California's Mojave Desert is the driest place in North America. It ranges in elevation from over 11,000 feet in the Spring Mountains, to 282 feet below sea level in Death Valley. Through this seemingly barren land, a mainline railroad charts a course connecting Salt Lake City with the rich ports of Southern California. It is known as Union Pacific’s Cima Subdivision.
Covering the western portion of the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad, the Cima Subdivision runs for 173 miles between Yermo, California and Las Vegas, Nevada. Various intermodal trains race between Chicago and Southern California. Coal trains lumber over the steel rails along with heavy manifests for Salt Lake City, North Platte, and West Colton. Auto rack and ethanol tank trains add to the interesting mix of traffic.
Following the Mojave River, the rails pass through the amazing features of Afton Canyon then race across the dunes to the oasis of Kelso. Next comes the stiff 2.2% climb over Cima Hill. Draw bars strain as big diesels dig in for the nineteen mile pull to the summit. Crossing into Nevada, trains leave the lonely desert behind as they roll among the lights of Las Vegas.
This program was shot in March and April of 2018.
1 Hour 58 Minutes
UP 7377 leads westbound doublestacks through scenic Afton Canyon.
A North Platte to West Colton manifest crosses the Mojave River.
An eastbound ZLADV crosses the dry Mojave River at Basin.
A nocturnal westbound passes the classic LA&SL Depot at Kelso.
UP 6321 east leads an empty coal train up the 2.2% Cima Grade.
A long double-stack train bound for Chicago struggles up Cima Hill.
A parting shot: An eastbound races across the Mojave Sink at Crucero. Milepost 202.