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Spring rainstorms, including one helluva dust devil behind the tallest peak, hover over the Bookcliffs as Amtrak’s westbound California Zephyr flies out of Desert, Utah, on May 4, 2003.

The calendar says spring, but the weather says Christmas at Crescent, Colorado, on April 23, 1999. Amtrak No. 5, the California Zephyr, climbs the Front Range of the Rockies through a snowy wonderland on its westward trip to a hopefully warmer California… Merry Christmas, everyone!

Amtrak No. 5, the westbound California Zephyr, has just exited 294-foot Tunnel 39 and is now threading 63-foot Tunnel 40 in the heart of Little Gore Canyon between Azure and Radium, Colorado, on the afternoon of August 3, 2014.

Just after a springtime mountain snowstorm, Amtrak’s eastbound California Zephyr is about to take down the West Cliff signal at Pinecliffe, Colorado, on April 22, 2001.

Amtrak’s westbound California Zephyr cruises through Tunnel 29 east of Pinecliffe, Colorado, on the morning of May 25, 1998, powered by a pair of GE P42DCs and a GE P32BWH.

Amtrak’s westbound California Zephyr lead by 822 sporting the Phase III paint scheme is approaching Burns along the Dotsero Cutoff in Colorado.

Amtrak’s westbound California Zephyr is led by “Phase I Heritage” GE P42DC No. 156 just east of Plain, Colorado, on the morning of March 30, 2014.

Amtrak train #5, the westbound California Zephyr, rolls west through fresh snow on Donner Pass at Emigrant Gap, CA on January 4, 1987.

Amtrak’s westbound California Zephyr approaches Tunnel 1 east of Plainview, Colorado, on the bright and snowy morning of January 6, 1998.

Amtrak No 5, the eastbound California Zephyr passes through the scenic wonders of Little Gore Canyon between Radium and Azure, Colorado, on August 3, 2014. Trailing the road power is a new Siemens ACS-64 electric locomotive built in Sacramento and being hauled east for delivery and operation on the Northeast Corridor.

Amtrak's California Zephyr train No. 6 kicks up a little snow as it traverses Spanish Fork Canyon at Rio, Utah on Dec. 31, 1992. Looming in the background is 10,689 ft. Loafer Mountain of the Wasatch Range.

Outside of Auto Train, this is perhaps the largest Amtrak train I have ever personally photographed. Running 10 hours late on June 28, 1998, Amtrak’s westbound California Zephyr crosses Blue Mountain Drive grade crossing west at Clay, Colorado, on the former Rio Grande main line through the Rockies. Powered by P42DC Nos. 18 and 60, and “Pepsi can” P32BWH Nos. 508 and 505, the big train is comprised of 24 cars of baggage, Superliners, material handling cars and express cars. In the background is the city of Denver, 22.5 track-miles to the east.

An engineman aboard Amtrak P42DC No. 193 leading Amtrak’s westbound California Zephyr gives a hearty wave to the crew of Amtrak’s Winter Park Express (out of view on right) during a Colorado snowstorm as it leaves the station stop of Fraser on January 11, 2019.

A trio of EMD F40PH locomotives pull the California Zephyr train No. 6 through Utah Valley between Springville and Castilla, Utah the morning of Jan. 1, 1991.

Amtrak's California Zephyr train No. 6 has crested Soldier Summit, running about four hours behind the advertised on a sunny Nov. 15, 1987 afternoon.

In the early evening sun, the eastbound California Zephyr races through the western edge of Barr Lake State Park near Brighton, Colorado, on July 5, 2020. The Amtrak Phase IV heritage unit No. 184 is leading the train.

Running about an hour and a half late, Amtrak No. 5, the California Zephyr, curves toward Tunnel 1 east of Plainview on a warm spring morning in Colorado on March 30, 2014. The train is led by “Phase I Heritage” GE P42DC No. 156, dressed in Amtrak’s first paint scheme complete with “Pointless Arrow” logo.

Rio Grande SD40T-2 No. 5412 leads Amtrak's California Zephyr train No. 5 through the Red Narrows of Spanish Fork Canyon approaching Rio, Utah the evening of June 15, 1986.

A second section of Amtrak's California Zephyr train No. 6 creates a 'snowstorm' in its wake as it glides down Soldier Summit at 65 mph the afternoon of Jan. 24, 1988. This is a truncated version of the 'Pioneer' which arrived in Salt Lake City four hours late. Sadly, there were no dining car accommodations for the passengers.

Amtrak train No. 5, the westbound California Zephyr, exits Tunnel 8 and curves around the former location of Tunnel 9 at is climbs a 2 percent grade through the tunnel district west of Plainview, Colorado, on the morning of June 8, 2013. Tunnel 9 became so unstable that it was bypassed by a shoo-fly and eventually daylighted, with the grade moved to its original survey as seen here. Fresh and bright colors of springtime have reached the high country of the Rocky Mountains, as the great plains stretch out in the background far below.

Amtrak P42DC No. 75 leads a 12-car California Zephyr train No. 6 along the 1983 Thistle Line Change near Thistle, Utah on July 26, 1997.

Southern Pacific SD45T-2R No. 6776 substitutes for an Amtrak F40PH which experienced a mechanical failure en route. The California Zephyr is pictured on Rio Grande rails between Geneva and Lakota Junction, Utah the morning of May 20, 1989.

Well, not really. In earlier years, a switcher was used at Denver Union Station, and in this view, Burlington Northern SD9 No. 6231 is adding filthy Rio Grande GP40-2 No. 3090, to the point of Amtrak’s California Zephyr as added power for the westbound trip over Colorado’s Rocky Mountains on February 26, 1987. Rules dictated that the switch crew add this locomotive to No. 5, as well as any other switching like setting out a baggage car or two.

Just well after sunset, Amtrak's eastbound California Zephyr, Train No. 6, zips through the western edge of Barr Lake State Park in Brighton, Colorado, on August 4, 2020.

During the months of December and January, when there is high pressure along Utah's Wasatch Front, temperature inversions trap stagnant dirty air in the valleys below. To escape the winter pollution, I would drive along the Denver & Rio Grande Western to Soldier Summit to enjoy the clear skies and the fresh mountain air. Amtrak's California Zephyr is pictured passing through Rio with Loafer Mountain providing a prefect backdrop on a Dec. 17, 1988 morning in the Wasatch.

A major afternoon storm is developing over the eastern plains on the 4th of July as the eastbound Zephyr wraps around the base of Coal Creek Canyon, crossing over CO-72 between Tunnel 1 and the Blue Mountain Road grade crossing.

 

07.04.2020

 

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Amtrak’s California Zephyr hustles along the Colorado River under the imposing cliff of Dodge’s Bluff just east of Utaline, Colorado, on June 13, 2009. This former Rio Grande route through beautiful Ruby Canyon is just one of the highlights for passengers riding Amtrak Nos. 5 & 6. Today’s train has original California Zephyr Chicago, Burlington & Quincy dome-observation “Silver Solarium” and former Pennsylvania 10-6 sleeper “Silver Rapids,” which was PRR’s contribution to the “Zephyr pool” of sleepers that originally went through to New York off the CZ at Chicago. Surely the passengers riding in the dome of “Silver Solarium” have the best view through the canyon.

Amtrak's California Zephyr train No. 6 rumbles along the 1983 Thistle Line Change on a perfect June 17, 1989 morning. The lead engine, F40PH No. 224, shows signs of a recent paint job. At the rear of the 15-car train is Rio Grande business car No. 100, traveling between Salt Lake City and Denver.

I believe this is still Colorado. Traveling aboard Amtrak's California Zephyr from Chicago to Sacramento.

Rio Grande EMD GP40 No. 3079 leads Amtrak’s westbound California Zephyr at the station stop at Grand Junction, Colorado, on February 25, 1988. Because of the large length of the Zephyr in this era, Rio Grande frequently added a GP40/GP40-2 to expedite the train over the railroad. Today, on the rear of the train is business car No. 100, the “Kansas,” freshly-renamed from “Wilson McCarthy” in 1987, further justifying the freight motor, dirt and grime notwithstanding.

A former BN executive Mac leads the Westbound California Zephyr in last light on the former BN Mendota Subdivision near Earlville, IL. 1/3/18

Amtrak P32BWH No. 517 leads a 10-car California Zephyr train No. 6, navigating a photogenic 8 degree curve through the Red Narrows of Spanish Fork Canyon on Oct. 14, 1995. Due to numerous highway rollovers at this location due to excessive speed, the arc has colorful nicknames such as 'Apple Bend' and 'French Fry Curve'. The most memorable is 'Crater Curve' when on Aug. 10, 2005, a Trojan Explosives truck rolled and blew up, and creating a 73-foot wide pit in the middle of US Highway 6. A concrete wall was installed here in 2016, which has taken care of the problem.

Amtrak No 5, the westbound California Zephyr, passes through a cloud shadow at Rocky, Colorado, on the afternoon of June 25, 2011. “Phase III Heritage” No. 145 leads the tardy train at 6:40 p.m., running about ten hours late.

Rio Grande GP40-2 No. 3117 leads Amtrak's California Zephyr train No. 5 between Maxwell (Carbonville) and Spring Glen, Utah the evening of June 8, 1985. In the background along the base of the cliff is the previous alignment that was bypassed in 1967 with a line change that eliminated three sharp curves on a 1% grade.

About to enter Tunnel 39 and Little Gore Canyon, Amtrak No. 5, the westbound California Zephyr, is west of Azure, Colorado, along the Colorado River on August 20, 2014.

The Amtrak California Zephyr #5 makes its way around the many curves of Byers Canyon. The canyon is approximately 8 miles (13 km) long and is located in the headwaters region of the Colorado between Hot Sulphur Springs and Kremmling.

Just after sunrise on November 20, 2003, Amtrak No. 6, the eastbound California Zephyr, curves out of the shadows into West Maxwell, Utah.

Hot out of Grand Junction, CO, the California Zephyr is on its 25 mile journey through Ruby Canyon.

Amtrak No. 5, the California Zephyr, slices through short Tunnel 29 just east of Pinecliffe, Colorado, on August 28, 2000.

Running over 14-hours late, Amtrak's eastbound California Zephyr, Train 6, makes a rare morning appearance along the Moffat Route and can be seen rounding the curve at Crescent, Colorado, on June 8, 2020.

Sulle rive del fiume Colorado transita lo Zephyr N°5, treno passeggeri dell'Amtrak che collega Chicago (IL) con la baia di San Francisco (CA), dopo un viaggio di due giorni e quasi 4000 Km percorsi.

Running 18 hours and 12 minutes behind schedule, Amtrak's California Zephyr train No. 5 emerges from the Kyune Gooseneck in Utah's Price Canyon the afternoon of March 16, 2019.

Amtrak's California Zephyr train No. 6 glides eastward through Utah's Spanish Fork Canyon at the foot of 10,685 ft. Loafer Mountain the morning of Jan. 2, 1995.

A quartet of EMD F40PH locomotives pull an 18-car California Zephyr train No. 6 through Spanish Fork Canyon at Rio, Utah the morning of Feb. 7, 1988. In the background, Loafer Mountain looms at 10,689 ft. above sea level while the D&RGW track checks in at precisely one mile above sea level at this point.

Union Pacific's LUF51 local is tucked away in Rio Grande's American Fork siding while Amtrak's California Zephyr train No. 6 rolls by on main at 7:53 a.m. on March 21, 1988. In the background are the steep slopes of the Oquirrh mountains.

Amtrak's California Zephyr train No. 5 descends the Mapleton Bench into Springville, Utah the evening of July 5, 1985. Looming behind the 16 car train is 10,700 ft. Loafer Mountain.

Amtrak No. 5, the California Zephyr, arcs westbound through Tunnel 40 in scenic Little Gore Canyon west of Azure, Colorado, on August 21, 2014.

Amtrak F40PH No. 386 leads the California Zephyr along Soldier Creek at Narrows, Utah on Nov. 15, 1987. Train No. 6 was running four hours behind the advertised on a beautiful day in Spanish Fork Canyon.

Amtrak No. 5, the westbound California Zephyr, passes through 75-foot Tunnel 29 just east of Pinecliffe, Colorado, on the morning of May 25, 2017.

A second section of Amtrak's California Zephyr train No. 6 emerges from the Red Narrows of Utah's Spanish Fork Canyon the afternoon of Jan. 24, 1988. Technically, this is a truncated version of the Pioneer which arrived four hours late into Salt Lake City. Sadly, there were no dining car accommodations.

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