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

Entries from January 10, 2010 - January 16, 2010


Video of UP Monster Train (IDILBF-08) at Fingal, CA (Longest Union Pacific Train Ever)

Continued from previous post…

We slipped, slided, and slung our way through the parade of other railfans on US Highway 111 and raced to beat the train to the grade crossing located at our next turn on 62nd Avenue.  Well, I lost.  I was trapped at the crossing.  I waited for the beast to clear the crossing and then I headed north on Highway 86 towards Interstate 10 to head west.

My next preplanned photo spot was to be near the end of the Highway 62 and the tracks just west of Palm Springs, CA.  I missed the intended exit due to heavy traffic volumes which made me late to get in postion before the train arrived.  I motored on.

Thankfully the train began to slow as it began it’s ascent of Beaumont Hill west of Palm Springs.  That gave me the extra time I needed to try a few off-ramps and see if I could get into position in time.  Fortunately I was able to.  It ended up being a location known by the railroad as Fingal, CA.

We watched in amazement as the train struggled to climb out of the basin in which it currently traveled through.  We were captivated to see such an awesome sight.  So much so that I almost forgot to take photos.  At this point I had a spare video recorder handy so I placed it in position and turned it on just in time.  As the train approached our location I began snapping off frames.  Here are a couple of them:

Wow.  Again I was lost in watching this train climb the grade at 18MPH.  It took nearly ten minutes.  I lost track of the fact that I had set down the other video recorder.  I ran over to take a look at what it captured.

Here is the video that I edited to remove gaps and mind lapses:

The trip was over and I deemed it successful.  Not so much because I got the shots I had hoped for but rather for the experience.

Turns out it wasn’t over.  More to follow…


UP Monster Train (IDILBF-08) at Bombay Beach, CA (Longest Union Pacific Train Ever)

Our effort to see the beast paid off!

We did manage to get into position to catch the Union Pacific’s longest freight train ever ran near Niland, CA.  Using all means of tracking the trains we were able to establish where we wanted the chase to begin.  Turns out, after factoring in the sunrise, our position and that of the train, the location would be near Bombay Beach, CA.

I heard the train before I could see it.  I think that had to do with the fact that the train noise was echoing off of the higher elevation behind it.  I climbed atop my Lance Camper to see if I could see anything.  Holy Smokes!!!!  There it is.  The train was MASSIVE!  It stretched out far beyond what my naked eyes could see.  I believe that haze and distance from the train where against me.

The time seemed to stand still as it closed the distance between us.  Finally I was able to see, through the camera lense, what I thought was the entire train.  I snapped this photo:

My Whole Train Shot. (Click to open full-size version)

The train was quickly passing me up now and I was shocked at the speed at which it was moving!  Clearly it was doing timetable speed.  Quick snap a couple more:

The head end of the IDILBF-08: UP 7454, UP 7419, UP 7462 - all GEVOs

The Union Pacific’s Longest Train Curving towards East Bertram, CA next to the Salton Sea

We jump into the truck and race off to the west.  As we round the bend towards East Bertram, CA the train is NOWHERE in sight.  She was clearly gonna make us work to see her again.  I was up for the challenge but the traffic and speed limits were not in my favor.

I mashed the accelerator, I wanted more shots.  More to follow…

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