Trainpics: USA - Ludlow-Needles

It is recommended to view these images with adequate background-music,
as "on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe" in the version of Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra.
The former ATSF mainline from Los Angeles to the East (which is now part of the BNSF) certainly is one of the busiest railway-lines in the american West. Often there are even two or three trains per hour in either direction. East of Barstow, the line is crossing through the Mohave desert, which - although looking just flat and wide, has some gradients to get in the way of the railway. Westbounds have put the throttle up west of Ludlow, where the line curves around a large hill at the beginning of a longer gradient.

In the evening of September 12th, 2000, a westbound is climbing up the hill (top right), whilst three eastbounds can take things easy going downhill in the morning of September 24th, 2000.

In the morning, eastbounds can also be photographed from a location on the north side of the rails. On September 24th, 2000, short after sunrise, the traffic was dense. After a double-stack container-train has passed, a train made of brand-new, articulated tri-level autoracks is rolling by.
In the late afternoon, climbing onto the top of the hill is well worth the effort. From up there, you'll enjoy a rather fantastic view over the area.
And you're not likely to be taken by surprise by an approaching train: You will see it at least ten minutes before it's time to get your camera ready.
With a bit of luck - at least back in 2000 - the BNSF would send out a consist with nothing but locos in the original SantaFe-look. And lucky is what we were on the 12th of September 2000. Even the lead-unit, a GP60M (unique to the ATSF), has still "SantaFe" written on the sides of the carbody. Many warbonnets have been relettered to "BNSF" already.
Ludlow! The place has probably seen better times, but really good times? Most likely not. Believe it or not, the two images show the major part of the village. There are also two petrol-stations and a fast-food place near the interstate - that's it!
On our way eastward, we follow the historical route 66. The last sunlight is reflecting on the side of an eastbound hotshot near Ludlow.
Since the train has to slow down on Ash-hill, we get to pace the train for a while before finally getting ahead of it - as a glance into the rear view mirror prooves (near Amboy).
West of Needles westbound trains have to climb up Goffs-hill. Whilst the locomotives of the train on the left are - all but one - sporting the new colours of the BNSF, only the freshly repainted BNSF 822 spoils an otherwise solid consist of warbonnets.
To keep the gradient at a moderate level, westbound trains follow a "deviation" on Goffs-hill, while eastbounds go on a more direct line. On September 23rd, the photographer was lucky two times, as both trains had exactely the right length, so that the last cars can be see in the distance on the right.
Seconds before sunset, the BNSF sent out another couple of trains. As the sun touches the horizon, an eastbound rumbles by. Immediatedly after it has passed, a westbound comes crawling up from behind.
Last Update: 8th June 2002