On Saturday 11-16-13 I had planned a day trip with the goal of seeing the ex-NP bridge at Roza in the Yakima Canyon. I knew it was down in the canyon but had no clue on how to access it. After some correspondence with the Stampede4 (Ross Fotheringham, Tom Kaminsky, John Van Amburg and myself) Tom and I decided to make the trip over there today as he had been into the bridge before and knew the trail down to it.
We got a very late start though. I was planning to drive us there in the Mazda but chains were required over Snoqualmie Pass much of the morning. That and there were no trains moving on the Stampede Sub. Finally about 10:00 a train was out of Kanaskat and Snoqualmie Pass was downgraded to Traction Devices Advised. I called Tom and we were on our way meeting at the Safeway near North Bend. Crossing Snoqualmie Pass was no problem at all, bare and wet by the time we got there. We continued on to Easton and up Cabin Creek Road. We walked down the ex-MILW ROW to the bridge over the ex-NP but there was a gate there and it was locked so no way to get onto the bridge for a photo. So we headed back to Cabin Creek arriving just in time to hear the train coming down the hill. Tom got a great angle but I was in a different location so my shot was more of a broadside.
This was the X-KALWOB with units 5317/6968/9854 and the photo was taken at 12:23 PM. Tom and I then walked back to the car and started after the train. During this part of the drive the train passed the Easton detector with 466 axles and a temperature of 36. We caught up to it before Golf Course Road but went on past Cle Elum and Bristol with the plan to shoot it at MP 14. I pulled off at a pullout and we scrambled down the hillside to the rock outcropping. It was very windy and my cap tried very hard to fly away! There is a NP flange lubricator located here and I took a photo of it.
I understand this is one of three NP flange lubricators left intact between Cle Elum and Ellensburg and not removed during the 1995 rebuilding of the line.
As the train got closer a cloud shadow passed by but the sun was out as the train came around the curve below us.
Then we headed back up to the car and on to Thorp for a failed shot of the train there. But we did hear them call the Pasco East dispatcher for a track warrant past Ellensburg so they at least would not be stopping. Leaving the Stampede Sub this report will continue here on the Yakima Valley Sub Blog. http://yakimavalleysubblog.qstation.org/?p=344
Though I knew it was overcast and gloomy on the east side of the Cascades today (Sunday 11-10-13) I decided to head over to Easton in hopes of photographing a train or two. I left about 08:30 in my newly purchased 2007 Mazda 3 and wsa soon on I-90 headed towards Snoqualmie Pass. There was a good dusting of snow at the summit but it thinned out long before I got to Easton. At Easton I got on Cabin Creek Road and headed to Cabin Creek to wait on the eastbound I had seen leave Kanaskat on ATCS earlier. The wait wasn’t long and soon I heard “BNSF 7345 East approaching Easton” on the scanner.
After the detector went off I set up by the grade crossing and at 10:36 AM the 7345/1094 leading X-LVWHGB came around the curve and past my location.
I went on towards Easton and then Cle Elum but did not photograph the train again until MP 12 between Bristol and Thorp. I wanted to try this curve from a different angle than the one I normally take. It is a broader view rather than the nose on angle as suggested by someone on Trainorders who commented on an earlier photo I posted. It was nice and would no doubt be better on a sunny day. New goal!
Bringing up the rear of the train was BNSF DPU 4591 seen here at the far end of the same curve with some surviving fall color.
Then it was back to Cle Elum for lunch and the direction of home. I stopped at Easton first and while there the North Branch dispatcher came on the radio asking the BNSF 5089 East for a rollup. It was just past Lester so I decided to wait this one out before heading for home. The Seahawks were playing in Atlanta right now but I had no idea of the score. I was of course hoping they were winning! I was at Cabin Creek when the detector went off so I waited by the pond as the BNSF 5089/4690/5457 came down the hill at 1:11 PM. This was train X-RGTKPT and as can be seen it was still a gloomy day!
I then headed back to Easton and waited up on the hill near the Kittitas County Irrigation Canal (on the left) and it took very little time for the train to arrive. Lake Easton is behind the trees on the right and feeds the canal, though apparently not at this time of year! The lake actually looked pretty low when I drove by on I-90.
Third unit BNSF 5457 was missing the letter “B” making it the NSF 5457.
I’ve seen mismatched nose and AC doors before but the missing “B” was a first. The train picked up speed and was soon through Easton but I was ready to head for home. I was interested to hear how the Seahawks did.
And the news was good! Seahawks beat the Falcons today by a score of 33-10. The Seahawks are now 9-1! Go Hawks!!
I have always enjoyed heading over to Easton in the Fall, looking for new angles with the trees and their brightly colored leaves. Saturday 10-19-13 was looking good for sunny skies so once I saw an eastbound was out of Kanaskat started off for Easton. It was foggy from home to just past North Bend when the skies cleared and the fog was left behind. Very nice over Snoqualmie Pass but coming into Easton I could see fog banks straight ahead with the fog line right at Cabin Creek Road! Sunny to the west and foggy to the east.
The detector on the hill went off while at Easton so I knew I had no chance to get up to Cabin Creek. I drove up towards Lake Easton and walked the ex-MILW ROW up to the east end of the lake. As I arrived I could hear the train approaching and got down to the tracks just in time for this photo of BNSF 7603/788/7235 on an empty grain train at 10:05 AM.
I started back to the car and noticed the train was slowing down. When it stopped I knew that the crew were going to shut down a unit before proceeding giving me time to get back to the car and drive up to the crossing. The fog had moved a bit further east so the shot at Easton was not in any danger of “filtered sun” and as soon as they were ready the train whistled off and started moving.
I then started after the train and was soon in the fog. Golf Course Road looked a little brighter but the shot wasn’t really that great. Just good for showing the conditions.
But I pressed on hoping the fog would end and it was a good thing I did. Between Cle Elum and Bristol the fog thinned out with the sun shining brightly so all was good once again. Here the train is just west of Bristol with the trees on the left still showing some color.
Then I went past Bristol to the MP 13 curve as the sun angle here was not that bad.
Then to the MP 12 overlook. As I waited for the train to round the curves I had to take a photo of the surrounding area. No train, just a pleasant scene.
Once the train showed up I went for the standard shot looking down.
Then I worked in the scenic area making it part of the train photo. I was glad I did as I thought the result was very nice.
I wanted one more photo so I drove past Thorp to Milepost 6 (6 miles west of Ellensburg) and after a short wait photographed the BNSF 7603 coming around the curve at a pretty good clip.
Then I headed for Cle Elum for some lunch and did a little shopping before starting back towards Easton. The fog had burned off between Cle Elum and Easton by this time as well. The North Branch dispatcher came on the scanner talking to the BNSF 1023 East asking them what time they wanted their ride to Pasco to arrive at Ellensburg. Could not hear the reply but the dispatcher repeated 5 PM which was a couple of hours away. So I headed to Easton and up towards Cabin Creek, with Ross Fotheringham right behind me! Ross had been down in the Yakima Canyon today and was heading home. He could not stay for the 1023 but I decided to wait. About 4:30 PM the train finally came down the hill, though the sun had already gone down behind the mountains. Well, I waited this long! Might as well photograph it!
I did like the trees in the background with the yellow leaves. I was hoping that the Yakima River crossing between Golf Course Road and Bullfrog would be sunlit but the tree shadows pretty much ruined the shot. Still I was happy with the photos I had taken today and with the weather to be as nice tomorrow I was expecting to make another trip to Easton on Sunday, and hoping for no fog at Easton in the morning!
Sunday morning August 11, 2013 I got up shortly after 07:00 and checked ATCS first thing. A train was going through Kanaskat at that moment! But the DOT cameras on the east side were showing lots of clouds so I procrastinated about 45 minutes before finally deciding to go after it, but first had to gas up the car. Don’t know why I thought I would beat the train to Easton but after crossing Snoqualmie Summit and seeing clearing to the east I was thinking I had done the right thing, and then a few miles west of Easton I heard the familiar “BNSF detector” on the scanner and I knew things were going my way, until it continued “MP 36.9″ and then I said something like “oh crap!” knowing it was 3 or 4 miles ahead of me past Easton, not over there to my right coming down the hill!
But I also knew I could beat it to Cle Elum and I had caught up to the trains DPU by Bullfrog. It was an empty coal train. Crossing over the tracks on I-90 at Cle Elum I saw I was well ahead of the eastbound. Now it was time to get down to business.
I got off I-90 east of Cle Elum and thought about photographing the train from the overpass but decided to go on and look for a location I had not photographed before. Just before Bristol is a sweeping curve and for years I have photographed trains at the west end of the curve but the opening between there and the west switch has always looked inviting so I pulled over and hiked down toward an area where the trees opened up for a nice down on of the curve. Soon the train with units 5905/6166/4806 appeared and I had the photo at 09:52 AM.
Then it was back to the car to decide on where next. I’d been wanting to go back to the bridges at Mile 6 just east of Thorp so decided that was where I’d head to since I have yet to photograph a train on the east end of either bridge. On the way there I heard “BNSF EVEPAS crew to the long haul shuttle” on the scanner so I knew there was something at Ellensburg. I parked off to the east of Mile 6 and walked back to the first short bridge at MP 6.1 seeing the sun angle was pretty bad. Getting to the bridge I noticed the double span over the Yakima River was just a short ways up and thought about going up to it but with the poor sun angle thought the curve here might be better. I could try for the other bridge at a later date with an earlier running train.
As I waited I looked at this bridge a bit closer and noticed the wooden timbers were still intact but reinforced with concrete along the length of the top. Made it look kind of top heavy.
In a short while I could hear the horns of the eastbound blowing for a grade crossing. It was at the crossing west of Thorp as a few minutes later the train was blowing for Thorp. I was ready when the train came around the curve and photographed the BNSF 5905 East crossing the short bridge.
Bringing up the rear was the DPU with BNSF 5872 which I also photographed but wasn’t really pleased with the results so won’t bother showing them here. I then went on towards Ellensburg to check out the M-EVEPAS hearing the 5905 getting a warrant past Ellensburg. Arriving at Ellensburg I saw the EVEPAS was on the main so the coal empty had run around it through the siding. Power was BNSF 6516/5067/4903.
The 6516 is fairly new being built earlier this year! Wish I could have chased it out of Easton to Ellensburg. I then had lunch and started for home as the clouds began to fill in from the west. I was glad I didn’t see any more trains as it was rather nasty looking towards Easton. I did stop at Easton and saw a couple of old BN flatcars with what looked like a cement mixer between them.
I later learned they are working in the Stampede Tunnel during the week adding shotcrete. The flats are usually kept up on the mountain but were brought down to Easton to resupply shotcrete. As I was taking the photos the rain started to fall, and it was getting pretty heavy too. I decided it was time to start for home but was glad I had taken some photos in a few new locations.
Between Teanaway, just east of Cle Elum for 16.1 miles to almost Ellensburg you can still drive on what was once US Route 10, the highway you’d take crossing the state before there was an I-90 which was built in 1968 and took a routing further to the south. Only now the old 2 lane road is called SR 10 being changed to a state route.
Besides US 10 the Northern Pacific’s main line ran through the same canyon towards Ellensburg. Now the railroad is the BNSF and the highway is SR 10. Just east of Bristol which is mile 16 SR 10 climbs up and out of sight of the tracks. They are down below and hard to see from the highway. This “hidden” part of the ex-NP is mile 15 and on Saturday 8-3-13 I decided I wanted to explore it. Lets take a look at the mile that is mile 15, fifteen miles west of Ellensburg which is mile 0.
Milepost 15 on the BNSF’s track profile starts just before the end of a very long section of straight track that is most of mile 14. For perspective, this photo taken 6-7-97 shows that long straight track and way back just before the river and tracks bend around to the right is where the Milepost 15 marker would be located.
MP 15.1 is where the line curves around to the right, then the tracks are straight for 3/10th of a mile to a slight right hand curve at MP 15.5 and goes straight 2/10th of a mile to the sweeping right hand curve with the MP 16 marker being 3/10th of a mile into the curve which covers our mile. The east switch of Bristol siding would be 3/10′s of a mile past the MP 16 marker at Milepost 16.3.
I was well ahead of an eastbound BNSF coal empty I’d left behind at Easton so I parked off SR 10 near the east switch of Bristol and started walking east. It was a beautiful day and about 75 degrees. It was kind of hazy though as there was a wildfire burning to the northeast between Wenatchee and Ellensburg.
Walking into the curve well off to the side of the tracks I was enjoying all this new scenery. I could see SR 10 up on the hillside above me. Soon I could see the milepost 16 marker and I kept on going around the curve. It was a long curve! As I came out of the curve onto the straight section I saw the highway up above was supported by a long curved very old looking retaining wall. Driving up there I never knew that! I should photograph that on the way out. Up ahead was a slight curve where I could see a nice open area that looked good for a photo location. This was MP 15.5 so I stopped here and waited for the eastbound. I had my scanner with me and when I heard the MP 20.5 detector go off west of Bristol, I knew it’d soon be train time and I was more than ready!
Facing west the Yakima River was on my left and some minutes later I heard voices. It was five groups of river rafters floating down the river. Just as the last group was passing by the train rolled around the curve. Leading the train was BNSF 4838/6435 and the engineer was having all kinds of fun tooting the horn and waving to me first and then all five groups of rafters.
The train passed by and started slowing for curves up ahead and was going pretty slow as DPU’s 4902/5401 passed by. I went wide angle to get the Yakima River in the shot.
The three C44-9W’s were not the normal coal train power I was used to seeing, more used to GEVO’s and SD70ACe’s now. With the train gone I started back towards Bristol. When I got to the retaining wall on SR 10 I stopped to photograph it.
In this same area I came upon a single burnt tie, kind of unusual as none of the other ties around it showed any signs of fire damage. That massive wildfire of last summer started just went of Bristol where welders were working on a SR 10 bridge burned many of the trees in this area but I wasn’t aware of any damage to the rail line.
Continuing west around the final big curve I saw what looked like three old foundations off to the side of the tracks. They looked like they may be old semaphore foundations.
Then I was back at Bristol and made my way back up to the car and started west for Easton where a takeout lunch at the Parkside was planned before continuing for home. Fun day doing some exploring!