Sunday, January 28, 2024


1.  Crater Loops, Little Gore Canyon, Flaming Aspen and Other Vanishing Splendor  

2.  Curtis Hill -- Cimarron River Valley

3.   Pecos River Bridge -- Fort Sumner, New Mexico 

4.   Crozier Canyon and Truxton Canyon -- Where the Waters Flow

5.  Crookton Cutoff -- Eagle Nest,Doublea, Crookton and Seligman

6.  Loma Alta, Lucy and the New Mexico High Plains 

7.  Tehachapi Loop Saved My Marriage 

8.   Travels with Mighty Dog in Search Of the Kansas City Southern;  Austin, Todd and Ladd; Arkansas and Oklahoma; Kansas and Oklahoma; Avard Subdivision and Other Oddities 

9.  BNSF Transcon in the Texas Panhandle 

10.  Abo Canyon:  Then and (S)now 

11.  Lombard Canyon and the Three Rivers 

12.  Mountains May Begin With Montana, but Fugichrome Ends With Me  

13.  Mullan Pass:  Mullan on my Mind 

14.  Kingman Canyon:  What am I Doing up Here?  

15.  BNSF Transcon:  Not Every Meeting is a Waste of Time 

16.  The Arbuckles are Worn Down, and I'm Headed There:  AT&SF and BNSF Railroad Photography From an Oklahoma Sinkhole  

17.  BNSF, UP and MRL in the Idaho Panhandle 

18.  Burlington Northern:  Trinidad to Walsenburg (Someone Built a Railroad Through Here?)

19.  Santa Fe on Curtis Hill (Things Ain't What They Used to Be) 

20.  BNSF West of Belen:  MP 27.8 to 31.9 

21.  BNSF at Flagstaff (and a little AT&SF)

22.  I Feel Like the Rock Island (Memories of a Stricken Railroad)

23.  Kansas City Southern:  Requiem for White Knights and Telephone Poles

24.  BNSF at Curtis Hill:  Where the West Begins

25.  Tennessee Pass:  Alas

26.  BNSF West of Wellington

27.  Cajon 2016:  Before the Fire 

28.  Union Pacific:  Aspen Mountain Through Echo Canyon

29.  Burlington Northern at Crawford Hill

30.  St. Louis Railroads -- as I Remember Them

31.  BNSF Across the Sacramento Valley:  Wild Burros and Cold Bears

32. She Caught the Katy and Left me a Mule to Ride

33.  Santa Fe in the Unassigned Lands

34.  BNSF:  Another Look at Crozier Canyon

35.  BNSF:  Colorado River to Goffs Hill

36.  Cajon Pass:  After the Fire

37.  BNSF in Oklahoma:  Avard Subdivision

38.  Back East!  Lost in the Trees

39.  Union Pacific:  The Craig Branch in its Prime

40.  Union Pacific from Point of Rocks to Granger:  Wherein Mighty Dog Clashes with the Serpent

41.  Trials and Tribulations of Train Photography

42.  The Frisco of my Youth:  Both Gone

43.  When That Evening Sun Goes Down:  Ellinor After Hours

44.  Nebraska's Sandhills in Transition

45.  BNSF:  Highway 47 to Mountainair

46.  Rock Island and Union Pacific on the Chisholm Trail

47.  Union Pacific, Southern Pacific and Western Pacific Potpourri:  Arnold Loop, Echo Canyon, Aiken Hill, Sherman Hill and Donner Summit

48.  Lake Pend Oreille! or The Importance of the Angle of Incidence

49.  Sunset on the Missouri Pacific

50.  BNSF Transcon:  Kansas City to Cajon (Part One:  Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas)

51.  BNSF Transcon:  Kansas City to Cajon (Part Two:  Clovis to Belen)

52.  BNSF Transcon:  Kansas City to Cajon (Part Three:  Belen to Seligman) 

69.  The Graying  

71.  O,Columbia! 

73.  BNSF:  Trinidad to Cedarwood 

74.  California 2020  

75.  Belen Revisited 

78.  The Land That Swallows Trains -- Part One 

79:  The Land That Swallows Trains -- Part II 

80.  The Land That Swallows Trains -- Part 3 

81.  The Land that Swallows Trains -- Part IV 

82.  The Land That Swallows Trains -- Part 5 

83.  BNSF:  Trinidad Hill  

84.  BNSF:  Providence Hill

85.  Union Pacific:  Palisade Canyon

86.  Return to Colorado  

87.  BNSF:  Truxton Flyover to Sacramento Wash  (With Thoughts about the Desert, W.B. Yeats and the End of Life)

88.  Lawrence:  U-boats to Ditch Lights

89.  Union Pacific:  The Law of Unintended Consequences 

90.  Union Pacific:  Maricopa Mountains

91.  West of Gillette

92.  Mescal Summit and the El Paso and Southwestern 

93.  West of Dragoon

94.  East of Dragoon

95.  Union Pacific:  Steins Pass

96.  Powder River Basin:  Part One (BNSF)

97.  RIP:  Bear the Mighty Dog 

98.  Powder River Basin:  Part Two (UP)

99.  Union Pacific Along the Oregon Trail:  Farewell Bend to Hot Lake

100.  The Old Man and the Snow 

101.  Colorado in Fall   

102.  Sweet Soo

103.  My Favorite Western Grades:  Part One 

104.  My Favorite Western Grades:  Part Two

106.  Sundown:  Part Two

Sundown: Part Two

As I grow older, I think of life as a journey.  Sometimes I believe I am traveling from ignorance to experience.  Others, from confusion to enlightenment.  But such moments are rare.  More often, I see myself on a pilgrimmage from sunup to sundown.  

The sun is chasing the horizon now.  Shadows lengthen.  The wind dies.  Now in the last light, moments of clarity appear, and I realize that I am not moving past life.  Life is moving past me, like a fast freight into darkness, and I am standing in the same place I have always stood.  The trains keep moving.  I keep standing and waiting.

Washington Cascades

The Cascade Mountains in Washington contain innumerable narrow valleys surrounded by precipitous rock walls and towering evergreens that block most sunlight, especially late in the day.  The little light leaking through is soft and hazy, as though filtered by smoked glass.

The sky above is still blue, but this eastbound freight is already shrouded.

The sun is shining directly down the tracks.

The sun has set on this train, though not on the mountains.

Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge was created by forces larger than I can conceive -- millions of years of basalt flows followed by Biblical flooding.  The result is a canyon as impossibly enormous as a man twenty feet tall.  This is another location where the sun generally falls below the rim of the world long before darkness arrives. Patience, however, sometimes yields pleasant surprises.

Eastbound grainer.

Westbound stacks.

Page, Oklahoma -- RIch Mountain, Arkansas

My first encounter with the KCS mountain grade from Page, Oklahoma, to Rich Mountain, Arkansas, was life-changing, as when a child realizes that the world is larger than his backyard.  The hardwoods and pines of the Ouichita National Forest were like an open book waiting to be read -- if only I had enough patience.

A Grey Ghost chases the setting sun.

Union Pacific power on a southbound empty coal drag.

Northbound manifest (compass west) approaching the Arkansas-Oklahoma border.

Southbound grain.

Rich Mountain, Arkansas.

Page, Oklahoma.

Southbound manifest in fall.

The new CPKC.

The Craig Branch

David Moffat's railroad west from Denver intended to reach Salt Lake City through the coal fields in northwestern Colorado.  Fantastic costs, however, bankrupted both Moffat and his railroad, and construction stopped near the small settlement of Craig.  When the Moffat Route was connected to the original Rio Grande mainline at Dotsero, the tracks to Craig became a branch servicing the coal mines.  Today (January 2024), at least one mine is still open, and a few trains ply the rails each week. 

An empty coal train is headed to the mines.

Coal loads struggling upgrade.

Loaded coal entering Egeria Canyon.

Marsland, Nebraska

Marsland was founded on August 28, 1889, along the newly constructed C,B & Q line across Crawford Hill and was named after Thomas Marsland, the railroad's general freight manager.  For years, I thought the place was so named because it looked like the planet.  Now a ghost town, Marsland is the site of a scenic horseshoe curve.

Pushers on eastbound loaded coal.

Westbound empties.

Crookton Cut-off

In the 1950's, the Santa Fe constructed the Crookton Cut-off to lessen the harsh grade between Williams and Ashfork, Arizona.  The new tracks run through some remarkably remote territory and in several places are approachable only by four-wheel-drive.  The land is a mixture of basalt from the San Francisco Volcano Field and limestone from an ancient sea.

Eastbound approaching the big cut at Doublea.

On the big fill at Eagle's Nest.

Westbound in last light.

Curtis Hill, Oklahoma

Westbound traffic on BNSF's Transcon climbs from the Cimarron River Valley at Curtis Hill, an isolated area in northwestern Oklahoma prone to amazing weather extremes -- blazing hot in summer, frigid in winter, almost always windy.  Home to an annual rattlesnake hunt, Curtis Hill is truly a western landscape.

Eastbound racing down the hill.

Westbound waiting for a green board at the bottom of the hill.

Preparing to roll downgrade.

Into darkness.

Westbound stacks approaching the summit.

Chasing the sun.

Beginning the climb.

Chased by the sun.

Dragoon, Arizona

Dragoon, Arizona, is the highest point on Union Pacific's Southern Transcon between California and El Paso.  Wedged in the saddle between the Dragoon and Little Dragoon Mountains, the small settlement is named after the soldiers who fought a long and bitter war against the Apaches, a conflict in which each side showed both valor and viciousness, a conflict in which only the desert ultimately prevailed.

Westbound stacks at the summit.

Westbound Amtrak rolling downgrade.

Sundown at Dragoon.

Eastbound climbing the grade.

Eastbound approaching the summit.

Ellinor, Kansas

About ten miles west of Emporia, Kansas, sits Ellinor, not a town, just the point where BNSF's La Junta Sub to the west divides from the Emporia Sub to the southwest.  The railroad is triple-track here, with as many as ten trains per hour racing through the bottom land of the Cottonwood River.  If you like to see a lot of trains, Ellinor is for you.

When traffic gets heavy, trains often wait for a green board, as 5714 West is doing one winter's evening.

Kansas sunset.

Because of the high traffic volume, one or more trains often come through in the last light of day.

This eastbound is coming off the La Junta Sub.


Eastbounds on the Emporia and La Junta Subs running side-by-side.

Some evenings, the parade of trains seems endless.

In fall and winter, the sun sets south of the the tracks.

In summer, to the north.

If you don't like Kansas sunsets, you don't like sunsets.

Flagstaff, Arizona

Flagstaff is where BNSF's Transcon crosses the San Francisco Volcano Field.  Trains climb laboriously in both directions to the Arizona Divide, at over 7,000 feet, and although the tracks wind and twist through the world's largest Ponderosa Pine forest, the right-of-way is wide enough to allow late afternoon sun to shine through in pristine clarity.

Flagstaff is also the gateway to the Grand Canyon.

Westbound stacks beneath San Franisco Peak, a huge strato-volcano.

Eastbound to New Mexico.

Eastbound beneath Bill Williams Mountain, another volcano.

DPU's at Maine.

Sundown at Bill Williams Mountain.

Eastbound approaching the Arizona Divide.

Eastbound in summer when the sun sets north of the tracks.

Into the sun.

To see my other posts, go to

To see my photographs on Flickr, go to