BNSF6804 Eastbound at the Continental Divide

BNSF Sights and Sites

These action views are grouped by BNSF division and/or subdivision.  Keep scrolling for more geographical sections.

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The Transcon

bnsf-1997-10-15 An eastbound stack train is between Becker and Abo Canyon on October 11, 1997.  From left to right, this consist approximates the merger experience.
bnsf-needles-01 Eastbound stack train, with a pair of newly-painted Heritage C44-9W’s on the point, rolls into Needles, CA on May 23, 1998.  At this time, heritage-scheme units were a tiny minority of the population.
bnsf-needles-wb-1998-05 As the setting sun hits the horizon, a westbound intermodal train hits the grade out of the Colorado River valley at Needles.  The long train has a mostly Santa Fe consist (the warbonnet SD75I is lettered for BNSF). Two SD45-2’s are still wearing the blue/yellow warbonnet scheme, though they’ve been patched and renumbered into the BNSF system.(5/23/1998)
bnsf-needles-wb-1998-05_2 At dusk, a westbound double-stack train starts up the grade towards the Mojave Desert crossing.  A mismatched pair of patched SD’s on the front is joined by a borrowed Norfolk Southern unit.  Another pair of SD’s is on the rear, pushing.  (5/23/1998)
bnsf-thoreau-2000-04 An eastbound manifest passes through Thoreau, NM in April 2000.  The trailing C44-9W (No. 4716) is one of the last delivered in the Warbonnet scheme.
bnsf-abocanyonmeet_2002_07 Two trains meet in Abo Canyon just above Scholle in July 2002.  The one at left is a westbound autorack movement with a couple of blue/yellow warbonnet EMD units for power, whereas the eastbound pig train is all-BNSF power. Of particular note is the trailing bluebonnet on the left– it is one of the rare GP40X units, No. 3036 (ex-AT&SF 3806). Note the flared radiators.
bnsf-4960_eb A trio of C44-9W’s take an eastbound stack train up the grades through Abo Canyon in late July 2002. The trailing unit is still in full Santa Fe paint. They’re crossing the 7th and final bridge in the canyon.
Much of the hill I was standing on has since been removed to create the second track alignment through the canyon.
Belen dpu sd70MAC The Transcon is not known for its coal traffic, but such does exist. Here, on a gray January 9, 2014, a westbound coal train is draped around the serpentine curves coming into the Belen yard. A pair of SD70MAC’s wearing H2 paint are tacked on as rear remotes.


TOP: An eastbound hotshot intermodal train pauses at the north end of Belen yard, near the depot, for a quick crew change.

BOTTOM: As soon as the new crew is aboard, the train moves off to the east, without any kind of service stop.  Note the colorful mix of power, always a delight during this period of BNSF history.  Note that, despite four different paint schemes, every unit on the train is of Santa Fe heritage.

bnsf-belenyard-2002 Yard maintenance personnel, servicing C44-9W No. 677 at Belen in July 2002. Every job on a railroad is important, even if not always “glamorous”…
bnsf-kingman_20040612 The evening of June 12, 2004, finds a freight departing Kingman, AZ with C44-9W’s 1030 and 4886 on the point, and a lease Dash 8-40C and ex-BN FURX SD40-2 behind.  The train paused to drop off a couple of cars at the industry in the background before heading east.
BNSF Flagstaff 5264 An eastbound doublestack train approaches Flagstaff from the west on the morning of March 27, 2008.  The area around Flagstaff is high and beautiful (7,100 feet at this spot), with severe winter weather at times, but is slowly succumbing to development.
BNSF 4488 Flagstaff East of Flagstaff, C44-9W 4488, repainted New Image No. 727, and H2 No. 5149 are heading an eastbound intermodal train on 3/27/2008.
bnsf-reardpu_2008-03-27 West of Winslow, C44-9W No. 5050 is the rear remote on an eastbound freight consisting of new-image covered hoppers.  The head end included a borrowed UP SD70ACe. (3/27/2008)
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA In a scene repeated uncounted times, three C44-9W’s in the 4000 series roll an eastbound stack train across the high desert near Winslow on 3/27/2008.
BNSF 5319 Belen In a photo that is cluttered enough to make a really good jigsaw puzzle, two C44-9W’s are parked at the fuel rack in Belen on October 30, 2009 around 6:00 PM.  The roof of the old depot / new museum is a good place to shoot trains, and has a ladder for access.  Not sure if they really want you up there, but it’s not railroad property anymore so the Rent-a-Cops leave you alone…
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA In a nice bit of good timing, a westbound stack train approaches the underpass with Interstate 25 near Belen on May 9, 2010, at the same time and speed as me. This train is powered by a trio of ES44DC’s (7836, 7581, 7839).  I see trains here frequently, but photography rarely works out.
Prewitt baretable An eastbound baretable movement on the north iron at Prewitt, NM,  is waiting for Amtrak train No. 4 to run around. Two “wedge” units are the sole power for the lightweight (and low-priority) train. (2/21/2011)
Prewitt A westbound intermodal (with a few autoracks on the rear) is approaching the County Road 19 crossing at Prewitt.  Mount Taylor looms in the background. The peak dominates the skyline for miles around. (2/21/2011)
Milan A heavy eastbound doublestacker is hustling towards Milan on 2/21/2011. This train had five units and was at least a mile long.  Perfect light and conditions…
BNSF GP60 The most unusual train I had seen in a decade: this westbound freight is leaving Gallup with four- count ’em, four- 4-axle units for power. The leading unit is a B40-8W built in 1990 for the Santa Fe; the following three GP60s need no further identification.   See the Roster Pages for close-ups.  (2/21/2011)
Gallup SD75 SD70m This interesting set of remotes was tacked onto the rear of a westbound coal load at Gallup on 2/21/2011. The three units include a pair of SD75M’s (one a full Warbonnet). The C44 must be there to be the control unit. On the head end were three ES44DC’s, so the whole train was DC powered (as opposed to AC traction, more common on coal drags).
BNSF Prewitt Just east of Prewitt, a freight flies eastward on 1/09/2014 behind three generations of GE power.  The leader is ES44C4 No. 6843, followed by faded Santa Fe alumnus No. 876 (a Dash 8-40C from 1993), and trailing is C44-9W No. 4394 (built 1999). The iconic red cliffs form a stunning backdrop for the train.
bnsf-thoreau-2015-03-21 Playing hopscotch with the cloud shadows, this fast doublestack train heads east on the north main, east of Thoreau, on the second day of Spring 2015. The red cliffs in this area make any photo a winner, but the scene I really wanted had the train in shadow. This will do as a substitute!  (3/21/2015)

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El Paso Sub

BNSF971 Northbound NAFTA train passing through Las Cruces, NM on May 12, 2007.  It has an H1, a burned H2, and a NS unit leading. (This photo was actually taken in my rear-view mirror, then righted and inverted with Photoshop, resulting in this correct south-looking view!)
BNSF Las Cruces Burned An interesting, um, “feature” of GE locomotives is their tendency to spew flame from the stack.  At times it even comes down the sides, as can be seen on this C44-9W.  I’ve seen some amazing torches coming from these units.  (In GE’s defense, it does also happen to EMD’s at times…)  If you see repainted or replaced doors on the long hood, this is probably why.  (Las Cruces, 5/12/2007)
Belen BNSF 4038 The crew is boarding a grain train at Belen on 8/18/2007.  C44-9W No. 4038 and its Warbonnet mate will be heading south towards El Paso shortly.
Socorro Hoppers Hopper cars spotted around the wye at Socorro on 4/29/2009.  These mostly older component-road hoppers are in perlite service, serving Dicaperl Minerals.
Rincon Depot Old AT&SF depot at Rincon, NM.  This structure sits across the tracks from the community, a curious placement in my opinion– need to find out more of the history of the site.  BNSF still uses the structure, although obviously not for passengers!
Rincon Engine Spur Engine spur at Rincon. The power for the local usually ties up here. Rincon serves as the interchange point with the Southwestern Railroad. The local switches industries in the area down to Las Cruces. One can usually find a pair of locomotives parked here on weekends, just off Interstate 25.
bnsf-4087-lf A work train with three units for power is stopped in Rincon. The cars to the right have been spotted on the siding, and are loaded with  wooden ties for trackwork. A specially-equipped backhoe is perched on top of the cars extracting the ties (out of the view).  (11/04/2012)
BNSF-Las Cruces A northbound grain train rolls along Main Street in Las Cruces on 8/11/2009.  The pair of C44’s is handling the long train of empty covered hoppers with ease.
Mesilla Park BNSF Old AT&SF depot at Mesilla Park, NM.  This structure is located on Main Street, essentially sandwiched between the cities of Las Cruces and Mesilla. Though no longer used for passengers, the BNSF has an active maintenance-of-way presence at the site.
BNSF Mesilla Hoppers Sidings at Mesilla Park, opposite the depot (above).  Various kinds of agricultural shipments are received here.  There is a portable conveyor unloader on the grounds.  In this shot, the tan building in the background is currently vacant. Not sure who owns the warehouse behind it; there is a real lack of signage in the area.  But hoppers are frequently spotted here.
The next six photos are of a single northbound train in Las Cruces, crossing Valley Ave.  The train was an interesting mix of power and rolling stock, common on this subdivision.
BNSF Cruces 1 Leading was a SD70ACe (No. 9344) and a Norfolk Southern widecab GE (9826). I got surprised by this train in traffic, so the photos are out of  the car window and are backlit– you take what you can get, sometimes…
BNSF Cruces 2 Silhouette shot as the power crosses the street.
BNSF Cruces 3 The train was a great mix of cars, including a large number of CN boxcars, various corn syrup tanks, coil steel cars, and even this stray autorack car.
BNSF Cruces 4 Here are some BNSF hoppers, of old and new logos.
BNSF Cruces 5 Several cuts of corn syrup cars were present.
BNSF Cruces 6 And to punctuate the matter, an articulated double-stack car brought up the rear.  This is not uncommon for these trains.
bnsf las cruces UP 2015-04-05 Something different and interesting: a southbound autorack train in Las Cruces on Easter Sunday 2015, with two borrowed UP units trailing the leader. In order, we have: ES44AC No. 6127, then UP SD70ACe No. 8847, then former Southern Pacific No. 262 (now patched to UP 6307).

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UP’s Central Corridor (Moffat Tunnel Sub): Trackage Rights

As a condition of the 1996 Union Pacific buyout of Southern Pacific, BNSF was granted trackage rights over several portions of the new UP system, including between Denver and Stockton on the UP’s Central Corridor.  BNSF has typically operated one or two trains each way daily, with a few additional trains on special occasions (such as sand trains, oil trains, and rare coal trains).
BNSF-WP-1997-12-01 In December 1997, we were in Fraser, CO and saw an eastbound BNSF trackage rights train. It had seven units of highly mixed background: three were BN, two ATSF, one LMX lease unit, and a SOO.
BNSF-WP-1997-12-03 Same train; here the head end is crossing the overpass at county road 72. Those cowl units were rare in 1997– this one was retired about ten months later. See the BN Tribute for more photos of these units.
bnsf-wp An eastbound manifest freight approaches the west portal of Moffat Tunnel on August 14, 1999.  The train is a bit underpowered, with only C44-9W No. 1116 and a white-face SD40-2 on the point. This is in the third year of trackage rights on this route.
bnsf-1999-09-04 An eastbound manifest freight exits Coal Creek Canyon near Clay siding, on September 4, 1999.  The BNSF train will take the siding in order to allow a westbound CSUX coal empty to pass.The train has a typical colorful consist, with an H2 leading, a stock ATSF warbonnet second in line, and an H1 trailing.


In a fairly rare movement, an eastbound load of Utah coal is headed through Glenwood Springs on August 7th 2001.  The top photo shows the three-unit swing DPU set and the bottom image is the lone rear DPU.
All locomotives are SD70MAC’s and the cars are a variety of BN-heritage hoppers.
bnsf-gj_2001-11-11 A westbound freight pauses at Grand Junction to change crews on the evening of November 11, 2001.  An unpatched Santa Fe C44-9W is running third on this train.
bnsf-cc3 March 28, 2002– an eastbound MSTODEN descends the UP line at Coal Creek Canyon.  It has three H2 C44-9W’s on the point…
bnsf-cc4 … and another as the DPU on the rear.  Blue Mountain Road is a nice,
accessible place to watch trains (I’ve photographed from there as far back as 1982). This was a period of transition.  BNSF had been using a manned pusher (helper) from Denver up to the Moffat Tunnel since 1996, but by 2003 had started to transition to unmanned remotes.
bnsf-silt-2006-01-04 A quick grab shot through the windshield of a westbound freight exiting North Canyon near Silt, on January 4, 2006.  The consist includes a pair of H2’s, a borrowed NS unit, an SD40-2 of BN heritage, and an unidentifiable GE.
bnsf-lacy-2006-07-01 An eastbound BNSF freight stops to perform switching chores at the soda ash yard near Rifle on July 1, 2006.  BNSF paid for the construction of this yard, even though it is captive to the UP, since the customer’s contract is with BNSF.  Note the NS unit in the consist.
BNSF 7573 Sulphur

BNSF 7573 Sulphur

On the morning of August 9th, 2007, a westbound BNSF freight is holding in the siding at Hot Sulphur Springs for an eastbound UP coal train.  Top photo: the UP train is approaching as the BNSF crew prepare to do a roll-by inspection.

Bottom: the BNSF train throttles up and heads towards Byers Canyon. It’s led by an  ES44DC in the new image scheme, with a pair of C44-9W’s in the H2 and warbonnet schemes.

bnsf 5446


Three hours later, an eastbound BNSF train came out of Byers Canyon and headed east through Sulphur.

Top: It was led by a pair of C44-9W’s spliced by a CEFX SD90.

Bottom: There was an ES44DC in H2 paint pushing on the rear (DPU helper).  This new unit was delivered just barely too early to receive the New Image paint scheme.

BNSF 8213 MDENVPO Westwater The Denver-Provo manifest is climbing out of Westwater, Utah on 4/27/2014. This train had a pair of ES44C4’s spliced by a CREX ES44AC.  The same power cycled back east the following morning.
BNSF DENPVO Ruby That tiny object in the lower left corner is the rear remote pair on a BNSF manifest rolling westbound through Ruby Canyon in May 2017. The landscape dwarfs the railroad in this area.  The Colorado River laps the right-of-way just below our position here.  The head of the train is probably in Utah at this point.

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Denver & the Front Range Sub

BNSF North Yard FURX A yard transfer job has picked up a cut of cars in UP’s North Yard in Denver and is headed back to the BNSF yard to the south-east.  Both the FURX SD40-2 and the ES44DC are pointed the wrong way, so the conductor and brakeman are riding on the porch of the lead unit.
BNSF Denver 2007 Near the BNSF shops in Denver, an interesting power consist is being repositioned after bringing in a train on the Brush sub.  Including the ex-ATSF unit at left, we have three C44-9W’s in both Heritage schemes, an ATSF blue/yellow warbonnet GP35, a BN SD40-2, and an ex-ATSF GP60B in H1.  BNSF is great for variety!
BNSF 8249 SD75M No. 8248 is paired with SD40-2 No. 6974 as they run light out of Longmont towards Boulder on 8/30/2008. They are working as the Longmont switcher this evening.
BNSF Longmont 2010 07 31 5260 A southbound freight (probably the H-LAUDEN) crosses 3rd Avenue in Longmont on 7/31/2010.  The three-unit consist includes a nice surprise– an ATSF Dash 9 still in her original paint.  No. 679 is pretty faded but still classy.  The leader is a standard BNSF Dash 9 in H2 and an ES44DC also in H2.
BNSF Longmont 2010 08 10 6049 The following day (8/01/2010), a northbound coal empty is approaching 17th Avenue in Longmont with a mix of old and new on the point.  The ES44AC is four years old, and the SD70MAC behind is wearing the original “Executive” scheme it received in January 1995.  Now it has the wedge BNSF herald below the cab window, however.

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Pikes Peak Sub

Littleton executive SD70MAC This pair of SD70MACs in the Executive green scheme lead a southbound coal train through Littleton on 7/31/2011.  The lead unit (9835) was actually delivered in March 1997, but the trailing unit (9515) is of BN heritage; it arrived in January 1995.
Ferromex Executive This colorful mix of power featured a visiting Ferromex AC-traction unit, an SD70MAC, and leading with an SD70ACe.  It’s in Littleton on the Joint Line on 7/31/2011.
bnsf-boeing In a photo from May 14, 1999, a short Boeing train is headed up the Joint Line north of Pueblo. These trains move 737 fuselages and parts from the Wichita plant to Seattle for final assembly.