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Date: 09/18/23 16:32
Amazing Day on the Moffat
Author: ColoradoRailfan

I had the day free yesterday to spend on the east slope of the Moffat. As many of you probably are aware, the traffic on the Moffat has dwindled in recent year, particularly since the downfall of Colorado coal. However, with the addition of the Rocky Mountaineer and oil train traffic, overall traffic has picked up in the past few months.

Yesterday, I actually came across a total of seven trains over the course of about 11 hours. It's been several years since I've seen that many in daylight hours in a single day. :)

The day started with a westbound BNSF Denver-Provo manifest in the siding at Rocky and a westbound BNSF loaded coal train (headed for Valmy, NV) in the siding at Leyden. The westbound Zephyr ran around both trains on its way west. The manifest departed Rocky right after the Zephyr. The coal load would have to wait for the Rocky Mountaineer.

The Denver-Provo made it through the Moffat following Amtrak. From there, it was back to Tolland to wait on the Rocky Moutaineer. Once I got a few shots, I figured I'd head back toward Plain to see if the coal load from Leyden had moved. Discovered that it had moved...as far as just west of West Rocky, where it had been stopped for about 90 minutes. Apparently, the train went in to emergency there and, after recovering the air and attempting to start loading again, it again went in to emergency. BNSF mechanical sent a crew out to Rocky to investigate, and the train made a reverse move between switches. While that was happening, a westbound UP oil train sat east of Rocky, waiting for a route. Once the coal load was back between switches, the oil train ran through the siding and continued west.

The oil train had to hold at Plain for about an hour for maintenance to clear. During that hour, BNSF mechanical discovered a low-hanging air hose that was apparently causing the problem. They said they got it resolved and the load departed west with no further issues.

The oil train met an eastbound MGJNY, which consisted entirely of covered hoppers. Apparently, there were additional cars in Grand Junction that needed to be added to the train, but the two units on the train were the only two working units that could be found. The added weight of the additional cars would have put the train under the HPT minimum, so they stayed behind. The oil train continued to Tolland to wait on the eastbound Zephyr. The coal load met the MGJNY at Crescent, and then continued west to Cliff to wait on the Zephyr as well.

Coal, oil, manifests, and three passengers trains. Zero complaints from this happy railfan.

==================

1. At the west end of Rocky, the morning Zephyr is running right on time and, thanks to some good dispatching, the Zephyr ran around a BNSF manifest that has only been sitting in the siding for about 7 minutes! Once the Zephyr is a block ahead, the manifest will get a light to continue.

2. A trio of BNSF units is leading the Denver-Provo and is about to disappear behind the rock face as it enters Tunnel 1. The train is making its way up the 2% grade from Coal Creek Canyon, through the S-Curve.

3. Just east of the east switch of East Portal, BNSF's Denver-Provo manifest is approaching a clear (green) signal. The train is snaking its way along Rollins Road. In the distance, you can see the classic yellow schoolhouse that is a fixture in Tolland.

Kevin Morgan
Arvada, CO
ColoradoRailfan.com








Date: 09/18/23 16:34
Re: Amazing Day on the Moffat
Author: ColoradoRailfan

4. Halfway through the month of September and there is only very minor change in the deciduous trees at East Portal. When fall colors are in full effect, this scene is going to look even more spectacular!

5. The crew on BNSF 5781 is just moments away from experiencing 15-20 minutes of dark as the train enters the Moffat Tunnel. The train is approaching the highest active Class 1 mainline in the country. The apex of the tunnel is 9,239 feet above sea level.

6. Almost exactly 100 years (give or take a few months) before this picture was taken, initial construction on the Moffat Tunnel started. A century later, and a BNSF SD70ACe brings up the tail end of the westbound Denver-Provo.

Kevin Morgan
Arvada, CO
ColoradoRailfan.com








Date: 09/18/23 16:35
Re: Amazing Day on the Moffat
Author: ColoradoRailfan

7. The Rocky Mountaineer GP40-3s look really good on the point of the "Rockies to the Red Rocks" Mountaineer as it approaches the grade crossing at Tolland.

8. The westbound Rocky Mountaineer is between Tolland and East Portal. For that past several months, the Mountaineer has been running with some leased UP SD70Ms while work was done on the GP40-3s. As you can see, the GP40-3s are back on the train, looking sharp matching the passenger cars.

9. The BNSF westbound coal load sits stopped, in emergency, halfway out of the west end of Rocky. BNSF has been running these coal load 3x(0)x3.

Kevin Morgan
Arvada, CO
ColoradoRailfan.com








Date: 09/18/23 16:38
Re: Amazing Day on the Moffat
Author: ColoradoRailfan

10. A westbound UP oil train, running through the siding at Rocky, overtakes a BNSF coal load that is stopped between switches on the main. As I thought a bit about it, I realized the irony of an oil train overtaking a coal train, as oil has very much overtaken coal and the primary unit bulk trains found on the Moffat.

11. A pair of UP units leads a short eastbound MGJNY across South Boulder Creek on the main at Cliff. In a few more weeks, fall colors should be in full effect here. This would end up being one of my personal favorite shots of the day.

12. The lighting isn't fantastic as some afternoon clouds had moved in, but this shot give a bit of a look in to the west end of the difficult-to-shoot Tunnel District. The westbound BNSF coal load is approaching Tunnel 27, it's tail end still in Tunnel 26, as it follows along South Boulder Creek.

Kevin Morgan
Arvada, CO
ColoradoRailfan.com








Date: 09/18/23 16:40
Re: Amazing Day on the Moffat
Author: ColoradoRailfan

13. As this heavy coal load emerges from Tunnel 27, the evidence of decades of other trains is quite clear on the exhaust-stained rocks around the west portal.

14. This BNSF coal load is stopped in the siding at Cliff and will be waiting here for the next 90 minutes or so, waiting for the eastbound Zephyr which is currently between Granby and Winter Park. The dispatcher did not want to risk trying to get the train up to Rollins ahead of Amtrak.

15. As we draw closer to fall and winter, the days continue to grow shorter and we get closer to the eastbound Zephyr making its run down the east slope of the Moffat in darkness. However, the days are still long enough here in mid-September that, even as the sun gets low in the western sky, there is still plenty of light as the Zephyr rolls east on the main near the east end of Rollins.

======================

Thanks for taking a look. Hope to have another day like this in early October, hopefully when fall colors are their peak!

Kevin Morgan
Arvada, CO
ColoradoRailfan.com








Date: 09/18/23 17:11
Re: Amazing Day on the Moffat
Author: BOBDRGW

What a great series.....I felt like I was there. Thanks!



Date: 09/18/23 17:18
Re: Amazing Day on the Moffat
Author: FishinJeeper

Looks great! Amazing that the fall colors are already starting. They have started here in Norcal, about 3-4 weeks earlier then last year.

Posted from Android



Date: 09/18/23 17:21
Re: Amazing Day on the Moffat
Author: goneon66

awesome images of a great variety of trains.

well done and thanks for making the effort to post them.............

66



Date: 09/18/23 17:26
Re: Amazing Day on the Moffat
Author: Gonut1

There are some spectacular scenes in that collection. Thank you for sharing.
Gonut



Date: 09/18/23 17:28
Re: Amazing Day on the Moffat
Author: slug96

Absolutely amazing! Shot #12 is killer!

Posted from Android



Date: 09/18/23 17:36
Re: Amazing Day on the Moffat
Author: texchief1

Thanks for sharing your excellent adventure with us, Kevin!

texchief1



Date: 09/18/23 18:28
Re: Amazing Day on the Moffat
Author: atsf121

You sure had a day, great series of photos!  Can't wait to see what the fall colors will look like in a few weeks.

Nathan



Date: 09/18/23 18:34
Re: Amazing Day on the Moffat
Author: jgilmore

Great bunch, besides the good fortune you've got some amazing drone skills. Thanks for the wonderful series!

JG



Date: 09/18/23 18:56
Re: Amazing Day on the Moffat
Author: Ritzville

You certainly had a WOW series. Lots of NICE shots!

Larry



Date: 09/18/23 18:59
Re: Amazing Day on the Moffat
Author: MacBeau

Amazing images for just one day, nice work.
—Mac



Date: 09/18/23 19:34
Re: Amazing Day on the Moffat
Author: OSWishram

The very definition of excellent photography, Kevin.  Thank you for sharing your work.

That's one of the very best railfan locations anywhere.  I love it there.

Bob Willer
Flatlands, 647 miles east



Date: 09/18/23 19:50
Re: Amazing Day on the Moffat
Author: ProAmtrak

That's a fun day, nice shots!



Date: 09/18/23 20:03
Re: Amazing Day on the Moffat
Author: eastpenn23

Another great series from a great region



Date: 09/18/23 20:24
Re: Amazing Day on the Moffat
Author: TheNavigator

Real nice captures in some beautiful scenery!
GK



Date: 09/18/23 21:32
Re: Amazing Day on the Moffat
Author: tomstp

Very nice and entertaining, Kevin.



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