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Thread: Cane Creek Sub - Potash Branch

  1. #1

    Default Cane Creek Sub - Potash Branch

    The ex DRGW now UP Cane Creek Subdivision (Potash Branch) runs through exceptional scenary in Utahs Moab canyon area. The branch leaves the Green River Subdivision at Brendal, UT (mp 533.8) and runs some 35.8 miles to the potash mine at Potash, UT, passing within several 100 yards of the entrance to Arch's National Park.

    The local has kept to the same one a week, Friday's only schedule for years, leaving Grand Junction during the morning. Typically, the train will arrive at Brendal around midday, and setout a tank car or two at Brendal itself. After servicing Brendal, its south to Canyon Country to service the potash mine, and provides an easy albeit midday chase. Despite the midday sun, good angles can be had, particulary during the Sept through April lower sun seasons. The train runs at 30mph for the first 21 or so miles to Seven Mile, then slows to 10mph for the steep downgrade into Moab and through the over 1 mile Bootlegger Tunnel, providing just enough time to shoot the train as it descends towards the tunnel and again after a 10 mile drive along the Colorado to Emkay.

    Once at Potash, the train sets out its empties and picks up loads, and returns northbound to Brendel. Typically, the train requires less than an hour to set out its empties at the mine, and pick up the loads (usally 6-12 or so cars).

    The radio frequency is 160.920.

    If in the area, this branch is a must see! Actually, if anywhere in the Western Colorado or Eastern Utah area, this trip is worth the effort, with Arches National Park a must see after the train has left!

    The first image (-027) shows the train leaving the Provo Sub at Brendal.

    The second image (037) shows the train near the Moab UT airport, as it makes the curve to pass under Utah Highway 191.

    The third image (048) shows the train at Seven Mile (mp 21.3) just before the train will slow to 10mph.

    The fourth image (059) shows the train against the red rock walls as it descends towards Bootlegger Tunnel.

    The fifth image (079) shows the train very close to the end of the 10mph segment along Highway 279, just over 3 miles by rail but a 10 mile drive.

    The sixth image (090) shows the train at the same spot as the previous image, along the canyon on the way to the Potash mine.

    The seventh image (110) shows the train arriving at Potash UT where it will set out its empties and pick up the loads. BTW, the final scene of movie Thelma and Louise was filmed just further up the road from where this image, where the road is high above the Colorado River.

    The eighth image (118) shows the train returning north, with the Colorado River in the foreground.

    The ninth image (130) shows the steep canyon walls carved by the Colorado River

    The 10th image (142) shows yet another scene with canyon walls, just prior to where the rails depart highway 279.

  2. #2

    Default Cane Creek Sub - Potash Branch (2)

    Image 11 (151) shows the train now north of Seven Mile, and again moving at 30mph.

    Image 12 (165)showing the train with the LaSal mountains behind it.

    Finally, image 13 (178) showing the train in the more typical scenary of the north 1/2 of the line, headed back towards the connection with the Green River Sub.

  3. #3
    Two23 Guest


    Great job of bringing a small obscure branch to our attention. The short length of this train is amazing! I would suggest if you want shots of this, better get them while you can. I've often wondered what kinds of photo ops there are in Utah because we see so few. You definitely have some very nice shots. A few of the others lose impact because they just don't hang together well, such as the last one. The good ones more than make up for that though. Some shots look a little blurry. If you aren't using a tripod, I suggest one. Some of the shots with washed out sky could be improved by using a 2-stop hard edged ND grad filter. All in all nice work and a nice story. I give thumbs up.

    Kent in SD

  4. #4


    I agree with Mr. Kent. A great job of illustrating an out of the way piece of a transportation giant. A good mix of focal lengths and composition give the essay a nice look. Text was imformative and read smooth.

    I vote yes.

    Martin Burwash

  5. Default

    Stunning scenery - you're absolutely right about this being a 'must see'. Probably could have fewer photos but all in all I think this works well. Some of these shots are calendar material. I vote yes!

  6. #6


    With three thumbs up, I have moved this into the essays section.
    Rob Scrimgeour
    Victoria, BC

  7. #7
    Images & Trains Guest



    I really enjoyed this photo-essay for the "photo" side. The 10 pictures group looks nice and have a "following tone". I mean that the colours are well together and there is no big changes from one to another, making a smooth reading.
    Also, I'm so jealous of the deep blue sky you can have in desert. Here in Europe, this looks more like white than blue most of the days ! As blue and orange are complimentary colours, i think you could have done more pictures with more room for the sky.

    My last comment is about the text that is a bit "technical". When i travel to North America to do railfaning i LOVE following shortlines because its size made it "close". I remember following such a move on the Keenan switcher on the DM&IR : slow moving, switching cars on small business... i would have like this parts be emphasize.


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