Welcome to Union Pacific In The Blues - Part 1!

Saturday - May 26, 2001

      On Friday evening Robert Gatchel, Drew Mitchem and I left Seattle about 6pm for Hermiston, OR. Our goal was to photograph UP trains crossing the Blue Mountains of Northern Oregon along UP's main line. Saturday morning brought high clouds as we headed east out of Hermiston in Roberts Blazer. Past Pendleton the climb into the Blue Mtns appears abruptly. We were headed for Meacham further east hoping to find an eastbound to follow. The high clouds began to thin showing more blue skies. At Meacham we met up with a couple of fellow railfans (Bret & Brian) who drove down from Seattle during the night.

      Soon we heard a horn in the distance to the west. We set up at the grade crossing here and shot the eastbound QHKPR with UP 4363/7566 up front at 0825. Then east to Kamela, the top of the grade for another photo of this train. The next thing we caught was a westbound Soda Ash unit train with:

      UP 6763/7302/7332/498 up front and UP 9344/9342/5708/9318/9372 operating as mid-train DPU's. Also note the UP 498, a C30-7. We caught it at Kamela at 1214 and then headed east to La Grande, OR for lunch. La Grande is also a crew change point. After a long wait for the next train to show, the e/b perishable train QPDNPP arrived with units 3246/9660/9372/5753, changed crews and left. We were already set up east of town at a spot called "Hotlake" named for a nearby hotsprings. Before the eastbound came a westbound with 3693/5644/SP 8500 went by at 1438 meeting our eastbound at Lone Tree. (first siding east of La Grande) Then the UP 3246 East showed up at 1451 and we then chased it east to the top of the grade at Telocaset and on to North Powder where after shooting it one last time the five of us sat in the shade of a tree at a run down park waiting for something to come west.

      This would turn out to be the westbound ANPSE (Advanced-North Platte, NE to Seattle) and this train of mostly autoracks showed up at 1631 with C40-8W's 9496/9769/9358 and gave us a good chase all the way back to Kamela with shots at Telocaset and Hotlake. The train met two eastbounds at Perry, OR (just west of La Grande) and these had the following:

ASENP UP 9359/2243/9095/5862 (w/DPU's 7532/9347) @ 1802
HKPC UP 5719/9369/9331/9334 (w/DPU's 9350/9307) @ 1817

      Eastbounds late in the afternoon here made for pretty backlit shots. Then the chase of the UP 9496 West resumed with shots just west of Perry and Hilgard ending with a great shot at Kamela with the train cresting the grade. Now the sun was about down so we all headed to the motel in La Grande where we all got our rooms and after dinner called it a night.