MWR - railfanning the Rocky Mountain West!
Range, CO to Soldier Summit, UT - May 5, 2000
This was the first day of a long weekend around Helper, UT.  It was rumored that the Rio Grande SD40T-2s would soon be moved so it was a good thing that we had planned this trip for awhile.  Frank Keller met Todd Busse and I in Avon, CO and we headed west with the Z-train from Range, CO all the way to Thompson, UT before cutting south to find the Potash local (which we never saw) on the Cane Creek Branch.  After not finding the local, we headed on west to Helper and met up with Jim Harrawood.  The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent on Soldier Summit and the Pleasant Valley Branch.

East of Dotsero, CO  |  Glenwood Springs, CO  |  Entering Ruby Canyon  |  Cane Creek Branch
Utah Railway coal in Price River Canyon  |  West Kyune, UT  |  Pleasant Valley Branch

Westbound ZDVRO nearing Dotsero.
East of Dotsero, Colorado

This Friday's ZDVRO was powered by SP 349 and UP 3587.  Usually, this train is comprised of only UPS trailers but on this train there were also 3 boxcars of Coors Beer.
Glenwood Springs, Colorado

With Mt. Sophris looming in the background, the Z-train glides through the yard in Glenwood Springs.  Recently the yard has been used to store empty coal trains along with a few sidings between GS and Grand Junction.
WB in Glenwood Springs, CO.
Entering Ruby Canyon...
Entering Ruby Canyon, Colorado

The ZDVRO has just passed under I-70 and is ready to dive into Ruby Canyon.  The next time we'll see this train it'll be climbing out of the valley from the Colorado River at Cisco, UT.

Cane Creek Branch, UT

We left the ZDVRO at Brendel, UT in hopes of finding the Potash Local on the rarely traveled Cane Creek Branch which heads towards Moab, UT.  We had reliable info that this train could have two DRGW GP40-2s on it.

Well, we never found the local and those Rio Grande units had gone to Montrose, CO instead.  However, I did end up with this shot of two hopeful railfans (Frank & Todd) at the east entrance to Moab tunnel.  It's funny how every deep sound or wisp of dust blown out of the tunnel could indicate the train is near...

Waiting at Moab Tunnel, UT

Climbing towards Soldier Summit...
Price River Canyon, UT

There weren't any DRGW units moving in Helper so we followed a westbound Utah Railway coal train towards Soldier Summit as the shadows started to creep into the canyon.  This particular train had three UP units for power and was helped by seven Utah Railway units to Solider Summit.
West Kyune, UT

This is always a great spot to catch up to a train climbing towards Soldier Summit.  Most freight trains cut off their helpers a mile or so beyond the west switch of the center siding at Kyune.
Utah Railway coal train at West Kyune, UT
Eastbound coal load at Crater.
However, coal trains charge right through Kyune with their helpers and usually don't cut them off until either Colton or the top of the hill at Soldier Summit.

Helping this train towards the summit are seven Utah Railway units including Utah's F45 and a leased MPEX unit in Sante Fe colors along with five SD40s.


Between Colton and Soldier Summit, an eastbound, empty coal train met the loaded Utah Railway train and then headed up the Pleasant Valley Branch towards the Skyline loadout.

The Pleasant Valley Branch disappears from view as soon as it departs the double mainline tracks and doesn't reappear until Mile 10 along Hwy 96 and Scofield Reservoir.  It is then a little under 10 miles to the Skyline loadout.  This is slow territory for the railroad and is easy to keep ahead of the trains that visit this branch.

Empty coal on the Colton Branch.

On Saturday we found plenty of DRGW SD40T-2s which will soon be online...
All of these images captured with a Sony FD91 digital camera.

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