At 7,440 feet, the crest of the Wasatch Plateau in Utah is the fifth highest railroad pass on a US transcontinental mainline. It was the highest point for the former Denver & Rio Grande in Utah. Assaulting the steep grades of Soldier Summit takes brute force horsepower. Many trains require both mid-train and rear end helpers. In 2000, when this show was recorded, the diesels of the Rio Grande, Southern Pacific, and Union Pacific worked together to muscle trains over the pass. Union Pacific runs here now, but the Utah Railway and BNSF have traffic rights and Amtrak’s California Zephyr runs two trains a day. Classic black and orange Rio Grande SD40T-2s are seen in daily use as helpers on UP’s coal trains, and on the famous “trash Train”. During this time, the Utah Railway’s fleet of SD40s was joined by six MK5000s and five Australian-built SD50s. UP’s E-units and a C&NW Dash 8 also make an appearance.
Watch as extra power is cut into the trains at Helper for the push up the hill. The descent sees the line change direction 180 degrees at the Gilluly Loops, before continuing west to Provo. Coal is a major commodity here, and you’ll visit UR coal loading facilities. The red rocks of Utah and snow-capped mountains, the famous formations of Castle Gate, the horseshoe curves at Gilluly, and the slide area at Thistle create a spectacular display. This detailed look at UP’s Provo Subdivision offers everything to interest and entertain: rare motive power, challenging terrain, a variety of trains, and fantastic scenery!