Pre Stevens 2017
A photo-location scouting trip on Stevens Pass
Saturday, June 10, 2017
by Lindsay Korst
I am scheduled to tour Stevens Pass 2017 with Scott Tanner in just two weeks,
but...I can't wait. I've got a new truck I'm just itching to take for a spin and
the weather report says it MIGHT not rain, so let's go train spotting!
In fact, I'll be dodging rain showers all day. First stop is a cloudy Skykomish,
where a 20 minute late Empire Builder overtakes a loaded westbound grain train.
#7 rolls west with just one unit on the point, #197 - a tired, old General
Electric P42DC. The engineer is a real horn artist at the crossing and serenades
me with a little, "whoomp whoomp" as he passes.
Next up, is an empty unit grain train crossing Maloney Creek at the west switch
Finally the grainer led by BNSF 3794 GE ET44C4 gets its' chance to roll past the
historic Skykomish Hotel towards Everett and points west.
There's a nice, little plow spreader in town in former BN Cascade Green dress.
This is BN 972502, a former Great Northern unit, home-built at St. Cloud, MN.
Having dawdled a bit in Sky, I finally catch up to the eastbound grain train at
the Scenic road crossing. The train is led by BNSF 4040, a GE Dash 9-44CW.
Cover shot! The eastbound grain train at White Pines Road near Merritt blazes
orange in the morning sun.
I let the 4040 continue on its' way and explored around Merritt. Uh-oh, it looks
like the classic, old GN signal bridge has been replaced by a new cantilever. I
roll out the muddy access road to record it for posterity.
Next, I trundle east, taking back roads from Leavenworth on the north side of
the tracks looking for "spots". I find an interesting morning shot on Derby
Canyon Road just east of Peshastin (not pictured). Out of position, I miss a
westbound stack train there, but soon hear on the scanner he is to hold at
Leavenworth siding "for two". Cool! As he slows to take siding, I catch him just
past the Leavenworth Amtrak stop.
BNSF 7121, a GE ES44C4 leads three other mates at Cemetery Road, Leavenworth as
it rolls to a stop.
Another spot I previously scoped out is this rickety bridge just east of the
depot at North Road. Unfortunately, there are lots of NO TRESPASSING signs and a
barking dog on the other side! I retreat to my truck and the dog quiets down
until I hear the first of the eastbounds roll downhill, then hustle over on the
bridge, take my shots and retreat. Yes, I'm a bad boy....
BNSF 7422 whines past J.B. Hunt containers in the pass at Leavenworth with an
eastbound stack train.
I decide to forsake the 2nd eastbound and head around on Chumstick Highway to
Plain, WA. From there, I take River Road back to the tracks where they cross the
Surprise! I get the 2nd eastbound at the bridge. Another GE #4271 rolls still
more containers east.
It's a good 45 minutes before BNSF 7121 finally shows up "'neath turbulent
skies" over the Wenatchee River.
As I'm walking back to the truck, I notice a flashing yellow over red at the
crossing (take siding at Winton?) I had heard on the scanner that 7121 was to
take siding at Berne. As I get back to US 2, an eastbound empty coal train roars
along at the Merritt highway rest area. Foolishly, I head to White Pines Road and
sit for 30 minutes expecting 7121 to come along. Nope. Always listen to your
I head back over Stevens Pass as the rain really starts to pour down. No trains
at Berne, but at Scenic, I spy an eastbound waiting its' turn for the Cascade
Tunnel - AND - I glimpse a westbound stack through the trains rolling down hill.
At Skykomish, there's another eastbound waiting to go up the hill and I see
another westbound just leaving Sky. Traffic jam on Stevens Pass! The skies are
clearing as I head to Index for a shot of the westbound.
I pull into town, but the heavens open up -- don't like to shoot in the rain, so
I press on to Bridge 1751 at Gold Bar. As I leave Index, I see the train I'm
chasing -- it is a long container/trailer train with four Boeing 737 fuselages
on the head end! This must have been the "high wide" train the dispatcher had
been mentioning all day. This is the train ahead of the BNSF 7121 I was chasing.
So many trains, so little time...
Well, I hustle down to Bridge 1751 and JUST line up a shot as the BNSF 5759
rolls across the Skykomish River.
Flying low, 737's roll past the foxglove at MP 1751.
Of course, once you get west of Gold Bar....you ain't gonna catch any more
trains. I'm at the far end of Gold Bar siding as the westbound's last trailer
disappears around the curve.
As always, I had a great time out chasing the trains. This was a good warm-up
for my weekend trip with Mr. Tanner in just a couple weeks. TRAIN HYPE!