You are in the CarrTracks website Picture Gallery.
I will be covering this portion of the Union Pacific Overland Route from west to east since most of my trips across the territory were made in that direction. This gallery includes a group of pictures my brother Steve took in September 1988 while chasing engine 3985 from Cheyenne over to Laramie. Click the engine number above to go directly to the chase.
From the time the railroad connected with the Central Pacific to the end of the century, the UP was only able to add about 17 miles of second track. The biggest changes from the original route were made over Sherman Hill west of Cheyenne. The original UP line over Sherman Hill was near the Ames Monument at an elevation of 8,247 feet above sea level. The UP built the Ames monument at the summit in 1882 to honor the Ames brothers that had helped finance the original construction. In 1901 the UP completed the first tunnel at Hermosa, built a new line three miles to the south of the original summit and added a second line between Laramie and Hermosa. UP then abandoned the original line over the summit. The new line not only lowered the maximum elevation to 8,015 but also allowed the railroad to abandon the Dale Creek bridge that had a four mile per hour speed restriction on it. The new line out of Laramie lowered the eastbound ruling grade from 1.9 percent to 0.8 percent between Laramie and the Hermosa Tunnel. With increased traffic and the leadership of Harriman the railroad transformed the single track Overland Route to mostly double track by the end of 1918. Early semaphore signals were installed between 1906 and 1917. For example, in 1909 when the railroad was installing a second track between Rock Springs 15 miles and Green river, WY. It was moving and converting the automatic block signals from one arm lower quadrant to two arm lower quadrant for double track operations. UP also installed automatic block signals from Riner to Wamsutter that same year. In 1917 it was installing GRS model 2 lower quadrant 2 arm semaphore signals between Pine Bluffs, NE 35 miles and Archer, WY, Buford 33 miles to Hermosa, and Wamsutter 53 miles to Point of Rocks. By the end of 1919, the UP had 641 miles of single track and 905 miles of double track with automatic block signals. In 1920 UP was installing automatic block signals from Leroy 27 miles to Evanston. These lower quadrant semaphore signals were replaced with searchlight signals in the late 40s.
At the west end of the Wyoming, the first Aspen tunnel was completed in 1901 and the second Aspen tunnel opened in 1949. These tunnels are located about ten miles east of Evanston. In 1974, the Union Pacific installed CTC between Granger and Rock Springs.
Double track east of the Hermosa Tunnel was added in stages. The first installment was between Cheyenne and Borie in 1900, Borie to Buford in 1902, and then Buford to the first Hermosa tunnel in 1917. In 1918, the UP completed the second tunnel at Hermosa. Since the second line between Laramie and Hermosa was east of the original line and was the preferred route for eastbound trains, the railroad operated left hand between those points. In 1919 it added a 17 lever mechanical interlocking at Granger. It was also planning to install an interlocking at both ends of the single track Altamont Tunnel: one at Aspen, one at Altamont. The equipment was ordered from GRS in 1920 and work was completed in May 1921. The new Harriman Line was completed between Speer and Dale Junction in May 1953. This reduced the grade to 0.82 percent and became the preferred route for heavy westbound trains. This also put that portion of the railroad into left hand operation. So now the dispatcher has to shift trains entering the region between Cheyenne and Laramie from right hand running on double track to left hand running and then return these trains to right hand running before they leave the region. The dispatcher must also get faster trains around slower going over the mountain. With three tracks between Cheyenne and Laramie you might think that would be easy since the UP added CTC between Cheyenne and Laramie in 1978 and added a second track beside the eastbound track from Laramie almost to the Hermosa Tunnels. But with ongoing maintenance work and other unpredictable events, choreographing the dance that trains have to do to keep things moving and you have a massive headache.
No block signals were ever added to the Coalmont Brnach. In 1909 UP was installing automatic block signals Cheyenne to LaSalle, CO (60 miles) and ordered automatic block signals for La Salle, CO to Sand Creek (45 miles).
The first segment is a short series of picture my brother Steve took while chasing engine 3985 from Cheyenne over to Laramie and back. The Wyoming picture gallery starts at Evenston and works east. This gallery also includes two side trips into Colorado, one on the Coalmont Branch from Laramie to Walden, and the other on the line between Denver, CO and Speer, WY southwest of Cheyenne.
Chasing the 3985
Point of Rocks