I started out with unselfish intentions. I would take my family on a five week Pacific Northwest trip and not indulge in any rail fanning. This would ensure we did family type things instead of pursuing one of my hobbies. However, a friend reminded me that Alaska Railroad steam locomotive number 557 was in Moses Lake, Washington which was on our way between destinations. Well, I could make just one rail fanning stop. And as you have already guessed, this just kind of snow balled into a bunch of neat train stops. Here is the extremely condensed version of our rail fanning adventures:
July 11, 2001, overpass outside of Great Falls, Montana, I-15 at mile
Construction workers were not the least bit annoyed by the fact that I stopped to shoot train photos in the middle of their road construction project. Instead, they just smiled and drove around me. From an overpass, I caught four locomotives which pulled a long line of grain hoppers
July 11, 2001, Choteau, Montana
We took a wrong turn in Choteau, but wound up snatching a stunning photo of Burlington Northern hoppers at a grain elevator.
July 15, 2001, Montana Rail Link, North Reserve Street (Route 93), Twin
Just as we were starting our drive for the day, I spotted Montana Rail Link's headquarters building. In the rear were several spotless business cars and a caboose. Heading out to their rail yard, I saw a long line of hoppers, some of which looked almost brand new. Luck was with me as I saw one of their locomotives pushing through a set of cars and a flat car carrying what might be quarters for MOW workers.
July 15, 2001, Weatherby, Oregon on I-84 at mile marker 335
Four Union Pacific locomotives pulled 76 cars, most of which were hauling lumber. Two Union Pacific helper locomotives provided extra breaking power at the end of the consist.
July 17, 2001, Hinkle train yard, Oregon
I discovered a locomotive bone yard just off the interstate. I took photos of almost all the hogs, but thought this old Cotton Belt was the rarest of them all.
July 17, 2001, Pasco Terminal, Oregon
These Burlington Northern B-units dominated the landscape as I approached the terminal. Stopping to ask directions from two railroad workers, I was able to snap a fine photo of BNSF GP9 #1600
July 17, 2001, Moses Lake, Washington, Moses Lake Iron and Metal Co.
The last steam locomotive to run on the Alaska Railroad was 2-8-0 #557. This took place on September 5, 1960 and it was a passenger run from Anchorage to the State Fair at Palmer, in the Matanuska Valley, and return. Old #557 was then sold for scrap and left Alaska June 14, 1965 aboard the Trainship ALASKA, bound for Everett, Washington. Our family unit traveled to Moses Lake, Washington to visit #557's current resting place. It is owned by Monte Holm who owns Moses Lake Iron and Metal. Monte was extremely friendly and had his assistant take us through his museum called, "The House of Poverty". Inside the museum we found an extraordinary collection of antiques which included old cars, Jesse James' mother's sewing machine and a rifle that came over on the Mayflower. Stepping outside, we came across #557 where we spent some time photographing it and checking out its controls
July 19, 2001, west of North Cascades N.P., Washington
We stopped at the grand opening of an ice cream shop inside an old red caboose. The caboose was retired in 1974 in Skagit County. It was one of only nineteen built by the Great Northern Railroad. Sixteen of the nineteen were renumbered when the Great Northern Line merged with several lines and became the Burlington Northern Line on November 2, 1970. My wife ordered a "ginormous bullet cone" which was one foot tall and cost $1.50. YUM!!!
July 19, 2001, Sedro-Wooley, Washington, Route 20
I jumped out of my car at a busy intersection on route 20 to photograph Puget Sound and Baker River Rwy steam locomotive sitting in a park in Sedro-Wooley, Washington.
July 21, 2001, Seattle Train Yards
Ex-Alaska Railroad employee (and now Monroe, WA resident) Randy Thompson, my son John and I met Steve Noland and his friend Jerry to comb the Seattle shipping yards. While driving around, we ran into this super cool train. When I posted this journal, I hadn't a clue what it was, but Chris Dunphy sent me this in an email, "It looks like one of the Sounder commuter service's GM F59PHIs and a string of their Bombardier (Canadian) Bi-level commuter cars. This is a local, municipal, heavy rail system for the Puget Sound area and its communities. I am not sure if the system is completely up and running, as for a time their equipment was loaned out for other services."
Steve took us to see an old Alaska Railroad boxcar sitting in a side yard rusting away. We also saw the docks and barges which are used to ship rail freight to Whittier, Alaska. Continuing our tour, we viewed massive container shipping operations and small companies using small locomotive power.
July 26, 2001, Portland, Oregon, Samuels Yard
Railfan Allen Hurst bird dogged all the great railfan spots in Portland region for us. Union station was a dream stop and we were able to get some great pix of this train as it came out of the station. When I posted this journal, I hadn't a clue what it was, but Chris Dunphy sent me this in an email, "It is a Amtrak Cascade Service trainset. Your locomotive, 90251, appears to be a demotored F40, called a cabbage, with a fuel tank skirt added. The train looks to be a (Spanish) Talgo, tilting style, train set. I imagine the train is powered by one of their specially painted F59s on the aft end. Train's tilting properties allow for higher speed running in the Northwest and the cabbage allows for a push-pull, timesaving run."
We also passed by a yard with a beautiful Union Pacific smokestack. Finally, he took us to see former Alaska Railroad locomotive #1810 at Dick Samuels' Oregon Pacific Railroad. He uses it with a slug on his short line hauling cold storage items up the 22 miles of track. After viewing and photographing the former Alaska unit, we continued on to the Hurst's home. We spent the night at Beth and Allen's home. Our bedroom's had an HO scale layout running through it and Allen left ARR #3015 with McKinley Explorer passenger cars parked in mine.
August 7, 2001, Cajun Pass, California
I avoid getting up early while on vacation. Hey, this is part of what a vacation is all about. However, railfan Don Winslow said we'd meet at 7:00 a.m. so as to avoid the heat and have some nice looking shadows in our pictures. He was 110% correct! After meeting him at McDonald's, we headed to Cajun Pass. With a certain degree of grace and beauty, three BNSF pumpkins pull a long load through Sullivan's Curve. We then headed to Summit which provided great views of Cajun Pass and a freight train passing through it. At Swarthout we saw a consist that had a Canadian National locomotive. We finished off the morning at Devoure where we caught this UP tank car train.
August 7, 2001, Tehachapi, Californian
Getting to the Tehachapi Loop is fairly simple. Take route 58 to the Keene exit and let the historical signs guide you three miles to the loop. The road takes you to a loop overlook and historical marker. I hiked up the road and through a field to get a better view of the loop and tunnel. The icing on the cake was seeing a train pass through it 45 minutes after we arrived.
August 8, 2001, Needles, California
As we left our hotel in Needles, my son spotted a nearby train yard. That's my boy! And it turned out to be a real bonus. It had a huge string of flatcars carrying tanks, cargo trucks, flatbeds with containers and other neat stuff. I also took a few photos of some of the locomotives in the yard.
August 9, 2001, somewhere in New Mexico
As we headed for home, I spied a train streaking across the stunning countryside. I took one last photo out my car window.
This page was created 8/22/01 and last updated 8/24/01