Grand Canyon Limited 2012
Part II: Los Angeles to Williams AZ

By Peter Limper

Passengers prepared to board the Grand Canyon Limited on the morning of May 14. 

A view from my coach seat toward the rear of the train as it departed Los Angeles.

Near the terminal is this apparently still-operational turntable, with the towers of down-town Los Angeles in the background.

The first stop after Los Angeles was San Bernardino (aka “San Berdoo”) where the engine was serviced and watered and more passengers boarded.

Commuter trains waited at San Bernardino for their next trip to Los Angeles.

3751 left San Bernardino in a cloud of steam.

A high point (literally and figuratively) of the first day’s trip was the climb up famed Cajon Pass.

In addition to the BNSF, the Union Pacific operates trains through Cajon Pass.

The Cajon area features rugged mountains and distinctive rock formations.

Our train approached Summit, which is at MP 55.9.

Cajon is a favorite location for railfans and photographers, though there are now numerous fences and other barriers to block access to the tracks. 

Past Summit, the train began the long decent toward Barstow.

As in ATSF days, Barstow is the site of a major locomotive service site.

Barstow has a substantial station in a Spanish Colonial style.

Amtrak officials in charge of the train tried to keep through passengers from detraining even during lengthy service stops, but I was able to get permission from a car host to get off briefly to take a few pictures from the platform. 

I was not allowed to approach the locomotive, however; limited access to 3751 was a source of frustration during much of the trip.

After leaving Barstow, the train entered the BNSF Needles Subdivision and began a long trek through the Mojave Desert.

Although mostly barren, the Mojave has some distinctive vegetation.

Passengers on Tolani napped as the desert landscape passed by.

At Cadiz, junction with the Arizona and California Railroad, the engine was serviced and we were passed by a BNSF train made up mainly of refrigerated trailers on flats.

After a lengthy delay to clear a train coming off the A&C, we started down that line toward Parker, AZ.

Unfortunately, the A&C had failed to perform and document a federally mandated track inspection to allow passenger operation at “normal” speeds, so we were held to15 to 25 mph over most of their line. 

Although we were scheduled to arrive at Parker at 8:30 PM, sunset found us far from our destination; we finally arrived after midnight. 

The next morning I got a brief view of my motel in daylight before rejoining the train for a 9:30 departure. 

On Tuesday morning we finally had an opportunity for a photo run-by at the small town of Bouse, which displayed a miniature tank (behind the truck, center) to greet us. 

The train backed up for the run-by, and 3751 steamed past the grade crossing.          

Photographers waited for the train to back up for re-boarding.

After 80 more miles of slow running on the A&W, we re-joined the BNSF at this wye at Matthie Junction. 

At Congress the train made another service stop and boarded passengers who came by bus from Phoenix. 

The train continued in the setting sun.  Once again the arrival at Williams was several hours later than the scheduled 7PM.  

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