Esteemed for its scenic beauty and respected for the difficulty of its terrain, Tennessee Pass has been a magnet, drawing railfans and photographers to Colorado’s mountains for years. When word spread that Union Pacific was closing the pass in 1997, interest climbed to an all-time high. Along with visitors from throughout the world, Pentrex traveled to this revered line to document its final months of operation. Our efforts were rewarded with a high volume of movements and an outstanding mix of trains.
The grit of heavy-haul railroading is an awesome sight. Coal trains slug it out on the 3 percent grade leading to the 10,000-foot summit. Colorado’s highest snow-capped mountains loom over toiling freights. Squealing flanges echo off canyon walls as trains grind through serpentine curves, and past the raging waters of the Arkansas River. Helper engines are viewed assisting trains over the mountain. Up to nine of UP’s newest AC-powered giants are needed to lug tonnage across the pass. It’s this type of intense action and spectacular scenery that made the line so idolized. Join with us as we pay tribute to Union Pacific’s Tennessee Pass Subdivision.