Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Colorado Adventure - Trains Seen Along the Way

As most of you know, I am quite the train and railroad enthusiast. (We call ourselves "railfans", like "sportsfans".) I had plenty of opportunities to see trains on the way to and from Colorado, as well as in Colorado. For the most part the trains I saw were from the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe railroad, travelling along US 287 in Texas. But, I also had the chance to stop and take some photographs at two significant locations.

Two BNSF locomotives along US 287 - one in the New BNSF paint scheme, the other in the old Santa Fe scheme.

Two new BNSF locomotives traverse southern Colorado, near Trinidad.

One of these locations is significant to most every railfan - Raton Pass (here). Raton Pass is a "Meca" ("must visit") of the railfan's. Raton Pass is notable not only as being a major point on the Santa Fe Trail, but also as being the gateway (7834 ft) from New Mexico to Colorado on one of the old Santa Fe Railway's major raillines. This railline is still used frequently by the Santa Fe's successor - the Burlington Northern & Santa Fe RR.

"Red over Red" / Sun over Mountain - the Southern approach to Raton Pass on the BNSF RR.

Morning sun highlights two BNSF locomotives waiting for a new crew to pilot their train up and over the famed Raton Pass into Colorado.

The other location I mentioned is more significant to me than it would be to other 'fans. Alamosa, CO. is the home of the St. Luis & Rio Grande Railroad. A friend and pen-pal of mine for about 4 years, who worked for a railroad in Dallas, the late Jim Bradley, helped to start-up this railroad a couple of years prior to his death from cancer in 2005. He told me about his experiences running long freight trains across the varying topography of that part of Colorado - from prairie to steep passes and back again. Encounters with bears and elk and deer on the tracks, as well as slippery rails from heavy snow fall made for an exciting story for me to hear about, and I'm sure and even more interesting experience for him. It was neat to be able to see up close the area he worked on for a few months during the time I knew him.

The SLRG's Steam locomotive (used for passenger excusion trains) sitting in the Alamosa Yard.

One of the SLRG diesel locomotives

This machine is very useful in Coolorado. Don't see them too often in Texas, not enough snow.

Beautiful! A Southern Pacific locomotive, snow, mountains and it's in Colorado! What more could a railfan ask for?

The railroad workers get the passenger cars ready for the Polar Express winter excursion train. Rumor was that Santa was to take a ride on the train!

The view from the eastern end of the Alamosa Yard.

The employees at the yard were friendly and kind enough to allow me to walk around the yard amongst the equipment in order to get these photos. This is fairly normal for a smaller railroad like this, but pretty rare for a large(r) railroad such as the BNSF. I enjoyed this unique opportunity.


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