By Matt Furze
A few weeks ago I found an email in my box from one Pete Mulvany, who introduced himself as a "Brit living in Toronto who will be in Phoenix for a few days, working." He indicated he had some time on Saturday before his flight back to Canada, and asked where he might find some train action to photograph. I gave him directions to both the UP yard and the BNSF yard, and thought, "You know, it's been a while since I've been out chasing trains here in the Valley." So, I passed along my phone number, and suggested he call that Friday evening to see what my schedule was like for that Saturday morning. I knew I'd be on call at the office, but the possibility existed that things would be slow, and I'd be able to get out for a few hours.
That Friday evening rolled around, my schedule still looked good, and when he called, we made plans to get together the next morning. Saturday dawned bright and clear, a bit crisp (November, and the long, hot summer had finally ended), and at 8 o'clock, I picked Pete up at his downtown hotel. A short trip on I-10 to the 19th Avenue exit brought us to the BNSF Mobest Yard - and an incredible amount of early Saturday morning action! If you haven't been down there railfanning for a while, perhaps it's time to break out the camera and head that way.
From a railfanning point of view, BNSF has put up a chain-link fence in the last few years, and pictures of equipment in the yard will either have to be taken with your camera lens stuck through the fence, or you'll have to settle for 'fence' as a foreground object in your shots. But depending on your timing and your luck
Click on the pictures below to enlarge.
BNSF GP35 2575 working the yard
And BNSF 2562 close by, another string of cars in tow
Graffiti from two different taggers hides the road number on this CSX waffle side box car.
Two GP35's were working the yard, several 6-axle road units in varying liveries sat scattered about, and a glance south showed GP38 2224 crossing 19th Avenue on its way to switch Smith Steel.
Getting ready to switch Smith Steel
Heading into the switchback to pull a couple of coil cars. 19th Avenue is in the foreground
For some minutes the action was fast and furious, and it was hard to decide where to point the camera. As we turned from the action at Smith Steel back to the yard itself, we were just in time to see a string of streamline passenger cars revealed as BNSF 2575 moved a cut of cars to another track. Not much time to get pictures of them, because as we got back to the fence, the GP35 was already pushing its string into place, hiding them once again. Oh well.
'Yes, Virginia, there still are passenger cars on the Santa Fe'
I mentioned to Pete that there was an old turntable at the south end of the yard, so we hopped back into my truck and headed that way, hoping to at least catch a glimpse of it and were we in for a treat! Just as we pulled up on a dead-end street south of the turntable, a red and silver BNSF C-44W Dash 9 could be seen inching its way forward towards the table, and the table was slowly starting to spin around to line up with the inbound track!
BNSF C-44W Dash 9 838 works its way onto the turntable at Mobest Yard in preparation for being turned
BNSF C-44W Dash9 838 halfway through the turning process.
Of course, we took our share of pictures as the big unit was turned. We then headed back onto 19th Avenue, watched the action for a few minutes more, and then headed out along Grand Avenue to see what we could find to shoot at the container yard. Unfortunately, Grand is torn up in numerous places as they rebuild it, and we couldn't find a spot to try to get any pictures. Didn't look like any activity going on anyway, so we took a quick swing back down my Mobest, and then headed for the UP yard.
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