Welcome to the Feather River Canyon. The Feather River Canyon is home to one of the most treacherous rail lines in the world. With steep cliffs and loose ground, rockslides are an ever-present danger. It is no wonder why Collis P. Huntington once said “no man would ever be fool enough to build a railroad through the Feather River Canyon”. Today, the railroad has a couple tactics which help prevent trains from encountering rock slides. When a storm warning is in affect, Union Pacific will often use bronco escorts. These escorts are hi-rail trucks which travel two miles head of the train, looking for any rock slides or unsafe conditions. If the escort does encoutner a rock slide, he can easily stop and radio the train. Additionally, Union Pacific has miles of “slide fence”. When a rock slide occurs, the wires of the slide fence are displaced causing all signals in the area to turn red. When Dispatcher 57 noticed the UP 2636 was taking longer than usual, she asked the crew what was going on. The crew quickly reported they had encountered all red intermediate signals since Virgilia and were traveling at a restricted speed. Soon after, the crew discovered a rock slide just east of Belden. This train did not have a bronco escort. Because of the slide fence warning, the train was able to safely come to a stop. The railroad was shut down for several hours as maintenance of way crews responded to the area.
California has some of the best mountain scenes in America. The photos in this album will include images from Donner Pass and the Feather River Canyon, which will show how Union Pacific really is the “Pride of the Sierras”.