Friday, February 28, 2014
For Miles and Miles. . .
Five hours earlier and 75 miles south of our previous photograph, we first encountered the same low-priority LVSC, loping along at MP633, laving just left the siding at Clear Lake, Utah. The idea that there's any sort of lake out here in the Escalante desert of southwestern Utah is a laughable idea. But the Escalante is a big bowl with no drainage, and on those rare years of excessive snowfall (yes, it does snow here in the winter) and precipitation, the water has nowhere to go. . . except into the lowest spot in the basin, which would be Clear Lake.
This 61 car train is the de-facto local freight between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, handling cars for the few local industries en route, picking up repaired bad-orders, taking speed-restricted cars that would otherwise ride on faster manifests, and carrying equipment and company materials for maintenance of way--such as those aqua green ballast hoppers five cars from the head end. For the crew called for this dog, it'll be a full day's work getting to Salt Lake. There's a lot of traffic out here in September 1990, and this train will be seeing a lot of sidings.
This is a little-traveled part of the state, 25 miles west of Interstate 15. To the south 50 miles, the small crew change town of Milford, population 1300; another 20 miles to the north, another small town, Delta, population 3400. Between them, there's nothing but the railroad, an occasional ranch, and 2-lane Utah Highway 257. North of Delta, the railroad begins its climb across the East Tintic range before dropping into the Great Salt Lake valley. South of Milford, there's another 80 miles of desert to the Nevada line at Uvada and descent towards Las Vegas, 240 miles west of Milford.
There's a lot of long, lonely miles out here in the Great Basin.