I thought May 10th would be the perfect day to announce the publication of my new book titled Union Pacific and Its Predecessors.
This covers more than 150 years of Union Pacific history and includes the modern day railroad and most of its primary components (among the them Chicago & North Western, Missouri Pacific, Southern Pacific and Western Pacific)
If you ask, ‘Why May 10th?’ then you will need to read the book! (See chapter 1, pages 16 & 17).
My old pal TSH (and Tracking the Light reader) made the cover photo of UP freights at Norden, on Donner Pass.
It was a heavy hazy day at Council Bluffs in August 1998, when I made a few photos of Union Pacific E9 949.
Working with a Nikon N90s fitted with a Nikkor f2.8 80-200mm lens, I first made a ‘telewedge’—a cute name for a three-quarter ‘wedgie’ style roster shot that was exposed with a telephoto lens.
Then I made a few close ups from essentially the same vantage point, but using a even longer telephoto setting.
I scanned these Provia 100 RDP II slides using a Nikon LS-5000 slide scanner powered by VueScan 9.7.96 software using the ‘fine’ mode and 4,000 dpi, and ‘autolevels’ color balance. Although scaled for internet presentation, I made no adjustments to color balance, color temperature, contrast, exposure or sharpness.
I made this photo of the old Union Pacific station at Caliente, Nevada in March 1997. Photographer Mel Patrick and I had been following the Los Angeles & Salt Lake route west from Utah.
Not far from Caliente we’d discovered one of the tires had developed a serious defect. It wasn’t flat, but it was about to be!
We arrived in town too late to visit the local mechanic, so stayed overnight across from the station. Before sunrise, I went over to the railroad and exposed a series of Fujichrome slides of the UP station using my Nikon F3T that I’d fitted with Mel’s 16mm full-frame fisheye.
This unusual lens lent itself to photos like this one.
Yesterday, I received back our Nikon Super Cool Scan 5000 slide scanner from CTS Services which had performed necessary servicing.
Among the first slides I scanned after taking the scanner out of the box was this June 30, 1994 view of Union Pacific’s Bend Turn on the Oregon Trunk near Gateway, Oregon.
I’d been following the freight on its northward run and this slide was among the final images of made of the train that day, exposed on Kodachrome 25 slide film using my Nikon F3T with 35mm PC (perspective control) lens.
I’ve been scouring my Union Pacific photos for consideration as illustrations for a book that I’m writing on Union Pacific and its Predecessors (CNW, DRGW, MP, SP, WP etc) for Kalmbach.
In April 1991, this was a common scene in West Oakland, California, before Union Pacific bought Southern Pacific, the railroad accessed the region via the former Western Pacific. WP route reached the Oakland yards via street trackage on 3rd Street (which ran parallel to SP’s street trackage on Embarcedero via Jack London Square, two blocks to the south).
It was the era before ditch lights were common equipment on UP locomotives. This freight is westbound.
When I revisited Oakland in 2008, I found little trace of the 3rd street trackage, with all moves now concentrated on the former SP line through Jack London Sq.
We were visiting the California Tehachapis four years ago. After more than two decades absence, it was my second trip there in as many weeks.
At sunset, I positioned myself at the famous Bealville grade crossing, where I photographed a passing Union Pacific intermodal train (historically on Southern Pacific this would have been an eastward train, but my notes from the day indicate that it was a ‘southbound’.)
Working with my FujiFilm XT1, I made a series of photos. Two variations of one of the head on views are presented here. One is the in-camera Jpg, the other is an adjusted image the I made in Lightroom from the Fuji RAW file.
The last image is a trailing view showing the signal and grade crossing gates.
My monthly column in September 2020 Trains Magazine features a photo that I made near this same crossing.
On September 10, 1996, I was driving east from Denver to Council Bluffs. Near Kearney, Nebraska, I was following the Union Pacific main line on a secondary road, where I made this panned photo of a westward UP freight train led by SD40-2 1996 specially painted for the 1996 Olympic games.
Working with my Nikon F2 fitted with a 200mm lens and loaded with Kodachrome 200, I panned the unusually painted locomotive to capture the sense of motion.
I’ve always found this photograph unfortunate because: 1) the doors were open on the side of the engine thus spoiling my view of the special paint livery. 2) the distant hill makes for a visually disruptive intersection near the front of the engine just over the top of the short hood.
In retrospect, I’m happy to have the photo, I just wish my execution had been better.