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Edition #246 June 1, 2015

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Idaho Interlude

Photographer: Josef Brugger

                                                                                   Photo by  Josef Brugger

Idaho Interlude

During the 1970s, while working for a daily newspaper in Idaho, I was kind of a latent train buff. (A "railfan" was something published Back East). A group of us met most weeks at a friend's house to play around with his HO layout and swap stories. Occasionally one of them would talk about some casual train chasing, or getting a quiet tour through the shops. In my job, I was in regular contact with local railroaders, officials, and the bigger officials down in Salt Lake City. But this was the '70s, when news salaries were modest, and the hours were pretty long. Color slide film was not cheap and my cameras were usually loaded with black and white film for news work.

But it was such a rich environment. Often, on a trip out of the office to one of the surrounding counties, I'd pause along the road to enjoy a string of yellow and gray diesels roaring past, hauling a hundred cars or more off toward Butte, or Nampa, to Green River or Ogden. There was no muffling of exhausts then. Often the roar of the diesels was immediately followed by the steady hum of refrigerator units on long strings of PFE reefers. The flood of SD40-2 units hadn't obliterated the old Geeps and sent them off to branches in Kansas or Washington. Most of the few black and white photos disappeared into the newspaper's files.

Occasionally, I got lucky, with Kodachrome in a camera, a few minutes to chase and wait, and my favored Geeps on the head end. Over 40 years, some of those magic moments have been forgotten, but a slide scanner and requests for pictures can bring them back.

This is a July 1976 shot, on the Union Pacific just above McCammon, Idaho, no more than a mile from the junction of the lines to Ogden and Green River. The engines are near track speed, probably working against an air reduction as they prepare to sweep east toward Wyoming. What a shot!  GP30s, A&B. GP9s, A&B.  And tagging along, one of the infrequent flared radiator SD45s. It roared by, the thrumming of the EMDs followed by the rattle and clatter of the freight. I leaned against the car after making my shots, savoring the sounds and power, as well as the blue sky, and the warmth and brightness of July at 4500 feet.

Josef Brugger

The next edition will be posted on June 15, 2015

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