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Photo 1
South down the canyon from Cajon
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Photo 2
Coming through the gap north of Hwy 138 east of Cajon exit
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Photo 3
And looking south instead of north from Photo #2
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Photo 4
Ah-ha! Here's the Rio Grande content!
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  Trip Report: Southern California - Chapter 1
  Cajon Pass, Round 1
(Day 1, Aug 19, 2000)
  From: Southern California
Dates: August 19-31, 2000 Author: Nathan Holmes

I actually got in to San Diego the night before at about midnight and had gotten the rental car stuff straightened out after some amount of paperwork. I then proceeded to drive over to my hotel in La Mesa, CA, and finally managed to crash at about 1:30am.  Being essentially unfamiliar with Southern California and having just got in the previous night, I really had no idea whereabouts to find trains, so I made the assumption that I couldn't go wrong heading for I-15 north and eventually Cajon Pass.

Having never railfanned Cajon, either, I assumed that it would be difficult to access like most Colorado passes. On the contrary, it's actually very, very easy and "railfan friendly" as long as you don't do anything dumb. As a note of caution, I found that security is very tight, and trespassing is a very bad idea - not only because, with the number of officers I saw, they will catch you, but also because freights coming down the pass can be almost silent - the usual please respect railroad and private property doubly applies here, especially with all the excellent public access. Fortunately, much of the land around the right-of-way seems to be public land, and most of the truly scenic locations are easily shot from public areas.

Going north on the I-5, you'll first encounter an exit for Cleghorn Road, which will take you down to a road following the three mains south down the canyon back to LA. A little further up the freeway is the Cajon exit itself, and this road, if taken east, will eventually lead up to Cajon summit (though I didn't figure this out until my second visit, as the road appears to head away from the summit at first). Generally speaking, the road going south down the canyon is good for morning shots - I didn't have a whole lot of luck with afternoon lighting except for one spot (Photo #1). If you show up in the afternoon, there is public land (though you will probably need a Forest Service usage pass if you intend to drive out on it) just west of the Cajon exit on Highway 138, with a nice shot of trains coming through a gap in the rocks and over a bridge (Photo #2). And depending on the light and what's on the front, the southbound view from the same point can be very nice, as well (Photo #3).

And now, the mandatory Rio Grande content of this article - one of the SD50s is in the consist following SP 8312 in Photo #3. See Photo #4 for your Grande fix for the day...

Okay, so I'm tricking you a bit, the SP and DRGW photos are actually from Sunday, Aug 20, on my drive back, not from Saturday on my drive up to Bakersfield. But they do illustrate the point, and I've got lots more photos from Sunday I need room for.

Unfortunately, the rest of the run to Bakersfield was far less eventful. Even though I actually saw quite a bit of traffic between Victorville and Barstow (yes, I know I went the very long way), all of it was intermodal and moving way too fast catch, and for that matter too fast to get the car over in time to get photos.

Tehachapi I found to be very quiet, and in fact the first three trains I encountered weren't until right outside of Bakersfield. Unfortunately, they were all stopped waiting for yard access - power was just a motley mix of UP and old SP stuff. And of course I got roster shots of all of them for RailARC!

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Oh yes, one other thing I should probably mention - all the images here are Copyright 2000 Nathan D. Holmes (maverick@drgw.net)
Note this doesn't mean you can't use them - In fact, I encourage people to use and enjoy them.
I'm placing them under the same license as RailARC images.
All images were taken with an Olympus C-3000 camera, a beautiful piece of machinery.