On our train trip to Ohio, the San Francisco Chief left Bakersfield in the early evening and headed up and over the Tehachapi Pass. There was a gain of 3500 feet in around 48 miles. There were over a dozen tunnels along the climb out of Bakersfield. This is also the location of the famed Tehachapi Loop1, where a long train can pass above itself.
|The Tehachapi Loop was a unique solution to keep the climb manageable.|
While I reminisced with my brother, John, images of tunnels come to mind although not as vividly as other memories.
From Tehachapi, the train dropped down into the Mojave Desert. Of course this happened at night so there wasn't much to see.
Early in the morning we awoke to the train slowing down and stopping at Flagstaff, Arizona. Flagstaff is almost 7000 feet in elevation so we peaked out the window to a tall pine forest and then a perfect train depot. I remember vividly the brick building and walkway. The sights and sounds combined for a lifelong memory.
As we left Flagstaff, we dropped down into the desert again and I remember people talking about the Painted Desert. (Some day I am going to drive there and stop to visit.).
Half-way between Los Angeles and Chicago the San Francisco Chief stopped in Clovis, New Mexico. The train underwent service here and Native Americans sold their wares. I remember being absolutely fascinated with the Native Americans in their native dress. Those were real live 'Indians'. I was amazed because I had never seen an 'Indian' before.
1. "Tehachapi Loop, CA." Map. Google Maps. Google, 2014. Web. 8 Feb. 2014.