Thursday, May 24, 2007
The Big 1981 Road Trip: Day 1
New GP39-2 "Wagon Killers" leave Pasco. . .
It felt so good to post that 26 year-old photo from Wymore yesterday that I got inspired to dig into the Logan boxes and share images from a road trip from Seattle to the Missouri River I took in June 1981.
I convinced friend Marc Hills to come along with me, to see such curiosities as the Rio Grande, Utah Railway, US Steel F-units and Burlington Northern U-Boats. I was 21 years old; Marc was probably only a couple of years older. This was my first big photographic trip halfway across the country by automobile. To put the date in perspective, Ronald Reagan was in his first six months of his presidency, gas prices were among the highest ever, I was attending community college and working full-time at the Journal-American newspaper in Bellevue. The Milwaukee Road had shut down the year before, and a recession had sidelined most of BN's F-units and Alcos in the Pacific Northwest; they'd all be stored by the end of summer.
GP30's bracket CPRail SD's on Canadian run-through. . .
DAY ONE: June 6, 1981: We loaded up my brown Toyota Corolla hatchback for a dawn departure, stopping near Kittitas to photograph the remains of the freshly-salvaged Milwaukee Road: stacks of ties were everywhere, and block signals were tipped over, as if vanquished warriors who'd given up. By noon, we were in Pasco, which was infinately less interesting without those Fs and Alcos of years past, but we did manage to photograph train #393 near Hover with two-month-old GP39-2's 2724/2700--the locomotives that had killed off the F-units and Alcos on the coast. Then, it was over to the Snake River to follow the UP "Washy" line to Hinkle yard, where we lucked onto train #2-120 (scheduled in the timetable!) with snowplow-equipped GP30's 800 and 802 bracketing three CPRail "Candystripe" SD40-2's on the train bound for Eastport (one of the early examples of runthrough power between Canada and the US) near Juniper.
Not what, but how many: New SD40-2 in the Blues. . .
Finally, eastward, over the Blue Mountains, where we bagged a westbound UP freight heavy with woodchips with four SD40-2's up front. . .standard power of the era. Noteworthy was the 3806 leading the train, the third-to-last of nearly 700 SD40-2's acquired by the railroad. Check out the yellow handrails! DD35s and Centennials from years before had vanished due to retirement and recession storage, so there was little other reason to tarry on the trip east to Utah. We put it in hyper drive and headed east through the darkness. . .