Sunday, March 29, 2015

Trains In The Mojave Desert - The Railroad Along U.S. Route 6

We Will Deliver - Rosamond, California
The Union Pacific Railroad has a mainline that runs along old U.S. Route 6 south of Mojave, California. The desert is hot and dry. Summer storms bring occasional flash floods. It's a harsh and lonely environment. This is California's Mojave Desert.

Old U.S. Route 6, once the longest highway in America, and sometimes called The Grand Army of The Republic Highway and Sierra Highway, is a paved two-lane road that parallels the tracks. It begins at Silver Queen Road just outside of the town of Mojave and travels south, eventually leading to the L.A. Basin.
The Train Meet - Rosamond, California
The section of Route 6 south of Bishop lost its federal status in 1964. Much of the road became California Highway 14, which is now a freeway that runs parallel to the old route, offset to the west.

This is a fairly busy section of single mainline tracks. There are several sidings and a handful of industries along the route. Almost all of the trains that traverse this track also make their way through the infamous Tehachapi Loop.
Waiting - Rosamond, California
The desert offers many photographic opportunities. The beauty may not be immediately obvious, but this is indeed a beautiful place. The mountains have a bit of red in them. The The sky can be dramatic. The desert flora can be interesting. Everything has a wide-open feel.

I captured these photographs recently using a Nokia Lumia 1020. Yes, a cell phone. It shows that any camera is capable as longs the photographer has vision


  1. Hi,
    Really enjoyed reading this post. In my research I am looking at the section of US Route 6 in PA, but would also like to know about other places. I was wondering if this highway is more significant to people historically or in terms of tourism opportunities? Also being a transit corridor this is obviously used by people to get to other places, but do people also think like, 'let's go for a ride along Route 6', with no other destination in mind?

    1. Abhi,
      Thank you for commenting! Route 6 gets overshadowed by the nearby Route 66, so a lot of people don't really think about it. The cities of Palmdale and Lancaster have made a small effort to bring the highway back by posting "Historical Route 6" signs. Mostly the old highway is referred to as Sierra Highway.
      There is a section of the old road between Santa Clarita and Palmdale that traverses a mountain pass that some drive for fun. There is also a section that is now Route 395 that goes on the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountains that is a popular drive. However, most people don't realize that the road was originally Route 6. They only know it as Highway 395.
      So Route 6 isn't really touristy (not like Route 66 anyway), and some sections have been bypassed by a freeway (Highway 14 south of Mojave). Sadly, I think a lot of people have simply forgotten about it.