(Chuck) It is not necessary to be a train buff to appreciate the wonders of the Tehachapi Loop. It is a .75 mile long spiral on the UP Railroad line which connects Bakersfield and Mojave, California. It carries a daily load of almost 40 trains. It is called one of the seven wonders of the railroad world. 3000 Chinese laborers built it in 1874 to 1876. The loop was constructed so that a train could gain elevation up the steep canyon. The loop allows the train to gain 77 feet in elevation as the track climbs at a steady 2 percent grade. A train of more than 4000 feet in length will pass over itself as it negotiates the loop. To more easily understand the layout of the loop go to Google Earth 35.20092 -118.53625
I first heard about the loop several years ago. In 2009 we visited the area and waited at the viewing area for quite a long time and did not see a train. This year as we traveled highway 58, we hit the jackpot. We parked our motorhome at Exit 137 at Keene. There is a generous lot between the restaurant and the Cal Fire helicopter pad. We traveled four and one half miles up the grade on the road and pulled off at a small parking area by the road. From there we walked towards the railway to view the loop. Monday is track maintenance day (fewer trains) but we were there on Tuesday. We watched as one train exited the loop and continued down hill. As we were positioned in the viewing area a train came up track and completed the loop. Soon after we were greeted with another traveling up the grade. It was exciting to watch and I would recommend it to anyone who may be passing by on this stretch of highway 58 in California. Click on the photos to enlarge.
Here comes the train up the valley.
The train engines are coming through the tunnel.
The train starts around the circle. (You can still see the middle of the train on the other side of the tunnel in the background.)
The front of the train crosses over the middle of the train coming through the tunnel.
The front of the train is in the foreground at the base of the hill, the middle of the train is in the background and the end of the train is coming through the tunnel.
Here is the train on the back side of the hill, winding it’s way up the valley.