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Extra 8480 East has just passed through my home town of Rosamond, CA on May 21, 1973 with the Portland Sunset East (freight train symbol PSSE). In the background on the left you can see the Big C Bargain Barn and Rocket Gasoline. In the distance is Soledad Mountain and behind it are the Tehachapi Mountains. During the steam locomotive days there was a wye at Rosamond to turn helpers. Part of the old wye was used by the Macco mud plant. The road to Edwards used to cross the tracks at Center Street until about 1945. There was a small depot at Rosamond until 1950. The sugar beet loader was installed in 1962 and removed around 1980. To my right is the Great Lakes Carbon plant. It was built in the 1950s. Just to the right of the train you can see the derail for the spur.
The grade for westbound (now northbound) trains increases from near zero at the south end of Rosamond to 1 percent at the north end of town and remains near that rate until the middle of Ansel siding. For a short time after the completion of the Palmdale Colton Cutoff, Rosamond served as a helper base for westbound trains. Trains operating through Soledad Canyon had been restricted in length because of the short sidings that were mostly 4,500 feet long. All of the sidings on the cutoff were about 9,000 feet. The three major sidings between Palmdale and Mojave were 8,350 feet. The SP began running longer trains. Westbound trains would get a helper from Garnet to Beaumont to get over Beaumont Pass, another from Colton to Hiland to get over Cajon Pass, and finally pick up a helper at Rosamond to get to Summit just east of Tehachapi.
The crews and engines for the Rosamond helper came out of Bakersfield. Often the power would help an eastbound train to Summit Switch then run lite engine down to Rosamond. Occasionally, the power would run lite all the way from Bakersfield. Since the power came from Bakersfield, I would occasionally see Valley power. I remember an A-B-A set of F7s, Alco 628s or 630s, and other odd combinations. I don't think we ever got any of the hydraulics. I wish I had my camera in 1968.
The next siding was at Oban and is the lowest point along the line thru the Antelope Valley at 2,296 feet. This siding was added around 1916. If you look to the left you can see that the helper units are shoving the Searles Turn (train symbol MJDOL) across the desert. Disk 48
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