In 1992, Santa Fe was sending train after train across California’s Mojave Desert, making the Needles Subdivision one of the busiest lines in the nation. Running between Needles and Barstow, this rugged stretch was an essential link in the railroad’s cross-country mainline. It also traversed some of the most barren desert scenery where stark vistas framed by eroded mountains created dramatic settings for high-powered trains. Severe weather conditions put men and equipment to the test on the Mojave main.
Pentrex takes you back to 1992 to witness the struggle as Santa Fe sends its trains over this remote desert crossing. From Needles, we head west passing Java, Homer, Goffs, Essex, Cadiz, Amboy, Bagdad, Siberia, Ash Hill, Ludlow, and Daggett to reach Barstow. The long grades of the area’s hills force the engines to work hard. Overlooking Ash Hill, we stop at a vantage point to watch heavy loads straining over the grade.
The variety of motive power spotted along our journey is fascinating and includes SD45-2s, SDF40-2, SD45s, GP60, GP40X, SD40-2s, FP45s, GP60Ms, GE B40-8s and B40-8Ws. As the newer locomotives flash past our camera on the flatlands, red and silver Warbonnet paint appears to leave brilliant streaks of color in the air. Pure sets of power in classic yellow-and-blue paint stand out handsomely against the rough countryside. Our tour includes video graphics to help identify the different photo locations throughout this presentation. It’s a view of Santa Fe railroading at its finest!