The last day of our desert adventure started off at Grants, NM. Drew, our tour guide for part of the trip, had another wonderful experience lined up for us.
Every morning the Western Fuels Association’s Escalante Western Railway makes a trek up the Lee Ranch sub to the Lee Ranch mine to load 52 cars of coal for the Escalante Generating station at Prewitt, NM. This is another scheduled operation so we departed Grants early enough to ensure we were track side by 7:30am when the train was expected to arrive near Ambrosia, NM. Just like Drew promised (well maybe a few minutes late) the train arrived led by 3 SD40-2s screaming to pull the empties up the 1.5-1.7% grade to the mine. That’s certainly a sound you don’t hear much these days! I enjoyed hearing it again for sure.
We hurried up the line a bit to a second photo location and took a last photo of the train before it disappeared into the Lee Ranch Mine complex. That was it for photos on our trip. The remainder of the time would be consumed with transit back to Albuquerque and hopping our flights back to the Northwest.
This trip to the desert certainly had its set of unique experiences. It isn’t often that as railfans we are welcomed in so many places these days. Certainly this was refreshing and made several days of this trip interesting. I guess I have to say thanks to the Apache Railway and the Copper Basin Railway for understanding our hobby and making a reasonable accommodation for our interests. BNSF certainly didn’t treat us badly. The train crews always seemed to have a big wave but honestly it doesn’t feel a nice as when you are invited in for a tour.
Along the way we made some new friends and shared some adventures with them. Scott and Mike were a pleasure to hang out with on our day at the Copper Basin. Dru and Mark were a couple of new/old friends that made our first and last days fun.
In addition I believe our travelling group had a great experience. I was honored to hang out with such a talented group of people who enjoy creating their images in their own style. Just look at what a couple of the guys did with the Escalante Western…. Drew, Joel. You can’t beat that sort of creativity and unique viewpoint when we are all travelling together. We could all line up at the same spot but we don’t. We all seek out own perspective and we do it naturally.