September 17, 1999 Railfanning
A quick check of the UP trace, and help from my friends at DRGW@onelist.com, helped me catch FOUR Rio Grande SD40T-2s on a westbound manifest.  Three of the units, DRGW 5409, 5404 & 5365, had gone east on a manifest train the day before.  On this day, DRGW 5410 was added as the lead unit.  We found the train at Winter Park around 5:45pm which gave us a couple hours of light to photograph.  There were a number of people out railfanning, but very few knew what was heading there way.
EB Z-train in Byers Canyon and at Winter Park   |  DRGW at Winter Park
Fraser, Colorado  |  A MPEG movie at Tabernash
All four units at Tabernash  |  Fading light at Granby  |  In darkness east of Sulpher

EB Z-train in Byers Canyon. As an added bonus on the way to Moffat Tunnel, we found this eastbound Z-train entering Gore Canyon.  We finally caught up with it in Byers Canyon.  The second unit is a very dirty SP unit numbered 7363.
Here is the Z-train again at Winter Park.  It was easy to figure out where the Rio Grande led manifest was because it would have to stop for this high priority train.
Climbing at Winter Park.

Peaking through the trees.
My first glimpse, and in my opinion, the best image of the day.
The sun is still on the Continental Divide but there is little sunlight left for the Rio Grande units today.  Other than the yellow panels on the battery boxes, its a pure Rio Grande shot.  I was tempted to alter the color but resisted.  I probably should have.
Rolling through Winter Park...

Approaching West Fraser, Colorado. Still in the shadows as the manifest rolls through Fraser.  It is nice to see the orange stripe along the sill on all four units and the round bulge of an EMD fuel tank.
As the manifest leaves Fraser, the intermediate signal west of Fraser is showing red over flashing yellow for the siding at Tabernash.
West Fraser, Colorado.
Across the flats... Trains always seem so big and powerful when you are right next to them or focusing just on the train through the camera.  Sometimes you have to look at the big picture.

Click here for an MPEG movie of the Four T's rolling through the siding at Tabernash.  The picture is still small but the sound makes the download worthwhile.  You will see close-up views of all four units.  This file is approximately 803k, so it may take some time to download depending on your hardware.

Slowing for a red light at West Tabernash. Finally, a clear view of all four units.  The train is creeping along through the siding at Tabernash while waiting for Amtrak's eastbound California Zephyr.  They waited for about 30 minutes before Amtrak passed by.

With the wait at Tabernash for Amtrak, daylight was quickly fading for photographs but I was still able to capture this moment at Granby.  Hidden by the manifest is a parked, loaded eastbound coal train that was missing its lead power.  We passed the time waiting for the train by talking to a very nice couple from Arizona.
Chasing daylight at Granby.

Getting too dark east of Hot Sulpher Springs. One last shot east of Hot Sulpher Springs.  Probably a desperate shot but I still like it.
Even though photography was over for the evening we continued to follow along with the train.  At Sulpher, the manifest took the siding for an eastbound coal load that was in Byers Canyon at the time.  That gave us time to refuel and grab some sugar for the long trip back towards home.  It was nice to just sit at the east entrance to Byers Canyon and watch and listen to the train roll by in the dim light.  We continued on with the train all the way to Kremmling before the road and tracks separated.  It wasn't a slow trip either.

We made it in plenty of time to the pull-out at the west side of Gore Canyon.  A couple minutes later, an eastbound BNSF train pulled into the siding at Azure to meet the manifest.  The clouds that had blocked the setting sun before at Granby and Sulpher were now parting and we could see the stars and watch satellites pass across the infinite blackness.  As we were watching the sky, the distant rumble of four SD40T-2s echoed far below in the canyon.  After a few minutes, the headlights painted the north side of Gore Canyon with light and the train passed by below us.  It was the best part of the entire trip.


All of these images were taken with a Sony FD-91 digital camera.
More SD40T-2s on Sept. 16th
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