Stevens Pass 2010
by Lindsay Korst
Saturday, June 12, 2010
2010 was a very wet spring in the Pacific Northwest with rain or clouds
practically every day through
May and the early part of June. Thus, I looked at the Wednesday morning weather
report for the
weekend as "sunny and 75 degrees" with some trepidation. In a remarkable display
forecasting, Saturday dawned with blue skies and sunshine! Time to go train
Up at 0430 and off to Monroe for gas, breakfast and vittles for later on.
Signals all dark eastward.
I trundled up US 2 towards the mountains in the fog. First stop was Goldbar
where the eastbound
signal was "yellow over red". Hmmm...eastbound holding main? The scanner was
In the yard at Goldbar was a tied-up rail train, with the accompanying ballast
cars and welding
paraphernalia. Also present was a warbonnet BNSF 4700 Dash 9-44CW towing what
appeared to be an F
unit and a rotary snowplow. Couldn't quite make out the number of the F or the
plow, but the rotary
had a very spiffy set of green flags atop the cab (section following?).
Just past the 1751 bridge, we broke out into the sun. Mount Index was absolutely
stunning and snow-covered. Dark signals at Baring siding. I took the leisurely turn off at Money
Creek for the drive
to Sky. Skykomish is really a wreck with the depot far up the track, buildings
every which way, and
the oil removal in full swing. Crossing the tracks, however, green signal.
My camera was going crazy with the contrasty, low-light-into-the-sun conditions.
The first train of
the day had quite the assortment of power with the first car being an ex-GN BSB
Amtrak was due (according to "Hi, I'm Julie, let's get started") so I set up at
the Bonneville Power
crossing. Meh, so-so, if you're into contrast. I followed #7 down the hill. Low
and behold, there
was an eastbound to follow with a spotless BNSF 7239 "swoosh" on the point.
Next stop was up Foss Road to try out a new angle on the trestle.
Back up the hill I went, deciding to try out Deception Creek for my next shot as
this train was
really struggling uphill...looked to only be going about 10 or 15 mph.
Yeech... Sorry, really bad picture. At this point, I took my camera off "speed"
and just set it on
Program. Next stop, East Portal of Cascade Tunnel.
A little better, but my Rebel is just not handling sunshine this morning.
Perhaps the more even
light of Eastern WA will do the trick.
That's better. Coulter Creek crossing, just east of Merritt and 7239 is finally
starting to unwind.
Usually those mountains are in clouds so this was a pleasant surprise.
Always wanted to get a picture here. BNSF 7239 and mates roar across US 2
towards Winton tunnel.
Of course, there's only one place to photograph a freshly painted unit on the
point, and that's at
Monitor curve. There is a huge "parking lot" here where one usually sets up that
filled with a 20 foot high pile of pea gravel. I'm sort of at the cliff's edge
getting this picture.
On through Wenatchee, I can hear the train talking about his crew change at the
engine terminal. I
know they will be out of town shortly. I cross the Columbia and can see a rather
across the river. I head for Rock Island Dam and set up.
I'm standing there in the sun enjoying the river view. Soon after leaving
Wenatchee, 7239 reports
his engine is not loading in power and that he'll "never make the hill" (up
Lynch Coulee, Trinidad
horseshoe and on to Quincy). I can see the train roll to a stop in the distance.
He calls the
Mechanical Department in "Fo' worth", who walks him through resetting the
computer on the locomotive.
After several tries (and 90 minutes or so), he's got the unit back online and
working in power. He
starts up, passes Rock Island Dam and below me onto Columbia Siding.
Notice in that last picture, BNSF 7239 is overtaking a double stack train in the
siding. It appears
to have one unit either used as distributed power, or most of the power cut off
and ran to Wenatch.
Not sure which. The train was still there parked when I came home.
I roar up SR 28 and decide to forsake the "sand pit shot" (double S curves) and
set up on Trinidad
horseshoe. Normally this time of day (1 pm or so), it is blazing hot up here,
but it is quite
pleasant today (what with all the rain they've been having), so I park the
Tacoma and hike up on the
hillside. The pictures turned out very nicely, even in this up and down light.
One more thing...Trinidad horseshoe now finally has a "No Trespassing" sign, but
the local kids have
done a fine job of pelting it with dirt clods and peppering it with bullet
holes. So it has that
I make my way back down the hill and just as I'm turning off the access road,
here comes an eastbound
Z literally on the stack train's yellow block. He is going very slow, so I
decide to try a shot of
him just before he enters Trinidad tunnel.
Nice clouds, eh? Although the faded paint on the second unit is hideous. It's a
Z all right, going
noticeably slower than usual with his collection of J.B. Hunt and Schneider
Next mission is to visit Quincy and see if I can pick up a westbound to follow
home. New crops on
both side of SR 28 including "concord grapes, apples and blueberries", according
to little, blue
signs roadside. There's a big street fair going on in town off the main drag,
but not much in the
way of train activity. The scanner is silent.
Back to Wenatchee, stopping at Rock Island Shell for some gasoline. As I
approach East Wenatchee,
the scanner crackles, "BNSF Detector Milepost 1607.9...." (Winchester) Sweet! A
Westbound to follow
home. Hmmm...maybe its a fast Z that will get me over the pass quickly.
Mileposts 1622.2, 1633.6
and 1638.1 all sound off. He's getting close. I head to Appleyard and set up
near the cool GN block
signals. I wait. I wait some more. Where the hell is he? It's getting close to
4pm and the light
in the mountains will be going down.
Not a Z. It's a grainer who has lined himself into the yard and slowly rolling along.
Sigh. Nothing to
follow. I decide to punch home.
I can't leave this missive with a picture of that horribly-weathered Heritage II
paint job. So
here's something I've never seen before on Trinidad -- flowers. Desert bloom -
just add water.
From Wenatchee, it's a quick 2 hour, 34 minute drive home. Saw or heard only one
train. It was at
"Spindly Bridge" near Zeke's Drive In east of Gold Bar. An eastbound grainer
passed right overhead
as I flew underneath at 60 per. Too fast for a grab shot, but a kick memory,
As always, I had a great time! Coming up next is a September 2010 visit of a
lifetime to Glacier
National Park with the GNRHS.