Your Heritage Is Showing

Sunday morning a UP crew brought a couple of locomotives to Vancouver for the O-VWWO empty dirty dirt train.  One unit in the consist was UP 6231, a former Southern Pacific unit, still in “patched” form.  The  crew dumped the power off on the tail track and promptly headed for Muchas Gracias for a mid-morning Mexican food treat.  The railfans of course swarmed like flies on … ahhhh … well … an SP painted locomotive.  Not to be outdone I captured a few images myself.

Built in May 1995 this locomotive is definitely used.  The nearly 17 year old paint is showing signs of all this unit has been through.  The scar on the side indicates it has had the standard GE fuel leak and subsequent fire.  The rust and faded paint show just how long something which sits outside its entire life will remain painted.  Of course the appearance of a locomotive is not what moves the train.

Most interestingly its heritage is showing.  Scarlet and gray paint colors and speed lettering (albeit not an original SP item) shout “SOUTHERN PACIFIC”.  The patch does little to hide the locomotive’s SP heritage.

More Snow in The Gorge

Most of the snow from the January 15th snow storm fell west of Bingen.  The result was I spent the day west of Bingen too!  Snow in the gorge has been pretty sparse lately so I wanted to take advantage.  Most of the morning I hung out around North Bonneville photographing Amtrak, several BNSF westbounds, and two eastbound UP trains.  The gorge is pretty narrow and cluttered with trees around North Bonneville.  I knew I wanted a wider view to demonstrate what the snow looked like so after lunch I drove to Dog Mountain to wait for an eastbound.

Since it was Monday maintenance was out in full force so I took a quick trip to Underwood during a lull to see what the White Salmon River looks like after the Condit Dam breach.   I’ve read many people’s complaints about how the breach has ruined one of the best salmon fishing locations in the Gorge.  I will agree that the river is choked with muck but since the October 26, 2010 breach we really haven’t had any high water.  Once we have a few heavy rains it appears a river channel will reappear there.  Now, what will happen with the back water areas?  Good question.  I’m sure mother nature will show us.

I arrived back a Dog Mountain about the same time and eastbound stack train was going through Stevenson.  Perfect.  I climbed the hill and gathered in the photo I was looking for.

Foggy Vancouver

Vancouver still has not had winter.  We had a bit of rain around New Years but since we have returned to a fairly mild weather situation.   With the mild weather and cool temperatures we end up with fog.   Sunday it was pretty dense in areas including at the Vancouver Amtrak station.   I did hear one train confirm with the dispatcher that the dispatcher did request a signal for them.  They normally could see the signals from their location but in the fog they weren’t visible.   Just another day on the job right?

Merry Christmas from!

Merry Christmas to all the dogcaught readers!  I hope your holiday season is filled with all the things you enjoy.

Last January I was on Stevens Pass (Washington) enjoying my annual winter railfanning adventure.  Like normal I was up early and on the road looking for that first railroad photograph of the day.  My travelling companions, Robert Scott and Scott Lothes agreed we’d have a pretty good opportunity east of the pass to get a morning photo of Amtrak’s Empire Builder.  Off the highway and down a recently plowed forest service road we went to a gap in the mountains called “The Slot”.   Cautiously walking up the icy road to this location I set up for an 8 second exposure that would capture the lights from the passenger train streaking by in the very low pre-dawn light.  The result is one of my favorite images from 2011.

Thanksgiving Trains


Racing Along the Sound

Amtrak Cascades train 507 races along Puget Sound passing under the  Tacoma Narrows bridge near Titlow.

Thanksgiving isn’t always the best time to head track side to see trains.  Many times the crews are enjoying the holiday with their own families so the railroad tends to move slower.  I decided to chance it anyway and head to Tacoma for some railfanning time with my Dad and daughter on Saturday.  It was nice to do a bit of exploring around town and find a few places I’d never visited before.

We hit D Street in downtown after exploring the new overpass being installed over Pacific Avenue for the Sound Transit Lakewood extension.  We drove the Schuster Parkway and Ruston Way out to Ruston.  We visited Titlow Beach and the adjacent park.  In the end we saw 3 Amtrak trains including one of the special holiday trains, 2 UPs, and a BNSF vehicle train.  Not bad for 4 hours of railfanning!