South By Southwest Chief

Discussion in 'Travelogues / Trip Reports' started by WhoozOn1st, Aug 5, 2012.

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

  1. Aug 5, 2012 #1

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    Conductor Honored Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2007
    Messages:
    4,281
    Location:
    Southern California
    Traveling Season opened not a moment too soon for Team Whooz. Aside from brief jaunts here and there around California there had been a lengthy and unfortunate health-imposed stretch of inactivity. It becomes fairly difficult to read things like AU trip reports about folks out and about on or around the rails when one has no immediate prospects of enjoying similar activities oneself.

    Amtrak Unlimited Gathering V at Seattle and Portland had been the last expedition of any real length, though there WERE the Surfliner Sleeper to San Diego, a Coast Starlight Tehachapi detour, Expo Line opening weekend, and that Amtrak Vacations weekend at Yosemite that Executive Director Alice won from the National Train Day L.A. sweepstakes in 2010 (trip not taken 'til December, 2011).

    Still and all the challenge of new travel needed to be met once again, and soon. Weather was improving, opportunities beckoned, and there was a serious imperative to break free of the walls that seemed to be closing in.

    It was time for a Spring Offensive.

    It just so happened that conditions conducive to a successful push into the mountain west would be ideal beginning around the second week in May. Once this crucial realization dawned, the opportunity optimization planning and coordination that ensued was a relatively simple, albeit intense and grueling, task.

    Team Whooz Coastal Command at La Casa de Whooz was transformed from a sleepy backwater post into a beehive of frenetic frontline activity. Maps, charts, schedules, and all manner of other planning tools cluttered every horizontal surface - and many of the vertical ones. Reports from far and wide (mostly wide) around the region poured in to be sorted, analyzed, considered, rationalized, integrated, and consolidated. Opinions from experts in every relevant field were sought and provided. Every medium was enlisted, from lowly AM radio and local newspapers to authoritative national publications and sophisticated global computer networks. Meteorlogical forecasts were consulted and compiled. Top psychics and astrologers weighed in. Polls were conducted, their results sifted. No effort was spared!

    The result of it all, following many tens of minutes of high level intrastate conferencing among Team Whooz top officials (both of us) was an action plan that, though deceptively simple in concept, would prove fiendishly complex and difficult to execute.

    With the Spring Offensive's essentials largely settled there remained the matter of a name. Appropriate names for high-powered travel operations are imperative, as everybody knows. But good ones are difficult to come by, as NOT everybody knows (which is why there are so many badly named travel operations), so an additional tense and difficult tens of seconds were devoted to conjuring the perfect name for the Team Whooz 2012 Spring Offensive.

    No, it's not "Team Whooz 2012 Spring Offensive." Too obvious.

    And now, Valued Reader, with all that tedious and probably superfluous preliminary mumbo-jumbo out of the way, let's proceed with the official report (yes yes, and travelogue):

    South By Southwest Chief

    May 12, 2012, National Train Day L.A., was selected as an auspicious starting date for South by Southwest Chief, whooz planned outline for action was essentially as follows...

    1) Train Day sweep through southern California, backed up by...

    2) Quick blitz to the interior - or "Inland Empire" - before...

    3) Shifting to a sustained northeastward push in pursuit of Santa Fe steam locomotive No. 3751 and its Grand Canyon Special train, followed by...

    4) Stealth drive across northern Arizona and New Mexico to...

    5) South By Southwest Chief Main Objective of riding the train in both directions over Raton Pass between Trinidad, Colorado and Las Vegas, New Mexico, after which...

    6) Leisurely victory loop through Colorado, Utah, and Nevada by way of returning to Home Base at La Casa de Whooz.

    Like the operation itself, this trip report-slash-travelogue will be divvied up into roughly the same general stages. Simple and easy, no? No.

    Execution of the plan proceeded well enough at the outset, giving little hint of the trials, tribulations, and terrors the future held.

    Our intial interim objective on D-Day (Train Day L.A.), the Lomita Railroad Museum, was reached smoothly enough, after the single misstep of a missed 405 freeway offramp. No negative impact, and in fact the turnaround to correct the error afforded the opportunity to catch a Goodyear blimp on the ground at its base in nearby Carson.

    The museum is something of an attractive anomaly in the L.A. South Bay area: a neighborhood train museum and park in the midst of a middle class residential area. Small and focused, with an intersting history, fun present, and hopeful future, the Lomita museum was a great place to enjoy a couple hours at the beginning of South By Southwest Chief.

    Donated to the city of Lomita by its creator in 1967, the museum includes a well-done replica depot, a Southern Pacific steam locomotive, water tower, a couple cabeese and other rolling stock, as well as nice collections of railroad memorabilia, gift shop, and park areas on two good-sized parcels of land.

    Wish there was a rail museum like that in La Casa de Whooz' neighborhood!

    Next it was on to Fullerton for a Pacific Surfliner ride and Amtrak Guest Rewards points run to Los Angeles Union Station.

    At FUL there was enough time and rail activity before boarding a Surfliner to Union Station that Executive Director Whooz got to do some preliminary fiddling around with the settings on a new camera (Canon SX40 HS) that he'd been foaming to take on a major photo expedition. The initial results aren't pretty, but paid off in equipment familiarity over the long run as the operation progressed. Executive Assistant Alice was also working with a camera that was new to her; Whooz' old Kodak DX6490. She was using it as sort of an operational test bed to assist in her quest to purchase a replacement for her aging and obsolete Sony camera. It was quickly apparent that even the old Kodak (itself aging and obsolete) is an improvement on the Sony. Of course a better camera does not a good photographer make, but it sure doesn't hurt; the DX6490 displays Alice's skills to better advantage than the Sony did, even though it's about the same vintage (2004).

    Anyway, despite a bit of boarding confusion centered on Alice's wheelchair the ride into Union Station went smoothly. It had been too long since Team Whooz' last passage along that portion of the Surfliner route, and it was good to once again view the familar - if not particularly scenic - sights of southern California's industrial underbelly from a (mostly) speeding train.

    At Union Station the National Train Day L.A. festivities were pretty much over or in wrapping up mode, which was quite alright with Team Whooz. The mob scenes and long lines that had characterized earlier years of the event had driven Team Whooz to celebrate the occasion in other ways and other locations, as with 2011 Surfliners up to San Luis Obispo and return, and the SoCal sweep of this year (and this rant) that avoided LAUS until after the crunch.

    With the scheduled activities winding down, however, came the after events, chief among them movement of Santa Fe 4-8-4 steam locomotive No. 3751 and its partial Grand Canyon Special consist away from display to the yards to await the excursion's coming Monday departure on the run to its namesake humongous hole in the ground.

    A number of elements were still in place, however, and while awaiting the big move time was available to stroll around and peruse what remained. Amtrak's display train, for example, sat on track 12, headed by heritage phase painted No. 66. Union Pacific showed a gen-set switcher, and there was a new low emissions locomotive from Pacific Harbor Line, a crucial interchange shortline out at Long Beach and San Pedro. We also got to see the state of progress on rebuilding tracks 13 and 14.

    But the big deal was the steam excursion move, with Team Whooz far from the only folks hanging out in anticipation. The special consist was incomplete, lacking some of the private varnish, and Amtrak No. 66, that would join up for the cross-country trip, but it was still and all a fine sight to see backing out of LAUS. Treading gingerly at first through the maze of switchery at the depot's throat, 3751's crew did manage a brief, small demonstration of external combustion grandeur as the train was shoved around the tight curve to the main for the short run to the yards beyond.

    The steam departure spectacle serving as a South By Southwest Chief D-Day closing bookend, Team Whooz boarded Pacific Surfliner 1790 and rolled southbound through the gloaming on the return to Fullerton, collecting another triple dose of AGR points en route. Steel wheels were traded for rubber tires at FUL, and the MayhemMobile was pointed east. Day One's major objectives had all been successfully achieved, so while cruising easily toward an Inland Empire layover point from which to launch Day Two of South By Southwest Chief, Executive Director Whooz relaxed and busied himself with learning the intricacies of his smartphone's GPS features, figuring they'd be of prime importance in the coming days of the operation. Little did he know...

    Photos:

    South By Southwest Chief, D-Day - The Team Whooz 2012 Spring Offensive got underway on National Train Day with lightning raids on the Lomita Railroad Museum, Fullerton Amtrak/Metrolink station, and Los Angeles Union Station. Oh, and a Goodyear blimp was caught on the ground. Comprehensively captioned.

    NEXT: Inland Empire Interlude

    Photos, top to bottom: 1) The Lomita Railroad Museum is in the L.A. South Bay town of the same name. Originally private, and with an interesting history, it was donated to and is operated by the city of Lomita. Right in the middle of a largely residential area, it's really a neighborhood train museum and park; 2) A Metrolink train in push mode crosses over to track 1 as it arrives at Fullerton. Yes, it looks like a locomotive, but that's one of Metrolink's new "crash energy management" cab cars, built in South Korea by Rotem. The train's engineer seems to be checking his rearview mirror; making sure it's clear before changing lanes? 3) An intergenerational profile in power; 4) 3751 backing the excursion train. Naturally the photographers clustered back on the station platforms were eating this stuff up, and Whooz was no exception!

    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2012
  2. Aug 7, 2012 #2

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    Conductor Honored Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2007
    Messages:
    4,281
    Location:
    Southern California
    Inland Empire Interlude

    Not a whole lot of verbiage will be expended on D+1 of South By Southwest Chief, primarily because it WAS after all just an interlude: time to relax a bit, consolidate gains, consider overall outlook, recharge, and frankly gather wits (what was left of them) before renewing the offensive on D+2.

    A fine location for the pursuit of these initial itemized interim inland interlude imperatives was the Orange Empire Railway Museum at Perris, California.

    Formerly known as the Orange Empire Trolley Museum, OERM has been preserving Southern California's railway history since 1956. A well kept secret is that it's the same age as Executive Director WhoozOn1st. So much for well kept secrets. Whooz can recall the times when family visits to the museum meant days in a dusty noplace out in the desert between Riverside and March AFB; when it was necessary to fire up a cranky old gas generator for power to run one streetcar at a time over a couple hundred feet of track; when much of the small, dilapidated collection was inoperable in any case.

    That was then, this is now. Over both lifetimes OERM has grown and developed into an attractive oasis of living history, devoted largely to Southern California electric transit but inclusive of steam and diesel, with a nod to international traction as well.

    So on a very warm spring day - one that foreshadowed scorching desert temperatures in days to follow - Team Whooz pursued a day of rail exploration, enjoyment, and streetcar rides in a pause that refreshed. In short order forces would be marshalled for another push forward, setting out over the rugged Cajon Pass and into the parched desert landscape beyond in pursuit of further South By Southwest Chief objectives.

    NEXT: Massive Mountains, Intermodal Inferno, and Steaming Sands

    Photos:

    The Orange Empire of Team Whooz - After kicking off its Spring Offensive with a three-pronged assault on Lomita, Fullerton, and Los Angeles Union Station on National Train Day L.A., Team Whooz maintained unrelenting pressure on southern California transportation objectives by occupying the Orange Empire Railway Museum at Perris for a day.

    Video:

    Birney Streetcar Gets Underway - Still dressed in the colors of Tucson's Old Pueblo Trolley operation - to which it was leased for 10 years in exchange for restoration - Pacific Electric Birney No. 332 (painted as Tucson 10) gets underway from the boarding platform at Orange Empire Railway Museum, crosses to the main line and passes a grade crossing on its north to the town of Perris. Listen to that distinctive hum on pickup, and note the ringing, waving wigwag!

    Birney Streetcar Return Arrival - Pacific Electric Birney Safety Car No. 332 - painted as Tucson 10 - returns from a run to Perris on the Orange Empire Railway Museum's main line, 5-13-12. That grade crossing sports 3 wigwags: two in cages and one inverted.

    From the top: Unveiled by child movie star Shirley Temple in a 1937 city hall ceremony, car 3001 was Los Angeles' first PCC streetcar; Ventura County Railway No. 2 is the museum's operating steam engine. The 2-6-2 "Prairie" type was built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1922 as No. 107 for the Cascade Timber Company of Reliance, Washington; EMD FP-45 No. 98 (originally ATSF No. 108) was built in 1967 and is the newest rail vehicle in the museum's collection. Geared for fast running at over 90 mph, 98 was part of the last batch of passenger locomotives delivered to the railroad.

    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2012
  3. Aug 8, 2012 #3

    GG-1

    G

    GG-1

    Conductor Honored Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2004
    Messages:
    7,080
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV
    Aloha

    Your reports are fun to read!

    Mahalo
     
  4. Aug 9, 2012 #4

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    Conductor Honored Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2007
    Messages:
    4,281
    Location:
    Southern California
    Thanks! They're fun to write, too. But the real blast is getting out there on and around the rails: Doing the traveling, taking the pics, catching the videos, and having experiences that are fun to share.

    As a reminder to Valued Readers of where South By Southwest Chief is headed in coming segments, here's a shot from the Team Whooz Ragin' Rails Raid of last summer. It's a westbound Southwest Chief climbing the grade of Raton Pass, out of Trinidad, Colorado. Note the unusual presence of an Amfleet coach in the consist, between the locomotives and the baggage car. And it wasn't business car Beech Grove!

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Aug 11, 2012 #5

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    Conductor Honored Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2007
    Messages:
    4,281
    Location:
    Southern California
    Massive Mountains, Intermodal Inferno, and Steaming Sands

    South by Southwest Chief D+2 was also departure day for the Grand Canyon Limited, an expensive private varnish excursion train from Los Angeles to its namesake Arizona gash in the planet and back. It was the train that had been seen on display and moving to the yards from Union Station on National Train Day L.A. Headed by Santa Fe (ATSF) 4-8-4 No. 3751 and a couple of Amtrak diesels, the special set out from Union Station around 9 a.m., with Parker, Arizona, as the day's goal. Quite a run, and but for the fact that it was already taken, the title for this segment might well have been The Longest Day.

    Team Whooz was pre-postioned at Riverside in the Inland Empire, so it wasn't too long a trek up into Cajon Pass to catch the excursion climbing the grade on its way out to the desert beyond.

    Monday, May 14, arrived clear and hot, which suited Executive Director WhoozOn1st just fine. Executive Assistant Alice is something of a weasel when it comes to high temperatures, but the MayhemMobile's air conditioning system kept the interior temperature, and complaints, to tolerable levels.

    One element that was NOT tolerable was the total breakdown, at the advanced age of 2.5 months, of Whooz' smartphone. The team was reminded of a Kodak camera of similar age that went south on the first day of a California Zephyr trip to Utah in 2010. There was little time to pursue any customer service on the cell phone front, however, as Cajon Pass was quickly reached.

    Several rail events in the area over the past couple years had helped Team Whooz become familiar with railfanning in the massive mountains of Cajon Pass. For this occasion they selected a favorite roost near the location of Cajon itself. There's a popular railfanning spot next to rails there, but it gets too crowded for the team's taste, especially since experience has proven railfans in general to be a pretty boorish bunch when it comes to herd photography.

    So a gated turnoff next to a section of old Route 66 was chosen instead, a spot that had proven serviceable in grabbing photos and footage of U.P 4-8-4 No. 844 when it was leaving SoCal after a westward swing in November of 2011. This location has several advantages over the trackside mob scene, chief among them altitude and good views of a big, fat, sweeping curve - the kind that steam locomotives look great pounding through.

    As an aside for fans of Route 66 (Executive Assistant Alice is one), the old road parallels the rails through much of Cajon Pass, but in cutoff sections that require using I-15 to hop between the isolated pieces. It's well worth the effort for a closer and more interesting look at the pass than that afforded by rushing up and over via I-15.

    Although other railfans showed up to see about also using the Team Whooz outpost, there's really not enough room for a crowd. A couple folks stayed, while others either left after a look-see or ventured down toward the tracks using the dirt road behind the locked gate at the turnout. In other words they trespassed, which Team Whooz never knowingly does. Interestingly enough (or not), it turned out that the two who stayed were also in the Grand Canyon Limited chase for the long haul. We'd see them again along the way.

    As the wait for the excursion's appearance lengthened it became clear that it was already running behind schedule. Using a scanner to overhear garbled radio communications, it was also gathered that westbound freight traffic was the major holdup. Freight after freight paraded downhill. Unit intermodal after manifest after double stack. At last, however, it seemed the way was clear and that 3751 and company would be along directly.

    And it was! Unfortunately, also along directly, and at the same time, was one more intermodal stack train headed downhill westbound. Further, as bad luck would have it both trains passed the Team Whooz position at the same time. Now that wouldn't have been so bad, except that the freight train was running on the middle track, and was thereby obstructing the view of the Grand Canyon Limited working its way upgrade on the inside track. The outside track remained empty.

    Valued Readers might well imagine that the hue and cry from the Team Whooz post, and from other spots nearby, filled the already heated morning air with the sort of language that would make seasoned longshoremen blush, and they would be correct. While others threw up their hands in disgust, however, Team Whooz began shooting anyway and managed to get SOMETHING for its trouble, even if it wasn't what had been planned and hoped for. That's just the way railfanning goes sometimes:




    Santa Fe 4-8-4 No. 3751 and the Grand Canyon Limited excursion train are blocked from view climbing eastbound up Cajon Pass by a westbound intermodal stack train drifting downhill. 3751 can be spotted by following its smoke, and may be glimpsed at intervals between container stacks.

    After the intermodal inferno at Cajon Pass it was on to Barstow, where the special would make a water and servicing stop, and from where short day trip passengers would be bused back to Los Angeles. Because Team Whooz made a beeline for Barstow rather than try to follow the excursion through the rest of the pass and along the line out to the desert town it was a cinch to make its own stop for refueling and servicing before arriving with time to spare.

    The extra time was used by Executive Director WhoozOn1st to get on Executive Assistant Alice's cell phone to Virgin Mobile customer service in an attempt to get some answers regarding why his brand new LG Optimus Slider smartphone had died. Just as he was beginning to get somewhere with the phone situation the Grand Canyon Limited rolled in, forcing Whooz to simltaneously juggle two cell phones and a camera while walking around in 100-degree heat trying to take photos, dodge milling railfans, hear a customer service agent, and follow dead phone reprogramming instructions.

    Please, Valued Readers, do not try this at home. Or anywhere else.

    Fortunately it was finally determined that the smartphone in question was in fact completely dead and replaceable under warranty. Well and good except that Whooz would be without it for the balance of South By Southwest Chief. At least the distraction was put to rest and full attention could be devoted to the operation at hand.

    After enjoying the spectacle of the excursion consist parked in front of the magnficent old Barstow depot and Harvey House, Whooz left the herd to stroll down the line a bit. That way he could catch the special's slow departure from Barstow as it headed out into the desert emptiness of BNSF's transcontinental main line. Instead of listing each piece of the consist, the video posted below is a great opportunity for Valued Readers to get a good look at the whole train: each locomotive and passenger car passes at a leisurely pace before the train accelerates to track speed. Note that the consist includes ex-U.P. sleeper Pacific Sands, which some Valued Readers may recall from "Surfliner Sleeper To San Diego" was Team Whooz' hotel on wheels for a SoCal private varnish weekend.

    With the excursion underway once again Team Whooz remounted the MayhemMobile, swung the back way around Barstow proper to pick up I-40, and resumed the chase. It took about an hour of speed limit driving on the interstate before the Grand Canyon Limited was caught.

    More than a few railfans are so fanatical as to make highway hazards of themselves as they clog traffic by trying to pace steam trains. Team Whooz does not indulge in the tactic, and in fact condemns such selfish behavior. Worse has been seen in other situations, too, including running red lights to blast through intersections to keep up with trains. That's every bit as bad as racing trains to grade crossings, and extremely hazardous to others trying to safely share the road.

    In this instance Team Whooz took the safe route by merely nabbing several shots of Santa Fe 3751 and its distinguished consist running out in open the desert as the MayhemMobile passed on parallel I-40, then drove on ahead to meet the train again at its next water and servicing stop; a sandy, sunburned nowhere called Cadiz.

    Cadiz is about 8 miles down a dirt road off the National Trails Highway, which itself is about 15 miles off I-40. It's about as nowhere as you can get in southern California, except there's water, the BNSF main line, and a junction with the Arizona and California Railroad.

    And on that particular day there was a growing army of railfans awaiting the arrival of the Grand Canyon Limited. The train arrived in due time, although it was some time before watering and servicing commenced. It was sometime even longer than that before watering and servicing were completed, and a seemingly interminable time after that before the train started moving again.

    Valued Readers, for whatever reason(s) this stop took forever, and the sun was well down in the sky before the excursion train backed to a wye and left the BNSF transcon for Arizona and California Railroad rails. It then sat and sat and sat, and sat some more. Almost all railfans had left the scene, and by the time Team Whooz reluctantly did so as well the train remained behind, still parked. It was later learned that when the Grand Canyon Limited did finally resume its run it did so at the blistering pace of 15 miles per hour.

    The MayhemMobile was pointed out across the desert on a dirt highway that barely showed on a map, but appeared quite passable. And it was, until a sandy fork in the road where Team Whooz went in one direction over the other and became stuck in the sand. Some helpful folks were on hand to use a piece of plywood to free the MayhemMobile, which was about to continue on its way when another car came along and also became stuck. That car contained the folks who'd been skunked on the photo action along with Team Whooz back at Cajon Pass.

    One incident of note at the sandtrap stop was that Executive Director WhoozOn1st narrowly missed stepping right on a rattlesnake as he walked on the desert sand between vehicles. The snake was coiled in the sand next to tire tracks, almost under a desert shrubbery, and Whooz was fortunate to see it before, well, you know...

    The remainder of the desert trek - 15 more miles of dirt before reaching pavement at route 62 - went off without further hassle, and Team Whooz finally reached its lodging at Parker, Arizona, about 9:00 p.m. While checking in at the Bluewater Hotel and Casino it was learned that the resort on the bank of the Colorado River would also be hosting Grand Canyon Limited passengers for the night, and that they were due in some time after 11:30 p.m.

    Longest Day indeed.

    NEXT: Parker To Williams

    Photos:

    Grand Canyon Limited Departure Day - Trials, travails, and travels as Team Whooz chases the Grand Canyon Limited through southern California's mountains and desert on its departure day (South By Southwest Chief D+2): Los Angeles to Parker, Arizona, 5-14-12. Comprehensively captioned.

    Video:

    Grand Canyon Limited Departs Barstow - Led by Santa Fe 4-8-4 No. 3751, the Grand Canyon Limited heads out of Barstow, California, on 5-14-12, the first day of the excursion's trip to it namesake big ditch. This clip provides a great view of the entire consist up close and personal as it passes before the camera at low speed on its way outta town.

    Grand Canyon Limited Arrives Cadiz - Santa Fe 4-8-4 No. 3751 and the Grand Canyon Limited huff to a halt at Cadiz, California, on 5-14-12 after leaving the BNSF transcontinental main line for a siding to refill the tender and get other service before striking out across the desert on California and Arizona Railroad rails at the blistering pace of 15 miles per hour.

    Intermodal Inferno At Cajon - Higher quality (SmugMug) version of YouTube video above.

    From the top: Santa Fe 4-8-4 No. 3751 and Grand Canyon Limited at Barstow; running at speed out in the desert on the BNSF transcon parallel to I-40; arriving at Cadiz; spot the rattlesnake; there it is, coiled to strike.

    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 14, 2012
  6. Aug 14, 2012 #6

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    Conductor Honored Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2007
    Messages:
    4,281
    Location:
    Southern California
    Parker to Willams

    South By Southwest Chief D+4, 5-15-12, broke blue and blazing on the eastern bank of the Colorado River, just the way Team Whooz (half of it anyway) likes it. Despite Grand Canyon Limited original plans for an early departure from Parker, Arizona, Executive Director WhoozOn1st had predicted that, as a result of late arrival the night before, the train would be departing later as well. Whooz accordingly decreed that there was no rush to get moving from the riverside Bluewater Hotel and Casino.

    He was right, as it turned out, and though the excursion's departure from town was missed it didn't require a long drive on route 95, paralleling Arizona and California Railroad tracks, to catch up with the excursion train.

    Once underway in the increasingly dust-encrusted MayhemMobile it was Executive Assistant Alice's turn for predictions, and hers was that a line of cars pacing the train would be seen before the train itself was spotted. She was also right, and the MayhemMobile spent way too much time stuck behind other vehicles before coming within sight of the Grand Canyon Limited. It's pretty doubtful that the semis and other commerce-oriented trucks were pacing the train, so their presence in the two-lane clogged conga line was likely due to them being stuck behind selfish railfans. As Team Whooz has seen all too often, such cretins are bent on creating traffic hazards and holding up all on the road while they pace locomotives to get their photos and videos (meanwhile trying to drive), which of course is far more important than everything and everybody else on the planet.

    Fortunately an Arizona Highway Patrol car eventually picked its way forward around the jam - passing as opportunities arose - to pull over the lead offender, which had the happy impact of breaking up the jam, at least for a time. This allowed traffic to open up, the trucks to be on about their business, and everybody to get a view of the excursion train in passing.

    And passing wasn't difficult. With a highway speed limit of 55 on the two-lane desert route 95, the Grand Canyon Limited was wavering at around 35 mph and under. Easy to see why a conga line roadblock developed so quickly behind selfish railfan pacers, and why it didn't take Team Whooz long to gain on the whole procession, even after departing Parker about 30 minutes behind it.

    Grabbing several shots while passing the train - Whooz had to scramble into the back to shoot through the window behind driver Alice - the MayhemMobile zoomed ahead and turned left onto route 72 to continue following the rails along a roadside tangent until a wide spot in the road called Bouse was reached.

    As the minivan sailed blithely through Bouse it was noticed that a cluster of cars was gathered near a grade crossing that might be considered the center of town. That is if one could consider Bouse a town at all and not just a collection of roadside shacks and broken-down RV parks. Civic assessments aside, the MayhemMobile was hauled around and parked at a trackside memorial to the WW II tank training facility that had been somewhere in the nearby desert. It was known that run-bys were on the day's itinerary, though not exactly where. The growing collection of cars was a pretty good indication that Bouse was the where for the first run-by of the day.

    And it was! Unfortunately, Valued Readers, we're forced to report that what happened at Bouse was the sorriest excuse for a steam run-by that Team Whooz has ever witnessed. Just pathetic. Normally a steam run-by is an exciting event, with the train backing up a good distance before charging forward in front of the gathered throng. Huffing smoke, blowing steam, ringing bell, blowing whistle, gathering speed. All the mechanical histrionics that make steam locomotives such perennially appealing machines.

    For this one, however, at least they rang the bell and blew the whistle. Everything else was sad. Crawling forward at a snail's pace after the long backup and longer wait, the so-called run-by was little more than an anti-climactic reshuffling of the consist's position on the rails: Passengers off, roll back, wait, roll forward slightly faster than the backing, passengers back aboard, proceed.

    Team Whooz took video of the non-event, but quickly deleted it as not worth the space it used on camera memory chips. A good run-by is often accomapnied by enthusiastic hoots and hollers from onlookers (not good when recording sound with video), but there was none of that. More of a collective sigh of "Huh?" from the roadside and trackside crowd, and one overheard local was irate, complaining, "Is that all? You mean that's why I couldn't cross the tracks to my house for an hour? So a train could go back and forth like that!?" Team Whooz could hardly blame the guy.

    After Bouse the MayhemMobile continued southeast on route 72 - ahead of the excursion train - passing tiny settlements with names like Utting, McVay, Bush Pit (a Republican stronghold?) - where the highway began diverging from the rail line - and Hope (Clinton hangout?) - before turning northeast onto route 60. After diverging, the rails headed for a mountain pass via foothills while the road ran in the flat before turning into the same pass and rejoining the rail line midway through the crossing.

    It was there, in the rugged landscape of the mountain pass between Hope and Salome, that Team Whooz happened upon another knot of folks who appeared to have a good view of the rails from an overlook. Once again the MayhemMobile was hauled about, and after maybe a 30-minute wait the Grand Canyon Limited came working its way over the Winchester mountain pass:




    The Grand Canyon Limited pounds through a pass in the Winchester mountains close to highway 60 between Hope and Salome, Arizona.




    EDIT: This was WAY better than that lame excuse for a run-by back at Bouse!





    Emerging from the mountain pass at Salome, railroad and highway 60 run across an agricultural plain past Love, Gladden, and Aguila. Team Whooz caught up with the train once again, and once again passed it between Love and Gladden, then called a halt for a time at an Aguila grade crossing to wait on the Grand Canyon Limited. Driving was resumed when it became clear that the train was not only far behind the advertised but was also - as the previous day - falling further and further behind rather than making up any time. The old saying was clearly in play: A train that runs late is gonna run later.

    A high-level conference concerning course of action was convened, wherein it was decided to abandon the day's chase and forge ahead to Williams for the night. So after a pitstop at the picturesque town of Wickenburg, Team Whooz and the MayhemMobile headed north across the Bradshaw mountains on route 89. The mountain excursion itself was an enjoyable departure from desert driving, with temperatures dropping as altitude rapidly increased outside Wickenburg - still very warm - through Prescott National Forest and the town of Prescott itself, then on to I-40 and Williams, gateway to the Grand Canyon.

    The Grand Canyon Limited, meanwhile, was to push north along the old Santa Fe "Peavine Route" (aka Phoenix Sub), after leaving Arizona and California rails at Matthie. 3751's crew was not too good about updating their location via TWITter, but the last Team Whooz heard before reaching Williams was that the train was approaching Congress, where the itinerary called for another run-by. Darkness was falling as this was learned; hardly conditions conducive to photographing a run-by, especially given the pathetic nature of the earlier one. A quick look at the map showed that "approaching Congress" meant the train was only just north of Wickenburg as Team Whooz was checking into its Williams lodging for the night.

    The itinerary had called for departure from Congress at 3:30 p.m., and Williams arrival at 7:00 p.m. Team Whooz was turning in for the night when 3751's whistle heralding the excursion's arrival at Williams was heard coming from the Grand Canyon Railway depot a couple blocks away. It was after 11:30 p.m. Team Whooz briefly considered heading over to the station for some night photography of the excursion train, but decided it'd be better to rest up for the next day's big run to the Grand Canyon.

    NEXT: High Desert Doubleheading

    Photos:

    Grand Canyon Limited Day 2 - On the excursion's second day the Grand Canyon Limited departed from Parker, Arizona, and set off across the desert to Williams, the jumping off point for the following day's Grand Canyon run. Team Whooz eventually left the special behind in the sand as it fell further and further behind schedule, finally shuffling into Williams near midnight. Comprehensively captioned.

    Video:

    Grand Canyon Limited Mountain Pass - "Director's Cut" :D Weeds and wind obscure its approach at first, but Santa Fe 3751's whistle provides clarity as the Grand Canyon Limited pounds through a pass in the Winchester mountains close to highway 60 between Hope and Salome, Arizona. The day's destination was Williams, jumping off point for the following day's run to the Grand Canyon, but the train fell farther behind throughout the day. It rolled into Williams close to midnight on 5-15-12, almost 5 hours later than scheduled.

    From the top: The Grand Canyon Limited has backed up the line at and is poised to begin the run-by at Bouse, Arizona; Winding through Arizona hill country near Salome, the excursion train has just passed a small crowd of railfans that enjoyed and photographed its pass close by a highway 60 turnout; Last look at the power for the day as it runs - walks, really - alongside route 60 on a long tangent near Gladden, Arizona.

    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 16, 2012
  7. Aug 14, 2012 #7

    AutoTrDvr

    A

    AutoTrDvr

    OBS Chief

    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Messages:
    601
    Just curious... I assume the P42's are also providing traction power (not just HEP), right? I'd wonder how it would coordinate this with the steam locomotive...

    Also, would the snake be a Mojave rattler or simply a western "D" but just real dirty from the sand?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 14, 2012
  8. Aug 14, 2012 #8

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    Conductor Honored Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2007
    Messages:
    4,281
    Location:
    Southern California
    First, according to an OTOL roster of Amtrak motive power No. 809 (3rd locomotive, 2nd diesel in the pic) is a P40 rebuilt with ARRA funds. IIRC the rebuilds were to P42 standards. Just sayin'... :D

    I don't know just how the steam/diesel coordination works, but I do recall Executive Assistant Alice telling me something about it. She was listening to her scanner during a run-by at Carlsbad Poinsettia (non-Amtrak Coaster commuter train stop in San Diego County) that was part of a San Diego Steam Special headed by Santa Fe 3751 on May 1/2, 2010. She said it sounded like the steam and diesel engineers were coordinating - over their radios - the amount of shove the diesel would give to accelerate the run-by quickly to a certain speed.

    I can also tell you that there's a lot of crew briefing that goes on during watering and service stops, which would naturally involve steam and diesel engineers, as well as pilots of the host railroads. No doubt locomotive coordination is a prime topic during such talks.

    As far as the specific snake species, sorry: I didn't get close enough to ask.

    Here's a link to a video of one of the run-bys from that San Diego Steam Special: Santa Fe 3751 Run-by - San Diego Steam Special 2010, southbound on 5-1-10. Santa Fe 4-8-4 No. 3751 and train perform a photo run-by - the ritual heart of every steam excursion - at Carlsbad Poinsettia, a non-Amtrak Coaster commuter station. The next day's northbound run-by was also at this location.

    [​IMG]



    San Diego Steam Special southbound run-by getting underway at Carlsbad Poinsettia, 5-1-10.

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 14, 2012
  9. Aug 14, 2012 #9

    johnny.menhennet

    johnny.menhennet

    johnny.menhennet

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2011
    Messages:
    1,425
    Location:
    Solana Beach, CA
    ?

    Anyway, Whooz I have absolutely loved following your reports. I think that this trip was so cool, and I eagerly await new installments. Keep writing :)
     
  10. Aug 14, 2012 #10

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    Conductor Honored Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2007
    Messages:
    4,281
    Location:
    Southern California
    Thanks, Dude. Duly noted and corrected. As a SoCal resident myself I should know better, but thanks for spotting the error. Glad you're enjoying South By Southwest Chief, and yeah, more to come. Including even (gasp) the Southwest Chief!!

    I'd also encourage you and all other Valued Readers to check out the SmugMug photo galleries that accompany each installment. They're all creatively edited, comprehensively captioned, and tell much of the story in a fuller "you are there" way than mere words on a screen can convey. Not just a bunch of unexplained snapshots!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 14, 2012
  11. Aug 17, 2012 #11

    Long Train Runnin'

    Long Train Runnin'

    Long Train Runnin'

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,234
    Location:
    Central Jersey
    Top shelf as always. Great photos and excellent writing. Really enjoying it. Looking forward to the next installment.
     
  12. Aug 17, 2012 #12

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    Conductor Honored Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2007
    Messages:
    4,281
    Location:
    Southern California
    Thank you, sir! Next installment coming right along, probably sooner than you think!
     
  13. Aug 17, 2012 #13

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    Conductor Honored Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2007
    Messages:
    4,281
    Location:
    Southern California
    High Desert Doubleheading

    The Grand Canyon Limited was slated for a rare and exciting steam doubleheader for its run to the Grand Canyon on 5-16-12, aka South By Southwest Chief D+5. For some unrecalled reason Team Whooz was tardy in hitting the bricks that morning, missing the excursion train's departure from Williams as a result.

    Not that that was any great tragedy, or that there was any massive rush, so that when the MayhemMobile was duly mounted and pointed north it was for a relaxed and enjoyable drive over high desert plains and through piney woods in hopes of catching the special's arrival at the old Santa Fe depot on the Grand Canyon's south rim.

    On arrival and entry at Grand Canyon National Park on the south rim Team Whooz was fortunate to score parking a decently short distance from a grade crossing. There the excursion train would pass as it entered a wye to turn for backing to the old Santa Fe depot for disgorgement of passengers pending further moves. Timing was fortuitous, as shortly after the teammates secured observation posts the Grand Canyon Limited arrived and paraded past the grade crossing.

    The doubleheading steam locomotives flooded the area of the south rim with dazzling sights and sounds to behold, revel in, and cherish in memory as the snorting engines worked upgrade around the first leg of wye. A pair of deep whistles announced the procession's passage over the wooded landscape. Up close the unsynchronized blasts of stack talk created a unique rhythmic lead to the counterpoint of steam spitting from valves, which was in turn punctuated by the occasional sputtering burst of spinning drivers as both locomotives were plagued by wheelslip in grappling with the grade.

    What a singular spectacle!

    Once THAT show has rolled past it was over to the depot to see what would be cookin' there. The Grand Canyon Railway's regular tourist train - diesel (F40) powered - had already been there and cleared out, so for the time being at least it was strictly a steam show. Oh sure, there was a P42 along, but it was pretty unlikely that so many folks had gone outta their way to see IT.

    Speaking of that diesel, though, astute Valued Readers will recall that the excursion train began the trip with a complement of TWO Amtrak engines. What happened? Team Whooz wondered as well, and eventually learned that the reason for the absence of No. 809 (the P40 rebuild) at the Grand Canyon was that its presence in the consist would have rendered the Grand Canyon Limited too long to fit on the south rim wye. So it rode the bench at Williams for the day.

    After Grand Canyon Limited passengers were off the train and on to their various activities, what was cookin' around the depot (besides fuel oil) was lots of switching moves as the steam locomotives were jockeyed to and fro for display after the P42 took the private varnish away until afternoon departure time rolled around.

    Once the jockeying was complete 3751 and 4960 sat side-by-side on display before the rustic old depot, highly picturesque, photogenic, and naturally drawing a consistent flow of interested visitors taking advantage of the rare opportunity to admire, inspect, photograph, and be photographed with the mechanical live history steaming quietly in the midday heat.

    Because several hours remained before the excursion train was remade for the return run to Williams, Team Whooz indulged a bit of Grand Canyon tourism. Rest easy: neither rant about, nor photos of, that portion of South By Southwest Chief shall be foisted upon you. Team Whooz does not wish to bore the bejeezus out of Valued Readers any more than absolutely necessary.

    South rim tourism was wrapped up in time to observe afternoon rail action, including switching, reboarding, and departure of the Grand Canyon Railway's regular train, and the reassembly and departure of the Grand Canyon Limited. While much of the post-arrival activity had been viewed from a hill overlooking the tracks at the depot, for departure doings Executive Director WhoozOn1st got down in the weeds, dirt, and ditches to experience the proceedings at close quarters; safely of course.

    And Team Whooz was again in good position to watch the Grand Canyon Limited's departure from the National Park. With the excursion train gone there was time for a leisurely drive back to Williams, including stops at spots noted on the way out, like an air museum and a hideously kitschy Flintstones-themed RV park (I swear).

    As the MayhemMobile neared Williams, however, it occurred to the principals that it was likely that the excursion train hadn't passed them yet, and might be along soon. So another stop ensued, this one at a grade crossing also seen on the outbound morning drive. The hunch was quickly confirmed by the presence of other railfans, who were clearly expecting the Grand Canyon Limited to pass.

    Deciding to stop at the grade crossing played out as perhaps the best Team Whooz move of the whole operation to that point. It became the first and only time that the Grand Canyon Limited was seen running at speed up close. It was what a run-by is supposed to be, but hadn't been. And it took place on jointed rail, which meant that to all the great aspects of a steam doubleheader was added the near-forgotten "clickety-clack" sound of yesteryear's trains speeding along over rails as they were originally designed and built. As the great chase segment of South By Southwest Chief neared its end there could not have been a more rewarding and apt highlight:




    The Grand Canyon Limited races alongside route 64 on its return from the Grand Canyon to Williams, Arizona, on 5-16-12. Doubleheading behind Grand Canyon Railway 2-8-2 No. 4960 is Santa Fe 4-8-4 No. 3751. The two locomotives and an Amtrak P42 are moving the train right along! Remember what jointed rail sounded like? In this clip the "clickety-clack" is clear!!






    To be clear, the pass at the grade crossing was not a run-by, just a pass. A run-by in each direction (to and from the canyon) had supposedly been done that day, but Team Whooz hadn't gone off onto the backroads, byways, and boonies trying to track 'em down. After the disappointments of sluggish running on California and Arizona Railroad rails, and the secondary displeasure at not seeing 3751 - the engine most railfans were there to see - leading in at least one direction of the doubleheading (Grand Canyon Railway's home rails, sure, but...), Team Whooz didn't have the enthusiasm left for the extra expenditures of effort - potentially in vain once again - required to go after more run-bys.

    Despite widespread initial expectation among railfans that Santa Fe 3751 would be on display during the following day's layover before beginning the return to Los Angeles, word had spread among them that the locomotive would instead be placed under cover and locked up tight for the duration. That turned out to be the case.

    Team Whooz once again leapfrogged the excursion train after the grade crossing pass, and was waiting back at Williams when it arrived. From a spot near the edge of town, at a grade crossing between the Grand Canyon Railroad's yard and shops, the excursion train could be seen as it poked through a tunnel in the I-40 embankment on the other side of town, and apparently stopped. In the waning light it was difficult to see from such a great distance.

    At the behest of Executive Assistant Alice (the brains of the outfit) Executive Director WhoozOn1st deployed his recently acquired camera's 35X optical zoom lens as makeshift binoculars to see what was what. By this method it became clear that the steam locomotives were being taken off the Grand Canyon Limited and run into a metal shop building at the far end of the storage tracks adjacent to other shops. Under cover and locked up tight for the duration it was.

    While that may have been a great disappoinment to many railfans, it made no nevermind to Team Whooz, which with the Grand Canyon Limited's return to Williams concluded the great chase portion of South By Southwest Chief. A few photos of the private varnish in twilight at the depot, a quick look through the gift shop for postcards, then back to the hotel to prepare for the imminent shift of operations to a new front.

    NEXT: Chiefly Raton

    Photos:

    Grand Canyon Doubleheading - The Grand Canyon Limited at the Grand Canyon, and the run back to Williams, Arizona, on 5-16-12.

    Video:

    Grand Canyon Limited Arrives - Doubleheading steam! Grand Canyon Railway 2-8-2 No. 4690 and Santa Fe 4-8-4 No. 3751 work with an Amtrak P42 as the Grand Canyon Limited arrives at the Grand Canyon on 5-16-12. Notice wheel slip by 3751 as its drivers do some spinning after the locomotives pass.

    Double Backing For Departure - Stand beside the rails and feel the steam as Santa Fe 3751 and Grand Canyon Railway 4960 back together to couple and lead the Grand Canyon Limited out of the National Park.

    Grand Canyon Limited Departs - Doubleheading steam and an Amtrak diesel lead the Grand Canyon Limited out of the excursion train's namesake National Park to begin the return run to Williams, Arizona, on 5-16-12. Another opportunity to view the entire consist close up and personal. The train is lacking a second Amtrak diesel, whooz inclusion would have made the train too long to fit on the wye at the Grand Canyon.

    Grand Canyon Limited At Speed - HD (SmugMug) version of YouTube video above. Headed by Grand Canyon Railway 2-8-2 No. 4960 and Santa Fe 4-8-4 No. 3751, plus an Amtrak P42 for good measure, the Grand Canyon Limited barrels right along, whistling through a grade crossing beside route 64 on the return from its namesake big ditch to the station at Williams, Arizona on 5-16-12. Remember the sound of jointed rail? Enjoy the "clickety-clack" in this clip!

    From the top: 1) Santa Fe's 4-8-4 No. 3751 is a Baldwin product, built in 1927. 3751 was a first for both Santa Fe and Baldwin: their first 4-8-4. On its third day out of L.A. the engine has begun to sport a patina of dust and grime acquired during all that cross-country desert running. No longer a shiny showpiece, 3751's starting to look like a real road engine! 2) The two grand engines - 3751 and 4960 - have nearly reached their display spots at the depot. 3) In this view the steam locomotives have uncoupled and run forward. The rest of the consist is about to head out over the wye to park elsewhere until it's time to remake the train and return to Williams. When it leaves the steam engines will be backed into the depot for display, again until it's time to return to Williams. 4) The excursion train is caught at high zoom as it comes into view around a curve to run beside highway 64 on a long tangent toward Williams. Besides rounding the curve, the excursion train has topped a rise and is about to start running uphill to the grade crossing where photographers - Team Whooz among them - are waiting. 5) A parting shot of Silver Solarium's glowing neon "drumhead" on arrival back at Williams. Team Whooz bade farewell to the Grand Canyon Limited and prepared for the next move in the South By Southwest Chief: riding over Raton Pass aboard Amtrak Southwest Chiefs (yes, plural).

    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 17, 2012
  14. Aug 17, 2012 #14

    johnny.menhennet

    johnny.menhennet

    johnny.menhennet

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2011
    Messages:
    1,425
    Location:
    Solana Beach, CA
    Whooz that clickety-clack is amazing! I love hearing that! Also in the second to last picture, you can see all of the dips in the rail really well.
     
  15. Aug 19, 2012 #15

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    Conductor Honored Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2007
    Messages:
    4,281
    Location:
    Southern California
    Chiefly Raton

    Two days were required for the Team Whooz South By Southwest Chief juggernaut to blitz a mechanized swath across northern Arizona and New Mexico. Excepting a small photo gallery and brief honorable mention, the pledge to not bore the bejeezus out of Valued Readers any more than absolutely necessary will be maintained regarding that lightning push over deserts and mountains en route to Trinidad, Colorado.

    The honorable mention goes to the gentlemen staffing the Amtrak station at Flagstaff, Arizona, on D+5. Vagaries of Amtrak ticketing policy combined with Team Whooz battle plans to dictate that reservations/ticketing for riding Southwest Chiefs over Raton Pass occur at Flagstaff, after departing Williams and before emarking on the two-state advance in earnest.

    There was at first some obscure difficulty in acquiring train reservations and tickets that met the Team Whooz requirements. However, with yeoman perseverance the pair working the counter hit upon a solution that not only worked, but did so at a better price than originally anticipated. Team Whooz gives a grateful shout out to the gentlemen of Flagstaff!

    The other exception (optional at that) to the no-bore pledge is a little gallery of photos taken during a brief stopover at the Chama depot of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. The C&TS is a narrow gauge remnant of the Denver & Rio Grande Western that operates steam trains over 10,000-foot Cumbres Pass on the Colorado/New Mexico border. The line hadn't yet opened for its summer season when Team Whooz dropped by, else it would have played a much larger role in South By Southwest Chief.

    Now where were we? Ah yes...

    On D+7 Team Whooz boarded Southwest Chief train 3 from the sunny Amtrak platform - that's all there is - at Trinidad, Colorado. After rapidly securing lower level Coach seats and getting tickets lifted it was up to the Sightseer Lounge for most of the run to Las Vegas, New Mexico.

    And a beautiful run it is, too. Westbound trains begin climbing into Raton Pass very quickly after leaving Trinidad, and new scenic vistas open up with every curve even before the elevation begins to seriously increase. Additional fun was had on the way outta town by scanning terrain in Trinidad's outskirts to pick out from aboard some trackside spots that Team Whooz had used to catch photos and video of the train during the Ragin' Rails Raid of summer 2011.

    On into the Pass the train kept a-rollin', ears started poppin' and the serious climbin' went to commencin'. Sorry, the G key went bad for a minute there... Photos tell this part of the story better than words on a screen, and even then you really have to be there. There's a sign just before the summit tunnel:

    [​IMG]





    The run down into Raton is by far the short end of the stick. A brief pause at the former rail town - still interesting but a shadow of its former glory - and train 3 was off across the New Mexican prairie, making serious speed at times before winding more slowly through the hill and meadow countryside leading to Las Vegas. Livestock and wildlife exhibited various reactions to the train as it passed through their homes on the range.

    Team Whooz left the train at LSV, where problems cropped up. Whatever was wrong with train 3 led to a lengthy stop that included much crawling around under one of the Superliner coaches. Train 3 was about an hour late by the time it resumed its westbound run. Of course that meant train 4 for the ride back to Trinidad would be running later as well. It was already known that the eastbound was considerably down, and in the single-track territory any delay by one train cascades to others, so 3's dilatory departure caused further delay to 4.

    Bottom line was that Team Whooz was stuck at Las Vegas for several hours. The best was made of the forced layover by exploring the immediate vicinity of the station - there's an old Harvey House hotel next door - but to say that the New Mexico town bears little resemblance to its same name Nevada cousin would be a massive understatement.

    Train 4 showed up at last. Eastward progress proceeded in fits and starts, with slow running punctuated by periods of long sitting. The train made eastward progress, but barely. At least there was plenty of time to select and set up photos from the train, since it was moving so slowly on those occasions when it was moving at all. As Team Whooz prepared to detrain back at Trinidad the conductor regaled them with tales of operational woe that were of less interest than the fact that the train was 3 hours late.

    So rather than the main phase of South By Southwest Chief concluding in a triumphant burst at the finish line it ended instead with a pathetic limp into darkness. All major objectives had been achieved, but Amtrak had proved itself a weak link in the chain of success.

    Photos:

    Southwest Chiefs Over Raton: TRI-LSV-TRI - Riding Southwest Chief trains 3 and 4 from Trinidad, Colorado over Raton Pass to Las Vegas, New Mexico - and back again - on 5-19-12.

    Cumbres & Toltec At Chama - Stopping by the Cumbres & Toltec railroad at the Chama end of the line on 5-18-12, a couple weekends before the start of the summer operating season.

    Video:

    Smokin' Southwest Chief Leaving Las Vegas - Demo video for diesel particulate pollution (or are steam engines hiding under those monocoque hoods) as Southwest Chief train 3 departs - about an hour late - from Las Vegas, New Mexico on 5-19-12.

    Southwest Chief Outruns I-25 Motorcycle - The Team Whooz smartphone GPS says 82 mph as Amtrak's Southwest Chief train 3 walks away from a heavy tricycle driving on I-25 between Raton and Las Vegas, New Mexico.

    From the top: 1) On the ground at Las Vegas, New Mexico, where train 3 has already been sitting for some time due to an issue with the undercarriage. 2) Something about the brakes, and everybody wants to know what's the holdup. 3) Semaphore signals on the line beside I-25. 4) Every curve on Raton Pass provides a new power panorama.

    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]
     
  16. Aug 23, 2012 #16

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    Conductor Honored Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2007
    Messages:
    4,281
    Location:
    Southern California
    Addendum: Desert Electrics

    Moving on to edit photos and videos from another Team Whooz endeavor, some shots from a forgotten episode of South By Southwest Chief turned up. On the first day of the run from Williams, Arizona, to Trinidad, Colorado, what seemed a mirage appeared in the shimmering desert heat.

    Photos:

    Black Mesa & Lake Powell Railroad - Electric trains in the middle of nowhere: Team Whooz could hardly believe its collective eyes - all 8 of 'em - when a fill that appeared to be strung with catenary on top loomed in the desert as the MayhemMobile closed in, motoring along highway 160 between Tuba City and Kayenta, Arizona. On D+5 of South By Southwest Chief a previously unknown (to Team Whooz anyway) electric railroad had been discovered! Turns out it's the Black Mesa & Lake Powell Railroad (BM&LP). All Team Whooz knew at the time was that it had to be an industrial installation of the type Executive Director WhoozOn1st had read about in Trains magazine. Exactly which one remained a mystery until the far end of the line, the loading loop adjacent to Black Mesa, was reached by continuing to drive east on 160 - on the way to riding the Southwest Chiefs over Raton Pass. Even then it was only learned who owned the railroad (Peabody Western Coal Co.; BM&LP is strictly a coal hauler.), but that was enough to point Team Whooz in the right direction for completing the puzzle.

    Unfortunately the line wasn't operating as Team Whooz drove alongside it, and at least one reason why was a maintenance of way crew seen working on the rails a few miles west of the mine loading loop. For more on the railroad, including photos and video of the line in operation, see The Black Mesa and Lake Powell Railroad.

    From the top: 1) Nearly the first view Team Whooz had of the BM&LP right of way as the MayhemMobile rolled up on highway 160, 5-17-12; looking northwest. 2) Looking east from a grade crossing, toward the mine (not known at the time). 3) The BM&LP in operation, including two locomotives purchased from Mexico at center of the leading power.

    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 23, 2012
  17. Aug 23, 2012 #17

    MrFSS

    MrFSS

    MrFSS

    Conductor Honored Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2004
    Messages:
    9,713
    Location:
    Central Kentucky
    Patrick - I was able to catch the train in 1997 with my old Super 8 camera. I didn't even know it was there until we saw it way off in the distance and I was able to pull over and catch a run by.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZZYtect0_A
     
  18. Aug 23, 2012 #18

    johnny.menhennet

    johnny.menhennet

    johnny.menhennet

    Conductor

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2011
    Messages:
    1,425
    Location:
    Solana Beach, CA
    I've seen this too! On my drive from Four Corners to Flagstaff via a loop up into Utah through Monument Valley, I drive along this as well. it was really neat, and I too was puzzled by its existence. Neat though, and that was a really cool video MrFSS! The horn is the best part!
     
  19. Aug 25, 2012 #19

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    Conductor Honored Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2007
    Messages:
    4,281
    Location:
    Southern California
    Concidentally a double-purpose post! What better way to wrap up South By Southwest Chief than with my 4,000th rant? And that's only using this screen name: I originally joined under another, similar, name in 2004, then forgot about it and rejoined using a variant in 2007.

    To begin the wrap up (clips gathered from the trip scattered about) there's a video that I hope others will heed and learn from. As the Grand Canyon Limited was arriving at its namesake Big Ditch on 5-16-12, Team Whooz Executive Assistant Alice was also standing by and catching video of the great doubleheading (tripleheading if you count Amtrak's P42) entry to the National Park. Unfortunately her shot was destroyed by an obese interloper who enters the shot and stands right in fron of here for the duration. Please, folks, when you're trackside taking photos and video of trains, don't be among the boorish bunch of railfans. Be aware of your surroundings and treat your fellow photographers - able-bodied and otherwise - with the same respect you wish to be accorded by others.

    Excepting the last clip the videos are in chronological order, just as things occurred at the Grand Canyon's south rim on that fine day in May.

    Video:

    Obese, Obnoxious Interloper Blocks Alice's Grand Canyon Limited Vid - As Team Whooz Executive Assistant Alice shoots a video of the Grand Canyon Limited's arrival at the Grand Canyon's south rim, an obese, obnoxious interloper blithely strolls into her shot and proceeds to stand directly in front of her to selfishly grab his own photos at Alice's expense. Alice works from a wheelchair. It gets worse: The fat clown turns around, looks directly into Alice's camera, then heedlessly resumes shooting. He's soon joined by a thinner, but every bit as rude, dude, who eventually leaves. Fat hatboy eventually leaves as well, but not before again looking directly at Alice, apparently to make sure he's been as big a jerk as possible before moving on to commit further feats of incomparable rudeness. Perhaps the worst aspect of this obtuseness is that it is not unusual: Alice has to deal with such behavior all the time when attempting photography around railfans (a blatantly boorish bunch when trackside). The only unusual aspect here is that 1) she caught it on video instead of just in stills, and 2) I decided to post it online on the off chance that the offender will be recognized and castigated by someone for being such a flaming shirtheel.

    Pushin' Too Hard: Wheelslip On Wye - A little windblown on the audio, but with two steam locomotives and an Amtrak diesel shoving for a change, the Grand Canyon Limited backs over a wye to the old Santa Fe depot on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, 7-16-12. Watch Grand Canyon Railway 2-8-2 No. 4960 - last in line - closely as its drivers slip and spin: not once, but twice, as it pushes just a little too hard during the low-speed maneuver.

    Steam In, Varnish Out - As Amtrak P42 No. 66 pulls the Grand Canyon Limited's private varnish consist away from the old Santa Fe depot on the Grand Canhyon's south rim, Santa Fe 3751 and GCRX 4960 back toward the depot to be spotted for display in fron of the depot. Some nice rail action!

    3751 Moves Up At Grand Canyon - Santa Fe 4-8-4 No. 3751 moves slowly forward at the old Santa Fe depot on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, 5-16-12.

    4960 Moves Up At Grand Canyon - Grand Canyon Railway 2-8-2 No. 4960 moves forward during switching at the old Santa Fe depot on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, 7-16-12.

    Amtrak Backs Varnish For Grand Canyon Departure - In preparation for reboarding and departure from the old Santa Fe depo on the Grand Canyon's south rim, Amtrak heritage-painted P42 No. 66 backs the varnish consist of the Grand Canyon Limted into place. Once it's spotted the two steam locomotive leaders, Santa Fe 4-8-4 No. 3751 and Grand Canyon Railway 2-8-2 No. 4960, will back from off camera at left to head the consist for the return run to Williams, Arizona on 7-16-12.

    3751 Slow @ Cadiz - The Grand Canyon Limited comes off the Cadiz wye onto California and Arizona Railroad Rails, 7-14-12.

    [​IMG]



    3751 and 4960 bask on display in the spring sunshine at the old Santa Fe depot on the Grand Canyon's south rim, 5-16-12.

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 26, 2012
  20. Aug 26, 2012 #20

    Michigan Mom

    Michigan Mom

    Michigan Mom

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    468
    Location:
    MI
    Can't even begin to tell you how much enjoyment I have gotten from this. Team Whooz should know how they had saved me, when I first started reading this thread. North woods, first week of AugUst.... spotty internet, no TV, no phone. Couldn't remember my login when the Net did connect.... so logged in as a guest, feverish for something fun to read. After brigning up this page, it stayed on even when the connection died. Best entertainment I could have hoped for while trying not to lose my mind.

    Now back home, finally got my password reset and logged in to read the rest of the travelogue. Loved the narrative and pics excellent as always, but the best has to be the sentence with the most alliteration that has been strung together in the history of the English language. Genius!

    GO TEAM WHOOZ !
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 26, 2012
  21. Aug 31, 2012 #21

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    WhoozOn1st

    Conductor Honored Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2007
    Messages:
    4,281
    Location:
    Southern California
    Thank you for the kind words. Y'know, interestingly I inevitably instantly imagined initial itemized interim inland interlude imperatives. Must be it's incredibly inherently ingrained.

    Team Whooz will indeed go: Amtrak Unlimited's Sixth Annual Gathering is the next big item on the active adventure agenda.

    [​IMG]



    After the steam locomotives have been taken off and put to bed, Amtrak P42 No. 66 pulls the Grand Canyon Limited the last mile to Williams, Arizona, passing a stored Grand Canyon Railway Alco-led consist along the way.

     

Share This Page

arrow_white