Tag Archives: union pacific railroad

SNIPPETS (8-20-18)

Snippets

SNIPPET 1

A short video starring the furry felines at the Friends of Cats from my 2½ hours volunteering on August 19, 2018.

SNIPPET 2

I will be volunteering at Friends of Cats for 2½ hours each day, Sunday through Thursday. Yesterday I spent most of my time letting the FIV cats know that they have not been forgotten. They really enjoyed having me with them. Except this one. I wasn’t fooled. I saw him watching me.

Cat eye

SNIPPET 3

I have a Bachelor of Science in Forest Management from Texas A&M University. So I do, uh, kinda like trees. However, treeless mountains also can be quite beautiful, like these over near Death Valley National Monument in California.

Treeless mountains

SNIPPET 4

Now, along with alternative facts and fake news, we have Rudy Giuliani telling us that “Truth isn’t truth.” Zoey the Cool Cat agrees, I think. Maybe not. Maybe she’s just being sarcastic.

Truth isn't truth!

SNIPPET 5

While volunteering at Friends of Cats for National Clear the Shelters Day on Saturday, I met my first heterochromia cat. Previously all I had seen were pictures. Now I have my own picture.

White cat with heterochromia

Heterochromia can occur in humans and dogs as well as cats. With cats, it occurs mostly in white cats. One eye almost always is blue in humans, dogs, and cats.

SNIPPET 6

When I came home Saturday after 8 hours volunteering for Friends of Cats, I went to hug Zoey the Cool Cat. She smelled me and gave me a look that said, “Dude! You’ve been cheating on me!” A video of many of the little furry ones that I had the pleasure to cheat with on my first day of volunteering

SNIPPET 7

While I was roaming the country a few weeks ago, I made it a point to visit all the great railroad spots, such as the historic California railroad yards in Barstow and Yermo. Here’s a video of a Union Pacific freight train heading west into the Barstow yard. From there it will go either to San Francisco, Los Angeles, or San Diego.

SNIPPET 8

This little guy’s name is Chuckie. He lives at the Friends of Cats shelter in El Cajon, California. He is a finicky eater, preferring only whole chicken from Costco.

Chuckie

SNIPPET 9

Got the official diagnosis Saturday on Zoey the Cool Cat’s blood, poop, and pee analysis. She’s diabetic, although not severe enough to require daily insulin shots. The vet wants to give her a significant change of diet.

Zoey the Cool Cat book

SNIPPET 10

It is often said that you don’t choose a cat, a cat chooses you. I saw that on Saturday while volunteering all day at Friends of Cats shelter in El Cajon, California. It was very moving.

A teen boy came in with his mom. They sat on the floor and were petting cats. A black cat (yeah black cats!) named Ace, a “problem cat” that had been in the shelter for several years, came up to him, flopped on the floor, and proceeded to let the boy rub his tummy and head, and even pick him up. Ace wanted to snuggle and generally told this boy that he was the one. The boy took him home.

Staff was astounded because Ace had never done such before.

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

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Out & About—Here, There & Everywhere

Out & About

Many readers who like my San Diego Historical Landmarks series might think that I have given up on them. Not so. I simply want to do them in order, and I got stuck at #15. Its name is “Conception,” and it’s on the United States Naval Submarine Base at Point Loma. In other words, it’s not accessible to the general public….

….Except for one day each year. Guess which day that is? Yep. Today. “Cabrillo Festival” day. So you know where I’ll be going later today, and I can resume my San Diego Historical Landmarks series. I have no idea what I’ll find there since I have not done any research on #15 year.

Meanwhile…. September has been a very active month for getting Out & About, and I’ll have blog posts on everything as the summer comes to a close and the cold, wet, fall and winter months arrive. To whet your appetite, here’s a sample of some of the places I’ve been.

We’ll start at home with Zoey the Cool Cat. I continue to take care of her every need—boxes, tummy rubs, food, clean litter box, food for the squirrels and rabbits so she can get her daily exercise running from window to window watching them, and what does she do? Turns her back on me.

Zoey the Cool Cat turns her back on me

September 3—Wildlife Corner at our new home

Rabbits & squirrels coexisting

September 9—Queen Califa’s Magical Circle in Kit Carson Park, Escondido

Queen Califa's Magical Circle in Kit Carson Park, Escondido

September 10—Surf Dog Surf-a-thon at Dog Beach in Del Mar

Surf Dog Surf-a-thon at Dog Beach in Del Mar

September 13—San Diego Zoo

Rattlesnake at the San Diego Zoo

September 15—Getting some kicks on Route 66 in Rancho Cucamonga

Overturned tanker on Route 66 in Rancho Cucamonga

September 16—Chili Cook Off & Classic Car Show in Alpine

Pirate Chili at the Chili Cook Off in Alpine

Classic car show in Alpine, California

September 18—Big Border Baby in Tecate

Border Wall baby

September 21—Watching trains in Colton

Union Pacific's West Colton Yard

September 22—MCAS Miramar Air Show in San Diego

MCAS Miramar Air Show in San Diego

September 23—San Diego Bonsai Show

San Diego Bonsai Show

September 23—Wavecrest Woody Meet at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas

Wavecrest Woody Meet at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas

September 24—Cuyamaca Rancho State Park near Julian

Deer in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

September 24—Apple Days in historic Julian

Apple Days in Julian

September 24—Gold mine tours in Julian

Gold mine tour in Julian

September 24—Cool shopping in Julian at The Warm Hearth, The Birdwatcher, and the Julian Jewel Box

The Warm Hearth in Julian, California

Hummingbirds at The Birdwatcher in Julian

Julian Jewel Box in Julian

September 25—Newest visitor to our new home

Praying mantis in Winter Gardens

September 29—San Diego Quilt Show

San Diego Quilt Show

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

 

Out & About—The San Diego & Arizona Railway

Out & About The World

On January 1, 2017, I decided to write a book that combined my love of writing, history, trains, and photography. With a tentative title of “On Time: A Timeline of Railroads in San Diego County,” I’m finding that it keeps me busy and I don’t seem to get bored.

New San Diego Central Library on February 2, 2013Right now it’s just a lot of reading and research. I started in the San Diego Central Library (left) because I found that they have microfilm of the new San Diego newspapers—Herald, Union, Tribune, Union-Tribune—all the way back to 1851, which was 18 years before the completion of the Union Pacific/Central Pacific transcontinental railroad at Promontory, Utah.

Those 18 years in the San Diego newspapers indicate that San Diego was hoping to be what San Francisco became. It never happened because, basically, no one could agree on a good route through the Santa Rosa Mountains and the Colorado Desert from Yuma AZ to San Diego.

Not that people weren’t trying. San Diego & Arizona RailwayEven after the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, people kept trying to build a southern competitor. It looked like it might happen when John D. Spreckels, the owner of the San Diego Union, said that he would build it. And he did. The San Diego & Arizona Railway (SD&A). Also known as “The Impossible Railroad.”

The SD&A’s history is so convoluted (which is why I’m writing this book) that the only thing I can determine for sure at this point is that the SD&A was chartered on December 14, 1906; groundbreaking ceremonies were held on September 7, 1907; and construction was completed on November 15, 1919. Final construction cost was $18 million, three times the original estimate of $6 million.

There are 129 miles. The 11-mile segment through Carrizo Gorge included 17 tunnels stretching 13,385 feet, and 2½ miles of bridges and trestles.

The SD&A was never profitable, mainly because tunnels kept collapsing and trestles were washed away from winter rains. Although there is, to this day, hope for re-opening the line, there are two main problems: First, the cost to repair the damaged tunnels and trestles is estimated at $5.5 million. Second, there are 44 miles of track in Mexico. Yep. Mexico. A hundred years ago there was no border wall and people easily moved back and forth between the two countries.

In today’s world with Twitler as the United States president, I think there is no way anyone anywhere is going to approve a train leaving San Diego, entering Mexico at Tijuana and re-entering the United States at Tecate, 44 miles away. Nope. Ain’t gonna happen. That’s based on my early youth when I was hopping trains between Brigham City and Ogden UT, and Kingsville and Bishop TX.

So, while we’re waiting for Twitler to be impeached, we have to content ourselves with tourist rides on a 5-mile section of the old line courtesy of the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum.

Early in January 2017, I took a driving tour of the SD&A tracks all the way out to Plaster City, a distance of about 90 miles. A month later, a friend who owns a helicopter service took me on a 3-hour flight out to the Santa Rosa Mountains to check out the SD&A railroad from the air. Following are some pictures from both my adventures.

This first picture is near Jacumba Hot Springs and shows the SD&A tracks going under a bridge built in 1932 for old U.S. Highway 80.

SD&A tracks under Old Highway 80

The border wall with Mexico is about one hundred feet away, with a maintenance gate:

Border wall with gate

I walked over to the gate and had about a million Border Patrol and Homeland Security agents descend on me. After talking with me for a few minutes and looking at pictures on my camera, one officer said into his walkie talkie: “Stand down. Local tourist.” Another officer informed me that with a new car with “paper plates” (temporary plates), I’d probably be stopped several times. I was. Six times in 90 miles.

Note that San Diego County already has built its border wall with Mexico, and we had no help from anyone else, not even Mexico. Thus, we’re not going to help other counties build their walls.

This next picture is of a switch engine marked as Carrizo Gorge Railway 1465:

Carrizo Gorge Railway operated the SD&A tracks between Tecate and Plaster City from 1997 to 2012. This locomotive is tied up in court between Carrizo Gorge Railway and the engine’s owners, the East County Dirt Works. It sits at the old depot in downtown Jacumba where a lot of other rolling stock also sits, deteriorating in the hot desert sun.

Tierra Madre Railway

My goal on my driving tour was to make it to Plaster City CA, which is nothing but a gypsum plant for USG. However, USG operates that last remaining commercial narrow gauge railroad in the United States. Standard gauge tracks like you see every day are 4’8½” between the rails. Narrow gauge tracks can be anything narrower than that; the USG narrow gauge tracks are a mere 3′, making the rolling stock somewhat small compared to the big boys. As we flew over Plaster City in the helicopter, I got a picture of USG 112, a narrow gauge locomotive:

USG 112 at Plaster City CA

And the narrow gauge tracks leading from the gypsum quarry to Plaster City in the upper right:

Plaster City narrow gauge tracks

The flight over the Carrizo Gorge where all the tunnels and trestles are was pretty cool. The main sight in Carrizo Gorge is the Goat Canyon Trestle:

At about 180′ high and 630′ long, the Goat Canyon Trestle is the largest wooden trestle in the world. The trestle was built in 1932 when the tunnel, directly in the center behind the trestle, collapsed. At the left is an abandoned hopper car.

It’s pretty neat to see all the trestles from the air, indicating just how desolate and isolated this area is, and how difficult it is to maintain the tracks.

All along the route are abandoned railroad cars. In some cases it’s obvious why they are abandoned:

The Pacific Southwest Railroad Museum in Campo CA uses the old Campo Depot as its headquarters and has a lot of rolling stock that it is restoring. They offer rides on historic trains over about 5 miles of track, although the rains we have had this winter have, again, washed out some tracks, so those train rides are on hold. Here’s Pacific Southwest Railroad Museum from the air:

Pacific Southwest Railway Museum

Map of the San Diego & Arizona Railroad:

Map of the San Diego & Arizona Railroad

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

100006 Old Meets New

New Meets Old

How I Did It

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

One of the things that my new venture Photographic Art will allow me to do is to alter photographs to whatever extent I desire.

Previously with my photographs I endeavored to be true to what I saw.

That meant only that what I saw had to stay, but I could increase the sharpness, add contrast, etc., to make people believe that my beautiful true-to-what-I-saw photograph came from an expensive camera and lens. I could crop, and often did.

I don’t have to abide by the true-to-what-I-saw requirement anymore.

As an example, here’s a great picture of the Union Pacific 844 steam engine meeting a couple of modern Union Pacific diesel locomotives.

Union Pacific 844 steam engine in Southern California, November 2011

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Union Pacific 844 is a 4-8-4 steam locomotive built in 1944. It was the last steam locomotive delivered to Union Pacific and is the only steam locomotive never retired by a major (i.e., Class 1) North American railroad.

I took that picture on November 17, 2011, just south of Palm Springs, California. It’s a beautiful picture, and was ruined only by wires running through the sky, a telephone pole bisecting one of the diesel engines, the man on the ground waving, and an ugly freight car behind the two diesel engines. I tried taking the telephone pole and man out of the picture back in 2011 and was unsuccessful. My Photoshop skills were not up to snuff. I was able to clone the wires out, but if you look real closely you can still see ghosts of where they were.

My Photoshop skills are vastly superior today than they were in November 2011, so this weekend I took the original picture and endeavored to turn it into photographic art.

I very easily removed the wires (much better this time), the telephone pole, the man on the ground waving, and even the ugly freight car behind the two diesel units. No need to crop, so I have two full diesel locomotives in the picture. My finished picture now looks like this:

Old Meets New

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I really like having both diesel units in the picture. Normally I get distressed when people go missing, but in this instance, the waving guy missing doesn’t bother me at all.

After getting a picture that I was happy with, I resorted to all the filters in Photoshop, Photo-Paint, and PaintShop Pro to get photographic art:

100006 Old Meets New

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In a future post this week, I’ll show you how to easily, quickly, and miraculously remove those dastardly wires that seem to ruin so many pictures. All without the benefit of alcohol……………..

Photographic Art

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

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
CA BRE #0145857201 HomeSmartDiamondSmall copy 2

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If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Union Station in Los Angeles

Leave the parking to them!

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Not that it would ever happen to me, but if you live in San Diego and get bored after a few years, we’re fortunate to have Los Angeles just ninety miles up the road. Put San Diego, Los Angeles, and Palm Springs together — all within 100 miles of each other — and you couldn’t possibly be bored in Southern California!

I didn’t have a great appreciation for Los Angeles until recently, mainly because if I’m driving, I want to be driving! Not stuck on a freeway doing 10 mph, something that’s quite common on freeways like Interstate 5 and U.S. Highway 101 going through the heart of Los Angeles. Both freeways need a serious case of widening or, as San Antonio did, building an upper deck.

Last month, though, on National Train Day (May 11), I took Amtrak to Los Angeles and then hopped on the Los Angeles Metro subway to go over to Hollywood. Until then I had not realized that Los Angeles, in 1994, had started building a subway system. And it’s a nice one! In some future posts, I’ll show you just how nice. I might go to Los Angeles more often now that I know I can use the Metro to go to 90% of the places in Los Angeles that interest me.

My first stop on National Train Day was, of course, the historic Union Station:

Los Angeles Union Station

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Union Station in Los Angeles

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Union Station in Los Angeles

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Los Angeles Union Station

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Union Station opened on May 3, 1939, to serve passenger trains from Union Pacific Railroad; Southern Pacific Railroad; and Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad; and commuter trains of the Pacific Electric Railway and Los Angeles Railway. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, it currently serves 60,000 passengers a day.

Union Station in Los Angeles

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Union Station in Los Angeles

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Union Station in Los Angeles

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Union Station in Los Angeles

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Along with passenger trains from Amtrak and Metrolink, Union Station has a separate platform for the Los Angeles Metro subway, and another area for buses, taxis, and bicyclists.

A day pass on the Metro is only $5. That allows you to ride Metro trains all day long, get on and off as you like, and really have some fun. I can highly recommend it as a way to get around the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Sightseeing is so much more fun when you don’t have to try to find a parking place!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The story behind Zoey the Cool Cat

Snippets

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I grew up in the farming and ranching community of Kingsville, Texas, population 23,000 or so. My family, however, were railroaders with Missouri Pacific Railroad until my third oldest uncle bought a ton of land and created his own ranch.

I’ve had every kind of pet you can possibly imagine — Great Horned Owl, Screech Owl family, snakes, pigs, horses, cattle, fish, dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, rats, mice, even a monkey which I eventually had to give up to the San Antonio Zoo.

My favorite pets were always dogs. My first was Bosco, a mutt. Then I had Bougher, a Welsh corghi. Then it was a pair of purebred beagles, Union and Pacific (named after the Union Pacific Railroad). Then Sugar, a chow/besenji mix, and Penny, a long-haired dachshund.

Penny and Sugar

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sugar rode on the back of my motorcyle with me.

Sugar ready to go biking

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I disappeared from College Station, Texas, on April 15, 1993, letting only one friend know what I was doing. He came down from Waco, Texas, and took the two dogs. I took off in my 1989 Ford Mustang GT for who knows where, eventually winding up in San Diego. I never went back to Texas. Midlife crisis, I am here.

I didn’t have any pets from 1993 to 2006. On Thanksgiving Day 2006, a feral black cat came to visit me. I gave her food and milk; she accepted everything and then took off. Nothing like eating and running.

She returned on Christmas Eve. I guess she understood human holidays. I gave her more food and milk; this time she stayed. Jim named her Sophie.

Sophie on fence

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

We tried to make Sophie into an indoor cat. She was happy being inside until the sun went down. Then she would howl and howl until we opened the door to let her out. She’d come back the next morning and scratch on our bedroom window to let us know that she was back and wanted in. Sometimes she’d bring us a gopher, or snake, or rat, or bird………… Typical cat.

On September 19, 2007, in the wee hours of the morning, Sophie was hit and killed by a car. A black cat on a black asphalt road in the black of night. I knew it would happen eventually. A neighborhood lady found her smashed body, removed her nametag, wrapped her in some old towels, and called to tell me what had happened. I went and got Sophie from the side of the road and gave her a proper burial. Unfortunately, I unwrapped the towels to make sure that it was our Sophie. It was, but it was the most gruesome sight I have ever seen. I was devastated.

You can see more pictures of Sophie at her memorial web site.

That afternoon Jim and I went down to the El Cajon Animal Shelter to get a cat……….. an indoor cat. We settled on Zoey, with the name spelled Zoe. We were not able to pick her up until 24 hours later. I added the Y to Zoe to create Zoey, so that it would rhyme in sight and sound with Joey. Makes sense.

Zoey had been with us about three hours when she took this position in the chair in which I sit at this very moment:

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“What a cool cat!” I remarked, and after that it was always “Zoey the Cool Cat.”

I am now officially a cat person.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPETS are short posts about anything and everything.
Each SNIPPETS will have at leasst one picture.
After all, this is Russel Ray Photos.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray (that’s me!)Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Union Pacific trains

History Through Philately — On this day in 1869….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

History Through Philately

 

Scott #922, Transcontinental Railroad 75th anniversaryOn this day in 1869, the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroads drove a ceremonial last spike into the tracks at Promontory, Utah, that connected their two railroads, making transcontinental railroad travel possible for the first time. Bye bye wagon trains!

The first mention of a “transcontinental railroad” was in 1832 but Congress did not provide funding to survey possible routes until 1853. A nation divided over slavery, though, could not come up with a route that made every happy.

Scott #993, Railroad Engineers of AmericaIn 1862, during the Civil War, Congress passed the Pacific Railroad Act, choosing Union Pacific and Central Pacific to build the transcontinental line. The Act would also guarantee public land grants and loans to the two railroads. Construction began in 1866 with Union Pacific building west from Omaha, Nebraska, and Central Pacific building east from Sacramento, California. The construction pace was furious due to the public land grant guarantees. The Central Pacific brought in thousands of Chinese laborers, resulting in several derogatory terms entering the public lexicon.

Scott #2265, Railroad Mail CarThe Union Pacific crews, main Civil War veterans of Irish descent, suffered through harsh winters, hot summers, and Indian raids. Central Pacific crews worked 12-hour days, sometimes 15, to get through the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains, losing whole crews to avalanches or explosive mishaps.

Interesting, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific workers finished laying nearly 2,000 miles of track ahead of schedule and under budget. Trips that took months by wagon train and weeks by boat now took just days by train.

The completion of the transcontinental railroad is given significant credit for the rapid growth and expansion of the United States in the ensuing years.

The ceremonial golden spike was driven into place by California Governor Leland Stanford. He is the same Leland Stanford that founded Stanford University, naming it after his son, Leland Stanford Junior, who died of typhoid at age 16. The official name of the University is Leland Stanford Junior University, providing fodder over the years to Stanford’s arch-rival, the University of California at Berkeley, whose students commonly refer to it as the “Junior University.”

My dad and granddad worked for the Missouri Pacific Railroad in Texas, but I became a Union Pacific fan while living in northern Utah from 1961-1965. I even had twin beagle pups one time that I named Union and Pacific.

Union Pacific trains

 

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County? I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor with Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re just looking for a home inspector,
I can highly recommend Russel Ray; that’s me!Real Estate Solutions