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Trona Railroad

PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 7:38 am
by desertrat
Trona and Lone Pine Subdivision Railfanning in August 2016
This is interesting and if you have two hours to spare, you can watch the entire video! BTW, the average view time is about eleven minutes according to YouTube stats.
North of Los Angeles and northeast of Mojave, California, lies a time machine to an earlier time. In the remoteness of the northern Mojave, lies the shortest FRA regulated railroad in the country, the Trona Railway. Stretching 30.5 miles between Searles Valley Minerals' huge plant at Argus, California, to the interchange with the Union Pacific at Searles. The road rosters an eclectic collection of six axel EMD power, all SD40 variants, making it the only line in the greater Los Angeles area that regularly runs exclusively with second generation, six axel road units. Two different times over the last month, my father and I traveled out to Searles Valley to catch the Trona in action, braving both gale force wind (apologies for the sound distortion as my wind sock only works for winds under 30mph and gusts were nearing 70) and extreme heat (118 in the valley at its maximum) to bring you this video! Watch as classic armor yellow and scarlet and gray SD40's battle the grade in both directions, switching out the interchange at Searles and the plant at Argus, and even a pair of UP trains at the longest tunnel in the lower half of California!


Re: Trona Railroad

PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 8:10 am
by deathvalleyjake
Trona Railroad: Home of Southern Pacific Tunnel Motors
Not being a railroad buff I'm not sure what the fascination is, but there seems to be something unique and interesting about the Trona Railway.
This railroad has survived countless years with Southern Pacific SD40-2T's and Former UP SD40's. The only known railroad (As i know of) to still use Southern Pacific tunnel motors as main mode of power. This railroad runs between Trona, CA and Searles, CA in the Mojave Desert. They run every week day starting the day at 8 O'clock by traveling a short distance to the Chlorine plant to do some shunting. And then they return to the yard for a few hours while a high-railer heads onto the main to check for any damage to the tracks before giving the train the "OK" to head to Searles. At about 2 PM the train finally heads out to Searles where it does some switching for about an hour to an hour and a half at the Union Pacific Interchange. After completing the switching the crew takes off half the power so that the other half can bring an empty train back to Trona the following day. As the main power is cut from half of the locomotives, a former Southern Pacific SD40-2T is put on point of the empty train back to Trona. Sporting an amazing Leslie RS3L, the engineer does not hesitate on blowing the horn. After watching it leave at the first spot, we raced to another crossing and so forth. The next day after leaving the hotel we decided to go back to Searles to see if the power that was cut off from the train the previous day was still in Searles. Sure enough, the power was hooked up to another train and already on its way back to Trona. We caught it at two other spots and decided to end the trip there. Thanks for taking the time to read the description and I hope you enjoy the video.


Re: Trona Railroad

PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 8:31 am
by sandman
Trona Railroad
Here's some interesting historical info. Apparently the Trona RR is over 100 years old!
In 1913 the American Trona Company decided to build its own railroad. The Trona Railway was incorporated March 12, 1913 and on September 22, 1913 ground was broken. The railway was completed March of 1914 and commenced operation September 6,1914.

Kids in Searles Valley at one time rode a train instead of a school bus! Didn't last long though.
In October 1935 the Trona Elementary School contracted with the Trona Railroad to transport Children from Borosolvay, Burnham and Westend. At first the steam engine made the trip then a motor train was purchased. This motor train was used until 1938 when the Corporation purchased a school bus and rented it to the Trona School Board.

LINK: http://www.trona-ca.com/trona-railway/

Re: Trona Railroad

PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 12:25 pm
by CactusHugger
Blazing Saddles- Work Song :dizzy:
A scene just like this could have happened in Searles Valley while the railroad tracks were being laid!

Re: Trona Railroad

PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2016 7:34 am
by mrfish
CactusHugger: It would be politically correct to say that I'm offended by the use of the n-word in that little movie clip, but it's satire so the usual rules don't apply and so I'm off the hook as far as the PC crowd goes. As for a scene like that taking place in Searles Valley? In general terms probably yes, but I recall hearing more about Chinese laborers than about Blacks. So my guess is that the racial mix in that scene would not reflect the racial mix in Searles Valley, but I could be wrong!

Re: Trona Railroad

PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2016 4:52 pm
by CactusHugger
Train Ride to the Future
Well, then, okay... I'd be willing to wager that nothing like this ever happened in Searles Valley...

Re: Trona Railroad

PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2016 8:28 am
by mrfish
CactusHugger: No, but I hear they have some pretty crazy experiments going on over on the base just on the other side of the Argus Mountains. Might involve railroad tracks and/or hoverboards for all I know...

Re: Trona Railroad

PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2017 7:05 am
by CrustyOldFart
Trona Railway SD40T-2 #2004 leads a coal train at Searles, California
Great video showing a train rolling down the tracks.

Re: Trona Railroad

PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2018 8:48 pm
by sandman
Trona Railroad - Argus Crossing
How many times have you been stuck on one side or the other of this railroad crossing?

Re: Trona Railroad

PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2018 3:05 pm
by surfsteve
I've hit the train a lot but it never seems to take very long. They seem to care about not taking too much time to do their business. The trains have been a lot worse in other areas I have lived.