The Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon stand as a major obstacle to the Union Pacific Railroad’s northwest crossing. The 200 hard miles of track cross valleys, rivers, and creeks… then climb the crests of three summits – encountering the toughest grades on any of UP’s mainline routes. Massive horsepower is needed to overcome these engine-straining grades, and Union Pacific put its faith in two of their newest mountain –busing locomotives – the GE-840C and EMD-SD60 Wide Cabs. These trains haul up to 14,000 tons, so UP uses a lot of muscle to get the job done – putting 7-8 units on the head to power over the mountains. Follow heavy trains and Amtrak Zephyrs tackling Burnt River Canyon, Lookout Mountain, North Powder River, Antelope Canyon, and the Osman Horseshoe Curve at Prichard Creek. There’s even an accident between a garbage truck and an Amtrak train that requires a UP diesel to play tow truck to the stricken Amtrak. There’s a lot of action and power on display, and all of it plays out beneath the looming shadows of the majestic Elkhorn Mountains.
The days of the great logging railroads are re-lived in the forested Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Hear the lonely call of steam whistles drifting on the crystal mountain air as some of the most rarely seen locomotives in existence make their annual Spring Photo Run on the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad in Washington State. History mingles with a sense of nostalgia as you watch these geared steam locomotives muscle their way past the breathtaking scenery of the Cascades. See the Heisler No. 91, a three truck West Coast Special. Rock along the tree-lined rail bed on a 1929 Pacific Coast Shay. And join the salute to the Mt. Rainier Climax, the next-to-the-last of its type ever made, and the first locomotive restored at the Mt. Rainier shops. Catch an unforgettable glimpse into America’s storied past as you ride the rails on these and other rolling museums of steam and steal.