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BNSF's Seligman Sub; Bellemont to Winslow Map and Railfan Info  

BNSF's Seligman Sub Map and Railfan Info
Bellemont, AZ to Winslow, AZ
.
Created:12-11-2002


Elevation Data taken from Delorme's Topo Map 3.0

Follow this link for a high resolution topographical map of this section of the Seligman Sub.  1275 x 587  (180K)

           Seligman Sub Superlatives

West end: Bellemont, AZ  MP 356.3; East end: East Winslow, AZ  MP 284.5; Total miles: 71.8  Double track main for the entire route. Main 1 is the north track.
Max track speeds vary from 90 mph for Amtrak to 70 mph for freight.
Major stations: Flagstaff, Winslow
Yards: Flagstaff (small), Winslow
Highest point 7,322 ft @ Arizona Divide. Lowest Point: 4,858 ft @ Winslow, AZ.
Radio Frequencies: AAR 55, 160.935, DS-10 / Winslow to Seligman
Amtrak stops:  Flagstaff - Southwest Chief #3 (west) 9:33pm;  #4 (east) 5:06am;  Winslow - Southwest Chief #3 (west) 8:36pm; #4 (east) 6:07am
Train Frequency: 60-70 daily; Train Types: Intermodal, Manifest, Auto, Passenger

Overview

        The eastern slope of the San Francisco range is where you'll find yourself as you continue along the final portion of the Seligman Sub. From Bellemont to Winslow, the scenery will make a dramatic change from forested mountains and valleys, transforming into long, gently sloping plateaus with stunning vistas and views which can be had for miles. It is not uncommon to see trains lined up one after the other as they leave Winslow and pull west on a grueling climb toward the Arizona Divide. This parade can be especially dramatic in the dawn / dusk periods of the day, when headlamps can be seen glistening from miles away. Some of the great photographs of mainline railroading in the desert southwest have come from this section we are about to explore. The soaring peaks of Flagstaff, combined with the long vistas and high plateaus near Winslow, provide the great backdrops for railroad photography which have lured you here.  Of course, the constant parade of the BNSF isn't half bad either.

        Access:  While there are some remote locations to be explored, this part of the Seligman Sub is decidedly easier to access than much of the middle part of the sub we just covered, which is dominated by the Crookton Cutoff. Here, I-40 actually follows the tracks much of the time and only separates from the interstate where the tracks pass through Flagstaff and again where they cross Diablo. This also provides an interesting challenge for the railfan. It isn't legal to just pull into the median and wait for the next train. The AZ State patrol will probably visit soon should you take this approach.
        Instead plan to do some exploring. Most exits off the freeway will lead to areas around the tracks which in turn lead to smaller roads and access trails that can reach some of the areas seen from I-40. The only place that this doesn't seem to be true is along the 10 miles or so just west of Winslow. I need to do a little more exploring there, but the only available road is the MoW, which doesn't give you much of an advantage over the freeway, but would allow you to stop for longer portions of time. Look for more details in the descriptions below.

        Lodging:  There is no shortage of hotels and motels in Flagstaff. Winslow also has places to stay. Camping is a pleasing option in the mountains and there are even a few placed fairly close to the tracks for those that could use a night fix of horns and chugging engines. I've stayed several places in Flagstaff. Hint: You'll get what you pay for. Those $20 rooms are just that, not worth $20. But on a tight budget can help stretch the funds.

        Food and supplies:  There are plenty of grubbing opportunities in Flagstaff and Winslow. Supplies can be found at numerous locations. Since Flagstaff is easily the largest city along the route, within reason you'll find anything you want in town.

        Seasons: Winters are very, very cold through the Flagstaff area. It will be well below freezing at night from around mid-Oct until late April, and on many days during the middle part of winter, it probably won't get much above freezing even in the middle of the day. Be prepared for lots of snow and ice especially on the western slopes, and a bitter, howling wind will make you stay in the car until the last possible moment to catch that train. With the shorter days though, you'll find some of the best blue sky.  Spring is slow coming to the mountain, and one could make the case that summer at this altitude is just an extension of spring. As with anywhere, spring brings renewal and this area is no exception. Everything is in full bloom and life will be fresh anywhere you look. Large stands of mini sunflower looking flowers line the tracks and the fresh shoots on grasses and trees will improve your photos appeal.  Summer Again, at these altitudes, summer often is very mild. It can still get hot, but there is probably no intense scorching heat except on the eastern slope heading into Winslow. Summer means monsoons too, so be ready for the occasional downpour. Lightning is an immediate danger when these summer storms get fired up. Don't get caught out in the open. If you've gone to hike up on that ridge for that neat shot, get down immediately. Low ground is better than nothing, inside your car is the safest place. Autumn's touch will arrive earlier than expected. Depending on the summer rainfall, the browning of the flowers and grass can begin as early as mid August. With good rain however, the flowers and greenery may last into October, when the first cold begins to take hold.
 
 

Timetable Info Seligman Sub - Bellemont, AZ to Winslow, AZ; italicized stations have more info below
Stations
Mile Post
Elevation in Feet
Speed / MPH
E. Bellemont
354.5
 
79 / 70
W. Flagstaff
344.8
 
45 / 40
E. Flagstaff
342.1
 
55 / 50
McPhetridge
338.8
 
79 / 55
*Detector*
336.8
   
Cosnino
333.1
 
45 / 40
E+W Darling
329.5 - 326.7
 
55 / 50
Angell
322.7
 
90 / 70
*Detector*
315.5
 
 
E+W Canyon Diablo
312.1 - 310.5
 
 90 / 70
Sunshine
305.9
 
 90 / 70
Dennison
298.3
 
 90 / 70
*Detector*
294.2
 
 
W. Winslow
288.3
 
 90 / 70
West Pass
286.6
 
 45 / 40
Winslow
286.2
 
65 / 55 
East Pass
285.3
 
 65 / 55 
E. Winslow
284.5
 
65 / 55 


        Bellemont  MP 354.5  Bellemont is a nice place to get trackside. On the south side of the interstate is an east / west road the intersects the exit immediately at the top of the overpass and runs parallel to I-40, between the tracks and the freeway. This road will lead to a couple of good spots. If you travel east along the road until it turns to dirt you'll be at the site of a very bad derailment that occurred back on Halloween day of 2000. See some shots and info from that here. It is all cleaned up now and within reason is nearly impossible to tell it happened. The location is a nice one for morning eastbound trains as the make a climb up a slight embankment and a sweeping turn toward the north.
        Back at the freeway exit, if you turn west (right), the road will lead to several left turns that go back to the tracks which are now roughly a 1/2 mile from the road. Several spots can be accessed, but the tracks are generally straight and somewhat boring. If you keep going down the road, it leads to what appears to be an abandoned gravel pit. The tracks are just beyond the pit.

        West Flagstaff  MP 344.8  The areas of west Flagstaff are a bit harder to explore. The line rides high along the ridge line as it nears town and I have not had much luck exploring it. I tend to push more toward town, especially the downtown areas for some good pictures at the refurbished depot. One place that is nice along the western edge of town, is out on Rte 66. A large field full of gophers gives way to the tracks and some nice afternoon shots can be made of trains going in both directions. You'll be a little far away, but a long lens can make nice work of the area.

        East Flagstaff  MP 342.1  East Flagstaff, including downtown, contain some nice locations to watch the action. Multiple grade crossings through town allow you access and with a bit of creativity some real gems in terms of pictures. The depot has been revamped and still serves as the Amtrak station. It also serves as the local visitor bureau and historical society museum. The downtown area of Flagstaff is also very nice so you'll enjoy watching trains here. Be forewarned this is not a good place for pacing or chasing. The streets are very busy and the trains are generally going too fast. Instead of chasing plan your day picking spots and catching one or two trains there. Then move on to the next location. With this busy line you'll not wait long. If you are following a unique or favorite engine, I would skip Flagstaff altogether, and bypass out on the freeway. Rejoin the chase when they arrive on the other side of town. That having been said, you can always almost always catch the trains after they leave town. (exception Amtrak, just too fast) Also, if you are in town and see something special, make a beeline for the highway and you'll almost certainly be able to track down your prey again.

        Cosnino  MP 333.1  Cosnino is a great spot with a wealth of possibilities. Curves, grades, and mountains all contribute into making this one of the better location this side of the Crookton cutoff. Road access is plentiful, though most are dirt and some are rough, but the views are wonderful.
        Exit I-40 at #207 and turn north. The tracks are immediately ahead of you, less than 1/4 mile away.  You'll want to catch the action here for a bit, but try some of the side roads too. The road to the south of the crossing that leads past the cut to the east  will take you back to some 'S' curves which have some great vantage points to watch and shoot from.  The roads west from the crossing are shorter, but will change the angles and backdrops a bit for you.

        Darling  MP 328.0  Darling is a nice location especially for eastbound trains. This is true morning or afternoon. Eastbound trains are climbing an impressive hill and make a sweeping turn as they reach the summit. Hard working locos are often giving off some smoke and the sound is unbeatable. An overpass provides a variety of angles to explore. Westbound trains will sneak up on you from behind the overpass, so be ready, there is little warning.
        To get here is very simple, Exit 211 off of I-40 will get you here almost immediately upon leaving the freeway.  Turn north, (the only way you can go) and the overpass across the tracks is dead ahead. There is also a spur to a local cinder mine, which you can see directly ahead, and with any luck you'll catch a local working the spur.

        Angell  MP 322.7  Now things get a bit dicey. Angell is off in the boonies and isn't hard to find, but isn't necessarily easy either. From Darling there is a road on the south side of the overpass, between the tracks and the interstate. It is paved at first, but quickly becomes a dirt road. Don't let this discourage you though, the road has been in good shape every time I have been on it and sees a fair amount of local traffic. From this road you'll follow the tracks east a bit, then they will veer away from the road. There are side roads that lead to the tracks, and the ever present MoW road, but there are areas where you can't get through, so I suggest staying on the good portion of the road, rather than the MoW path. There is a road leading left that I believe has a sign indicating Angell is ahead. It is approx. 6 miles from the turn-off at the interstate to this left turn. Then it is another 2 miles to Angell. There is still a wye here, though it doesn't seem to see much use, and you'll be able to see east forever. It is a long way to Canyon Diablo, but I believe you can make it to the western side of the canyon following the various ranch paths out here. I haven't done it, so you're on your own!

        Canyon Diablo  MP 311.0  I haven't actually visited the bridge a Canyon Diablo. I tried once but turned back because of the road. If you have ever read about the roughness of this path, let me say it is 10X as bad as any account you have read. Bumpy is the understatement of the century. This road just plain out SUCKS!!  The bridge is very impressive though, and from the pictures I've seen, is worth the visit. My next trip will include a trip to Diablo.
        To get there, take I-40 east until you get to exit 230, or Two Guns. The road will lead north from the freeway, and it is approx. 4 miles from the freeway exit to Diablo. Be aware of rattlesnakes from say March to October as I have heard they are fairly common on the cliffs of the canyon. Look, listen and live (and not just for the trains!)

        Winslow  MP 286.2  Winslow marks the end of the Seligman sub and the beginning of the Gallup sub, and serves as a crew change location. It also has a sizable yard. I haven't stopped in Winslow for anything other than gas, so I'll save the commentary for now. Maybe this spring I an make a run to Winslow and see what is out there. Winslow is about 55 miles from Flagstaff, and is a sizable place. Gas, food and lodging are available. I-40 parallels the tracks for 12-15 miles west of Winslow, so there appears to be less opportunity for photography during the final few miles of the Seligman sub.


Go West on the Seligman Sub
or jump to:
Needles to Yampai Summit (including Topock, Kingman Cyn, and Crozier Cyn)
Yampai Summit to Bellemont (including Seligman, Crookton, Eagle Nest, and Williams Jct.)

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