Mid afternoon on Monday, April 05, 2021, I arrived at M.P. 376.8, which is my favorite spot to "railfan" on Union Pacific's Mojave subdivision, due to climb up the 2% grade, as westbound trains head out of Mojave, CA. I spent all day Tuesday, April 06 at this location, photographing every train that came by. What a great trip!
These are only a sample of the 40 or so trains I photographed during my 36 hour visit to this amazing location.
Photo: It's a little after 16:00 in the afternoon on Monday, April 05, 2021, B.N.S.F #3894, a GE ET44C4 slugs a westbound manifest up the 2% grade at M.P. 376.8. By looking at the rails, you can tell this is a very steep grade for a mainline railroad.
In case you didn't know, Union Pacific's Mojave Subdivision, between Bakersfield and Mojave is the busiest single track railroad in North America.
Photo: Two dpu's at the end of the train lend a hand up the steep grade.
Photo: B.N.S.F. #5053, a GE C44-9w, leads a eastbound steel coil train. Note the majestic southern Sierra Nevada mountains, which form a dramatic background.
Photo: U.P. #7077, a GE AC4460CW leads a westbound manifest train up the 2% grade. It's all uphill until Tehachapi summit, 20 miles to the west.
Photo: It's interesting to note at M.P. 376.8, there is a patch of payment left from highway CA-14, which bypassed Mojave nearly 20 years ago, which makes a perfect place to camp, as you don't have to deal with dirt or dust. Normally, you'll have this little piece of railfan heaven all to yourself. Imagine my surprise when I saw a camper parked in my favorite railfan spot on the Mojave Subdivision! He was as surprised as I was, as he didn't expect to see anybody else.
Anyway I got out, introduced myself, and met a fellow railfan, Jerry, who is a local, and likes to come out this spot, park his motorhome, and spend a few days watching trains. He and I got along very well, as we had a lot in common, of course railfanning, and naturally... beer. I parked my truck where near his motorhome and stayed for two nights.
I found it interesting that this guy didn't like to take photos of trains, as most railfans do. He loved to watch the action, but his biggest interest was to pump his arm up and down, and get the engineer to blow the horn. It was also interesting to me that he preferred to stay up all night and didn't emerge from his motorhome until late morning.
Not only is this location an amazing place to watch the mainline action, it also offers some of the best FREE camping that you'll ever find, as it's isolated - unless you're a railfan or a dirt biker, nobody goes there - and it's QUIET, as the highway is MILES away. You can hear the trains without competition from highway traffic.
Photo: U.P. #7726, a GE AC45CCTE leads a westbound manifest freight.
Photo: U.P. #3063, a EMD SD70AH-T4 leads a westbound manifest freight up the grade, just before the light faded, and made photography difficult.
Photo: Tuesday, April 05, 2021 and after enjoying a breakfast of menudo at El Grullense, located in nearby Mojave, B.N.S.F. #7967, a GE ES44C4 leads an eastbound manifest freight, which was the first train I had the pleasure to photograph today. The time is shortly after 09:00 in the morning.
I LOVE Mexican food, and the night before, I'd enjoyed a dinner of "Carne com Camarones" at El Grullense, and when I was told menudo is served on weekdays, the "deal" was sealed and I had to return for a breakfast of menudo.
Photo: Long after getting back from breakfast, Jerry is still asleep in his motorhome, as a westbound trailer train rolls by.
Photo: U.P. #8113, a GE ES44AC-H, leads a westbound double stack train up the grade. I love this "in your face" big-time railroad action!
Photo: U.P. #9044, a EMD SD70AH leads a westbound double stack train, in full dynamics, down the grade. No doubt this train is bound for the Port of Los Angeles.
Photo: U.P. #8123, a GE ES44AC-H leads a westbound manifest.
Photo: A look at the two dpu's at the end of the train, offering lots of assistance, along with braking when going downhill. The extra braking will come in handy at the Tehachapi Loop, and Walong siding, so 30 miles to the west.
Photo: U.P. #6038, a GE AC44CWCTE leads a westbound manifest freight, with the beautiful southern Sierra Nevada mountains forming a dramatic backdrop.
Photo: U.P. #6038, up-close, and very personal. This was my favorite photo of the trip, and I liked it so much that I made it the background photo for computer desktop.
Photo: B.N.S.F. #7516, a GE ES44DC, leads a westbound manifest up the steep, 2% grade out of Mojave. That's the City of Mojave in the distance, home of the Air and Space Port, and one of the most interesting aircraft "boneyards" - although it's off-limits - on the west coast. Photo clearly illustrates the steep grade, which makes for interesting train watching.
Photo: Dramatic photo of B.N.S.F. and her helpers hading west. If you look just past the "35" sign, you'll notice a "meet" is happening; I was on the wrong side of the tracks to photo it. Despite the 50+ trains that came by in the 36-hours I "railfanned" this location, this was the only meet I observed.
Photo: Near the middle of the train there was a solid block of tank cars, obviously carrying oil.
Photo: Dpu and dpu... B.N.S.F. #4137 is the last unit on this trail. The Union Pacific train was too far away for me to catch the number of the end dpu.
Photo: B.N.S.F. #4137, a GE C44-9W is the last dpu on this westbound manifest. Note the beautiful mountains and the tank cars from the last photo. Not only does this location provide lots of mainline railroad action, but the scenery is dramatic and amazing. The elevation 3175', which makes this area not "quite as hot" in the summer, but winters can be chilly, and it's not unusual to get a snowstorm or two every winter. Nearby CA 58 closes a couple times each winter due to ice and snow.
I've taken photos on the Mojave Subdivision for many years, including the famed Tehachapi Loop, but M.P. 376.8 rates my favorite. There is a small portion of the highway that is still paved, which makes for an outstanding place to camp. Now that the highway has bypassed the area for the last 20 years or so, there is no noise from traffic, and unless a train is coming by, it's a quiet and peaceful place to relax, and enjoy the scenery.
This was quite a trip, as during the 36 or hours I spent at this location, I lost count of how many trains I saw, but it had to been over 50 trams, as there was very little "lull" in the action.
Photographing Union Pacific's mainline action, on the busiest single-track railroad in North America, doesn't get any better than at this scenic location!
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