December 2, 2011

Travels with UP 844: 2011 Edition

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.

Some Giants fan wanted his picture with UP 844 at Yermo.

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