GRAND COUNTY RAILS

Busy Times along the Moffat Route

August 8 - 9, 2007

(page 2)

Q U I C K   L I N K S
COLORADO COAL TRAINS-
Lots of UP action
SAN LUIS VALLEY IN TRANSITION
SOUTHERN PACIFIC IN THE MOUNTAIN TIME ZONE
MY RIO GRANDE PAGES -
Everything from Narrow Gauge to Modern Age
WARBONNETS AT WORK -
My Santa Fe tribute
BURLINGTON NORTHERN -
My BN tribute
RAIL ENCOUNTERS
All kinds of photo essays here
Continuing our little adventure along the Colorado River, which started here:

We drove into Byers Canyon and pulled over at a convenient wide spot on the shoulder to wait for the California Zephyr.  We didn't have to wait long.

Rounding a curve and looking pretty, the CZ is led by a typical pair of P42DC locomotives and one baggage car.
The diner is only followed by two coaches,  but there were three sleepers ahead of the lounge, so the usual length of 8 Superliners was maintained.  Note that the cars are in the new Phase IVb paint scheme, where the large "Superliner" lettering is removed, amongst other things...
Another stop, further west.  The rock in the canyon is very colorful in this area.
A going-away shot from the same vantage.  The train actually makes pretty good time through here, despite the curvy track.
We passed the train again at the west end of Byers, and headed towards Kremmling.  On the way, though, there was a little trouble at Troublesome siding.  The westbound UP freight we'd seen earlier was in the siding, and an eastbound coal train was on the main line, west of the siding, stopped.  Listening on the scanner, the eastbounder was waiting on a track foreman to clear his track warrant before the train could proceed.  The problem was, nobody could raise the foreman on the radio.  The dispatcher kept trying as well, and finally instructed someone to try the guy's cell phone.  There were three trains waiting for two tracks.  (I'm told by employees that this kind of thing happens frequently.)
Here's the eastbound coal train, waiting rather impatiently for the track warrant to be cleared.
We grabbed soft drinks in Kremmling, then headed south to find Trough Road (Cty Rd 1).  This road, a decent gravel road for the most part, heads southwest to State Bridge.  I had never been on it before, but (1) it was the only direct route towards I-70 westbound, and (2) it has some spectacular overlooks of Gore Canyon and the Colorado valley.  We stopped at a curve where the road perches above the west exit of the canyon, and waited for Amtrak to appear.  That took a while.
Shortly, though, we saw an eastbound coal train entering Azure siding to the west.  This was promising.
Amtrak No. 5 eventually made its appearance in the canyon below.
The track is on a shelf blasted out of the canyon wall.  Having already passed through a number of tunnels in the canyon, the train will see one more on the final curve before the exit.
Here the river curves to the right, and the track follows suit. 
Here's the full train, bisected by the tunnel. (The image behind the thumbnail is large-format, for your viewing pleasure!)
No. 5 is out of the canyon now and approaching the east switch of Azure.  Views like this really bring home how big the landscape is around here...
No. 5 is about to pass the coal train at Azure.  Once it entered the siding, the coal train moved out east.  Amtrak briefly stopped at mid-siding (on the main), but shortly moved out.  We had already started driving at this point.
Heading west on Trough road, we popped out of the hills near Yarmony siding.  There's a grade crossing there, so I got out for a last run-by of the train before our paths diverged.  As it turned out, there was yet another east bound coal train in Yarmony siding, holding for Amtrak.  I crossed the tracks and climbed up the bank to wait.
Shortly, No. 5 came around the bend and towards the crossing.  This shot reminds me of one of the Rio Grande Zephyr in the book Never on Wednesday...  There is a large river-rafting mecca visible in the background.
Closer now.  I liked both shots, so here they are.
The tail passes me here.  The coal train is visible ahead.
Yarmony siding had an accident a few years back that wrecked the west switch.  When it was finally repaired, UP lengthened the siding to the west, and moved the east switch (in this image) a short distance west so the road wouldn't be blocked by the siding.  Some of the old track is still visible, buried in the road crossing.  Note the placement of the crossbuck and the two-headed signal, right in the old siding alignment.
We continued up the road, arriving at State Bridge right after the train.  At this point, the batteries in my camera had died so I didn't bother chasing any further, heading south on highway 131 instead.

After some lunch, we headed west on I-70, and caught No. 5 again at Grizzly siding.  It had just passed the eastbound No. 6 at Grizzly, so both trains were making pretty good time this day (i.e. close to schedule).  We got to the Glenwood Springs depot as the train arrived, and I walked around on the platform looking at the cars close-up.  It was then that I first consciously realized what was different about the paint.  It was the first time I'd seen the Phase IVb scheme.  It was obvious where all the old lettering had been removed, with shiny stainless steel now exposed to the air.

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This was by far the busiest few hours I have ever seen on the old Moffat line, dating back to the 1970's.  Of course, I don't see it that often any more, but it was great not to be standing around wondering when a train might show.  I also got to explore some new territory, never having seen some of these places except from onboard the train.  Grand County and its neighbors served up a grand time for us this year.


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?  2007, James R. Griffin.  All rights reserved.