Green River – Helper

California Zephyr (II)

After not seeing any freight trains the day before, we tried our luck again on the Thompson – Green River section. Landscape was looking too promising. First train that came through was the eastbound California Zephyr. Today it was hauled by a locomotive in phase I livery, commemorating Amtrak’s 40th anniversary in 2011.
With this photo, I tried a new technique of developping the photos by improving clarity and vibrance and making local adjustments.

Amtrak's 156 hauls the California Zephyr from San Francisco to Chicago through Green River. 1.6.2014
Amtrak’s 156 hauls the California Zephyr from San Francisco to Chicago through Green River. 1.6.2014

Some like it hot, and dry

We wanted to make a photo with the Book Cliffs as a background. All we needed was a train coming from Green River to make it work. Unfortunately, we only saw traffic coming from the wrong side. But then, fortunately, this train needed some pushing units on the back of the train.
The landscape doesn’t only look very arid, it most definitely was hot and dry here. Some animals, say snakes, like this environment enough to live in though. I discovered this while patiently waiting and reading a book on a rock, when suddenly I became aware of something sneaking up to me. Needless to say that I couldn’t sit at ease on a rock anymore that day πŸ™‚

Union Pacific's 6963 is helping a coal train getting to its destination in the moon-like landscape around Green River. 1.6.2014
Union Pacific’s 6963 is helping a coal train getting to its destination in the moon-like landscape around Green River. 1.6.2014
A Sonoran Gopher Snake, my first encounter with a living snake. Green River, 1.6.2014
A Sonoran Gopher Snake, my first encounter with a living snake. Green River, 1.6.2014

To the moon

What does the moon look like? I think we got an idea while hanging around Green River’s Book Cliffs. From a position a bit higher than the previous one, we got another coal train being helped by a pushing unit.
After this photo, it was high time to feed our stomachs and find a new spot, towards Price River Canyon.

UP's 5688 pushes a coal train on the moon. Green River, 1.6.2014
UP’s 5688 pushes a coal train on the moon. Green River, 1.6.2014

Have I seen you before?

After lunch in Green River, we started looking for a new photo ocation and found this one. The place is called Cedar according to the Atlas, but apart from a level crossing there’s nothing to see πŸ™‚
After only a few minutes, we heard the rumble of a train in the distance, and a few more minutes later the same coal train we saw earlier passed us! 2.5 hours have passed, the distance covered was about 40km. Crew change maybe, or waiting for another train?

UP 6770 hauls a coal train north towards Price River Canyon. Cedar (UT), 1.6.2014
UP 6770 hauls a coal train north towards Price River Canyon. Cedar (UT), 1.6.2014

Third time’s a charm

We had our photo, and after assuring nothing more was coming we continued north. We took our time, booking a room at a motel in the meantime, and looking for a new spot to photograph a train.
Price River Canyon offers some good possibilities for spectacular shots. Our first stop was at Castle Gate. And again, after only a few minutes waiting a train came around the bend. The same train as a few hours before. Really. In all those years of making photos of trains I’ve never accidentally seen the same train more than twice.

UP's 6770 pulls a coal train up the hill in Price River Canyon. Castle Gate (UT), 1.6.2014
UP’s 6770 pulls a coal train up the hill in Price River Canyon. Castle Gate (UT), 1.6.2014

Just turn around

Sometimes all you need to do is turn around. A rear helper was definitely necessary to get this heavy train up the hill. What you can’t see on the photo are the mid-train helpers. No need to tell the heavy train was rolling by really slowly. A treat for our eyes and ears!

UP's 5688 pushes a heavy coal train uphill. Castle Gate (UT), 1.6.2014
UP’s 5688 pushes a heavy coal train uphill. Castle Gate (UT), 1.6.2014

Taking our time

It was obvious that no real effort from our part was needed to make some more photos of this train. We took our time packing our stuff and continueing the road up the canyon. The road follows the line rather well, so it’s easy to find new locations, even without having been there before. In no time we had passed the hard-working rear and middle helpers and the leading engines… time to position ourselves on the next nice location we saw and just await what we knew was coming.
Following a train is not our usual way of making photos, but we really couldn’t avoid it this time.

UP's 6770 is still working hard, slowly pulling a heavy coal train uphill. Kyune (UT), 1.6.2014
UP’s 6770 is still working hard, slowly pulling a heavy coal train uphill. Kyune (UT), 1.6.2014

Cut and paste

Enjoying the beautiful sunny evening, we drove on through the canyon, following the train. We found it stopped at Colton, on top of the hill. This is where the mid-train helper locomotives were taken out. If you look good, you can see them on the photo, through the heat waves.
The train will continue its trip donw spanish Fork Canyon with 2 engines in front and 1 in the back.

During a stop to take out the mid-train helper locomotives, we see UP's 6770 waiting to continue down Spanish Fork Canyon. Colton (UT), 1.6.2014
During a stop to take out the mid-train helper locomotives, we see UP’s 6770 waiting to continue down Spanish Fork Canyon. Colton (UT), 1.6.2014

And off we go again

After being recopomposed, the train is slowly gaining speed again. The sun was starting to set, indicating almost the end of us following this coal train. 6 hours, and very relaxed, and lots of photos. This was definitely worth the effort.

UP's 6770 is waiting for departure. Colton (UT), 1.6.2014
UP’s 6770 is waiting for departure. Colton (UT), 1.6.2014
We see UP's 5688 still pushing, or maybe also braking the train on its way down to Salt Lake City. Colton (UT), 1.6.2014
We see UP’s 5688 still pushing, or maybe also braking the train on its way down to Salt Lake City. Colton (UT), 1.6.2014

Not over yet

After the unvoluntary chase we agreed to call the evening a success. And still it wasn’t over. The coal train had taken so much time climbing up the hill, that another train was following right behind.
Moments like this are a strong contrast to those days where nothing seems to work. I guess you need some of both, although I prefer when things do work out for the good πŸ™‚

A mixed train reaches the summit at Colton, only minutes after the passing of a heavy coal train. UP 4875, Colton (UT) 1.6.2014
A mixed train reaches the summit at Colton, only minutes after the passing of a heavy coal train. UP 4875, Colton (UT) 1.6.2014

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