Tag Archives: transcontinental railroad

Out & About—Historic trains in Ogden Utah

Out & About The World

Granddad, as well as my dad, worked for Missouri Pacific Railroad, granddad as a Road Foreman of Engines. Dad also was a Road Foreman of Engines but had just been promoted to Vice-President of Missouri Pacific Railroad when he killed himself. They found his body on January 18, 1961, in a railroad box car in a small, isolated railroad siding northeast of Palestine, Texas. They estimated that he had been dead for three days.

After dad’s death, mom moved us from Palestine to northern Utah, first Hyrum, then Wellsville, then Logan, and finally Brigham City. Brigham City is where I became a rail fan. Among other things, I used to skip school and hop the Union Pacific trains, riding in a box car down to Ogden and back. A cool 38-mile round trip. I’m the reason why you don’t see open doors on empty box cars anymore….

In May 1969, when I was 14 years old, I was living in Kingsville, Texas, with my paternal grandparents. They had adopted me 3½ years earlier. May 1969 was the 100th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. I wanted so badly to go back to Utah and help Union Pacific celebrate, but said grandparents would not take me. I was sad. Granted, it was 1,500 miles away, but nevertheless…. Still sad.

My stamp collecting helped me determine that historic events were celebrated every 50 years. I did the calculations and determined that I would be 64 in 2019 when the 150th anniversary rolled around. I had a chance to still be alive, so I put it on my calendar.

Fast forward to May 10, 2019. Guess where I was. Yep. Northern Utah participating in many celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. Two historic steam locomotives were due to be in Ogden, Utah, to help with the celebrations My #1 goal was to get a video of the two locomotives leaving Ogden to go back to the steam shops in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Here’s the video I got:

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Out & About—The Cajon Pass by freight train

Out & About

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.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat