Facebook Page

The Winter Photo Freight on the Nevada Northern and Nevada Southern Trip!

by Chris Guenzler

I saw a post on on their steam page for the Nevada Northern Railway Winter Photo Freight to be held on December 4th and 5th 2004. I called Carl Morrison and suggested that we should go to the event after our wonderful successful Detouring Across Wyoming Trip. Carl took care of getting our tickets and I took care of the hotel. Carl then invited a couple of friends to help keep the cost down and we were all set for a very unique and enjoyable trip to Ely, Nevada and my return to the Nevada Northern.

The Trip to Boulder City 12/3/2004

At 4:00 AM I woke up and by 4:35 AM I was heading up the 57 Freeway driving to Carl Morrison's house in Placentia. I arrived there finding Carl and Don Drummer who would be our driver loading his Ford Explorer Scout as we waited for Don Roe to be dropped off to join us on this unique journey. Don Roe then showed up and we packed up leaving Carl's house at 5:15 AM. We drove north up the 57 Freeway to the 210 Freeway which we took east to Interstate 15 North. We stopped in Barstow at Tom Mega Burger where I enjoyed an excellent French Toast as six freight trains passed outside my window. Total was 5 BNSF and 1 UP. Back onto Interstate 15 we stopped at Primm, Nevada for gas and a break. Continuing into Nevada on 15, we took NV 146 to Interstate 215 to 515 which became US 93. As we crossed Railroad Pass we went over a paved over railroad crossing. We passed the Railroad Pass Casino and paralleled the former Union Pacific Boulder Branch into Boulder City. The 10:00 AM Excursion Train we passed heading west out of town.

The Southern Nevada Railroad Museum 12/3/2004

Realizing that we were passing through Las Vegas on a Friday morning, I remembered that the Southern Nevada Railroad Museum was operating a train over their tracks that they had restored. A phone call was made to their offices and we were all set to ride this historic former piece of the Union Pacific. We found the eastern end of the branch and circled around to the north side.

Here we found some of the group's equipment that they own.

Returning the way we came we pulled in behind a Pizza Hut for more pictures of their collection.

We found the station parking lot and I walked over to the west side of their engine house for a picture of their FM H-12-44 1855.

As I walked back to the depot their passenger train was returning from Railroad Pass. This train was led by the former UP GP-30 844, Generator Car, Diner 4813, Coaches 604 and 603, Open Car 501, Coach 601 with Open Cars 503 and 501. We then were met by Chris Cheeley a volunteer and Greg Corbin who is the Director of the Nevada State Railroad Museum/Boulder City.

Chris gave us a tour of the shops and answered everyone's questions. Once we finished the shop tour we all crossed Yucca Street to the boarding area to begin our trip on the former Union Pacific Boulder Branch.

The Union Pacific Boulder City Branch Line History

In the year of 1930, the Union Pacific built a branch line from a junction on its Los Angeles & Salt Lake mainline, just south of Las Vegas, to the construction site for Boulder Dam. The branch passed through Henderson to Boulder City to the end of the line. The first passenger train on the new railroad took place on April 25th, 1931. A separate US Government railroad was built from Boulder City to the actual dam construction site on the Colorado River. The dam was completed in 1935 and the UP M10000 visited Hoover Dam over the combined railroads on March 9th, 1934. Later that same day the M10000 was on display at Boulder City. The US Government line was abandoned their railroad and other operates ran the line. The last train with a generator ran to the dam in 1967. The line was removed a few years later. Much of the former right of way of the Government railroad is underneath Lake Mead. The UP continued to actively use the line as far as Henderson, and still does today. In 1985, the UP donated the Henderson-Boulder City segment to the Nevada State Railroad Museum. This segment is still in place, although the grade crossing near Railroad Pass was paved over. Some of the track on the branch was upgraded and a station platform and engine shed were built. Once all the work was completed tourist trains began to operate over the restored railroad.

The ride on the Nevada Southern 12/03/2004

The train left right at 11:30 AM with all four of us sitting in the Coach 604. The UP GP-30 844 would be pushing the train towards and up Railroad Pass. After we rolled by the shops and some good conversation, Chris gave us a tour of the dining car. The UP 4813 was part of the City of Los Angeles built by ACF and now has a complete HEP package. The kitchen is now fully functional. The table area is empty and can be used for dancing or set with tables for a dinner train experience.

The train ran straight across the valley along US 93 towards Railroad Pass.

There are fine views of the El Dorado Valley and McCullough Mountains Range.

The train is on a steady climb as we reached the mountains.

The train climbed as we reached the first curve.

Our tracks now curved to gain elevation. We ran behind the Railroad Pass Casino.

The train backed though the cut at Railroad Pass.

Views of Henderson and beyond could be had. The train backed as far north as it could and then stopped for a few minutes so all could enjoy the view.

The 844 began to pull our train back towards Boulder City.

More curves as the UP 844 heads south down grade. The 844 began to pull our train back towards Boulder City. The train took more curves as the UP 844 led us south back down grade.

The view of the El Dorado Valley. On the return trip there was someone out taking pictures of our train as we returned to the Boulder City Station. We returned to the station after a very great trip on the Nevada Southern.

Our visit here was not finished as Chris took us to the UP 844 and then invited us into the cab of the engine. This is the second UP 844 that I had been in. This GP-30 and the UP 4-8-4 Steam Engine 844. The steam engine had the 844 number until the UP ordered the GP-30's in the 800 series.

The steam engine than had an extra 4 added to clear the way for this GP-30 to have 844 for this GP-30.

When the GP-30 was retired from the Union Pacific, the extra four was dropped on the steam engine making it 844 once more.

I got to sit at the 844 control stand. We thanked and said our goodbyes to everyone before we stopped at KFC for lunch. A special thanks to the Southern Nevada Railroad Museum for the fantastic visit and train ride.

The drive to Ely 12/03/2004

We drove US 93 into Las Vegas seeing the former Amtrak Station at the Plaza before we turned onto Interstate 15 north. We turned north onto US 93 about twenty miles north of Las Vegas.

As we headed north on US 93, the mountains became interesting. We stopped at Alamo for gas before we turned left onto NV 375 for a very short distance then right onto NV 318. Carl has a GPS unit so we can not get lost plus it shows how far we have traveled and the distance to Ely. It is truly a nice toy!

Being bored passengers, Carl and I took pictures of our vehicle casting shadows. Chasing shadows indeed! We stopped at a heated rest area, {Thanks Nevada!} before we reached US 6 after sunset which took us into Ely. We reached Ely at 5:30 PM and checked in at the Best Western Park Vue, our base for the next two days. We walked in the minus 9 C to the Hotel Nevada for a $7.99 Prime Rib Special. Carl and I then returned to the room and watched "A Fish Called Wanda" before we called it a night.

Click here for Part Two of this Trip.