Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Blast from the past

This was one of those assignments that just wouldn’t end. A vintage steam locomotive was due to pass through Tracy on its way from Oakland to Stockton. What was supposed to be a quick half hour assignment turned into an almost three-hour-wait.

The Union Pacific 844 steam locomotive on the western Heritage tour was scheduled to arrive in Stockton at about 11:00 am. Arriving at the ACE train station on Linne Road I met several railroad enthusiasts who gathered to get a glimpse of the last steam train built for Union Pacific.

Delays pushed the train’s arrival in Tracy back time and again. 11:00 am passed and the heat grew as the crowd found shelter in the ACE platform shade. Finally word came the train was at the Vasco road station and was due in Tracy within an hour.

Nearing 1:00 pm we saw our first glimpse of the train with a headlight in the distance on the track. I leveled a 70-20 mm with a 1.4 extender and got the train heading into town. As it neared the ACE station I switched to a 16-35mm lens and crouched close to the tracks. I think I was a little too close as I could feel the rush of air as the train barreled by without stopping on its way to Stockton. It was worth the wait to watch a piece of history pass by.

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