It's hard to imagine a better birthday present than photographing a 1944-built 4-8-4 on her old stomping grounds, thundering up Cajon Pass and speeding across my beloved Mojave Desert. But there I was on November 19, watching in awe as Union Pacific's magnificent No. 844 engulfed the signal towers at Silverwood station with a cloud of steam and rounded the sweeping curve into Cajon Summit.
The California run was part of a southwest tour to commemorate the 100th statehood anniversaries of New Mexico and Arizona. UP 844 arrived via the former SP Sunset Route into West Colton (that's Bloomington to non-railfans). After a day on display, she climbed Cajon Pass on 11/19 and stayed the night in the desert town of Yermo. From there she traveled over historic UP rails to Las Vegas and points east, with a memorable stop at the restored Kelso depot in the Mojave National Preserve.
|Slowing near Lenwood, Cal., for the arrival in Barstow . . . a magnificent machine.|
It's always tough to pick my favorite pictures from a road trip, so I finally took a cue from friend Dave Styffe and built a web gallery in Adobe Lightroom. Follow the link below to see a gallery of 50 images of steam, railfans, and an extended visit to Kelso (the town may still be recovering):
Thanks to my family who let me loose for a birthday road trip, and to my cousins Damon and Jeane who let me stay at their place for a few nights. And special thanks to Union Pacific Railroad for once again showing unmatched class and style by sending its goodwill ambassador across the Southwest.