random thoughts on railroad photography, railfanning, technology, and such

Union Pacific's ICTF Family Days 2011

Giving Back and Sharing the Magic

On Saturday, October 22, 2011, Union Pacific’s ICTF (Intermodal Container Transfer Facility) threw a party to honor the facility’s employees and their family members. It was also an opportunity to take off the hard hats and safety gear and just relax and enjoy good food and activities with other team members. The event was “ICTF Family Days 2011” and I was graciously extended an invitation to join in the fun and frivolity. So I cleared a couple of hours off of my busy schedule and headed towards the heart of the Los Angeles/Long Beach harbor region.

What’s the ICTF?

Tucked in and nestled amongst the refineries and processing facilities of Long Beach, California and adjacent to the interchange of Interstate 405 and 710, lies Union Pacific’s Intermodal Container Transfer Facility or ICTF. This 233 acre facility is a keystone component in Union Pacific’s intermodal business and provides a very valuable service to the shipping companies that dock at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.  A good portion of the shipping containers that are destined for locations in the interior regions of the United States are transferred to trains at the ICTF.

More details and photos are available in last year’s post: “Union Pacific’s ICTF - An Amazing Complex.”

Honoring the Past

On July 30, 2005, Union Pacific announced thier “Heritage Series Locomotive Program.” A press release decsribes the program as:

Union Pacific’s Heritage Series Locomotive Program“…an unprecedented new Heritage series of locomotives that will honor the people and the railroads that have made the company what it is today. Each locomotive will feature a unique paint scheme, incorporating elements of one of the six major railroads that have merged with Union Pacific.”

“It is important that we take an historical perspective of who we are and how we got here,” Davidson said, (then Union Pacific Chairman and CEO Dick Davidson). “Our reputation as America’s greatest railroad has been strengthened by the many lines that have become a part of the UP. It is time we pay homage to those railroads and the generations of men and women who helped to build a great nation and the foundation for our future.”

Since the ICTF’s heritage goes back to the days of the former Southern Pacific Transportation Company, the Union Pacific had UP 1996 on hand to help mark the occasion:

UP 1996, the Southern Pacific Heritage Unit. © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.

It was announced on August 11, 2011 that Union Pacific’s Heritage Locomotive Fleet Program was selected as a winner of the 2011 Brunel Awards International Railway Design Competition. The fleet represented the United States in the category of “Industrial Design, Corporate Branding, Graphics, and Furnishings.”

One of the static display booths featured the Union Pacific Railroad Police Department staffed by local agents with their vehicles and exhibiting old police memorabilia such as this helmet from the old Southern Pacific Railroad Police. © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.

Honoring the Fight

Also on hand was UP 7400, Union Pacific’s GE C45ACCTE that is painted in a special “pink ribbon” scheme as a tribute to Union Pacific’s support of Susan G. Komen for the Cure® and the many lives – employees, community members, friends and family – affected by breast cancer.

Unfortunately the unit was partly obscured by “caution tape,” which can be seen the photo of the UP 1996 unit above, and I couldn’t get a good sunlit angle on the unit. (You can see the unit in the poster at the bottom of the post.)


The two units on display, UP 1996 and UP 7400, offered employees and guests alike an opportunity to safely see a modern diiesel-electric locomotive up close and personal. © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.

Union Pacific’s Miniature Train

One of Union Pacific’s most popular “goodwill ambassadors”, and at this event it was no different, is their miniature train, the UP 956. The train was built in Union Pacific’s Omaha locomotive and rail car repair shops in 1956 and the mini-train is sometimes called the “Pride of the Omaha Shops.” It is often booked for company and civic events, including parades, for up to three years out. The train has two cars that afford full-size passengers an opportunity to be a kid again.

The hit of the party, UP’s miniature train, the UP 956. © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.

An apprehensive wave from a youngster who just boarded the miniature train for his first time. I am not sure if he was leery of the ride or of the unknown guy taking his photo! © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.

After exiting the train from his ride, a youth takes a closer look at the caboose on the rear of the minature train. © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.

 A an apparent future sports hero settles in for the ride. © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.

Up until 1998, the miniature train traveled around the 23-state UP system in a pair of special boxcars stenciled with “Miniature Train Service” on the side of the boxcars. Now the train moves to each event in a custom big-rig, akin to a racecar hauler, built exclusively for the mini-train. © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.

Rounding Out the Event

Catering for the celebration was provided by the insanely popular In-N-Out Burger, Dogzilla (Not your typical wiener!), and Kogi (Korean BBQ-To-Go). Certainly not a bad way to dine by any stretch.

Besides all of the booths for various interests and vendors, activities included music, raffles, games, and activities for the children — including the requisite carnival-like games .

There where numerous static displays of vehicles including units from the Union Pacific Railroad’s Hazmat Unit and Railroad Police, and the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Fun was had by all.

Thanks to agencies such as the Los Angeles County Fire Department donating their time and equipment, there were cool things to look at up close. © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.


I wish I could have stayed all day and ate to my heart’s content and enjoyed all of the events, but my schedule did not permit it. I did manage to burn through one camera battery and two SD cards as I took nearly 325 photos during my time at the event.

I would like to thank the Union Pacific Railroad for extending an invitation to my family and I. It was extremely considerate of them to do so. I had a great time and look forward to being part of any future events they might have because they know how to throw a party!


A poster featuring my representaion of the Union Pacific’s ICTF Family Days 2011 event held on 10-22-2011. Click for a larger version. © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.


Changing the World

I was on my way home via an eastbound Metrolink commuter train out of Los Angeles when I, like others, received a pop-up notification on my iPhone from a national news source that delivered the terrible news. The notification read, “Apple reports Steve Jobs has died.

I was stunned and shocked. I was seated on the floor of the trains “quiet car,” I boarded too late to get a seat, and I took a look around to see if other’s had received a similar message. Most of my fellow passengers were reading a book or already fast asleep, although there were a few others busily burying their faces in their mobile devices. I surfed the web for confirmation and quickly received it. I was devastated. I sent a text to my closest friends and a “tweet” as tears filled my eyes.

I got home in a somber mood and spent some time reading myriads of news stories, posts, and tributes late into the night. I was drawn to the reason I was so moved by Steve Jobs’ passing. Obviously, part was to do the fact that someone I was familiar with had died. But now, after several days of introspective reflection, I realize that Steve Jobs was someone I admired immensely.

For long time readers of my blog, you may recall that I have only recently become a fan of Apple products. I work professionally in the technology industry and for nearly 25 years now I have worked with Microsoft-based solutions primarily. It was only after purchasing an iMac computer for our home use that I began to appreciate the zen of Apple — and the masterful vision, leadership ability, and the intense level of commitment of Steve Jobs.

As my ownership of Apple products increased in number so did my use of Apple products on a day-to-day basis. I began to develop a deep sense of appreciation, and connection, with Apple and Steve Jobs. As anyone who owns an Apple product will tell you, there is something very appealing about being an “Apple user.” It begins with the unboxing process. As I unboxed our new iMac back in 2009, I thought, “with so much consideration given to something as simple and fleeting as unboxing a product, the rest of the experience is going to be amazing!” And it is, with all Apple products.

Much has been written about the successes, and failures, of Apple over the years, and a simple search of the internet will reveal a ton of content on the PC vs. Mac debate, so I won’t go into it here, but suffice it to say — I am proud to be a Mac!

Through my appreciation of Apple and Steve Jobs, I began to read books regarding both and researched the “Steve Jobs story.” Suffice it to say that I would not be mistaken in saying that Steve Jobs was truly one-of-a-kind in our era. He was a prolific visionary, the best CEO of our time, and an amazing innovator. His talents will be unrivaled, unfortunately, for some time to come.

Over the course of the next few months there are sure to be many stories and television specials about his life and the contributions he has made for the betterment of all and I encourage everyone to watch or read them because Steve Jobs was truly unique and an amazing individual that had a far reaching impact on us all. There is much that we can learn from his story, struggles, and triumphs. For the uninitiated, and a little insight into what I mean, here is a video of Steve Jobs delivering a commencement address before the graduating class of Stanford University in 2005:



In my discussions about Apple and Steve Jobs to many in the last few years, you can tell those who “get it” and know exactly how you feel and/or what you mean from those who don’t. I think to “get it” you have to really use an Apple product and then you will see that Steve “got us” from the very beginning.

Steve, I get it and you will be missed.

Image of Apple Inc.’s web site honoring Steve Jobs. (Photo courtesy of Apple Inc.)

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs



And for those, like me, looking for a little levity…




Along the same vein as Travis Dewitz, John Benner captures truly compelling and inspiring photographs of modern railroads in action, complete with a sense of drama which “puts you there.” Here is John’s description of his passion from his web site at JohnBenner.com:

I strive to make photographs which convey a sense of place, in terms of atmosphere as much as physical representation.  The former Santa Fe territory across the southwest is a special place to me, and I try to relate the dramatic elements that make it fascinating.  This site is intended to exhibit a few selected images drawn from my work, both digital and legacy film images.  

It was John’s work that inspired me to go back out to BNSF’s Seligman Sub last April and try my hand at capturing the “drama and atmosphere” that John’s work conveys. I love his low light pieces shown below:

Image © Copyright 2011 by John Benner

Image © Copyright 2011 by John Benner

Image © Copyright 2011 by John Benner

Stellar work John and thanks for sharing your talent and work with us all.