Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Arizona Railfanning

Taken Shawmut Mar.8, 2018
An eastbound UP ballast train
by Don Janes
While enjoying the winter months at our Arizona home I always try to take at least one trip to some of my favorite railfanning spots in the area.  On Mar.8 I headed out to a spot known as Shawmut, about 1 1/2 hours southwest of where I live in Apache Jct.  There is really nothing there but a little mound of rocks with a flag on top.  The Union Pacific mainline from Los Angeles to El Paso, Texas and points east passes through here. It was the old Southern Pacific's Sunset Route.  We arrived about 3pm and saw five eastbound freights.  While it is actually better to see west bounds here that time of day we were happy to get five trains in a span of 3 hours.  Once the good light was gone we headed home only to see a parade of about 5 west bounds waiting for the eastbound traffic to clear this short stretch of single track.
     On Mar.21 we headed to Tucson to visit the Pima Air and Space Museum. Once we got our fill of this great facility we set out east to a crossing called Mescal Road where the UP double track mainline crests a steep grade the starts a long decent towards Tucson.  Were were lucky enough to catch two westbound frights at the top of the grade and just before the last light we caught an eastbound inter-modal train with the low sun glinting on the side od the double stack container cars.  Mescal is a great spot, especially on a clear sunny evening when the late afternoon sun illuminates the Dragoon Mountains to the east.
      I always look forward to these railfan trips when I am here as they are so different than what I see back in Ontario.

An eastbound Intermodal train with a single DPU on the rear
Mescal Road
First westbound train cresting the grade

Second westbound cresting the grade. Photos really show how steep the grade is.

Eastbound Intermodal train with sun glinting off the side.  Westbound signal is green, lined for another westbound but light disappears before it arrives.


  1. Great shots George, looks like a good place to spend the winter months. We here in New Hampshire are still dealing with the cold and rain, I hope spring is around the bend!

    1. Hi Scott: Yes Don has a great place to go when it gets cold. Here in Ontario I think we are starting our second winter...still really cold and it has been snowing on and off all day...George