After several years of making idle attempts, the opportunity finally came along to join my friends Mark and Rick on one of their annual California railfan trips this past March. The centerpoint of the time spent there is the annual Winterail event held in Stockton. But with the money and time invested in such a trip for us easterners, it makes it worth while to spend an extra week exploring the many railroad photography opportunities that this vast state has to offer. With a wide range of camera gear and clothing to cover the extremes from Donner to the Desert, we land in San Fransisco on March 7th, pick up our brand new Ford Excursion from Hertz, and are ready to attack the western state.

After departing the San Fransisco/Oakland area in the Excursion, our first stop was to explore the Frasier Canyon area on the BNSF. Two intermodals roll by.
The next morning we attack Donner Pass on the former Southern Pacific, now UP. Snowfighting gear sits at Truckee, CA.
An eastbound BNSF run-thru rolls through Truckee.
We next position ourselves on the western slope for an approaching UP train. Shorty readies the cameras - Jim monitors the radio for activity - Rick writes in the snow.
The westbound UP train glides around the curve, and two GE DPU's follow up on the tail. The sunlight wasn't the best here at this location, but the scenery was too good to pass up.
Our next task was hiking up a steep embankment through three feet of snow up to shed 10. Once positioned, we waited about three hours for this amtrak train to arrive.
On Saturday, we only took a couple of shots around the Stockton area before attending the Winterail events. Finding a GP30, regardless if its rebuilt or not, is always a good find.
Another unique find: Harbor Belt Line #102. This was a rare version of the "Passenger Geep", in that it has the extended box at the end of the long hood for a small generator. CNJ, CNW, and B&M are were the only roads to order these GP7's (to my knowledge).
The last shot taken before heading to the show was of these Altemont Commuter Express F59's. After the show, we drove until about 3am the next morning to get to Bakersfield.
The reasoning for the long, late night drive was only logical - to be in position first thing Sunday morning for Tehachapi Loop action!!! A UP train climbs upgrade, as observed from the classic location.
As this train heads towards Mohave, another UP intermodal rides its heels.
Upon arriving to the west end of Mojave yard, we find a westbound train having DPU helper problems. A UP power set is summoned from the yard to drag the crippled BNSF set past our Hertz "rent-a-bus". For unknown reasons, the problems with this particular train would not be rectified until after nightfall.
The clouds rolling off the mountains became very difficult to deal with at Mojave, so after this UP eastbounder (which we had seen earlier on the Loop) rolled by, we decided to move west back towards the town of Tehachapi.
Moving west proved to be a wise decision from a sunshine standpoint, but in the process of moving to better light, we almost missed this eastbound BNSF train rocketing through Monolith.


Last updated 04/29/02