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

Entries in Ramblings and Such (82)

Tuesday
Sep202011

PHOTOGRAPHER SPOTLIGHT: John Benner

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.

Wednesday
Sep142011

Our Best Trip Ever - Part 14 - Heading Home

(Continued from: Our Best Trip Ever - Part 13 - West Out of Seligman)

Day 7 - Part 2

One of My Favorite Sections

After leaving Pica we headed towards Yampai. In an eastbound context, Yampai marks the end of the Yampai Canyon and from here BNSF’s trackage descend towards Pica and into Aubrey Valley for the run to Seligman. Yampai is rather remote yet offers some compelling opportunities, depending on local road and lighting conditions, so I wanted to try my luck there.

Originally I had planned to seek out a local road that traversed the ridge between Pica and Yampai more directly but I decided against the effort because I wasn’t certain it would be passable in my rig, nor was I certain it was publicly accessible. So we used Route 66 to reach the turnoff for Yampai and made the short jaunt on a well-maintained gravel road that meandered through some residential and ranch lands.

The track of our seventh day on the Seligman Sub. The black camera icons indicate the locations that I shot.

Upon our arrival at Yampai, and as we crossed the grade crossing, it was evident that an eastbound train was cleared through the area. I found a safe parking spot and, while Deb kept an eye on the indications, I looked for a vantage point to shoot from. One of the nice things about this section of the subdivision is the distinct lack of distracting elements to clutter up a good shot. In this case the only “noise” to concern myself with were the crossing gates themselves so I set-up to shoot beyond them.

It wasn’t long before the distinct rumble and cacophony of diesel engines became discernible. Shortly thereafter the train, an intermodal, came into view, rounding a curve in the distance.

BNSF 7913 East - BNSF 7913 (GE ES44DC), BNSF 7535 (GE ES44DC), BNSF 7410 (GE ES44DC), and BNSF 5096 (GE DASH 9-44CW) climb the grade at Yampai, Arizona with an eastbound intermodal train in tow.
[4/23/2011 - Seligman Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.

Indian Route 19

After the eastbound intermodal struggled by we could not see any other indications of any traffic cleared through the area so we decided to continue heading west into one of my favorite parts of the portion of BNSF’s Seligman Subdivision, Yampai Canyon.

Yampai Canyon Map

A good portion of Yampai Canyon, situated on the southern edge of the Hualapai Indian Reservation, can be traversed by taking Indian Route 19 (IR-19 or known locally as Nelson Road), which is reached via Route 66 on either end. The road has been well-maintained and passable, by any vehicle type, each time we used it. An interesting feature of the route is that the east end runs right through a portion of a large cement/gravel/quarry site, replete with rather ominous legal and “enter at your own risk” warning signs.

During our traversal of the route we caught several trains:

BNSF 4619 East - BNSF 4619 (GE DASH 9-44CW), BNSF 4635 (GE DASH 9-44CW), and BNSF 5013 (GE DASH 9-44CW) power this vehicle train eastbound through Yampai Canyon near Nelson, Arizona.
[4/23/2011 - Seligman Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.
BNSF 4831 East 1 - BNSF 4831 (GE DASH 9-44CW) leads BNSF 5334 (GE DASH 9-44CW), BNSF 4633 (GE DASH 9-44CW), and BNSF 986 (GE DASH 9-44CW) on the point of an eastbound manifest train hustling through Yampai Canyon near Nelson, Arizona.
[4/23/2011 - Seligman Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.

BNSF 4831 East 2 - BNSF 4831 (GE DASH 9-44CW) leads BNSF 5334 (GE DASH 9-44CW), BNSF 4633 (GE DASH 9-44CW), and BNSF 986 (GE DASH 9-44CW) on the point of an eastbound manifest train climbing the southern wall of Yampai Canyon near Nelson, Arizona.
[4/23/2011 - Seligman Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.

Eventually our travels through the canyon led us back to Route 66 at the town of Peach Springs, Arizona, a tribal community and the seat of the Hualapai (meaning People of the Tall Pine) Indian Reservation. We always make it a point to stop at the Hualapai Lodge, a fantastic spa and resort, for some eats and downtime. It is every so conveniently located next to the tracks at CP Peach Springs. 

We stopped at the lodge and then drove around back to have lunch and watch the train traffic go by.

Looking for Crozier

Crozier Canyon location and our GPS track.
Click for larger image.

A very picturesque and rugged location on BNSF’s Seligman Subdivision is Crozier Canyon. In all of the trips I have made along the Seligman Sub I have never photographed that region of the Sub before. I had hopes of changing that fact during this trip.
 
After lunch in Peach Springs, westbound we went on Route 66 once again in search of a route which would lead us into remote Crozier Canyon area. I saw the opportunity I was looking for as we cruised past on Route 66 so I made a u-turn and stopped at a gate which contained a sign indicating public access was permitted but to be mindful and close all gates that we encountered to keep the cattle from getting loose.

The road that led to the towards the tracks from Route 66 was afflicted with recent rain and run-off damage and presented a rather difficult but direct route to the tracks. Our hope was to find a location to cross over, or under, the tracks and get to the south side which had numerous roads leading into the canyon.

Once we reached the tracks I saw that there was, in fact, an underpass to afford one tranist of the tracks to the other side. However, the underpass was only 10 feet tall, if I recall correctly. Much too small for my rig. Foiled again. We did opt to search the northern side of the tracks for a route through but the one fork that we found heading west terminated, at least for us, at a sign post indicating that the area beyond the sign was private property.

As we proceeded back to Route 66 we discussed the fact that we forgot tomorrow was going to be Easter Sunday. We felt it was best to head home and be with the family and friends for Easter. Oh well, Crozier was to remain on my short list of locations that I have yet to visit on the Seligman Sub.

Targets of Opportunity

We resigned ourselves to the fact that we would be home in time for Easter so that meant this was our last day on the Sub. We still planned to traverse our original planned route west, we just weren’t going to stop for the night somewhere like we had originally planned. As we headed west on Route towards Kingman, Arizona, I kept an eye out on the signals and listened to the radios for indications of “targets of opportunity” — trains we meet or passed along the way with easy access along our route.

Valentine, Arizona

Here is a example of one such encounter at Valentine, Arizona which was a pleasant surprise as I caught a battle-worn, ex-Santa Fe warbonnet unit on the point of an eastbound grain train:

BNSF 692 East 1 - Warbonneted BNSF 692 (GE DASH 9-44CW) leads BNSF 4784 (GE DASH 9-44CW) and an eastbound grain train through a cut near Valentine, Arizona.
[4/23/2011 - Seligman Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.

BNSF 692 East 2 - Warbonneted BNSF 692 (GE DASH 9-44CW) leads BNSF 4784 (GE DASH 9-44CW) and an eastbound grain train over a private grade crossing near Valentine, Arizona.
[4/23/2011 - Seligman Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.

Athos, Arizona

My final shot in Arizona would be of this eastbound intermodal tearing up the rails near Athos, Arizona:BNSF 7594 East - BNSF 7594 (GE ES44DC), BNSF 7230 (GE ES44DC), BNSF 4087 (GE DASH 9-44CW), and BNSF 6650 (GE ES44C4) are in Run 8 as they hurry this eastbound intermodal train through the Athos area of the Sacramento Valley in western Arizona with the Hualapai Mountains providing the backdrop.
[4/23/2011 - Seligman Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.

Deb’s Target of Opportunity

Deb also got into the act as I became one of her “targets:”Joe
[4/23/2011 - Seligman Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Debra Parra, ChasingSteel.com.

A Parting Shot

Eventually we crossed the border, at the Colorado River, and entered California, leaving the Seligman Subdivision behind us. It had been a great trip — one that we will remember for all of the beautiful scenery and time spent, together, chasing steel on BNSF’s vaunted Seligman Subdivision.

As we headed west we opted to follow the Needles Subdivision as well and I took one final shot of thrip as the sun set over Goffs, California — sans train.

Tell next time…

Joe

Goffs Sunset
[4/23/2011 - Needles Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.

Saturday
Aug272011

Our Best Trip Ever - Part 13 - West Out of Seligman

(Continued from: Our Best Trip Ever - Part 12 - Seligman, Stackers, Sunset)

Day 7 - Part 1

The Road Less Traveled  

After a nice and chilled evening at the Seligman/Route 66 KOA, we packed up the next morning and “prepared the cabin for departure.” After dumping our waste water and filling our propane tanks we headed out westbound on Route 66 through Seligman, Arizona. At this point we didn’t have any particular destination in mind. Rather, we knew the route we wanted to travel though. We wanted to stay on Route 66, which follows the BNSF’s Seligman Subdivision, as it meanders through some of the most beautiful scenery in northern Arizona. Interstate 40 takes a more direct and southernly route from Seligman directly to Kingman, Arizona. We were taking the road less traveled.

The track of our seventh day on the Seligman Sub. The black camera icons indicate the locations that I shot.Upon leaving Seligman proper we saw an eastbound train climbing the grade out of Audley. We had also passed a nice deck bridge still emblazoned with the old “Santa Fe” logo on it. Once I saw that the second unit in the stack train consist was a former Santa Fe warbonnet locomotive I made the decision to turn around and get in position for a shot of the train as it crossed the deck bridge.

Santa Fe Surprise at Seligman - Just west of Seligman, Arizona, an eastbound intermodal crosses a deck-girder bridge with the lovable “Santa Fe” logo. The second unit in the four-unit lash-up, consisting of BNSF 4736 (GE DASH 9-44CW), BNSF 934 (GE DASH 9-44CW), 4001 (GE DASH 9-44CW), and 4118 (GE DASH 9-44CW), is also sporting the same old logo.
[4/23/2011 - Seligman Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.

Once you pass Chino Point, the land opens up and before you is Aubrey Valley, with the Aubrey Cliffs along the northern edge of the valley. It is a really neat view and I always love to shoot in this area so we turned off of Route 66 and set-up to catch an eastbound we saw on the monitor at a location known as Audley, Arizona.

BNSF 5530 East - BNSF 5530 (GE DASH 9-44CW), BNSF 8721 (EMD), BNSF 8720 (EMD), BNSF 4836 (GE DASH 9-44CW), and another unidentified GE DASH 9-44CW bring this manifest train around a bend near Audley, Arizona, just west of Seligman, Arizona.
[4/23/2011 - Seligman Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.

We repositioned ourselves so we could shoot the curve head-on. While I shot an eastbound, Deb took this shot of me “getting the shot:”

Getting the Shot
[4/23/2011 - Seligman Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Debra Parra, ChasingSteel.com.
While I liked the shots that I took when I was photographed above, I really love Deb’s shot of the same train. Her shot accentuates the grade and is well composed, for a “rookie:” ;-)

BNSF 7917 East - BNSF 7917 (GE ES44DC), BNSF 7664 (GE ES44DC), BNSF 7647 (GE ES44DC), and BNSF 4432 (GE DASH 9-44CW) provide the power for this eastbound stack train at Audley, Arizona, nearing the crew change point at Seligman, Arizona.
[4/23/2011 - Seligman Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Debra Parra, ChasingSteel.com.

We took a lull in the traffic as an opportunity to continue west some more. One of the more recognizable landmarks of the Seligman Subdivision are the water tanks located at Pica, Arizona. Monolithically they rise from the valley floor and can be seen for many miles from Route 66. We decided to stop there and catch some for a bit.

CP West Pica
[4/23/2011 - Seligman Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.

BNSF 7839 East 1 - BNSF 7839 (GE ES44DC), BNSF 6664 (GE ES44C4), BNSF 7617 (GE ES44DC), and an unidentified GE DASH 9-44CW hold the point on this eastbound stack train negotiating the s-curves west of CP West Pica at Pica, Arizona.
[4/23/2011 - Seligman Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.

BNSF 7839 East 2 - BNSF 7839 (GE ES44DC), BNSF 6664 (GE ES44C4), BNSF 7617 (GE ES44DC), and an unidentified GE DASH 9-44CW hold the point on this eastbound stack train approaching CP West Pica at Pica, Arizona.
[4/23/2011 - Seligman Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.

Meet at CP West Pica - B&W
[4/23/2011 - Seligman Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.

Meet at CP West Pica
[4/23/2011 - Seligman Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.
UPS at Pica
[4/23/2011 - Seligman Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.
CP West Pica 2 - B&W
[4/23/2011 - Seligman Subdivision] © Copyright 2011, Joe Perry, ChasingSteel.com.
After we spent sufficient time at Pica we headed west, once again, on Route 66 as we worked our way towards Peach Springs, Arizona. Our next photo stop would be at Yampai, Arizona, which begins our next post.