at Needles

May 1998 found us in Needles, California, eastern gateway to the Mojave desert and a busy center on the ex- Santa Fe main line. Now operated by BNSF, the line is incredibly busy. About one hour at dusk netted a sizeable collection of images.

Westbound, the rails climb steeply out of the Colorado River valley, and helpers are added to some high-tonnage trains to assist with the ascent.

At this time, it was a colorful collection of locomotives that handled the traffic; both parent roads as well as merger schemes and even foreign power were all witnessed in a short time.

An eastbound stack train catches the last direct rays of sun as it glides into the city.  It is led by a pair of units in the first Heritage paint scheme (or H1, as it came to be known).

Shortly afterwards, a westbound double-stacker hits the grade. It looks all-Santa Fe at a distance...

... but a closer look reveals the truth: a new corporate identity.

Mergers make for interesting alterations in reporting marks; notice the "BNSF" on the cab and also above the end numbers.

Shortly, another westbound came into view; it crept near to the block signals, where it waited for several minutes before proceeding. Notice the Norfolk Southern unit in the consist.

The train finally departs and blasts up the hill into the sunset.

A helper consisting of a pair of SD40-2's (Santa Fe and BN) shoves hard on the rear.


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