It becomes difficult to complete some of the longer themes in multiple parts here on the blog as new adventures or sightings transpire that I am tempted to share right away, thus breaking the continuity. Such was the case with my trip on board the UP’s Pacific Northwest Special for nine days in July of 2012 that I last wrote about on October 12th. David Eads phoned me last week and asked if I was ever going to finish the trip, and I did not have a good excuse other than “new things get in the way.” So as a result of David’s request, I will get to the latest new things later on, such as my recent road trip to see Ken Kanne, the Horn Doctor in Alabama.
In October 12th’s blog post I covered my ride on the Pacific Northwest Special from Council Bluffs, Iowa to Pocatello, Idaho when the E9′s pulling an eight car train covered a little over 1,000 miles in roughly 26 hours from 11:00 pm on July 4th to 1:00 am on July 6th. After taking the sunset shot from the dome/lounge Walter Dean in eastern Idaho, I had dinner with the crew in the dining car City of Denver. This was followed by some spirited story telling back in the dome of the Walter Dean until I headed off to bed in my compartment in the Portola around 11:00pm while we were still some 60 miles east of Pocatello.
Following a few hours sleep I awoke to find us stationary, and could see daylight around the edges of my window shade. I peeked around a corner to see a switching yard with some low hills in the distance and figured this was my first view ever of Pocatello. Stepping out into the corridor after showering and getting dressed I could see a depot platform out the windows on that side of the crew car Portola. In the City of Denver I found eggs, potatoes, sausage and toast ready for the crew self-serve buffet while the kitchen staff was beginning work on the lunch and dinner meals that would be served to invited guests later in the day.
After breakfast it was 7:30 am when I stepped down to the platform of the old UP passenger depot that was now the local UP headquarters for this area. I made my way up front where several local railfans were trying to get shots of the E9′s, but naturally the sun was on the yard side of the track where they could not go. I had all my PPE on, and after checking with one of the local officials, I was a gracious representative of the UP and took several of their cameras with me when I stepped across for this morning view of our train with the depot behind it.
Next I walked to the rear of the train for this view of the business/observation car Shoshone with the depot now fully visible. Built by the Pullman company in 1914 it is the second oldest car in the UP Heritage Fleet.
Down by the entrance to the museum car Promontory the staff was setting up the handout table.
The public relations event was due to run from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm with a self-conducted tour through the Promontory as the only car whose interior was open to the public.
In addition to the train, one of UP’s trailer-mounted locomotive simulators along with UP’s rubber-tired miniature train ride and vendor exhibits and booths were all set up and ready for visitors. The event had been locally well advertised, and as it got closer to 9:00 am large numbers of people began to arrive. Many used the train as a background for family photos.
I helped out this family and many more during the day by offering to take a picture with their camera so they could all be in the photo. The vendor area offered food and drink and various local items for sale.
The lines grew quickly for UP’s miniature train ride.
The line was long for a visit to the locomotive simulator, and I used my photographer status to slip in for this view of a future engineer thoroughly engaged in his work.
Over on the depot platform the crowd to go through the museum car was also growing rapidly.
Here is a view of local families enjoying the interactive exhibits in the Promontory.
With her mother’s permission I had this little girl pose for me as in addition to the face painting over at the vendor area she was thoroughly enjoying her new UP pennant and fan.
A man-lift had been brought to the train so our mechanic could repair one of the exhaust fans on the roof of the City of Denver and clean the outside of the windows in the dome of the Walter Dean. I put on the safety harness and got a briefing before using it to get an aerial view of the scene, although by the time I got up there the crowd had diminished for a while around lunch time.
In the early afternoon a ceremony was conducted where a framed proclamation, a sign and a commemorative challenge coin were presented to local officials to celebrate their city being chosen as a Union Pacific “Train Town”. From the several thousand towns along the UP’s tracks around 200 were chosen to receive this honor including Pocatello, Boise, Spokane, Eugene and Portland that we visited on this trip. This is what the proclamation looked like that was delivered here in Pocatello.
In this scene a few minutes later UP’s Director of Public Affairs for Idaho Dan Harbeke on the right helps a local official on the left unveil the Train Town sign for the crowd and the press.
The sun reflected off the glass such that I did not notice until that evening it looks like Dan is holding an empty frame! No harm done in the end thank goodness.
Here is a closer view of the Train Town sign.
And a close up view of the commemorative coin.
Later on we had a reception on board the train for area VIP’s, and at the end they posed with Dan on the rear of the Shoshone in a scene I would repeat many times over the course of the trip.
Walking up and down the platform looking for intriguing people shots I encountered this couple. Being interested in trains, when they had read about the event they decided to dress up and have their engagement pictures taken with the special. Their photographer was no show however, and they were wondering what to do. As you would guess I volunteered to take their photos and email them compliments of the Union Pacific. Another small PR gesture that ensured they would always think good thoughts about the UP from now on.
By mid-afternoon the number of people on hand to see the train was increasing again, and I captured this young visitor at the handout table.
The miniature train was full up every trip all day long.
With the cooperation of the miniature train staff I staged this shot of the big 951 and the little 956 together.
After the evening reception for invited guests we were already packed up and ready to leave town for our exhibition in Boise on the 8th after a day of rest on the 7th. The unofficial tally for the day was around 2000 visitors, and with the temperature in the high 90′s we had given out over 5000 bottles of water. We got under way not long before sunset heading west on the Nampa Sub.
The actual moment of sunset found us near American Falls about twenty miles west of Pocatello running at 79 mph.
Later that night I cranked the ISO up to 25600 and managed this view of the E9′s about to take a green signal along the Snake River near Glenns Ferry, Idaho.
Day or night, the dome car is the place to be. I stayed up until we reached Nampa, Idaho around 1:00am on the 7th where a WATCO crew from the Idaho Northern was ready to pull us backwards up the ex-UP line to Boise.