Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Trains, Planes and Automobiles...(and a ferry)!

We are in Arizona at present and I behind in posting. Was speaking today with a good friend who reads this blog and he mentioned that, while all the photos are wonderful he was wondering where were the trains?  I reflected on this and realized I haven't posted any train shots either of real trains or of model trains during this trip.  Mostly because I haven't been photographing trains on this trip.

I have driven 2/3 the way across USA in motorhome,  thousands of miles in the jeep, flown in airplanes from Corpus Christi through Dallas to Sacramento and back.  Not one train pic.  My main excuse is that most of the time I was driving when the big trains passed by but really it hasn't been a focus.

Until we reached Houston which was the major reason to visit the area, well, possible birds along the beach areas, but you already knew that.

Morning Fog at Bolivar Ferry Terminal
Anyway, I met up early one morning with a friend, Rich, who lives in the Houston area.  I departed the RV about 6 AM in deep dark coastal fog.  About 35 minute drive to the Bolivar ferry which connects with Galveston.  30 minute ferry ride and I snapped this photo as we departed the dock.  Morning fog and the lights made it very eery.

UP Hump yard
We met on south side of Houston near his home and as we drove north to the railroad area, the sun burned off the haze.  We toured an engine maintenance facility and headed up to the main hump yard where inbound freight cars are sorted or classified into trains bound for new destinations.  4 engines were moving a string of cars over the back end. One was a plug with no cab.  Of interest is there is no engineer riding on train.  They copy model railroaders and run it remote control from the tower.

Mainline North South.  This train headed south
The track underneath is actually a north-south track running up Atlanta and south into Mexico.  This intersection used to be a bottleneck back in the 90's during the merger of the Union Pacific RR with the Southern Pacific RR.  Then more track was laid to smooth out interchange of trains and cars.  We saw about 4-5 trains per hour going through this area in all directions.  What a busy intersection.

Next step was a model railroad where we spent the afternoon running tiny trains.  Gordon Briggs has built a beautiful model of the old ATSF, or Santa Fe line between Los Angeles and Chicago.  His era is 1953 where the passenger train was king and trucks and airplanes were still mostly localized.  His scenery is very close model to the real thing in northern Arizona and Midwest.  I spent the afternoon running trains in his Winslow, Arizona yard while mainline trains zoomed by.  What fun.  Below are a couple photos I shot with iPhone and here is a link to a 4 minute video I posted on You Tube

Long day but fun.  Got my railroad fix for the trip.
Santa Fe Freights
El Capitan Eastbound across Arizona
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