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Thursday, June 14, 2012

12-06-14a PHOTOS: Colorado - Part 1

Keep your seatbelt on because the overload of western scenery is not about to let up any time soon. So far we have traveled through the deserts of Nevada and Utah, but last time you might remember both an increasing diversity of plant species and a large river full of water winding its way from some point still ahead in our journey. Well they don't call that the Colorado River because it starts in Nebraska so today we will continue our journey in Amtrak's California Zephyr starting at the first station stop in Colorado, Grand Junction, and continue on to Winter Park, just west of the crossing of the continental divide. I am not sure if I can say this has the best scenery of the trip as the Utah portion would be hard to beat with those deep red canyon walls and vast desert vistas, however the Colorado part of the trip is nothing to sneeze at.

This set is going to be a big one so I'll probably end up splitting it into two parts. Either way you can find all of the photos here at this location and like last time I am sure that there will be plenty of good ones that won't get top billing. Like before we are still traveling east on the former Denver, Rio Grande and Western main line from Odgen to Pueblo, however instead of climbing over the 10,000 foot Tennessee pass our train will take a slight shortcut along the Moffat Tunnel Line straight to Denver (info here).'

The current Grand Junction station is located in a converted storefront as the original Station is undergoing some rehabilitation. I am not sure what the plans or regarding Amtrak changing locations, but the current station is by no means an Amshack.

The inside is perfectly commensurate with the number of passengers being served and the station also functions as a crew change location and commissary.

Our lead engine #165 standing ready to depart at Grand Junction station past another one of those rare railroad repeater signals, this time displaying a clear indication.

A pair of BNSF C44-9W engines #'s 4853 and 4049 were standing on one of the main tracks for some reason. The Grand Junction station can accommodate trains on any of three tracks.

Some local railfans out to catch the daily passage of train 6 as well as the station siding platform and station restaurant building.

Heading east through 10TH ST interlocking, which is the west end of the Grand Junction yard. After our departure from Grand Junction we are now on the UP Glenwood Subdivision.

Union Pacific Grand Junction yard hump tower, although it appears that any automatic classification equipment has been removed.

Outside of Grand Junction we pass over a river with water in it and also see some trees. Quite a change from Utah and Nevada.

East end of the Palisade siding with the eponymous scenery in the background. As you can see this part of the line has been completely re-signaled with new LED equipped Darth Vader masts.

UP Canadian Cabbed SD60M #6106 makes a brief appearance in the Cameo siding.

At MP 429 we pass the dam that diverts irrigation water into the Highline canal that serves Grand Junction and its surrounding communities like Fruitvale.

The tunnel at MP 428 punches its way through another short peninsula of rock forcing the parallel I-70 to do the same.

The Colorado River valley with I-70 on one side and the railroad on the other. The DRG&W route was known as a transcontinental Bridge Line, transferring traffic between mid-western railroads at Denver and the Southern and Western pacific around Salt Lake city while originating little traffic of its own.

UP AC4400 #5596 with a coal train waiting for us to overtake in the Akin siding.

New style signal with one of those old style Dragging Equipment Detectors at MP 418.

Some stored hopper cars at Grand Valley.

Here we see a brand new BNSF ES44C4 locomotive #6888 in the Lacy siding. BNSF is so far the only user of this model which removed one traction motor per truck replacing it with a computer controlled variable suspension system that alters the amount of weight placed on each axle to deliver maximum adhesion. BNSF is currently the only user of this class with 300 units. 

Taking the shot at Rifle, CO.

A C&S crew working at the east end of the New Castle siding while our train paces traffic on the adjacent Interstate 70. 

Everything is getting squeezed together with the Colorado River as we approach Glennwood Springs. 

A lineup of UP AC4400's including 7116, 5750 and 5759 in the Glennwod Springs yard.

Dueling signal bridges eastbound at GLENNWOOD interlocking.

Time for people to stretch their legs at the Glennwood Springs Amtrak station.

Southern Pacific painted AC4400 #6315 at Glenwood Springs.

Union Pacific AC4400 #5778 along with my usual photo position out the back of Train 6.

A cats cradle of falling rock protection at the entrance to the tunnel just east of Glennwood Springs.

As the train passes through Glennwood Canyon I went to eat lunch and my focus turned from the railroad to the 12 mile section of Interstate 70 that was built through the narrow canyon while still preserving the natural beauty. The engineering achievement was sited by the History channel as a Modern Marvel and also won several other awards. Much of the section uses a terraced cantilever design that minimizes the width of the highway.

 There are also several viaducts like this one above the output of the Shoshone hydroelectric project.

The bridges use a pre-tensioned concrete box style of construction as seen here. Note the railroad tunnel at the extreme right.

I-70 also has a few tunnels in this section like this single bore.

A ranch house sitting in a green grass filled meadow east of the canyon.

I got back to my position at the rear of the train at the east end of the RANGE siding after we had pulled over to allow our opposite Train 5 to pass. By this point you might notice that the mileposts have jumped about 200 miles and that is because we are now on the Moffat Tunnel route which is much shorter than the Tennessee Pass line through Denver. The Tennessee Pass route was taken out of service by Union Pacific in 1997 after the UP/SP merger and remains intact but disused to this day. The Moffat Tunnel route diverges from the Colorado River valley, but there is still a river and all the scenery you could ask for like here at milepost 150.

Tunnel 34 at MP 132.

A pair of Southern Pacific painted AC4400's #'s 6221 and 6188 sitting in the Bond siding.

UP ES44AC #6922 at the head of the lashup in the Bond siding.

Well as we prepare to enter the Moffat Tunnel Subdivision I am going to split this segment of the trip in to two pieces so tune in next time for part 2 of Colorado photos.

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