Grandeur at Granger
Going back to the beginning of the Great Race To Ogden, there was one particularly early day in the schedule. Specifically, May 6th, 2019 - when the Union Pacific #4014 & #844 left Rock Springs, Wy at 4:00AM. This was because it allowed them to get around scheduled track maintenance - but more importantly, this caused the train to go through morning light.
Of course, before it could be seen in said light, it had to actually leave Rock Springs. At four in the morning.
So, leaving our hotel somewhere around 3:45AM, we headed over to the yard in Rock Springs to take a quick peak at the giant locomotive and its smaller - yet still sizable - companion in the darkness.
Now, I am not a night-time photographer - I don't claim to be. My photos have a bit of grain and often some shakiness from longer exposures, so they're not perfect. I never really planned to do night shots - and my flash refused to fire for whatever reason! So they're a tad bit weird. Still, I grabbed as many as I could in the little time we had.
I am very glad I did.
While taking my handful of shots, 4014 left - a few minutes behind schedule, but that was perfectly alright by me!
Of course, flash-less, my shots were not as lovely as I would've hoped, but I still find them interesting.
So, with #4014 leaving us in its wake of bright white steam, we hurriedly packed up and jumped in the car to head towards Green River. The train was forced to go rather slowly - presumably due to the aforementioned track work - and so we beat it there very quickly. In fact, we were there ahead of it about forty five minutes before, give or take.
So, welcome to a dimly lit, blurry, Green River, Wy.
Our spot was on the pedestrian bridge that crossed the railyard, along with a few hundred other people doing the same thing as us. In particular, we were stood at the very end of the bridge, right behind a large tree - though as time went on and some people moved or left, we got to scoot further right with another few people (including a videographer I would later meet in Evanston - twice, on #4014's first arrival and the second!) and get a bit of a better view of the yard and station. Naturally, it being before five in the morning, it was extremely cold out. My jacket did not cut it. Instead, the wind cut me. We spent a solid hour standing there, very still, while the wind blasted us until we were frozen onto the concrete walking path. It was a very anxious hour.
Finally, late as always, #4014 & #844 arrived in Green River.
And after about twenty minutes, they left!
By this time, the pure darkness had begun to lift. In some ways, I was glad, but in other ways, I wished it had gone on for longer. Glad because hey, now my shots will be easier and quicker to take, but also I wanted more night shots. At the least, I've proven to myself I need to practice those more, so, that's something.
More importantly, as the sky just barely began to turn blue, we were greeted with the brilliant sight of bright, voluminous white steam flying at us while we stood on the bridge to watch it.
In a few ways, it was one of the most brilliant shows we got from the locomotives. However, the best was yet to come. Dawn was fast approaching - the sun has not yet risen above the horizon. No, for that, we jump exactly one hour ahead.
Before we make that jump, we actually passed the train on I80 while leaving Green River behind. I wish I had seen it throughout its journey along Peru Hill, but what I got later makes up for it. I've seen beautiful shots of it on the Hill, though - I don't come close to that here, but, still...
So, skipping forward, we ran off to Granger, Wy.
Granger was a scheduled stop, just like Green River was, and it was such a perfectly timed moment. It would be impossible to time Granger any better.
We arrived around 6:00AM, parking up and scouting out the area. There was a handful of people already awaiting the train there ahead of us, and so while looking for a good spot to set up, a gentlemen approached us and invited us to join a photo line nearby. We graciously accepted that offer and got a lovely front row seat to watch the train come into the signal bridge.
The sun was beginning to climb over a distant butte far to our right just before the train arrived. In the half hour we awaited the train, more people arrived including some Union Pacific Railroad Police, all of whom were great folks. One of the UP Police even stepped over the track and took some traffic cones out of the way just to get them out of our shot! Totally unexpected, and we were very grateful. Genuinely class acts, those guys.
At 6:27AM, #UP4014 came into view behind the stack of railroad ties.
The cool morning air and the early sun let the two mammoth locomotives blast off bright white, orange-tinged clouds of steam that were simply unparalleled. The steel of the locomotives, the nearby freight cars, and even the rails themselves reflected the gorgeous dawn light and gave us a show that just simply cannot be forgotten.
The first image I took of #4014's approach to Granger is "IMG_0313", taken at 6:27:31AM. The last is "IMG_0386", taken at 6:28:37. It only took one minute. Just one single minute.
The final photo, the best chosen from this grouping, is titled Concord Dawn, taken from the name of the New Zealand drum & bass duo of the same name. In particular, the name comes from their song "Morning Light" - in fact, a song I played in the car during the drive from Green River to Granger!
The photos description:
May 6th had 4014 & Co. leaving from Rock Springs at just 4AM, which meant that it would be under pure darkness for a while. More importantly, that meant that at some point, the sun would rise and shine a brilliant morning light on our moving train. The question was where the train would be when dawn approached and if we could be there to see it.
Two and a half hours later, the small town of Granger, Wyoming was greeted by the two locomotives and dozens of chasers. It was hardly two minutes before the engines came into view that the sun peaked out above a nearby ridge and provided some of the most gorgeous and perfect morning light we could ask for. Being only 6:27AM and the fact the sun had only just begun to climb, it was cool enough outside that 4014 and 844 were able to give off an absolutely stunning display of bright, vibrant steam into the sky as they rolled into the tiny town for an hour long stop. It was a show so very few people were lucky enough to be able to witness, and we were one of the few. It stands out as one of the single best moments during the two week chase.
For me, Concord Dawn is my favourite photo from the Great Race To & From Ogden.
#4014 rolled up to a stop almost right beside us and right in front of plenty of chasers. What a beautiful sight all of us had been treated to. What's better is that I had a second camera with me to film video as well - not the highest quality video, but a video nonetheless, and I am so glad I got said video. It really shows off that brutally raw strength - and the noise! Just watch - 1:30.
Naturally, with the light still in our favour (and quickly fading), everyone rushed in to get close and get the morning photos they desired. I also joined in and took my fair share of photos, and much to my delight, they came out rather well.
Grandeur at Granger was the very first photo I published from this trip. It, to me, encompasses the sheer size of the #4014, as well as showing off beautiful clouds of steam and a fine yellow morning light. It's one of my favourites as it really encompasses some of the best parts about this trip and the locomotive itself.
The description for the photo is as follows:
At approximately 6:27AM, May 6th, 2019, UP 4014 & 844 arrived in Granger, Wyoming. The early morning light paired with the relative cool air meant that those of us who were lucky enough to be there were greeted with an absolutely unbelievable, gorgeous sight. The steam was bright and voluminous and the locomotives were bathed in an unforgettable orange sheen. The sun cooperated well, but it wasn't long after the massive train stopped that the orange was lost and things returned to normal.
But, for a brief half an hour, we got to see the grandeur at Granger.
As time was limited, I made sure to take a plethora of photos from the angles I could. Those angles were limited, but I did what I could regardless and found myself with my fair share of fine photos of the break at Granger.
One hour and five minutes after it arrived in Granger, #4014 then took its leave of the little village. It only took half of that for the morning light to fade away. We were very, very lucky that morning.
Instead, the light became bright and still quite favourable for photos! The air remained cool, which only made things even better for us all as the Big Boy prepared to head off towards Carter, Wy.
And so, the #4014 and #844 were off - headed towards Carter, and eventually, Evanston. May 6th was an incredible day - and between 4AM and 8AM, we were some of the luckiest people in the world. Despite biting cold and long waits, we got to see some of the most gorgeous sights on the entire trip. Granger is still one of the standout moments from the entire two weeks spent adventuring across Wyoming and Utah to follow these locomotives around. It's a tough one to beat, for sure. There's just nothing like that morning light. Absolutely nothing at all.
Still yet to come: more adventures in Wyoming, the harrowing canyon chases near Echo, UT, and the brilliant two days between West Chicago, IL, and Des Moines, IA. There's just no end in sight to the chases of the #4014!
This post is part of a series on chasing the Union Pacific Big Boy #4014 on its Great Race To & From Ogden. For more, find the "UP 4014" category on the sidebar!
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