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A Trip out to the BNSF Needles Sub 11/23-24/2007

by Chris Guenzler

Chris Parker had never photographed out on the BNSF Needles Sub so I purposed a day after Thanksgiving Day trip out on Friday and back on Saturday. He agreed to go and his truck needed work so they gave him a rental car to use while they worked on it. Chris decided that he would pick me up at 6 AM Friday morning.

I was up ready to go and Chris picked me up right on time. He headed north up the CA 57 Freeway to the CA 210 to Interstate 15 which we took to Kenwood Road. We took old Highway 66 through Blu Cut and just below Cajon we spotted our first train of the trip.

BNSF 4509 East came through the predawn light at Cajon. We would see this train a few more times later today. We stopped at the McDonalds at the Highway 138 exit.

Our train continued to climb the grade on Cajon Pass. Back on the Interstate 15 I had the camera ready for the next picture.

What is left of the Tunnels on Cajon as the third track construction progress. We drove north to Barstow and went to the Western America Railroad Museum.

Santa Fe FP45 95.

Ex USMC 44 Toner.

Union Pacific SD-40-2 9950.

The Barstow Station and Harvey House.

A pair of Cabooses, Santa Fe 999705 and Union Pacific 25599.

One last view of the Western America Railroad Museum. From here we got gas and headed out of Barstow. Our first stop was Dagget but no trains. We continued east and came upon on train stopped at a red signal.

BNSF 743 East just to the east of Coolwater. We took pictures of him and back at the car another BNSF eastbound roared by us. We started our chase and got back onto Interstate 40 which we took to Hector Road and headed to the tracks. We beat that train there by a few minutes.

BNSF 5024 East came through Hector. We drove back to National Trails Highway and started to head east when we spotted another BNSF westbound with a Canadian National unit in its consist. We chased it west on Interstate 40 to the first Newberry Springs exit and headed north back to the tracks to wait for our train to arrive.

BNSF 5294 West with CN 2600 in its consist. From here we returned down the Interstate 40 to Hector Road and took National Trails Highway east to Pisgah and onto Lavic where we took the dirt road to get down to the track. I walked over to the tracks and here came our next train.

BNSF 5472 West at Lavic.

BNSF 1107 East at Lavic.

BNSF 5519 West at Lavic.

BNSF 4509 East, the same train from Cajon Pass at Lavic. From here we headed to Ash Hill.

East of Ash Hill we caught the BNSF 4509 East for the last time today. We saw a westbound climbing from Siberia and went back to the cut just east of Ash Hill to set up for the next picture.

But first the BNSF 668 East came through Ash Hill on its way east.

Next BNSF 7603 West came through Ash Hill. We next went back to Siberia to wait for our next train.

BNSF 1118 West passed through Siberia on its way to Ash Hill and points west. Chris and I then continued east but didn't get to far past East Siberia when we spotted our next train approaching up the grade.

BNSF 5430 West climbed the grade towards East Siberia. Back in the car we almost got to near Baghdad when we spotted our next westbound train.

BNSF 7633 West climbed out of Bagdad. We next drove into Bagdad to wait for our next train.

BNSF 7623 West with the CSX 4773 in the front motive power consist and two more sets of DPU's, one mid train and one on the rear end. After this train, we headed east and drove through Amboy and then into Cadiz where we found a green westbound signal.

BNSF 4366 West with a DPU on the rear end. We drove back out to National Trails Highway or old Route 66 and continued east. We climbed over the divide and got near Essex when we spotted our next westbound train coming into view. We turned around and managed to drive into Danby and waited for our next westbound train to arrive.

BNSF 7722 West came through Danby at track speed. We drove back out to the highway then passed through Essex and turned onto the road to Goffs and continued to follow the track. At the Interstate 40 bridge another westbound came through and we turned around to get back ahead of him.

This westbound at Fenner, the BNSF 7556 West.

Nearing Goffs we caught this train the BNSF 4151 West just west of there. From here we headed into Needles and a stop at Carl's JR for a late lunch which we took with us as we headed out to the Colorado River Bridge. We got off Interstate 40 at Park Morbi and made our way to below the bridge. About twenty minutes later, I spotted a westbound coming from the Arizona side of the Colorado River.

BNSF 4661 West entered California as it crossed the Colorado River from Arizona. We then waited for our next train to show up.

Two more views of the Colorado River Bridge. We waited over an hour and as we were losing the sunlight, we decided to return to Needles.

Back in Needles we caught the BNSF 4515 East with KCS 4503 in its consist.

A view of the Needles Station area before we headed to the Best western Colorado River Inn for the night. We walked over to the Wagon Wheel for a fantastic dinner where I had a 14 ounce steak which hit the spot after a fantastic day of picture taking along the BNSF Needles Sub. Back in the room I showed Chris some DVD's before we called it a night.


We got up just before sunrise and packed up the room. We checked out and gassed up before heading west out of Needles on Intestate 40, Just after we crossed the tracks near Java we spotted our first train of the day.

BNSF 7702 East with CSX 2725 and DPU's on the rear end. We continued west taking US 95 north to the road to Goffs which we took west.

At Homer we caught the BNSF 4442 east. We headed to Goffs.

On the way to Goffs, another BNSF eastbound went by across the valley. From here we headed to the highway bridge just north of Essex.

BNSF 5071 East with CSX 5333 in the motive power consist. We headed back to Cadiz where we raced a train to the grade crossing there and won!

BNSF 7707 East. We then drove west to Amboy.

As we neared Amboy, we stopped for a picture of Amboy Crater.

At the grade crossing at Amboy, we caught the BNSF 1073 East. We drove west into Bagdad.

BNSF 4034 East ran through Bagdad. We then continued west.

At the grade crossing east of Ludlow, we caught the BNSF 7609 East. I then took Chris to a unique spot I knew west of Ludlow.

BNSF East approaching Ludlow. We stopped in Ludlow for some snacks before we headed to Pisgah on the old highway.

Pisgah Crater.

BNSF 7553 East at East Pisgah.

Also at Pisgah was the BNSF 5485 East. With that we headed west to Barstow seeing no more trains before taking the old highway towards Victorville.

At the Cement Plant at Oro Grande, a pair of ex Bangor and Aroostook engines now serving the plant there. We stopped at an In and Out Burger for lunch before I took Chris up the Summit Valley back into Cajon Pass. We drove Highway 138 and then took the road to a hill where some of Chris' Railfan Friends were having a gathering on this day. We joined them for a few minutes.

The Gathering.

BNSF 7633 East climbed towards Summit.

BNSF 4353 East with DPU's on the rear end climbed towards Summit next. We had a UP westbound coming out of Hiland so I suggested to Chris we go down to Canyon for a picture there. We drove back to Highway 138 before reaching Canyon with a westbound UP in the siding there.

UP 5360 East arrived into Canyon.

The UP 5360's DPU arrived mid train at Canyon. Once he had cleared, it was just a few minutes before the westbound UP began to move out of the siding.

UP 5342 West climbed the grade out of Canyon and by the Mormon Rocks. Chris and I then headed home the same way we came out with a stop in Diamond Bar for Gas before he dropped me off at home ending a fantastic weekend of train photography on the BNSF Needles Sub.