Yesterday I had a little spare time from what business brought me on this road trip. I drove out to Banning, California. Banning is on highway I-10 about 20 miles west of Palm Springs. It was the home of one of my grandmothers and I had spent a lot of time here as a child. Driving around the town many memories came back to me.
The Southern Pacific railroad went through Banning but the passenger trains did not stop here. My mother and I would ride the Greyhound bus to get here from Los Angeles. I liked to wander the town with the skate board that I would carry on the bus with me. It was down hill from grandma's house to the SP line and that's where I would go to watch the trains.
These memories returned to me as I drove and I found myself at the San Gorgonio Road grade crossing when the gates came down as a train approached. I turned my truck onto the old frontage road that runs between I-10 and the tracks and then onto a dirt road and sat for awhile. There is a signal here and watching that one can get a good idea of when a train is approaching. It was about one every 10 minutes. In the half hour I was there I saw 4 trains, they were all Union Pacific now. I also noticed that the rail ties were now concrete.
- East bound - Trailers on flat cars. 3 GE engines pulling
- Westbound - Containers, mostly 3 unit well cars, 3 GE engines pulling with 1 at the back pushing.
- Westbound - Unit hopper car train, good mixture of hopper car types with many rotary coupler type cars in the mix. I think this was a train of empties as there was no pusher. There were 3 GE engines pulling.
- Eastbound - Mixed train, pulled by 2 GE engines.