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California to Texas 5/5-6/2021

by Chris Guenzler

An e-mail was received from David Smetko about a series of trips in April and May put on by Ohio Rail Experience. Elizabeth and I decided to do the one with the greatest mileage which would be a trip on the Big Four Railroad between Cincinnati, Ohio and Greensburg, Indiana. Elizabeth then looked into the possibility of visiting the Age of Steam Roundhouse in Sugarcreek. Tours were being offered the day before our train trip. We then started planning and the Nickel Plate Museum in Bellevue, Ohio came through for us. Elizabeth also picked up tickets for the Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago Cubs in a stadium I still needed to go to in my quest to attend games in all major league baseball parks. We then continued to plan and came up with a routing that would be suitable for the two of us with several other surprises involved.

5/5/2021 Elizabeth and I woke up and after breakfast, she drove me to Enterprise where I received a Kia Optima missing the GPS tracker that we paid for. My wife had her hair cut and I packed the car and after a final check by her, I drove us out of the area, over Cajon Pass to our first stop at Daggett for an exciting train.

BNSF 8145 East with Norfolk Southern AC44C6M 4298 and ES44DC 7624. We followed this train to Minneola where he stopped.

Here we found a monument which I had never seen before of the Forks of the Road, the junction of the Old Spanish Trail and Mormon Trail.

BNSF 6862 East at Minneola. We returned to Interstate 40 and headed east.

At Ash Hill, from the freeway, we saw BNSF 5007 West with BNSF 6816 and Norfolk Southern AC44C6M 4109.

The views from Ash Hill to our first view of the Colorado River along Intersate 40. From here we drove over to Needles and had lunch at Carl's Jr. After lunch we drove into Arizona. As we neared Park Moabi from the California side, I spotted a train coming through Topock so I decided to stop on the bridge at Park Moabi Drive so Elizabeth could experience her first train there.

BNSF 7781 West at Park Moabi Drive. We crossed the Colorado River into Arizona.

The Needles on the Arizona side, a famous landmark.

East of Kingman, I drove a section of Interstate 40 that I had not done so before. After we discussed things, the two of us decided to stop at Ash Fork so we could get pictures of the station there that Elizabeth had last seen in 2002 and me in 2016.

The Santa Fe Ash Fork station used by BNSF.

Seen on the way to Flagstaff was this cloud that I had never seen before in all my travels. We drove into Flagstaff and had dinner at The Sizzler. After dinner we passed a train and I decided to get another picture so we pulled off at Winona.

BNSF 6654 East with Norfolk Southern SD70ACe 1057 at Winona. From here I drove us the rest of the way to Winslow where we checked in to the Quality Inn for the night.

5/6/2021 We arose this morning and checked out then went to Denny's for a good breakfast.

BNSF 6596 East with Norfolk Southern AC446CM 4051 at Sanders.

The trackmobile switching cars at Sanders. Elizabeth called the Enterprise office in Gallup, New Mexico, who had a single GPS unit left. He tested it while we made our way to Gallup.

Coming into New Mexico on the north side of the highway you pass Chief Yellowhead tourist trap. From here we went to Enterprise in Gallup and we received the GPS unit which Elizabeth worked out how to use while I drove.

The Santa Fe Gallup New Mexico station built in 1923 which is also the Amtrak stop in town.

Santa Fe caboose 999219, originally Santa Fe 1909, which has a map of Route 66 on it. Next we went over to the steam engine here at Babe Ruth Park.

The artsy display of a man pushing a mine cart into a mine.

Defiance Coal 0-4-0ST 2 built in 1921. We next drove to Wingate.

If this train looks familiar, you saw it yesterday in this story, as this was the train we shot in Daggett and we caught it two states east today. From here we went to Thoreau.

The view of the mesas at Thoreau.

BNSF 6552 East at Thoreau. We continued on to Grants where we filled the rental car with petrol.

Santa Fe caboose 999726. From here we drove east and tried to go to the Laguna Pueblo for the town's station but the exit was closed so we continued on to Albuquerque and found a Subway where we had lunch. Afterwards we drove east to Moriarty where we had a true surprise.

The Santa Fe Central station from Calvert built in 1903, now used as a church. From here we started the drive to Tucumcari.

Passing the red mesas on the way to Tucumcari.

The Southern Pacific/Rock Island Tucumcari station built in 1926.

A semaphore signal that was used on the Southern Pacific line to the south.

Inside the closed railroad museum in Tucumcari.

A Rock Island signal.

The emblems of the three railroads on a building to the north.

Leaving New Mexico.

Entering Texas. We drove straight to Amarillo to find the station and steam engine in daylight.

The Rock Island emblem on this bridge shows whose railroad it once was.

The Santa Fe Amarillo passenger station built in 1910. We had to shoot through the fence since there was no way to get closer.

The Santa Fe freight house in Amarillo. Two blocks over we found the steam engine.

Santa Fe 2-10-4 5000 built in 1930 and for most of its career, was known as "Madam Queen".

I shot these three pictures having to be aware of the three dogs who sometimes got in the way of my taking the steam engine photographs. We went to Jersey Mike's for dinner and then checked into the Days Inn where we did our usual checks of the Internet and wrote the story.