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Thursday, June 19, 2014

14-06-19a PHOTOS: Here We Go Denver - Part 1

Time for Part 5 of my 2014 cross-country Amtrak trip. As you should all know by now I was reprising my 2012 trip on the California Zephyr and we have now left the state of Utah and reached the city of Grand Junction in the square state of Colorado. This segment will cover the line from Grand Junction to the Moffat Tunnel with a few gaps on parts that I didn't feel necessary to re-shoot. I also managed to cover one of the sections I had previously missed from Glenwood Springs though the junction with the old Tennessee Pass siding and up to the Range siding.

Next week I'll cover the new Denver Union Station as well, but if you want to look ahead you can find the entire set of photos here.

We begin departing Grand Junction where BNSF ES44C4 #8818 sits on a siding.

Union Pacific yard tower at Grand Junction yard with a pair of flat switching Geeps.

Former DRG&W station at Glenwood Springs.

The DRG&W main line shares the Glenwood Canyon.

In 2012 I had missed all this scenery due to the call to lunch.

At a narrow place in the canyon one finds the Shoshone Dam which is part of a hydroelectric project. Behind the tunnel I70 crosses over the Colorado river and tunnels through the hillside.

I70 emerging a short while later from the Hanging Lake tunnel.

Another narrow section of the canyon next to the single bore Reverse Curve Tunnel.

One more scenery p0rn near the east end of the Glenwood canyon.

Dotsero Junction where the original DRG&W main line continued over the Tennessee Pass to Pueblo. In the 1920's the DRG&W constructed the Moffat Tunnel route directly to Denver. After the UP merger, UP shut down the Tennessee Pass route and now only parts of it are used for local freight service.

The tunnel at MP 159 got a new portal in 1986.

Out of Tunnel 34 and over the river just a few miles east of Bond, CO.

UP AC4400 #6696 on the end of a long coal train on the bond siding.

More AC4400's in the middle of the train including #6664. Damn, just too short of an interesting number.

No Southern Pacific units on this train. Head end of the coal train with AC4400's #5971 and #5569.

Another coal train was waiting on the Yarmony siding with yet more AC4400's providing help in the middle of the train. #6896 is actually a former AC6000 which was derated to 4400hp.

AC4400 #5520 on the front of the coal train on the Yarmony siding.

Passing our less-late Train 5 counterpart at the Radium siding. P42DC's #96 and #122 were providing power.

Tunnel 42 next to the Colorado River approaching Gore canyon.

 Slide fence termination at the mouth of Tunnel 39, last re-lined in 1944.

Small valley before the Gore Canyon with still snow capped peaks in the background.

Entering Gore Canyon.

The twin tunnels 36 and 38.

Tunnel 35 with a slide fence.


At the east end of the Gore Canyon were wide expanses of alpine meadow.

Despite the drought gripping the west there were some flooded fields east of Kremmling.

Awwww yeeeah, Searchlight signals. These examples are at the east end of the Troublesome siding.

I wanted to mix things up a little bit so for Byers Canyon I got both photos and video.

New slide fencing protects the single track from falling rocks.

The canyon is known for its super restrictive 20mph curve, which comes with radio warnings for eastbound trains coming off the 70mph section of track through the preceding valley.

Now here's a catch on the Sulphur siding just east of Byers Canyon. Southern Pacific AC4400 #343 was in the 5 slot in a six engine lashup. This isn't an SP painted Union Pacific unit, but is actually a UP owned Southern Pacific unit (it has SP reporting marks and its original number). There are only 13 such units still in service. Note that the engines are revving up in anticipation of a proceed indication at West Splphur interlocking. With six engines on the front this string of empty coal cars did not need any distributed power.

UP SD70ACe #8450 sitting alongside the Granby Amtrak station.

Mid-train power with ES44AC #7939 up front.

The coal train crew starts heading back to their mount (AC4400 #5835) as Train 6 passes by.

Looks like the harsh rocky mountain wind has stunted both the signals and the pine trees on the curvy grade approaching Winter Park.

Just like 2012 my train is forced into the Tabernash siding due to traffic on the main line. Power is SD70ACe #8620 and two AC4400's.

Smoking stop at the Fraser station. With 14,000 foot mountains all around where was plenty of snow still visible even in June.

Southern Pacific painted AC4400 #6212 on the front of a mixed freight with 2 other units at Winter Park.

Rounding the curve into the 7 mile long Moffat Tunnel. Not sure what that blast wall is for...

Eastern portal of the "Steven" Moffat Tunnel, which was built between 1923 and 1927. There are information plaques next to the door, but I couldn't really read them. Like the other long freight tunnels out west this one comes with an automatic door that opens to let trains pass then closes to blow the exhaust out the back.

The final photo of Part 1 is this wide shot of the Moffat Tunnel's eastern portal complete with more snow capped peaks.

Tune in next week for a look at Denver's new Union Station.

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