I had hoped to get up to Easton this past weekend but BNSF ran no eastbounds in the morning hours so I held off on going. I was also off work Monday 5-20-13 and just after 11:00 AM I noticed an eastbound was lined to Kanaskat. It passed the Auburn DOT camera at 11:30 and I saw it was a coal empty. It still looked sunny over on the eastside so I was off for Easton.
It was cloudy all the way over the pass and I could see clouds were moving eastward once I got past Hyak. I went on to Easton where it was partly cloudy. I went on to Cabin Creek and the train arrived at 2:26 PM. The sun was out but the train was very backlit so the shot was rather ho-hum. Leading were BNSF 5905/6219/9153 and BNSF 5873 was on the rear as a DPU.
I decided to head towards Cle Elum and due to the late hour, decide on either Br 30 west of Bullfrog or West Bristol where I thought there would be sun on the nose of the lead unit. Bridge 30 looked like there might be a good location for sun (noticed more clouds east of Cle Elum) so I went for the bridge shot. Turned out to be a good choice. A cloud shadow was following the train towards me but I got the lead unit in full sunlight before the shadow got to the bridge.
With the train gone I started for home. There hasn’t been much in the way of Xtrains lately but a coal empty was better than no trains at all!
The first weekend of May turned out sunny and warm. I was hoping for an eastbound to chase over to Easton Saturday morning 5-4-13 and while it took awhile, I did get one. ATCS showed a train out of Kanaskat just after 1100 AM and I was on the road by 11:15 headed for Easton.
I arrived at Cabin Creek and hardly had enough time to relax when I heard “BNSF 5994 East approaching Easton” on the scanner. I gave it a few minutes and headed out towards the pond. It was an empty oil train symboled U FTEEPP with units 5994/6276 and DPU 9199 bringing up the rear. This is the 20th train I have photographed at the pond since April of 2012.
I never get tired of this location. I then headed to Easton and drove back towards a small hill just west of the BNSF’s offices. I parked and walked to the top and saw there was a family standing around the tracks so I decided this was not the spot I wanted after all. Walking back to the car I could hear the sound of power and headed over to the tracks for a grab shot. I decided it wasn’t too bad, I liked this inside curve.
After shooting the head end I drove to the Cabin Creek Road crossing and waited for the DPU to pass by.
Then it was on to Cle Elum. I wanted an overhead shot of the train and even though I have lots of pictures taken from “B.A.’s favorite bridge” at MP 23 east of Cle Elum, I don’t have any unit oil empties there. I do now!
Then the chase resumed. I decided to go on towards Thorp for my last shot debating on the west switch or east end of Bridge 10. Have no photos at either location. I decided on Bridge 10 since it would be a lot closer to walk in to. I parked and quickly set up my shot. It would be kind of nosey since there wasn’t much of an open area to work with. Soon I saw the train approaching in the distance and I was ready.
I liked the location. Just nature surrounding a train crossing a former NP bridge. Just how I like it!
Then I waited on the DPU and photographed it trailing off into the distance.
Knowing this was going to be the only train for awhile I then started for home. Nice weather today and not too hot yet. MP 20.5 Bristol detector read off 73 degrees. Was happy with this chase of the unit oil empties.
Here is a link to the chase of the BNSF 4355 East across the Stampede Sub to Ellensburg earlier in the day:
And continuing with it onto the Yakima Valley Sub as far as Pomona:
I was soon back at Ellensburg and had some lunch at the Taco Del Mar. Heading back towards Easton I was soon hearing the North Branch dispatcher talking to the BNSF 5664 East as it was coming down the hill. It was getting close to Cabin Creek so I decided to shoot it near the canal at Easton. Always good to go with new angles. With the train past the detector up on the hill I walked the ex-MILW ROW westward towards Lake Easton to where the fence begins near the irrigation canal to wait for the train there. After some earlier scouting I thought this might be a good location to photograph a train! It wasn’t long before I heard some rumbling and the X RGTHYD appeared at 1:37 PM with units 5664/4452/5273.
The train had a lot of BN grain cars and I got a few rosters before the camera batteries gave out. So it was then back to the car and after replacing the batteries the chase was on! Once I was ahead of the train I decided to go with the recently discovered hillside just beyond the east switch of Bristol siding and figured I had plenty of time to get there. At least I thought I did. This train made great time and managed to be at Bristol before I had the chance to get to the hill! Settled for this shot at the east switch.
I went up a nearby hillside for shots of the strings of different BN cars.
A former BN hopper car even brought up the rear of the Xtrain.
The hillside I had wanted to shoot from will have to wait for another day. I went back to Cabin Creek where I soon heard the BNSF 9139 East coming down the hill. I knew there was an empty oil train out there somewhere with a pair of SD70ACe’s but it wasn’t due for hours! Looks like BNSF decided to run it early. Backlit or not, I was going to photograph it at the pond. And I was already planning out other locations further east I wanted to go for. At 3:06 PM the U TAOEPP arrived with units 9139/9253 up front and single DPU 7878 on the rear.
Next spot would be crossing the Yakima River before Bullfrog at MP 30. Should be good light there this time of day. Easily got to the twin bridges ahead of it and crossed the ex-MILW bridge to the opposite side of the river, and then over to the NP side and waitied. It was kind of a long wait but I soon heard the horns blowing for Golf Course Road and I was ready.
Yes, I was very pleased with the results but I wasn’t done with this train yet. I was even with the head end through Cle Elum and ahead of it before Bristol where I photographed it west of the siding switch. The highway bridge in the background is where the Taylor Bridge wildfires of last summer started.
The Milepost 13 curve was my choice for the last photo of the train. I knew that the tracks curved towards the south here so there would be sun on the nose. Train showed up and the photo was taken. I thought it looked pretty good.
I waited on DPU 7878 and caught it coming into the curve.
After getting back to the car I started for home but coming into Easton heard the hill detector go off so I pulled off I-90 to wait on the train coming down. It was the X KAHTMP with BNSF 5901/9252/1055 and it was through Easton at 5:31 PM, very backlit but still the fourth train seen today.
Some new locations and an oil train with SD70ACe’s made for a pretty good day!
While writing this post I received a phone call about 4 PM from Stan Lytle’s wife Penny. The news she gave me was heartbreaking. At 3:01 PM today, Sunday, 4-7-13 my friend since high school passed away after having brain surgery Friday morning to remove blood from his brain stem. The surgery was successful but Stan was in a coma he would never wake up from. I was able to see him yesterday at Harborview before he passed away. Though he was in a coma, I am glad I got that chance to see him that one last time. Stan at 55 was just 2 years younger than me and we had many great years together chasing trains. I am going to miss him. This post is dedicated to his memory. Rest in peace my friend…….
Saturday 3-30-13 started out as a beautiful sunny morning so I drove on over to Easton shortly after seeing an eastbound train on the DOT traffic camera leaving Auburn. In just over an hour I was at Cabin Creek and the wait was short as I heard the BNSF 4355 East heading down the hill. After passing the detector I set up for a shot at the pond and caught the Xtrain at 8:56 AM.
Power for the X KALSTC was 4355/1027/4068. Then it was back to Easton where I waited at the east end of the long siding for the train to show up.
I went on past Cle Elum to Bristol and walked around near the east end of the siding looking for a new angle. This is a bit different not being right off the shoulder of the road.
I then headed to the big S-curve west of Thorp as the train being earlier in the morning would have good light.
Back in the train was this grain hopper that for obvious reasons stood out from the others!
The train soon got a track warrant to head on past Ellensburg so this chase will resume on the Yakima Valley Sub here:
I have always been intrigued by doing something different and when the opportunity to go up to Stampede Pass by snowmobile in the winter with my friend Ross and some friends of his came up on Sunday 3-10-13 I was ready to go! I had a new snowmobile helmet and Ross had a spare snowmobile packed onto his trailer for me to ride. My biggest desire of the day was to photograph an eastbound exiting Tunnel 4 and Ross said the day was mine.
We met at the Safeway off I-90 in North Bend and Ross contacted his friends and found out they were leaving Issaquah so we set out with plans to meet them up at the Stampede Pass Snow Park. After we arrived Ross found out the truck they were towing their snowmobiles with had blown an engine even before starting up the Snoqualmie Pass grade so their day was done! But Ross was still willing to take me up to Stampede so we were soon on our way after he checked ATCS which showed an eastbound lined up to Kanaskat! Looks like I might be getting my Tunnel 4 shot right off. So we headed up and over Stampede Pass without incident and made our way down to Tunnel 4. There was no snow in the trees and there wasn’t as much snow on the ground as I had hoped for but I was here and planned to make the best of this opportunity.
I decided to go with the standard photo outside the snowshed while Ross took to the embankment for a down on view. Before long we could hear the train working out of Lester our way! Then snow started to fall which helped set the mood for a winter scene. The train got louder and soon appeared across the valley in an open spot between the trees. Just two units with a baretable so this was the right location for it. The train worked around the lower Borup loop and passed right below before heading into the upper loop and around a curve out of view. Then it was just the sound of cars passing below until the train was completely out of sight and it got quiet. Time to turn my attention to Tunnel 4. The two GE’s could be heard on the other side then a muffled roar as they entered the tunnel. Talk about anticipation! Reflection on the rails then ditchlights/headlights in sight and I was ready to snap the shutter as the train came out at 10:46 AM behind BNSF 5520/5506.
The engineer gave me a toot-toot as they passed by and continued on up towards Stampede Tunnel. I now had a shot of a train at a location very few others had in the winter. The train continued to roll by and I took a photo of the baretable cars coming out of the snowshed.
Then a photo of Ross up on the hillside.
With the train by Ross came down and made some phone calls to see when the next train was due. Bad news, 4 PM at Lester for the next train. Well, I had this one shot so I was happy with that anyway. We explored a bit and I got a photo of the west snowshed at Tunnel 4.
Then we headed up to the top of the hill over Tunnel 4 where you can see the east snowshed and the lower Borup loop. I discovered if I backed off all the way I could get the scene in my cameras viewfinder.
OK, so I could have moved a little more over to the left to get the trees clear of the tracks! We figured we may as well head back since BNSF was pretty much done running trains for the next 5 hours. We got back to the truck, loaded the “Sleds” and took off for the west side. It’s been said you can probably count the number of railfans who have photographed a train on Stampede Pass in the winter with one hand. Well I am happy to now be among that small select group. My thanks goes to Ross for making that happen!
After arriving in Ellensburg after the chase of a train there Saturday 2-16-13 I stopped by the ex-NP depot for some photos since the sun was shining and I wanted to see how it looked now. For perspective, this is how the depot looked on 9-30-12 with the replacement of the roof in progress.
And how it looks now, as of 2-6-13.
All I can say is WOW! It looks absolutely beautiful. A hearty thanks to all the people who no doubt put many long hours of hard work into this restoration.
Like Stampede Pass the Northern Pacific Ellensburg Depot is getting a second chance to relive it’s glory days of the past, and we are all lucky to be able to enjoy watching it happen.
The Ellensburg Depot has a Facebook page and will be a great place to learn how the restoration is going first hand.
Here is a link to the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/EllensburgDepot?fref=ts
Last Saturday 2-16-13 I drove over to Easton knowing an eastbound was out of East Auburn and I had a goal of photographing it on the S-curves between Briston and Thorp for a friend. I easily beat it to Cabin Creek but the weather there was kind of gloomy so I left the camera in the car as the train approached the crossing a little after 10:00 AM. THe colors on the lead unit were not right and in moments I saw it was a UP SD9043MAC leading a rerouted grain empty with a couple of CP units behind the big UP EMD. Talk about surprise!
I went on to Easton and the sun was moments away from coming out but no such luck this time. Still the photo needed to be taken.
Heading east on I-90 I has hoping for sunshine and there was a sliver of sun at West Nelson but I went on to Golf Course Rd seeing there was a larger opening in the clouds that way. The gamble paid off.
The full consist was UP 8257/CP 8780/CP 9510. The clouds continued to move away from the sun as I arrived in Cle Elum and the sun was still out at the bridge east of town, a very nice shot!
I then drove on past Bristol to Milepost 13 for a nosy shot of the UP 8257. Note the numberboards on the right side look homemade.
Then it was on to the MP 12 overlook for the big S-curve. I was prepared for an overcast and gloomy scene when I left home but what I got was so much better!
The train being mostly Canadian cars was very colorful. My favorite was the green Saskatchewan cars, sadly they were heavily graffiti’d.
The train tied up at Ellensburg and the crew sent back to Seattle. I grabbed some lunch and went back to the train for some photos. Here the train is parked, waiting on a new crew.
And a closer view of one of the Saskatchewan cars.
I then went over to the Ellensburg depot from some photos, which will follow in another post.
On Saturday morning 2-9-13 I was soon on my way to Easton after seeing a train leaving Auburn on the DOT camera with lumber loads.
A merchandise train on Stampede was worth going after!
I arrived at Cabin Creek with plenty of time and caught the eastbound M-TACPAS there at 09:47 AM with BNSF 5005/6957/4113/989 all up front, no DPU.
Driving towards Easton I heard the BNSF 5005 roll up their track warrent after passing the west switch. There was a train following. I then heard the dispatcher give the BNSF 4181 East a track warrant from East Lester to West Easton. Nice, a second train was coming!
Back at Easton it was bright but the sun was not shining, yet……
I then drove on to Golf Course Road where I saw the sun was out and might last long enough for the head end to pass. It turned out to be a good choice.
I also photographed graffiti untouched BN 448090 on the train of 59 cars at the old location of Nelson Siding.
Then it was on the Cle Elum and the shot from the overpass at Milepost 23, now becoming a regular stop on these train chasing adventures it seems!
East of Bristol I went for this front on shot of C44-9W 5005. Why? Check out the door on the nose.
Next planned location was the sweeping S-curve west of Thorp, Milepost 12. Looked really nice today with all those lumber loads on the head end!
Here I let the train go and started back towards Easton knowing that next eastbound might be getting close. But between Cle Elum and Easton I heard they were stopped up on the hill east of Martin with air problems. I easily made it back to Cabin Creek and had a bit of a wait there. Once the air issues were taken care of they were on the move again. This time I went out onto the old roadbed for a shot across the pond after the train passed the detector.
This was the M-EVEPAS with units 4181/4480 up front, and BNSF 1032/6914 on the rear, another merchandise train! It was by Cabin Creek at 11:58 AM and I was then on my way east. And again came a rollup and a track warrant given to the BNSF 4183 East between East Lester and West Easton. Nice to see Stampede so busy, and with merchandise trains too!
This time I skipped Easton and Cle Elum as the clouds were back in force. But I did stop just west of Bristol and shot the train close to the west switch. The highway bridge in the background is where last summers Taylor Ridge fire started.
Next was the bluff looking down onto the ex-NP between Bristol and Thorp. You can see fire damage in the trees in the background as well as the foreground.
It was almost sunny at the Milepost 13 curve so I made this the last shot of the BNSF 4181.
I didn’t make it back to Easton but caught the third train at the ex-NP bridge over the Yakima River just west of Bullfrog at 1:48 PM. It was empty grain train X-TACBSB and it with BNSF 4183/1068/5069 leading.
Three trains, and two of the merchandise trains really made this a great day! I am really enjoying days like this on Stampede and can’t wait for spring and summer, once winter ends of course, it is still February after all!
Saturday, 12-8-12 I crossed Snoqualmie Pass and after arriving at Easton, WA went up Cabin Creek road to Cabin Creek to wait on an eastbound train I had seen leaving Auburn on the DOT traffic camera earlier that morning at 08:13.
Soon a pickup truck drove up to the gate and stopped. Turned out to be a resident of Roslyn and was heading to Cabin Creek to help a friend remove a fallen tree from his property. We ended up talking nearly 30 minutes, he was full of interesting info. He said that the trail I’d been using to take my photos across the pond was where the NP accessed the Cabin Creek reload. All this time I’d thought the Cabin Creek reload was further west where the west switch was. Makes me wonder if the pond was ever used for storing the logs.
After he left I heard the detector west of Martin announce the approaching eastbound so I got out and walked out onto the old ROW and while waiting on the empty grain train took this photo looking towards the reload which would have been back in the woods.
Moments later the train arrived and I photographed it across the pond. BNSF 4914/4667 passed by at 10:55 AM.
I then drove back to Easton and caught the train there as well with the snow beginning to fall.
I then started east on I-90 and was quickly ahead of the train. I wanted to see if US 10 was open between Cle Elum and Ellensburg so got off I-90 east of Cle Elum starting for Bristol. It was indeed open so after a few photos near Bristol shot it one last time at Milepost 13 and included DPU 4931 this time going away.
Not as much snow on the ground here but it was still a fun chase. It was a good day on the Stampede Sub!
I was on my way to Montana/MRL Saturday morning 11-24-12 and heard the detector at MP 36 go off as I was coming into Easton. I was able to overtake the train before Golf Course Rd and get off I-90 at Bullfrog a minute or two ahead of it. The clouds broke long enough for me to get this photo at 8:53 AM.
Then it was on to Cle Elum and seeing there was another opening in the clouds went for the overpass east of town.
Then it was just a metter of time waiting on the trains DPU to show up.
Note by the time the DPU showed up the sun break was all but finished.
After this brief delay, it was back to the matter at hand of getting to Montana. Still, it was a great way to start my trip!