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Field Trip: The Northern Half of Tehachapi Pass

May 14, 2008

Edison, Sandcut (Bena), Caliente, Bealville are the sidings and towns that comprise the area we took these photos. This will depict a North-> South compilation, starting in Edison, and ending in Bealville.

The Tehachapi Loop will be covered tommorow.

Basically, Edison is a small town that has a dozen or so seasonal packing sheds that deal with all the regional produce that includes potatoes, and oranges, both of which are shipped by ARMN (Union Pacific) mechanical reefer cars..

A nice orange packing shed in Edison proclaiming “Tree Ripe Oranges”

Oddly enough, there’s a Winery down here. It looks like it used to be an ICE plant and cold storage in years past, judging by the architecture.

Modern Orange trees are unfortunately cut into little boxes, shaved on both the top and all the sides for easier picking. The entire grove of trees on the hill behind the grape vines in the foreground are all square!

A Fantastic old ATSF Candeliever signal bridge is still in operation here in Edison.

We’re now at Bena siding, “Sand Cut” to the railfans. The ATSF signal bridge in the above photo is off in the distance there. We’re looking north towards Edison and Bakersfield.


Same location, looking south towards Tehachapi Pass. The regional plants in spring really look nice. As you can see those hills are almost completely brown now.

The first BNSF train of our trip arrives at Sand Cut about 15 minutes after we arived. A quartet of GE locomotive rounds the curve heading south towards the Loop.

Here we are in the pass itself, watching a Union pacific freight drift downgrade into Bakersfield, which is now at least 10 miles away.

Here’s a map showing the smallest town along our route, but one that is a popular modeling subject: Caliente. The appeal of this REALLY tiny town lies in its model railroad like curves, shown in the map above. The Train makes a sharp curve uphill going towards Bealville and Tehachapi.

Heading upgrade we reach the first tunnel at Bealville (not the first in the pass though) The road goes right above the portal, something to keep in mind for your next Model railroad tunnel portal.


Look at the STEEP grade that this UP stack trains is coasting down, it’s almost surreal when you’re standing there. It looks much steeper in real life, as you’re watching a 3000 ton train (no exaggeration there) drift downgrade.

The Train winds its way upgrade through the tiny town of Keene, and eventually to the Tehachapi Loop, which will be featured tomorrow.

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