DM&E Trip - Lincoln, NE to Rapid City, SD...Via Denver
Nick would be traveling from New Orleans so we decided to rendezvous in Denver, Colorado for this Journey. I would be taking advantage of a three-day weekend by boarding Amtrak train No. 5, the Westbound California Zephyr, in Lincoln just before midnight on the night of Sunday, September 15, 2013.
I rode on the head-end with engineers Derek Lewsader and Brian Gordon from Lincoln to McCook. It was a great ride! The railroad community really is a small family. Six years earlier, while working as BNSF Manager of Passenger Operations I made a trip on Amtrak No. 5 from Chicago to Denver. Under the watchful eye of engineer Ben Barnes, the Young Derek Lewsader was student engineer on that particular trip which arrived in Denver on October 17, 2007. One of my favorite in-cab photos that I have taken was the below image of Derek reaching for the radio to talk to the Train Dispatcher at Commerce City outside Denver:
Downtown Denver was "under-renovation" which meant that we would not be using the famous Denver Union Station. The train terminated at a temporary station facility several blocks away, adjacent to Coors Field. Passenger not transferring to one of the waiting busses had to cross Delgany Street to access the temporary waiting room and station facilities. It was not the grandest entrance into Denver.
Train No. 5 arrived in Denver a little before Nick's flight from New Orleans so I had about an hour to kill. Luggage in tow, I headed up the street where there was an elevated intersection with 23rd Street. From here I was able to get a few shots of our train in the temporary depot. A fuel truck was on-hand to fuel the locomotives as well.
Temporary Amtrak Depot - Denver, Colorado
BNSF Diesel Facility - Denver, Colorado
Both Nick and I have made several trips to Cheyenne in the past. Those trips were centered around railfanning the Union Pacific's busy main line. On this particular day we decided to bypass most of the normal attractions both because of the weather and because of the distance we had to travel. We did make a quick visit to the BNSF yard in Cheyenne where I was able to meet the new Trainmaster. Outside was a pair of SD40-2s idling between assignments. One of which, BNSF 1760, was still wearing its Santa Fe colors; though not as proudly as it once did.
North of Cheyenne we left I-25 and headed towards Torrington on Highway 85. Torrington is on the BNSF Valley Subdivision which is the gateway to Guernsey, WY and the bottom end of the famous Orin Line in the Powder River Basin. Little did I know at the time that I would soon be dispatching this territory...again! BNSF does not place a high priority on dispatcher road trips so they are few and far-between. Currently I own the first shift Valley desk which is my motivation for referencing the photos I took on this trip and penning this essay.
Our route, Highway 85, made a northwest turn at Torrington where it begins to parallel the BNSF Valley Subdivision towards Lingle, WY. The railroad is single track with a passing siding between Torrington and Lingle named "Texas". The next siding going westward is named "Grattan" and is closer to Fort Laramie.
BNSF Valley Subdivision - Lingle, Wyoming
The final eastbound train was Antlope Mine to Iatan, MO (Sadler) coal train C-ATMSAI0-31 sporting plenty of power. Two Grinstein Green SD70MACs and a pair or ES44ACs led the train while a lone ES44AC was pushing on the rear. The first photo location was between the switches at Grattan. We paced this train for a bit and then shot it a second time at Milepost 74. Before departing Lingle for good we managed to get a going-away shot of the light power finally underway towards Guernsey.