p.m.
(Google or Wikipedia “Harvey House”)
Sunset in Barstow, California

Sunset in Barstow, California.
July 31, 2018, 7:44 p.m.
Sunset in Barstow, California

Sunset in Barstow, California.
July 31, 2018, 7:48 p.m.
Sunset in Barstow, California

Sunset in Barstow, California,
looking east over the historic railroad yard.
July 30, 2018, 7:53 p.m.
Sunset over the railroad yard in Barstow, California

Sunset in Barstow, California,
looking east over the historic railroad yard.
July 31, 2018, 8:01 p.m.
Sunset in Barstow, California

Which one is your favorite?

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Out & About—Who knew pollution could be so beautiful?

Out & About The World

Missouri Pacific LinesMy dad and granddad both worked for the Missouri Pacific Railroad in Texas. Both were Road Foreman of Engines, which means that if an engine was having problems, they would go fix it, regardless of where it was and what hour of the day. Sometimes that meant them getting up in the middle of the night and driving sixty miles to fix an engine that had stalled or broken down somewhere.

My dad committed suicide in the railroad yard northeast of Palestine, Texas. When they found his body, its condition caused the authorities to estimate that he had been dead for three days. Since they found him on January 18, 1961, that would mean that he killed himself on January 15, which is my oldest brother’s birthday. I guess he had such a love of trains that he couldn’t think of any place better to kill himself…. as if there is a good place for that specific task?

When my wise old grandmother adopted me, my granddad actually lived and worked in Taylor, Texas, about 250 miles away. He would come home to Kingsville every Friday, arriving around 10:00 p.m., to spend the weekend with us. It was a joy when he was in town because I often got to ride the trains with him from Kingsville to Bishop, a 10-mile round trip. He originally had worked in the Kingsville repair shops before they closed so he still had lots of contacts around town. Those contacts allowed me to ride in both the engine and the caboose, and resulted in my own lifelong love of trains.

Whenever there’s a railroading event nearby, and there are a lot here in Southern California, I try to get to them. One that I went to earlier this year was northwest of Los Angeles, in the little agricultural community of Fillmore. I think the city still exists simply because everything throughout the year revolves around the historic Fillmore & Western Railway.

In the spring, they have their annual Railroad Days Festival. If you have never been, go. If you have children or grandchildren, take them.

In all the railroading events I have been to in 55 years, Railroad Days Festival was the best. They have more historic rolling stock than I have ever seen in one place, and they give hourly rides on historic diesel engines, cabooses, passenger cars, and steam engines. Take lots of money because the really great rides, like in an engine cab, cost the most. And there are so many different rides—diesel engine, steam engine, caboose—that you’ll want to go on all of them, like I did. It’s really cool.

One of the most popular rides is in the consist pulled by one of their steam engines. I took the ride first to see where it went. Once I knew that, and with hourly rides, I got in my car and went out to the end of the line where I got the following video. Turn the sound up and listen to the huffing and puffing. And the smoke! Who knew that pollution could be so beautiful?

The Fillmore & Western Railway is a tourist railroad operating on former Southern Pacific trackage from Piru through Fillmore and to Santa Paula. The tracks were built in 1887 to move citrus from from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The steam locomotive, #14, is a Baldwin engine built in November 1913 by The Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Videos—One fewer item on the Bucket List

In February 2010 I bought a Canon Rebel T2i DSLR. My whole reason in buying it to replace my Canon Rebel XSi was because the T2i had video. Sadly, though, I was never satisfied with the videos because the autofocus pretty much didn’t work. A Google search indicates that I wasn’t the only one in the world who was dissatisfied.

In late 2015 I replaced the T2i with a T6s because the autofocus was supposed to be vastly improved. Nope. The delay in focusing just wasn’t acceptable.

The shakiness of the videos didn’t make me happy either. Some of the shakiness was the camera’s fault because it weighs 26 ounces. Add a lens that weighs  19 ounces, or one that weighs 69 ounces, and taking videos is not a one-hand event. Even two-hand support gets tiresome, and more shaky,  if the video is longer than about ten seconds.

So this past June I considered buying a dedicated video camera. After a couple of months of research, I settled on the Canon Vixia HF R800. It retails for $299.99. I figured if it didn’t do what I wanted it to do, I could sell it on eBay. Well, it does what I want it to do (and what I wanted my DSLR to do).

The Vixia weighs a whopping 8 ounces. Could 8 ounces do what 95 ounces could not?

The autofocusing is awesome. It has a 32x optical zoom and an 1140x digital zoom. I wasn’t hopeful about the digital zoom because I was familiar with digital zooms on Point & Shoot cameras. Well, the zoom is extraordinarily easy to use and focusing is pretty much instantaneous.

After experimenting by taking videos of the birds, rabbits, and squirrels eating together in my back yard….

….it was time to test it out on the big boys—TRAINS! I wasn’t disappointed.

I took the Vixia to the famous Colton Crossing in Colton, an eastern suburb of Los Angeles. Ever since I discovered the Colton Crossing, I have wanted to get a picture of a Union Pacific train using the Colton Crossing upper tracks—the Flyover—to “fly over” a BNSF train on the lower tracks. Here’s my video of exactly that:

Bucket List has one fewer item on it.

Now I have to learn how to keep my fingers out of the field of view when in wide angle mode. I think I can handle that.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Out & About—How come Santa didn’t bring me a drone?

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Brick is not widely used in Southern California but the Del Mar depot, built in 1910 by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, is a beautiful brick depot located on Coast Boulevard between 15th and 17th streets.

Former Del Mar railroad depot in use from 1910 to 1995.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That depot had been in continuous use from 1910 to 1995. For many of those years it was the only passenger stop between Oceanside and San Diego, a distance of 39 miles. At the time of its closing, it was one of Amtrak’s busiest stations, mainly due to the Del Mar Fairgrounds being nearby. The Fairgrounds host hundreds of events throughout the year, including the San Diego County Fair, the 5th largest fair in the United States.

In the late 1980s, the city of Solana Beach, located two miles north of Del Mar, set about to build a regional transit center. The San Diego Association of Governments voted to close the Del Mar depot due to limited parking, the lack of handicapped access, and the poor logistics of providing for trains, buses, cars, and people. The Del Mar City Council rejected expanding the depot but hoped to keep it in operation as an Amtrak-only station; Amtrak nixed that idea and moved its Del Mar operations to Solana Beach.

Across from the Del Mar depot is one of Southern California’s prime surfing spots, so this area area is highly congested as surfers arrive by foot, bicycle, motorcycle, car, bus, and taxi. No longer do they arrive by train.

The depot now is private property so there is no access to it. I did find a walkway going above it where I got seven pictures to create the panorama show above. The picture below is looking down the tracks where you can see the depot on the right. That’s as close as you’re going to get to a trackside picture without a drone. Hmmmmmmmm. Drone. How come Santa didn’t bring me a drone?

Tracks at the former Del Mar railroad depot, in upper right.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Alone but not lonely

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My dad was in the Air Force from 1950 to 1954, receiving an honorable discharge in December. After his discharge he worked for Missouri Pacific in Texas until his death by self-inflicted gunshot in 1961. Mom moved us to Brigham City UT after his death, which is where her side of the family was from.

Granddad also worked on Missouri Pacific, and the two of them often let me ride on the trains with them, either in the engine or the caboose (my choice!), between Kingsville TX and Bishop TX, a round trip distance of 10 miles. It was just a switch engine switching cars on tracks in rail yards in the two cities, and between them, so track speeds were not high.

The fascination with T&T (Tracks & Trains) had infected me, and northern Utah was a hot bed of activity for the Union Pacific Railroad. I was a fan.the-box-car-children

When I was in first grade in 1961 in Brigham City I read a book published in 1924 titled “The Box-Car Children.” I sooooooo wanted to be a Box-Car Child, and I did everything I could to make it happen, hanging out on the UP line between Brigham City and Ogden. I often walked the tracks down to Ogden and hopped a box car ride back, a round trip of 50 miles. Mom never knew because she was always too drunk. The life of a child with no love or discipline. The life of a box-car child.

The picture below, although taken in San Diego, very much reminded me of a time and a place 56 years ago, a time when one could walk the tracks, stand on the tracks, wait for the trains, no one else around, alone but not lonely…….

Tracks at sunset

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

BNSF Railroad

Have fun while waiting for the train to go by!

Railroads & Trains logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In my little hometown of Kingsville, Texas, the main railroad track ran through the center of town next to the main north-south highway, splitting the town into east and west.

A huge Missouri Pacific Railroad freight yard was at the south end of town, so when long freight trains were being put together, they could block downtown intersections for thirty or more minutes.

Seems it always occurred when one was in a hurry to get to the other side of town for something.

Since my granddad and dad worked for Missouri Pacific, I learned how to have a little fun watching long freight trains, and I’m going to teach you the same thing today.

Each freight car, regardless of what type it is — box car, flat car, tanker car, etc. — usually has at least one date on the car, telling you when the car was new, built, rebuilt, and sometimes even painted:

NEW 10-98

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

BLT 12-03

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

BLT 04-1990, PAINTED 03-2011

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

BLT 10-98

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

NEW 11-80

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The date could be just about anywhere on the car depending on the builder, the rebuilder, or the painter. The next time you and the kids are stopped at some railroad tracks waiting for a long freight train to go by, have some fun! See who can find the oldest car on the tracks.

Of course, I have to leave you with a video from my train chasing this past week with Bryan and Liz Flint. Liz is a long-time blogging buddy that I first met online in 2008. This is a 29-second video of a northbound Amtrak Pacific Surfliner just north of the Old Town Transit Station and passing over the San Diego River.

P.S. If you’re waiting for a passenger train to go by, well darn it, wave at the people on the train. There will be someone like me on the train who will wave back!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Amtrak bridge over San Diego River

View Larger Map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I’m Zoey the Cool Cat,
and I approve this post.Zoey the Cool Cat

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos