Things were slow for a while after the Dirt Train power had returned to the yard (Photo 9), giving me time to gas the truck and catch lunch at the Subway on the north end of Helper. Never quite enough time for lunch on these trips, though, as before I'd even finished my sandwich I noticed a Utah train starting to head up the hill. However, there are some things more important than trains, and lunch is definitely in that category. So, I sat and finished lunch.
As it turned out, he didn't even make as much progress as I thought he would before I caught up. I actually caught it just west of the coal mine at Castle Gate, UT (Photo 10). The front end power was a similar set to the helpers earlier, except that UTAH 9007 had been replaced with 9005 as the lead unit (I'd heard them discussing replacing it on the scanner, but didn't actually realize they'd done it until I was looking through the photos for this report).
Also included in the set again was one of the MK5000Cs, definitely an odd-looking piece of motive power (Photo 11). These were originally built by Morrison-Knutsen several years back in an effort to become a third new locomotive builder (behind EMD and GE). The six 5000s that were eventually built didn't prove at all popular (rumor has it because they had reliability issues and because they would require railroads to stock yet another set of spare parts), and sat idle in Boise for quite some time. The Utah recently purchased all six to replace their leased fleet of SD40-2s (and other wierd power), and eventually they will receive Utah paint and numbers. Because they're built around a Caterpillar diesel engine, they also have a very different sound as compared with any other existing unit (with the exception, possibly, of some Cat-powered Alcos on BC Rail).
Getting back to the present, I did wait around for the helper set on the rear end to pass - another three Utahs. For reference, they were (from front to back): UTAH 9011, 9010, and 9002. From the exhaust pouring out of 9002 (Photo 12), you can guess how hard these units are working! After this, I made only one more stop down in the canyon - at the Nolan Tunnels (Photo 13). This was the only time I'd ever caught a train here when the lighting was right, etc... After that, I went up to Colton to watch the helpers be cut off and the rest of the train continue over the summit (Photo 14) towards Provo.
I'd received word from home via cell phone that there was a westbound M train slowly working its way towards Helper. I do emphasize slowly - it had passed Cisco, UT, almost four hours previous, and I still hadn't heard anything about it arriving in Helper. I did go back down to look for it, and to get new batteries for the scanner as the old set died while I was watching the Utah Rwy train cut off the helpers. Seeing the usual nothing, and not hearing any indication of anything on the scanner, I decided to take a few more photos of the sitting power in the yard (Photo 15) and then head out west again. (BTW - this is was just dumb. I'd forgotten entirely about the westbound MDVRO at this point. If I would have remembered it, I would have realized that it had to show up eventually and, more importantly, would have realized that it would get helpers for the climb up to the summit.)
Most of the rest of the day was considerably more like I remembered from my last trip to Soldier Summit in July 2000 - slow, sluggish, not much happening. After the messages on the D&RGW list about the T-2 helpers only being used for helping the manifests over the hill, I really hadn't expected to see as much as I already had today. Nonetheless, I thought I'd venture west towards Spanish Fork and Provo for time being. Mainly just restless and impatient, I guess - bad characteristics when I should be waiting for the T-2s in Helper to be moving.
The trip wasn't all that exciting - I caught up with the Utah westbound again, saw two of the tunnel-motor-eliminating DPU coal trains, but the lighting was bad on all of them, so I never did stop to take any shots. I did have some limited success on the way back - I caught up with a westbound Z train, led by UP SD70M 4002, at the Narrows crossover, as well as meeting the westbound M (lead by UP 3154) at Colton (Photo 16) - you know, the one I should have been waiting on this whole time... Honestly, when I saw it sitting there, it took seeing DRGW5347 buried in the consist to make me even realize what it was. (Photo 17) I was still recovering from a nasty cold, so I'm going to blame that for messing with my head, rather than the obvious answer (namely, I was being a moron). Then, though my binoculars, I noticed three helpers being cut off and starting to head back down the hill. *At this point, kicking myself repeatedly.*
Actually, despite my blundering, there was just enough light to get a few shots of the helpers travelling light back to Helper. Most weren't great by any means. Thanks to a slight delay getting them lined into the yard, I did get a decent chance to photograph them from Helper's north/westernmost grade crossing (my map shows it as Janet Street, either way, it's clear at the north end of town). Photo 18, while being a bit grainy due to the camera being set with an ISO400 film equivalency, is still much better than I ever could have done with film in this light. Plus, with all six lights on, it's probably one of my favorite shots for the entire trip.
After this, the light was completely gone, so I went back to my room in Price, ordered a pizza, started sorting my photos for the day, and eventually fell asleep around 10. All in all, a pretty successful day, and more Rio Grande movement than I'd caught in my entire previous trip.
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|Oh yes, one other thing
I should probably mention - all the images here are Copyright
2001 Nathan D. Holmes
Note this doesn't mean you can't use them - In fact, I encourage people to use and enjoy them.
I'm placing them under the same license as RailARC images.
All images were taken with an Olympus C-3000 camera, a beautiful piece of machinery.