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  Trip Report: UP's 2008 Engineering Special - Chapter 1
  Pocatello to Grand Junction
Chasing SHKPC-12 and SPCGJ-13 across Idaho and Utah
  From: UP's 2008 Engineering Special Dates: Apr 15, 2008 Author: Nathan Holmes


Photo 1
Running as SHKPC-12 (Hinkle, OR, to Pocatello, ID), the train is over half a day late. It was supposed to be into Pocatello on Saturday night, but here it is passing over the Snake River at American Falls, ID, at 1022h on Sunday. Still, this was a nice place to sit and wait on it, even if the cops did come by to check on me every hour or so.
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Photo 2
At Bannock, ID, 6936 was delayed again waiting on a westbound manifest. Here's our perp, UP 9400 west, as it approaches Bannock.
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Photo 3
A interesting load on the train is this 8-axle depressed center flat carrying a new transformer for points west.
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Photo 4
Wasting no time, 6936 accelerates out of the meet for Pocatello. The crew of 9400 west was not so lucky, though - the special's crew noticed a bit of metal sticking out one side, about 20 cars deep. Must have been on the conductor's side, as I didn't see it.
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Photo 5
Just a "going away" shot at Bannock, with a highball on the intermediate and one of the ubiquitous elevators in the background.
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Photo 6
Damn vandals - how many unpatched Grande covered hoppers do you suppose are still out there? This one's at the west end of the Pocatello yard.
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Photo 7
Pulling into Pocatello and getting ready to change crews, as seen from the Center St. bridge.
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Photo 8
Big Jack at the fuel rack. (Sorry, couldn't resist - thought that one up in my sleep-deprived state that morning.) I've never known exactly to which "Jack" the common railfan nickname for the DDA40X actually refers.
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Photo 9
I had hoped, before actually seeing how Pocatello was laid out, to somehow get the 6936 in the same frame as Pocatello's stuffed and mounted DDA40X, 6901. Unfortunately, it's not possible, so here's 6901 as she appears in the park.
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Photo 10
Sitting in the park along with 6901 is UP 2-8-2 #2005 and Oregon Short Line caboose 5784.
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Photo 11
With a fresh crew and a new symbol (SPCGJ-13), the special doesn't spend long in Pocatello. Just moments after I arrived at this spot east of Inkom, ID, 6936 showed up and caught me by surprise. Note the lava flow in the background, produced from a volcano over near Soda Springs.
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Photo 12
Running along the eroded edge of the lava flow near McCammon, ID, the train is about to leave the tracks built by UP as the Oregon Short Line (which diverge eastward at McCammon) and enter the Ogden Subdivision.
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Photo 13
There was a significant delay between McCammon and Arimo for something that involved having the dispatcher call in the Idaho State Police (no idea on the details). On the move again, we see the train again near Virginia, where US 89 heads southeast from I-15. That's the snow-covered Portneuf Range in the background.
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Photo 14
South of Downey, the line follows a grassy valley on its climb towards Red Rock Pass. While waiting on 6936 to show up, I noticed these very unusual fence posts. I guess when there aren't convenient sources of wood, you go with something else!
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Photo 15
There's the special, making its way along the Ogden Sub south of Downey. The line was built as narrow gauge by the Utah Northern (later the Utah & Northern under UP control) between 1872 and 1881. The Pocatello to Ogden segment was standard gauged in late 1890.
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Photo 16
Just a "splitting the signals" shot. I like the Grande-style hooded vertical signals better, but you have to admit that UP's old style is instantly recognizable.
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Photo 17
Topping over Red Rock Pass, SPCGJ-13 is about to head downhill towards the Cache Valley and Utah. Rock Rock Pass is geologically notable, as it's the location where the ancient Lake Bonneville cut the channel through which much of it drained some 14,500 years ago.
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Photo 18
After passing through Coulam southbound, they took off like a shot. Within the course of a few minutes, I went from pacing 6936 to not even being able to see the rear observation car. It would take nearly fifty route miles and the slow track through the Bear River Gorge to allow me to catch him again at Honeyville, UT. Even this was a total grab shot.
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Photo 19
Signal problems allowed another catch at Brigham City. As a historical footnote, the wye just north of town that connects UP's Malad Branch was also once used by the Southern Pacific (post 1903) as part of the old Transcontinental Railroad line via Promontory Summit. (Honestly it saw little use in this manner, as the Lucin Cutoff trestle handled almost all traffic by late 1904, but it stayed connected until 1942.)
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Photo 20
Passing the 1906 Brigham City, UT, depot
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Photo 21
In a bizarre twist of fate, one of the other units sitting at Brigham City was UP 3262. Just another SD40-2, you say? Try again - this is one of UP's so-called "Fast Forties", designed for high-speed running with the DDA40X Centennials. While it and its ilk been reduced to local service, many of them survive today on the UP roster, unlike 6936's siblings.
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Photo 22
The train took forever to get from Salt Lake to Provo, so there were few decent shots to be had over Soldier Summit. Some of Sunday's last light hits the train as it comes down off the Thistle bypass at the US Hwy 89 crossing. Most of the time when the train was lit after leaving Provo, the sun was directly behind it.
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Photo 23
Last light, near the Narrows. That's a wrap for Sunday - on to Grand Junction for five hours of sleep, and then it's on the road again to chase SGJSS-14 towards Denver.
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Creative Commons License This work is copyright 2008 by Nathan D. Holmes (maverick@drgw.net), but licensed under a Creative Commons License. This allows and encourages others to copy, modify, use, and distribute my work for non-commercial purposes (only), without the hassle of asking me for explicit permission or fear of copyright violation. I encourage others to consider CC or other Open Content-style licensing of their original works.

All photographs in this trip report were taken with a Canon EOS 40D using either a Canon 24-105mm F4 L IS/USM, Sigma 18-50mm, or a Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS/USM.