Trainpics: USA - Feather River Canyon

The former Western Pacific mainline between Protola, CA, close to the Nevada border, and Oroville, CA, at the Western end of the Sierra Nevada is nowadays known as Union Pacific's Feather River Subdivision. Whilst the Western part of the Feather River Line runs deep in the actual canyon, along the North fork of the Feather River, the landscape in the Eastern part of the line is not quite as spectacular - as least if you're talking about the size of the valleys and canyons. In the morning of September 19th, 1997, UP 9729, a GE C44-9W, and UP 8145, a SD 90 MAC built by EMD, are seen near Sloat, CA, as they haul train ILTCS19 eastward
Rougly a one-mile-long train is needed, if you want to make a photo like this! While CNW 8669 (C44-9W) and UP 9512 (C41-8W) have already passed through the entire Williams Loop, the end of the train will still have to go around the 360-degree curve. It's rather impressive to see the train slowly surrounding the photographerand finally passing over its own end. Williams Loop, September 20th, 1997.
One of the best-known structures on the Feather River line is Clio Trestle, which happens to be the highest brigde in UP's entire system. Four Burlington Northern SD 40-2s (8179, 8089, 7035 und 8017) are slowly passing over the huge steel-brigde on September 20th, 1997. The train will follow the UP-line as far as Keddie, from where it will continue its trip via the "High Line", which has been taken over by the Burlington Northern Railroad some years ago.
UP 9488 (C41-8W) and CNW 6811 (SD40-2) have finally completed the strenuos ascend through the Feather River Canyon. After a short stop in Portola, CA, where some of the autoracks are left behind, they move on eastward. Along the Mid Fork of the Feather River the locomotives don't have a problem accelerating the train to track-speed again.
The trip through the Feather River Canyon still lies ahead of train ANPOA19, which leans in the curve at Backwourth Pass on September 21st, 1997. The motive power for this train consits of CNW 8730 (C44-9W), UP 6250 (SD 60M) and UP 3764 (SD 40-2). Although the Chicago-Northwestern Railroad has been part of  Union Pacific since 1995, there's still a lot of locomotives in the attractive green and yellow CNW-colour-scheme in service today.
Keddie Wye, as railfans usually refer to the Spanish Creek Trestle, kept us busy for several days. Well, not exactely busy, since the train-frequency wasn't quite satisfying and "Uncle Pete" wasn't treating us to a westbound in ideal lighting conditions. Still quite acceptable is the photo of train MOGST18 (a mixed freight from Ogden, UT, to Stockton, CA, that began its trip on the 18th day of the month), which has already completed the major part of his trip on September 21st, 1997.
We decided to follow UP 6059, a standard-cab SD 60, UP 3568 and CSX 8057, both SD 40-2, on their way down the canyon and got a fair number of photos of the train, amongst others at a tunnel near Twain, at the spectacular brigdes of Pulga and at James siding, where a meet with an eastbound BNSF-train took place.
Three differnet colour schemes are combined in the consist of this BNSF-freight. While  SD40-2 No 7051 is still wearing the classic BN-cascade-green and black, ATSF 5080 (SD 45-2) and ATSF 660 (C44-9W) show both variations of Santa Fe's Warbonnet-colours. the picture was taken near Twain in the evening of September 21st, 1997.
The strong headlights of American locomotives make photos possible, which just can't be made with European trains. In the evening of September 21st, 1997 a westbound is perfectly illuminating the line near the "Honeymoon Tunnels", so that there's no reason for the engineer to be afraid in the dark ...
At Pulga the line runs only a few feet above the North Fork of the Feather River. The peaceful look of the little river is deceptive, though. In the Spring of the same year, severe flooding damaged the line so seriously, that UP even considered not rebuilding the line at all. But on Septmebr 22nd, 1997 the service was almost back to normal with only some shorter maintenance windows left.
On its way down the canyon, this coaltrain is seen near Pulga on September 23rd, 1997. Downhill, it is less important to have a lot of horsepower - more important is the capability of the dynamic brakes. Being brand-new AC-locomotives, UP 8146, a SD 90 MAC, SP 249 and SP 235, both AC 4400s, don't have a problem in that departement. They'll bring the train to its destination safely.
Last update: 8th June 2002