The Memorial Day Weekend Mega Tour - Part 5

(Continued from: The Memorial Day Weekend Mega Tour - Part 4)

It felt good to rest. So much so that I rested the entire next day, Sunday, as well. I took that time to reflect on the trials of the Cima Subdivision experience and the triumphs from the Needles Subdivision. I still did not have my fill of chasing steel yet so I sat down with my iPad and made plans for Monday, Memorial Day.

I sought some location that would work best with the rising sun during sunrise. To that end, I used an application that I have for my iPad that graphically plots the sun’s location as an overlay on Goggle’s map application for a given location for any given moment in time.

Considering my lack of sleep thus far over the weekend I wanted some place that I could reach in relative short order so that I could sleep as long as possible. Given all my requirements I settled on a curve location on BNSF’s San Bernardino Subdivision at a place called Prado Dam by the railroad.

The time to rise came quickly and I gathered my gear and set out. I reached the target location in no time at all and drove around looking for the right spot. I finally settled, for various reasons, on a location that passed under Prado Road which leveraged the road’s bridge to gain a good vantage point.  

I set-up my cameras. Looking at track side signals I could see that a westbound was lined through.  It now just a matter of time. As I waited, many locals passed me either walking or jogging. After about 30 minutes it became clear that I was “that weird guy” that just seemed out place. Here I was standing on a bridge next to a camper for no discernible reason. People were crossing the street before approaching my area. But hey, I understand, better safe than sorry. I didn’t take it personally.

Soon I heard the westbound train blow her horn for the grade crossing near the Metrolink’s West Corona station at Auto Center Drive. I instinctively looked at my watch to calculate the time it would take another westbound train to come into view once I heard them blow the crossing so I could make use of that information for future shots.

A few short minutes later a westbound unit train of tank cars, one of my all-time favorite types of trains, came into view under Interstate 91. I was in position and took a series of shots that I am rather proud of because I planned for it and it worked out:

BNSF 7415 West at Sunrise - On Memorial Day 2010, BNSF 7415 (GE ES44DC) is the lead unit on this unit train through Prado Dam, CA, just after sunrise. [5/31/2010 - San Bernardino Subdivision]

BNSF 7415 West at Sunrise 2 - [5/31/2010 - San Bernardino Subdivision]

Unit Train at Prado Dam - [5/31/2010 - San Bernardino Subdivision]

As if to compensate for the strike-out I suffered out on the Cima Sub on Saturday, the BNSF served up another gem for me. Shortly after the unit train cleared the area the westbound Southwest Chief, Amtrak Train #3, graced my viewfinder:  

Southwest Chief at Sunrise - AMTK 42 (GE P42DC) and AMTK 124 (GE P42DC) provide the power for the last 35 miles of the run of the westbound Southwest Chief, Amtrak #3, rounding a curve near Prado Dam, CA at sunrise on Memorial Day 2010. [5/31/2010 - San Bernardino Subdivision]

Once the sun had shifted I decided to move on. I headed east out of Corona bound for Union Pacific’s Yuma Subdivision in San Timoteo Canyon. I really enjoy the chase in the canyon because of the curvature of the tracks and the overall rural feeling that the area has.

Once again though I was bitten by the reduced volume of traffic and only saw two trains the entire 4 hours I spent there. Here is a one of them, a loaded eastbound auto train:

The weekend had come to close as I headed west towards home. As I leisurely motored on, I reflected on the weekend’s activities. Looking at the odometer on my truck’s speedometer I saw that I had covered nearly 675 miles! All total I “chased” 6 subdivisions to one degree or another: 

  • BNSF’s Cajon Subdivision
  • BNSF’s Needles Subdivision
  • Metrolink’s San Gabriel Subdivision
  • Union Pacific’s Cima Subdivision
  • Union Pacific’s Los Angeles Subdivision
  • Union Pacific’s Yuma Subdivision

I had planned to just spent a nice and quite few days camping near the Cima Subdivision. That wasn’t to be. Instead I went on “the mega tour,” and enjoyed the experience, but next time I think that I try to be less mega and more patient.

Perhaps I should call the Union Pacific ahead of time…


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