Two days on Tehachapi
My first look at Tehachapi Loop on Wednesday, October 24. A northbound train, heading downgrade, is about to cross under its own tail.
One of North America's most famous and popular railroading landmarks, Tehachapi Loop, is located in the Tehachapi Mountains southeast of Bakersfield. In the 1870s, in order to construct a rail line with a manageable grade through the mountains, the Southern Pacific Railroad was forced to build a "loop" of track (in which the track crosses over itself) in order to gain elevation in a confined space. The 4,000-foot loop allowed the railroad to gain 77 feet of elevation with an ascending grade of less than two percent. Busy railroad traffic, mountain scenery, and the spectacle of seeing trains wrap around the loop (and often cross over or under themselves) has made Tehachapi Loop a popular train-watching location for generations.
Of course, the entire region is worth checking out -- not just the loop. From Sandcut to Tehachapi, the rail line is nothing short of an engineering marvel, featuring numerous tunnels and horseshoe curves and two percent grades. I had planned two days -- October 24 and 25 -- for my first visit to Tehachapi. I had a great time; it was everything I'd been led to expect it would be. The weather was great and the trains were plentiful. Here's a look at what I saw...
Northbound under the signal bridge at Sandcut.