Southern Pacific Returns to Hooker Hill. Separating Cottonwood and Red Bluff, Hooker Hill is the last obstacle for southbound trains entering Northern California. While the grade does not crest 1%, heavy trains are still often seen struggling to maintain track speed. Straight out of the Wild West, the rolling hills of this region are known for cattle ranches and outlaws. While waiting for the train on this cold December morning, I came across one of the local cattle ranchers. We talked about everything, from the miles of fence he maintains to the state of the current cattle market. We also talked about how smugglers often use these backroads to avoid the traffic of Interstate 5, just a few miles away. The rancher mentioned he had been on this land for decades and seen many trains passing through. He said while some things change, this land seems to be stuck in time. It has been 23 years since the Union Pacific took over the Southern Pacific Railroad. In that time, a lot has changed but surprisingly, you can still find a few select locomotives that still bear the SP colors. In this shot UP 6378, one of the last remaining AC4400CW's in Southern Pacific paint, leads a southbound intermodal train over Hooker Hill. In the Wild West spirit, I'll leave you with a cowboy quote... "Some of the best things in life, aren't things."