Sunday, April 3, 2011

Rejuvenated in Arizona!

Sounding--and looking--great: Apache Railway, all-Alco power, southbound at Milepost 24.

I don't get out and photograph trains as much as I'd like--or, to be honest, as much as I should. Frankly, most of the modern stuff here in the United States leaves me absolutely bored. You Aussies might complain about all those 81 Class and NR's running around as being dull, but let me tell you, after over 1,000 Union Pacific SD70M's and even more BNSF C44/AC44/Gevo-whatevers, well, the old saying "if you've seen one train, you've seen them all" pretty much applies here.

But I didn't want to wait another year and a trip back to Australia to get trackside again, so I cajoled a few workmates to join me on a short trip during our late-March "spring break" period to fly to Phoenix, AZ and head into the mountains to photograph a couple of shortline railroads with interesting power and operations. The only stipulation I made on the trip was that I didn't want to waste my time along either the UP or BNSF mainlines photographing those Goddamn modern locomotives!

So, you'll have to excuse this diversion from modeling for a bit.

Our targets were the Copper Basin Railway, which hauls copper ore from a mine to a smelter amid the stark desert mountains along the Gila River. Trains are powered by EMD: GP39-2's and GP9s. Management is notoriously friendly about visitors--sign a release and you can head out to door and photograph to your heart's content, as long as you can get away from President Jake Jacobsen and his gregarious personality and deep well of railroading stories. Cab ride? No problem! They'll even call you on your mobile phone when you're out on line and see if you'd like to ride along!

North of CBRY two hours and over a mountain range is the Apache Railway, owed by a paper company and largely existing to move traffic between a paper mill near the town of Snowflake and the BNSF mainline at Holbrook. It is a favorite of railfans in the US for it is one of the few railroads left still using Alco locomotives--its entire seven-locomotive roster is gleaming, well-maintained Alco C420's and C424's. Its operations aren't nearly as fan-friendly, but contact with management ahead of time paid great dividends and great access as well.

I've uploaded a selection of photographs from the trip to my pbase account, so feel free to click on this link and look around a bit:

I hope you enjoy the photographs and the wide-open Western U.S. scenery. It was a great trip, and great to be trackside again!

Wide-open desert scenery, Saguaro Cactus, and the Copper Basin Railway.


Wagonfreak said...

Very nice shots Blair.

Interestlingly we have a submarine (rather than dinosaurs) at Holbrook NSW.

The Nimmitabel Extension said...

Gotta love those old Alcos. Great shots and thanks for sharing. Darren