On day 2 of the adventure we drove into Arizona to visit the all Alco Apache Railway. The entire time we were on site I tried to recall the last time I saw or heard an Alco in operation. I’m thinking my last Alco experience was in the late 1980’s on BC Rail. 25 years without seeing an Alco? I think I was overdue.
The operations folks at Apache requested we sign releases and participate in a briefing on the off limits areas around the yard. They requested we not cross the tracks except at public crossings. With the layout of the Apache these requests were easily met by our group. They also shared with us their plan for the day which made our chase easy and predictable. I have to say I was impressed with their reasonable hospitality towards railfans. I was pleased they would take so much time out of their day to make our day better. Thank you Apache Railway!
We gathered a few photos around the yard office as the crew prepared the power for the day. We then moved up the line to near Snowflake Jct. where they would pick up cars off the siding. I chose to use a wide angle on my photograph there in hopes of capturing a bit of the turbo lag induced smoke. The engineer really didn’t get into them until they were out of my camera range so I only captured a light haze this time.
Later in the day, with cars from the BNSF interchange in Holbrook in tow, we received a wonderful smoke show as the train rounded a curve near MP 5. The engineer helped us out by backing off the throttle for a few seconds then opening it up again. The result was a wonderful Alco “black cloud”!
After we returned home Trains Magazine released a story on the Apache’s future. According to Trains they will continue despite the closure of the power plant and the mill. They will continue serving the Pig farm and moving cars in and out of storage. That’s good news for a railroad which has been operating as an independent entity since 1918.