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Monday, February 15, 2010

Railroad Photography - Saturday Afternoon At Oro Grande

Story & Photos By: Ken Hulsey

Many a travel book has been written about America's historic transcontinental highway, Route 66. The interstate, which at one time, traversed the country from Chicago to Los Angeles in very much the same way as the Santa Fe railroad did. Alas Route 66, and the Santa Fe, are gone, for the most part, memories of a by-gone era in American Transportation.

The highway itself, being replaced by Interstate 40, in the west, and the Santa Fe merged with the Burlington Northern.

Remnants of these items of good old Americana can still be found for those who look hard enough, as today's photo gallery will illustrate.

Back in the 1970s, Trains Magazine published a very interesting photo spread entitled, "Railroad Photographs Without Trains". I was reminded of that classic magazine piece this past weekend, when I decided to kill two birds with one stone, and combine my quest to find a Valentine's Day present for my lovely wife, with a little train watching/photography.

One of my favorite haunts for antiques, my wife and I love old stuff, is the very quaint "Antique Station" in Oro Grande, Ca. I can normally find the perfect gift for my special little lady there, and as a matter of luck, the BNSF/Union Pacific main line runs right past the shop.

Oro Grande is located on what used to be Route 66, a stretch of road that now serves as the 'back way' into Barstow from Victorville.

Now on any given day, while shopping, at least a half dozen trains will pass this location, so I figured that this would be a great spot to capture some great railroading action shots.

I parked my car and crossed the highway to the rail line and then began my wait. I waited, and I waited.

Some 30-minutes passed before I spotted my first train, two actually, a BNSF stack-train on the track closest to me, and a Union Pacific on the adjacent trackage. Both were going the same direction, south, and both were pacing each other.

As the two trains came closer, the Union Pacific train slowed, and the BNSF freight quickly overtook it. This was a big disappointment, because I had hoped to catch them both in a photograph, but as luck would have it, I could only get a good shot of the first one to me.

I captured one shot as the train passed by the Oro Grande sign, just before it passed by some set out gondola cars, then another as it passed beyond them, headed south.

As I mentioned before, remnants of the pre-BNSF days were quite evident in Oro Grande on this unusually warm February day as this old worn-out Burlington Northern logo on the side of a set out gondola illustrates.

As I waited for another train, or trains, I snapped several pics of rolling stock near the TXI Riverside Cement plant.

Old meets new. An old Burlington Northern car coupled to a BNSF car.

The afternoon proceeded on, without any sign of action, which was odd for this local, so I took photos of what was available.

I soon got bored with my wait, so I decided to get my shopping out of the way, that was the main reason that I was visiting Oro Grande this day......honestly.

Of course, while in the store, five, count em, five trains passed by. Four UP mixed trains, and another BNSF stack-train.

I didn't rush my shopping though, I take finding the perfect gift for my wife very seriously, besides, trains always pass by this local often, so I would be certain to catch some after I was done.....or so I thought.

Again I took a position beside the tracks and waited.

Cue the sound of crickets if you will.


Again getting restless, I staked out an excellent place for a dramatic railroad action shot, this time adjacent to the curve alongside the cement plant. From this vantage point, I could get a great shot of trains headed south or coming north.

Only one problem, none showed up.

Again feeling artistic a took a few snaps of some assembled rail and ties along the trackage.

It was beginning to get late so I headed back to my car. While on my hike back, I took a photograph of the "Derail" switch on a very old siding.

I also noticed that several of the spikes on the main-line were falling out. I thought that this may make for an interesting photograph as well.

One shot, that may have been interesting, would have been of the discarded spray-paint cans I found along the tracks, with the graffiti laden freight cars in the back-ground. Unfortunately, I couldn't line up both subjects to my satisfaction, and I didn't want to move the cans closer to the rail-cars. Knowing my luck, a CHP officer would come by at exactly that moment and think that I was tagging the hoppers.

Now, many people would think that I had a rather boring Saturday afternoon, just hanging around the train tracks, but honestly I had a ball.

Granted, not many trains came by, but I feel that I got some great photographs anyway. Plus I was able to scout out some great spots for future photographs, and you know that the next free day I get, that's where I'll be.

"Railroad Photographs Without Trains" can sometimes be as artistic as ones with them.

For me, it was a great Saturday afternoon at Oro Grande.

See Also: Railroad Photo Gallery - Santa Fe FP45 Locomotives #95 & #98 / Railroad Photo Gallery - Union Pacific GP40-2 1368 (Ex Rio Grande)
See Other HO Scale Santa Fe Items: Athearn HO Scale FP45 Locomotive - Santa Fe (Red & Silver Warbonnet) / Athearn HO Scale F45 Locomotive - Santa Fe (Blue & Yellow Warbonnet) / Athearn HO Scale F7A/F7B Locomotives - Santa Fe / MTH HO Scale 2-10-0 Russian Decapod Locomotive - Santa Fe / Bachmann HO Scale Rail King Electric Train Set - Santa Fe / Athearn HO Scale EMD GP38-2 Locomotive - Santa Fe / Athearn HO Scale PS-2 Covered Hopper - Santa Fe / Athearn 50ft Ice Reefer Box Car - Santa Fe (Scout) / Athearn HO Scale Cupola Caboose - Santa Fe / Athearn HO Scale GP60M Locomotive - Santa Fe / Athearn Genesis F45 HO Scale Locomotive - Santa Fe / Bachmann 2-10-4 Texas HO Scale Locomotive - Santa Fe / Bachmann 4-8-4 Northern Locomotive - HO Scale - Santa Fe / Proto 2000 Diesel EMD F7A-B Set Powered - HO Scale - Santa Fe / Bachmann HO Scale FT Locomotive - Santa Fe / Walthers HO Scale F7 Locomotive - Santa Fe

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