Southern Pacific, Bealville, California 1993.

We heard the thunderous roar of EMD 645-E3 diesels laboring upgrade in ‘Run-8’ (maximum throttle.) Thick fog at Bealville in the California Tehachapis amplified the sound.

I was traveling with my friend and fellow photographer Brian Jennison, a veteran of Tehachapi railroad photography.

As the sound faded in and out, I looked for an angle; walking back and forth, I finally settled on this view on the outside of the curve at the often-photographed Bealville horseshoe.

 A version of this image appeared in Pacific Railnews in the mid-1990s when I worked for Pentrex Publishing.

A version of this image appeared in Pacific Railnews in the mid-1990s when I worked for Pentrex Publishing.

On Southern Pacific all train movements were deemed either ‘eastward’ or ‘westward’ in their relation to the direction traveled from milepost 0 in San Francisco, regardless of the compass. In the Tehachapis, a train may be traveling in all directions at the same time owing to the exceptional sinuosity of the trackage.

This uphill freight was moving railroad timetable east.

In the lead was a Rio Grande SD40T-2. It had a transitional lighting arrangement, that included its as-built headlight and oscillating lights, plus recently added ditch-lights and a ‘gumball’ rotating yellow light atop the cab. Again the fog has accentuated the locomotive’s lights.

I was working with my Nikon F3T with Nikkor f1.8 105mm telephoto mounted on my Bogen 3021 tripod and loaded with Fuji 100 slide film (what I used to call ‘Fujiahundred’). I metered the scene with a Sekonic Studio Deluxe handheld photocell.

The sound show was far more impressive than any image I could have made of the train’s approach and passing. I wish I could stand there again in the fog on that April 4, 1993 morning!

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One comment on “Southern Pacific, Bealville, California 1993.

  1. Brian Jennison on said:

    Yes, an amazing sound show, accentuated by the fog. American western mountain railroading at its finest.

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