Thursday, August 15, 2019

POTD - Old Bridge With a New Perspective

Today, we are finishing our look at Timothy Tonge's work along the Joint Line between Larkspur and Palmer Lake, an examination that wouldn't be complete without a stop at the ATSF bridge just south of Larkspur. This bridge is no stranger to those familiar with the line as it passes over both East Plum Creek and West Fox Farm Road as it splits from South Spruce Mountain Road. Spruce Mountain, of course, was the old Denver highway before I-25 was built. On July 19, 2019, a pair of BNSF swooshes lead a coal train south over the bridge on the climb to Palmer Lake.

Photo of the Day - Timothy Tonge

Now to reveal the hidden theme mentioned last week: All three of the Photos of the Day have been taken using a drone. It would be impossible to get each of these shots any other way, unless Mr. Tonge has quietly developed an ability to fly and take photos at the same time. Each of the shots has given us a new view of BNSF operations on this very picturesque, scenic portion of the Joint Line. Done well, a drone can elevate anyone's photographic abilities. Done poorly, it can be a menace and even illegal. I think we can all agree that long-time railroad photographer Timothy Tonge has done well!⚒

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

POTD - A Painted Lady Came Out West

Today being Tuesday, it's fitting to return with another Photo of the Day by Timothy Tonge. On July 23, 2019, it's not quite mid-morning and we're further north along the Joint Line near Larkspur. A rare morning shower graces the sky with a fraction of a rainbow, reflecting the colorful locomotives. Second in the locomotive lashup is BNSF 8480, an EMD SD70ACe not quite 5 years old. She is being led by KCS 4604, a GE AC4400CW in Kansas City Southern's popular heritage paint scheme. Together, they're hauling a loaded coal train south toward the Gulf of Mexico, a once-common sight that's becoming rarer and rarer these days.

Photo of the Day - Timothy Tonge
This paint scheme is not without controversy, especially in modeler circles when they focus on exactly what shade the darkest color is. Most folks say black, but a closer look and the company press releases both reveal it's actually a Brunswick Green, a color only bright sunlight can reveal. Regardless, the red Scotch-lite stripes and the clean lines make the KCS colors a natural favorite, especially when compared with the old red letters on flat gray scheme they stuck to for years. I've heard it called the Southern Belle paint scheme. It fits.

PS: This related photo would have been a second POTD. Unfortunately, it seems like the horizontal level leans a bit to the right. I really love the shot otherwise, in particular because of its strong composition and ideal "hero" pose. A re-crop could fix this.⚒

Thursday, August 8, 2019

POTD - A Crossover Before Crossing Over Palmer Divide

It's been quite a while since we've had a Photo of the Day, so it should be a good one! A new photographer has been making quite an impact over at RailPictures.net. His name is Timothy Tonge and his photos, while not all from Colorado, hold nothing back in the way of beauty and sight lines! A prime example of this is his photo of a BNSF grain train heading south at Spruce, Colorado on the Joint Line between Colorado Springs and Denver late on a summer evening, July 11, 2019.

Photo of the Day by Timothy Tonge

As Mr. Tonge also points out, Spruce was one of the locations where the main lines of the Rio Grande (lower, left) and Santa Fe (right) crossed over each other. By the middle of the frame, the former Rio Grande main is the curving grade on the right! All of this was a fight to gain the elevation needed to crest the Palmer Divide just a couple miles distant.

Those familiar with the line will notice something a little strange about this shot. Although there are 4 locomotives, they are all trailing as pushers. The train is following the right-hand rule that is almost always in place on the Joint Line, allowing both UP and BNSF to use the former Rio Grande and former Santa Fe main lines as a double-tracked expressway for most of its distance between Denver and Walsenburg. It is remarkable that despite mergers, this has remained a two-railroad district for over a century!

PS: There is a theme to the Photos of the Day over the next week. While they all feature the same photographer, railroad, and section of the Joint Line, there is also a hidden theme that will be revealed on the 15th.⚒