Saturday, September 17, 2016

Echo Canyon, Evanston, and the abandoned tunnel at Wahsatch

While I love the former D&RGW routes, and generally focus my time there, every once in a while it's good to take a break and see something else, especially if I haven't been there for a long time. A week ago was the first Intermountain Rail Prototype Modelers Meet, an event hosted by the Utah Free-mo club at the Union Pacific roundhouse in Evanston, Wyoming. While driving through Park City to Echo would have been the faster route, I decided to drive to Ogden and head east through Weber Canyon to see what trains I could find. I was not disappointed.

This was taken at the first eastbound exit at Morgan. The sun had just barely peeked over the mountains, illuminating the range in the background but leaving the remainder of the valley in shadow. The train scared a herd of deer that was congregated along the track.

Early morning railfanning, especially in the mountains, can be an interesting and frustrating experience. First, because the narrow canyons don't offer many places to safely pull off from the highway, and second, because the shadows can cause havoc with exposures and light ranges. It is very difficult to get an evenly exposed view when one half of the frame is in dark shadow and the other in blinding morning light.

Just west of Echo. This train's slow speed allowed me to set up some unique shots in hard-to-reach locations.

While I was only able to catch one train, I followed it all the way from Uintah to Evanston, thanks to Union Pacific's policy of longer trains with less locomotives. This train fairly dragged itself upgrade to Wahsatch Summit, speeding up to about 50 mph on flat portions but generally grinding along at about 10 mph or less on the grades (at Wahsatch cut, for example, it was barely faster than a brisk walk). I'll write more about this subject in a future post.

The train approaches Wahsatch Summit and the abandoned station there, passing through the cut that replaced the tunnel to the left in 1943.

The highlight of the trip was finding the abandoned Wahsatch tunnel. It's extremely hard to reach; I found it quite by accident while wandering around waiting for the train to reach me, and involved a bit of off-roading, almost getting my vehicle stuck, then sliding down a steep embankment to find a suitable place to set up my tripod. This tunnel was built in 1916 (one hundred years ago!) when the eastbound main was added to the original route, which runs directly above as the current westbound main. It was later abandoned in 1943 when the cut was extended, allowing larger equipment to run through without worrying about overhead clearances.

Then there was this car...much of the Denver & Rio Grande Western's "great steel fleet" of three-bay coal hoppers still exist, although they are quickly disappearing, many of them being recycled into steel tubing at McWane Ductile in Provo. Boxcars, however, are a rarer catch, and while this one was marred by graffiti, it was still a pleasant surprise to see.
Nos vemos

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