Tehachapi Loop Trip

by Aug 5, 20210 comments

This weekend my son and I decided to spend some time together.  He’s not into the train thing to any great degree but does like them enough to do some railfanning with me. We decided to do a quick trip up to the Tehachapi Loop.  Despite many trips out of Hwy 58, we’ve never viewed the loop.  I wanted to make a trip up to the Barstow yards to do some prototype research and figured that it would be a good time to make a detour to Tehachapi.  Our trip started out at about 7:30 from Temecula.  We just headed north on I15 to Hwy 395.  While heading up the grade leading to the Cajon Pass we spotted a couple of freight trains headed south.  It looked like it was going to be a decent day for railfanning. Well, as promising as it looked, it started to feel like there wasn’t going to be much to see.  We hit Kramer Junction and headed west in Hwy 58 toward Tehachapi.  Didn’t see a single train all the way to the loop.  I was pretty sure we were going to be there a while. Anyway, we exited first off at Broom road.  (NEVER TRUST A GPS).  Broom road really doesn’t go anywhere anymore.  But there was an interesting view of some auto racks scattered about the area.  Not having been here before I didn’t know if this was normal, but thought not.  More on that later. Back on the highway heading west to Keene road.  Big sign there about the historical markers.  So we followed Keene road 3 miles back up the grade and finally came to a wide spot in the road.  There are the following 2 roadside markers that overlook the loop from the south side looking north. 

  Well, we start reading the plaques and just kind of enjoy the area and begin to relax for a wait.  I don’t think we had been there more than 90 seconds, when I hear off in the distance a loco grinding its way up the grade.   I’m realizing that I can’t see where the loop crosses over itself.  Another railfan points out where to look and realized at viewing height and angle you can’t see it.  So I high tail it to the right (up the road) and find a path that will take me due east of the loop.  From here you can see Tunnel 9, and get a pretty good view. I got there just as the engines were passing through the tunnel. Here’s one shot of the train.  You can see it’s passed through Tunnel 9, then looped the hill on the right, and is heading around to approach tunnel 10 off to my right.  (for a better view, please click the picture to get a full-sized image). 

  Well, we walked back to the plaques to capture the images above.   We got back in the car and headed further up Keene road.  I didn’t have a clue where it was going to go but figured we’d find out.  Around a couple of curves, we came across this scene.  

 The train has exited tunnel 10 and is passing a bunch of auto racks sitting on the ground next to the track. We spent some time at the Tehachapi RR Museum in the rebuilt depot in downtown Tehachapi. The auto rack story, according to museum personnel, is that there was a bit of a wait at the loop a few weeks back. One train was stopped on the upgrade side of the loop waiting on a train to come through. A second train, a UP from what the storyteller says, was also stopped, behind the second train. The engineer on the UP train slips his breaks thinking, supposedly, to close the gap between him and the one in front. Loses control and rams the back of the first train at 21mph. He knocks a helper engine (it’s been removed) off onto its side and derails several auto racks. The rescue equipment got the engine up and removed and picked up the auto racks, but no one seems to care about picking them up so there they site.  Anyway, hope you enjoy it.  I’ll show some pics we got at Barstow in a couple of days.

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