September 4, 1999 Railfanning
Frank Keller and I met up at Wolcott at the ungodly time of 7:45 am for a day of railfanning around Bond, Colorado and the Craig Branch.  The meeting time was Frank's idea but how can I argue when all I had to do was get there from Avon and he left around five in the morning from Colorado Springs!  It was a good day to be out early, anyway.  It was an SP kind of day actually.

Westbound Z-train along the Colorado River   |   Range, Colorado
CSDU coal train @ Crater Loops   |   Hugging Rock Creek Canyon
An MPEG movie north of Yampa  |  Leaving Phippsburg
Snaking through Oak Creek   |   UP back at Toponas  |  A CNW ending

Westbound along the Colorado River... A Southern Pacific AC4400 and SD70M cruise along the Colorado River west of Bond, Colorado with a westbound Z-train of high priority trailers.
With plenty of clear track ahead, ZDVRO traverses one of the many bridges over the Colorado River.  This bridge is west of Burns, CO.
Across the river...
Blue, western sky...
SD70Ms are a rare breed along the former Rio Grande mainline.  I took this image at speed while pacing the train on the aptly named Colorado River Road.

This is Range, Colorado, the first siding west of Bond.  At Range, the valley is many times wider than anywhere else between Bond and Dotsero.  It is rumored that a golf course and Vail Valley style homes will soon plague this valley too.
Home on the Range...
A short train... The Z-trains between Denver and Roper Yard in Salt Lake City are usually well powered and rather short as shown in this image and the one above.  There was a problem with the CTC signals from Range to Dotsero so the train was moving at restricted speed which made following it quite easy.

An empty CSDU (Colorado Springs Dept. of Utilities) coal train grinds uphill into the second horseshoe curve of the Crater Loop.  This train had five SP AC4400s in a 2-1-2 configuration.
Pulling towards the sky...
Upper Crater Loop This is a full view of the upper part of Crater Loop with the Colorado River valley in the distance.  In the heat waves above the cab of the second unit is the single mid-train unit.  The rear two units of the train are in the middle of this text in the lower loop. 

Between the siding of Crater and Volcano, the track hugs the sides of Rock Creek Canyon for most of its distance except for the two bridges on the north side of the canyon.  The scale of this image is deceiving because of the telephoto lens.  The canyon is over twice as deep and the hill nearly as high.
Hugging Rock Creek Canyon...

Click here for an MPEG movie of the CSDU train passing by north of Yampa.

Pulling north out of P-burg... After a stop in Phippsburg for a crew change, the CSDU train eventually made its way on north.  In the background is the hamlet of Phippsburg along with another empty train waiting to head for the mines and a loaded train heading south towards Bond and the Moffat mainline.

North of Oak Creek the track begins to snake its way through the valleys towards Steamboat Springs before turning west for the mines.
North of Oak Creek, CO.

Into the sun... After getting outrun to Steamboat by the CSDU train we headed back south and caught another westbound (northbound) empty at Toponas.  Here UP 6887 leads a mixed bag of hoppers over the summit just north of Toponas.

It is not very often that you see a caboose on a train anymore, but with the expanded use of distributed power there is now something a little more interesting on the end of the train than a 'FRED'.  This one was almost an exclamation mark - a Chicago & Northwestern unit, even more rare than a SP SD70M.
A rare site!
All of these images were taken with a Sony FD-91 digital camera.
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