The last week of April 2007 had a set of brand new BNSF ES44DC's in the 7500 series heading west from Chicago for Seattle on a Z train. One report showed the 7506/7507/7508 were at Latah Jct around 8am Friday morning 4-27-07. That was the last info about the trains whereabouts I heard. I gambled the train would arrive at South Seattle Friday night, the power get turned and head back out again on the morning Z-SSECHC.
Saturday morning 4-28 I left the house at 0640 for Monroe, WA where I would join the ex-GN main line to head east hopefully following some brand new power on a Z-train. Even before arriving at Monroe I heard the detector at MP 1778 near Snohomish go off. Then the dispatcher called the 7506 East to tell then they'd be meeting two at Gold Bar. Moments later the MP 1776 detector went off telling me this was my train! Crossing over the tracks arriving in Monroe about 7am I could see a headlight to the west. This would be the BNSF 7506 East. As the weather here was kind of dark and gray I headed east towards Gold Bar watching the train pass at Startup. Too dark there for photos but I did get a nice look at the 7506/7507/7508 with BNSF SD40-2 8010 on the rear of the consist as they went by. Nice looking locomotives. The Z-SSECHC took the siding at Gold Bar to meet Amtrak #7. The second train had fallen down o n its arrival time so the 7506 continued east to Skykomish where again to took the siding to meet a Q-DENTAC after the Empire Builder passed. A nice sunbreak lit up the Z-train as it started pulling out of the siding at Gold Bar. I also photographed the train again at the S-curve just east of Baring, WA at Grotto which has always been a favorite location.
After the Q-train with NS 9816 leading passed by Skykomish at 0917 the Z-train headed up the hill only to take the siding again at Scenic. This would be a westbound vehicle train with another swoosh leading, the 7609. After a quick tunnel flush the 7506 entered the Cascade Tunnel and I headed over the summit of Stevens Pass hoping for more sunshine on the east side! I drove straight into the "Slot" just east of Merritt for a more scenic shot. It was sunny but very windy here. After the train went by I quickly drove out to Highway 2 and was surprised to catch up to the slow moving train at Merritt. I made it to Coulter Creek with time to spare for the classic telephoto shot.
There had been a BNSF 4905 East following the Z so figuring I had enough photos of the new 7500's I headed back to Merritt to wait for it. While waiting I heard the Z-train go into the siding at Leavenworth to meet yet another westbound. The 4905 passed by ay 12:46pm with a UP SD70M as second unit. Sure enough it called out an approach to Winton so I knew I had a westbound to follow back. To my surprise it was a baretable train with BNSF 5297/CSX 5468 up front. This was the first westbound baretable I had photographed on Stevens Pass. Also notable was the CSX 5468 which is an ES44AC built this year. It made quick work getting up to Berne and into the Cascade Tunnel. I headed over to Skykomish to wait for it as the light at Scenic was pretty bad. Looked good at Skykomish though where I managed to get a few shots of it coming into town and again passing the old depot. My last shot was crossing an old rusty GN bridge at Barclay Creek west of Baring.
I knew I had gotten lucky with the 7500's and the extra trains were pretty nice too! A good way to spend a Saturday. Here is a listing of all the trains I photographed today ....
1) Z-SSECHC 7506/7507/7508/8010
2) Q-DENTAC NS 9816/9293/EMD 9063/553
3) WB V train 7609/6867/611
4) EB stacks 4905/UP 4923/4769/4714
5) WB baretable 5297/CSX 5468
Hope you enjoyed the trip report!
And now on to the Gallery....