Eastbound Cab Ride Through Carrizo Gorge HD

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Video By: Locomotive450

Watch in High Definition! The Carrizo Gorge Railway is a short line freight operator that ran on the old San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway between Plaster City (west of El Centro in the Imperial Valley) and the US border at Tijuana. In 2008, the US portion of the line between Campo and Plaster City was embargoed to freight traffic due to deteriorating track conditions. Since then, another railroad has begun operations on the Mexican portion of the line between Tijuana and Tecate. Recently, the Carrizo Gorge Railway has restarted its maintenance program on the line between Plaster City and Campo. The railroad is based out of Jacumba, located about halfway between Campo and Plaster City. Using one of its F Units and an 89 foot flatcar, the railway is able to transport a team of construction contractors to any point along the tracks to perform maintenance.

This video is of a cab ride one on of the recent Maintenance of Way trips from Jacumba, through the famed Carrizo Gorge and across the Goat Canyon trestle, before continuing on east to Plaster City.

The video starts early in the morning at the small Jacumba rail yard. A construction front loader and excavator are seen being unloaded from the trucks they arrived on. The excavator first assists in loading several sticks of rail and ties onto the flatcar and then hoists itself and the front loader onto the flatcar in a very interesting set of maneuvers. We then climb in the cab of CZRy F7A 100 for the trip east.

100 is an EMD F7 A unit and was built in 1952 as B&LE 723A. Over the years, it saw uses as a locomotive for US Steel, the Texas Southern Dinner train and most recently the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train. It still wears the paint scheme of this most recent owner, but the words OF WASHINGTON were painted out.

Departing Jacumba, we first pass the siding at Titus. We then stop briefly before crossing under Interstate 8, so we can load some additional ties lying nearby. Continuing east, we pass the Spur at Dubbers. I take a short walk through the engine room to look out the back. Old locomotives like this make hearing protection a must. We then pass through Tunnel 5 and enter the gorge! After going a few miles, we pause briefly at the tunnel 8 siding, where several ex. AMT commuter cars are being stored, so some rocks can be cleared from the tracks. While I didn't include it in the video, there was some substantial evidence in and around the cars that hikers have been vandalizing them, which is pretty sad. We then continue east and pass though Tunnel 8, which the CZRy rebuilt and shored up with concrete when it was reopening the line, some ten years ago. We get some spectacular views of the gorge as we crawl along the narrow ledge. We then pass the west portal of the collapsed old Tunnel 15, and a short time later, enter the new Tunnel 15. Right after exiting the tunnel, we are on the famed Goat Canyon Trestle; the world's largest wooden railroad trestle. The trestle was built in 1932 along with the new Tunnel 15 when the side of the mountain slid down several feet and caused the collapse of old Tunnel 15. We pass semaphore signals that were designed to give a stop signal should the bridge collapse or be damaged. We then pass through tunnel 16 and stop at the east portal. Here, the construction equipment and workers were offloaded, and the locomotive continued east with the flatcar, rails, and ties. Shortly thereafter, we encounter a group of trespassers as we are about to enter tunnel 18.

The trespassers (hikers) were at the far end of the tunnel, about to walk in. Had it not been for several toots on the horn by the engineer, the trespassers may never have lived to tell the tale. That said, never hike into Carrizo Gorge along the train tracks. There are several ways to hike into the Gorge by climbing the surrounding hills, but hiking along the train tracks (particularly through tunnels and across bridges) is dangerous, illegal and stupid.

Continuing east, the gorge gets shallower and we pass through the last few tunnels. We turn east as the gorge continues north. The tracks begin the long winding descent into the Anza Borrego Desert towards the Imperial Valley. We pass Dos Cabezas Siding, the sand blown area at Silica, cross over freeway 8, pass though Coyote wells, and end at a dirt crossing just west of Plaster City. The tracks at the crossing were destroyed a year or two ago by a large vehicle working on nearby power lines. We drop off the ties and sticks of rail, which were to be used to repair the tracks. The tracks have since been repaired on a subsequent trip and trains can once again reach Plaster City and points east. I rode on the return trip to Jacumba as well, and that video can be viewed here:

This is a very rare video, as the public is not normally allowed to ride a train into the Gorge. I must reiterate that nobody should ever hike along the train tracks into the Carrizo Gorge.
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