Pikes Peak From Peyton

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My daughter has joined cross country in her new school. Her first meet was in Peyton, a small community east of Colorado Springs. From there, I snagged a couple of pictures of Pikes Peak.

When we’re on our way back east or coming home from there, I see Pikes Peak rising up from the plains and I often wonder what the early explorers and settlers thought when they encountered it for the first time.

Also, I snagged a curtain of virga that indicates some serious precipitation to the south of where we were:

Colorado Springs Utilities — Union Pacific 5453

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I’ve mentioned before how finding and shooting the Colorado Springs Utilities unit coal trains was a goal I’d had when we moved down here. I know the odds of capturing it increase the more I’m out, but it’s still sort of a cool thing to see. I know this coal will be burned locally, and I’ll benefit from the power it produces. And to see that part of the process just seems cool to me.

Union Pacific seems to run more motive power per train than BNSF does. The lead unit of an all GE-powered train, UP 5453 is an AC45CCTE.

UP 2527 (ES44AC-H) looks new, newly painted, or newly washed.

An AC44CWCTE, UP 5622 needs to be washed:

Colorado Springs Utilities is not a large utility group. In fact, I found CSUX 1 on this train:

And since 44 is sort of a special number for my wife…

The first of the DPUs, UP 6460 is (I think) another AC44CWCTE.

And the final engine is UP 6283, a C44AC (again, I think).

I’m never too sure about the Union Pacific fleet; they call theirs different things and I don’t see enough of them to have sorted out all the various models yet.

Empty Coal Train — BNSF 5681

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GE ES44AC BNSF 5681 leads a pair of EMD SD70 variants: BNSF 8751 (ACe) and BNSF 9653 (MAC) against the beautiful backdrop of the Palmer Lake/Spruce/Greenland Open Space area.

The SD70MAC in the Executive paint scheme (which seems to be a fan favorite). FPPX, the rail code on the hoppers, indicate this train’s getting a load of coal for Fayette Power Project in La Grange, TX.

A pair of EMD SD70ACes (BNSF 9104 and BNSF 9149) bring up the rear:

Garter Snake

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I was moving around this guy, taking pictures — he never blinked (get it? Yeah, I’m sure my daughter’s rolling her eyes).

A runner who’d been out running the Greenland Open Space approached, and I wanted to stick around long enough to prevent her from stepping on it. I don’t know for certain, but I think this guy was getting ready to moult; I’ve read that their vision and overall reactions are diminished during that time frame. Or perhaps he just wasn’t bothered.

Triple MAC – BNSF 9826

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I was hanging out in the Greenland Open Space, waiting for some trains to pass. Where I normally sit by the Colorado Joint Line, it’s only a single track for traffic in both directions; but through here, just north of Palmer Lake, there is a dedicated line for traffic in each direction. To the north I could see (what’s been affectionately dubbed) The Sag at Spruce. Before the Joint Line came into being, one track crossed over the other; but after Congress interfered, the tracks were straightened, the crossing was eliminated, and The Sag came into existence.

I didn’t see any traffic in The Sag this morning, though. I heard the whistle to the south as the oncoming train approached County Line Road down in Palmer Lake. As the train slowly came into view, I saw the lead engines were both EMD SD70MACs (BNSF 9826 and BNSF 9812).

It slowly approached, pulling a load of empty coal hoppers for Xcel Energy. The lead engine has a patchwork visor:

And then it had passed me, slowly picking up speed as the tail end of the train cleared the switch back in Palmer Lake:

As the front of the train gracefully heads toward Larkspur, the rear DPUs came into view: a third SD70MAC, BNSF 9834 and BNSF 8760, an EMD SD70ACe.