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Caliente-Bodfish Road

Started by Max Rockatansky, July 01, 2018, 01:39:43 PM

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Max Rockatansky

I've been going through a bunch of throwback photo albums and Caliente-Bodfish Road came up:

http://surewhynotnow.blogspot.com/2018/06/caliente-bodfish-roadkern-county-route.html

Open question, I've seen Caliente-Bodfish referred to as "County Road 483."  Does Kern County have a system of road numbers in the mountains similar to Tulare County?


sparker

Caliente is the western beginning of the serious (avg. 2.2%) eastbound rail gradient that tops out between Tehachapi and Monolith.  Coming out of Bakersfield, the UP (formerly SP but always shared with BNSF, which has equity in the line these days) maxes out at about a 1.4% grade up Caliente Creek from the Valley floor; the "horseshoe" around the east side of town is the actual initial heavier grade.  Great trainwatching spot; BNSF container trains currently dominate, along with UP's transfer runs of containers between L.A. and Bay Area ports -- but there's a lot of "manifest" (mixed freight) traffic as well, with seasonal agricultural action on both RR's EB out of Bakersfield and Fresno. 

Interestingly, in the late '80's, when oil prices were spiking, SP ran very long (av. 96-112 cars) oil tank trains from the fields near Oildale and Taft over the hill to L.A., where most of it ended up at the Union 76 refinery in Torrance.  It was always interesting to see the exceptionally heavy trains, usually with 4 locomotives on the front, two more cut into the middle, and an additional two pushing, come into Caliente at full track speed, only to drop down to less than 10-12 mph once around the horseshoe and up the hill.  I followed one up the hill; with siding stops at Bealville, Woodford and at Tehachapi Loop to let container trains by -- in both directions -- it took the train all of 4 hours to get to Tehachapi!  SP tended to use older high-HP locomotives in this service (largely their remaining EMD SD45's); they were certainly smoking up a storm by time they topped out the hill.     

Max Rockatansky

Quote from: sparker on July 04, 2018, 02:26:34 AM
Caliente is the western beginning of the serious (avg. 2.2%) eastbound rail gradient that tops out between Tehachapi and Monolith.  Coming out of Bakersfield, the UP (formerly SP but always shared with BNSF, which has equity in the line these days) maxes out at about a 1.4% grade up Caliente Creek from the Valley floor; the "horseshoe" around the east side of town is the actual initial heavier grade.  Great trainwatching spot; BNSF container trains currently dominate, along with UP's transfer runs of containers between L.A. and Bay Area ports -- but there's a lot of "manifest" (mixed freight) traffic as well, with seasonal agricultural action on both RR's EB out of Bakersfield and Fresno. 

Interestingly, in the late '80's, when oil prices were spiking, SP ran very long (av. 96-112 cars) oil tank trains from the fields near Oildale and Taft over the hill to L.A., where most of it ended up at the Union 76 refinery in Torrance.  It was always interesting to see the exceptionally heavy trains, usually with 4 locomotives on the front, two more cut into the middle, and an additional two pushing, come into Caliente at full track speed, only to drop down to less than 10-12 mph once around the horseshoe and up the hill.  I followed one up the hill; with siding stops at Bealville, Woodford and at Tehachapi Loop to let container trains by -- in both directions -- it took the train all of 4 hours to get to Tehachapi!  SP tended to use older high-HP locomotives in this service (largely their remaining EMD SD45's); they were certainly smoking up a storm by time they topped out the hill.     

I've been meaning to get up to CA 202 for a road album.  I was thinking that on the way back downhill I could try something like a historic US 466 alignment which would include passing the Tehachapi Loop.  How often do trains make it through there?  Seems like its probably a hell of a photo opportunity.

TheStranger

Quote from: Max Rockatansky on July 04, 2018, 08:15:37 AM
I was thinking that on the way back downhill I could try something like a historic US 466 alignment which would include passing the Tehachapi Loop.  How often do trains make it through there?  Seems like its probably a hell of a photo opportunity.

It seems like train passage through the Loop is very common:
https://interestingengineering.com/going-round-the-bend-with-the-tehachapi-loop
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZCYhP1D4O4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEDmF__PSIU


Having said that, the one time I went with the explicit purpose of photographing the loop, I didn't see any trains! I feel like I may have see a train pass through once while being driven down Route 58.
Chris Sampang

sparker

Well -- BNSF runs about 10-12 trains each direction daily during most weekdays, and UP dispatches an additional 7-8 or so.  This is the main rail corridor between SoCal and points north (the other line is UP's Coast Line, mostly paralleling US 101) -- but it features 2.2% grades (EB) and hardly anything between Caliente and Tehachapi that looks straight (multiple 10-degree curves on tight radii).  Average train speed EB is 15-20 mph; a little more westbound.  Since west of Woodfords much of the track is out of sight of CA 58 until down on the valley floor, it's easy to miss trains if you remain on that road.  But between Woodfords and CA 202 the tracks are on the south side of Tehachapi Creek, while CA 58 is on the slope on the north side.  The current CA 58 through that area sits atop old US 466; there is an alternative parallel road between Woodfords and Tehachapi called, plainly enough, "Tehachapi-Woodfords Road"; it sits above the tracks on the south side of the creek.  You can get a much better view of the Loop from this road (narrow 2-lane but fully paved).  If you remain on 58, the very narrow gorge just west of Tehachapi features the rail line carved into the cliffside and ducking through numerous tunnels.  If you want to see trains, the best bet is to take advantage of some of the turnouts on 58 or simply use the parallel road; stake out a vantage point above the Loop and eventually you'll see some train action.  Much of the Loop itself (except for the duck-under tunnel) is double-track -- and is a prime location for EB and WB trains to pass one another.  Most of the Tehachapi RR line is single track, so a train sitting in a siding for an hour or so waiting for another (slow) train to pass is commonplace.  This line was completed in 1876 and, except for the stretches of passing track, hasn't changed much since then (although after the 1952 regional earthquake a number of short collapsed tunnels were "daylighted" (converted into open cuts). 

When I was a young kid in the late '50's, one of the yearly rituals was for my mom and myself to go up to Sacramento to visit my uncle (her older brother); we took the San Joaquin Daylight; getting on the train in Glendale about 8 a.m.  It took until right after noon to traverse the mountains via Palmdale and Mojave; arrival in Bakersfield was a little after noon.  However, from there on north the train "hauled ass", so to speak, in order to get to its twin destinations (Oakland and Sacramento; the train split in Lathrop) by dinner time.  The first couple of times I remember taking the train (I was about 5-6 at the time and very RR-oriented) it was still under steam power (for RR historians, SP used GS-4's and GS-6's for this service at the end of the steam era); I do recall that the first time the train was under diesel power was '57, when SP employed 4 FP7's (2 A units, both pointing forward and 2 B units trailing) over the mountains.  The leading A unit was cut off in Bakersfield and turned around to serve as the leading unit for the SB train; the two passed near Famoso (present CA 46/99 junction).  Three units took the train north through the Valley to Lathrop, where the last two cars (where we were located) were cut off from the train; the first 10 cars went on via Tracy and Antioch to Oakland, while a GP9 backed onto our two cars and hauled them up to Sacramento.  The precision of the transfer always intrigued me as a kid (although not particularly complex through adult eyes).  But I do remember that even on the downhill segment from Tehachapi to Caliente this streamlined passenger train rarely exceeded 25 mph! -- the trackage was so dominated by curvature that speed just wasn't possible.  There's a reason Amtrak California hasn't extended the San Joaquin south over the hill to L.A. -- even today, that trip segment would take at least 4 hours to complete -- plus, with 20+ trains per day to pass, UP & BNSF really don't want any more traffic on the "hill".   

pderocco

Quote from: Max Rockatansky on July 01, 2018, 01:39:43 PM
Open question, I've seen Caliente-Bodfish referred to as "County Road 483."  Does Kern County have a system of road numbers in the mountains similar to Tulare County?

That's the only one whose route number I've seen in Google Maps. Some county roads do have numbers that show up on mileposts, actually numbers with a letter under them. Caliente Bodfish mileposts say 483 Y, Woodford Tehachapi (by the Loop) says 481 V, and Bena Road says 266 H. But they never appear on directional signs, just mileposts. They're probably intended for maintenance or accident location reporting.

Max Rockatansky

Quote from: pderocco on July 26, 2018, 01:31:23 AM
Quote from: Max Rockatansky on July 01, 2018, 01:39:43 PM
Open question, I've seen Caliente-Bodfish referred to as "County Road 483."  Does Kern County have a system of road numbers in the mountains similar to Tulare County?

That's the only one whose route number I've seen in Google Maps. Some county roads do have numbers that show up on mileposts, actually numbers with a letter under them. Caliente Bodfish mileposts say 483 Y, Woodford Tehachapi (by the Loop) says 481 V, and Bena Road says 266 H. But they never appear on directional signs, just mileposts. They're probably intended for maintenance or accident location reporting.

Actually you're right, I remember now from the former alignment of CA 155 between Bakersfield and Woody had Postmiles displaying "363" on them.  Do you know if that is for all Kern County Roadways or if it is something isolated to stuff in the Sierras? 

pderocco

Quote from: Max Rockatansky on July 26, 2018, 08:09:34 AM
Actually you're right, I remember now from the former alignment of CA 155 between Bakersfield and Woody had Postmiles displaying "363" on them.  Do you know if that is for all Kern County Roadways or if it is something isolated to stuff in the Sierras?

I don't know for sure, but they seem to be widely used on mountain and foothill roads, outside of National Forest land, but I don't recall seeing them on all the straight roads across the Central Valley.

Max Rockatansky

Quote from: pderocco on August 17, 2018, 01:22:48 AM
Quote from: Max Rockatansky on July 26, 2018, 08:09:34 AM
Actually you're right, I remember now from the former alignment of CA 155 between Bakersfield and Woody had Postmiles displaying "363" on them.  Do you know if that is for all Kern County Roadways or if it is something isolated to stuff in the Sierras?

I don't know for sure, but they seem to be widely used on mountain and foothill roads, outside of National Forest land, but I don't recall seeing them on all the straight roads across the Central Valley.

Ran into a couple more on Woodford-Tehachapi Road and Bena Road while on a US 466 kick the day.  I want to say Bena was signed as Route 226 off the top of my head?

Max Rockatansky

This was the gem of the recent Bakersfield Road Meet.  I blew the blog up and rewrote it to properly illustrate the history of the road during the 1860s-1870s.

https://www.gribblenation.org/2018/06/caliente-bodfish-roadkern-county-route.html

Techknow

Yeah, couldn't agree more with Max. On paper (or text) the Centennial Corridor was very appealing to drive on and is what convinced me to go to the road meet, but this is one of the best scenic roads I clinched, akin to an All-American Road.

RZF

Tell me are you a Bodfish too (Are you a Bodfish too?)

Quillz

Was this the road that was the original alignment of CA-178? Based on some old maps, it seems 178 went almost due north at one point and ascended the Sierra via the route that is now modern CA-155.

Max Rockatansky

Quote from: Quillz on April 20, 2024, 06:42:49 PMWas this the road that was the original alignment of CA-178? Based on some old maps, it seems 178 went almost due north at one point and ascended the Sierra via the route that is now modern CA-155.

It was the road LRN 57 (later CA 178 replaced.  The extension of LRN 57 east of Bakersfield was added by way of the 1919 Third State Highway Bond Act.  The Kern River Road was complete from eastern Bakersfield to Bodfish and Isabella by 1925. 

pderocco

Also extremely scenic in that area are the old Kern Canyon Rd that comes up into Bodfish as Kern River Canyon Rd, and Breckenridge Rd which goes all the way from Bakersfield to Caliente Bodfish Rd in Havilah.

Max Rockatansky

I still need to get around Breckenridge Road.  That seems like it has to be a summer item given the snow was around the 5,000 foot mark when we were passing through Havilah.

pderocco

If you do Breckenridge, you should probably call the NFS office first. I went there 11 months ago, and half the road had slid down a steep slope at one point and the road was closed. Some locals came along, however, and told me that the county had given them permission to move the sawhorse barriers to the side and drive through on the remaining road, then restore the barriers, so I followed them, and avoided a long detour. (I don't know what the county had to do with it, given that the slide was in the NF.) But given how long it seems to take anyone to fix anything these days, the road may still be in that state.

Max Rockatansky

Interestingly I'm finding that the Forest Service usually has a pretty decent way of tracking if roads are open via the Interactive Map.  Apparently the Forest Service owned portion of the road (28S06) is 11.55 miles long and stretches west from Havilah. I'd be happy with just the Forest Service part given that seems to be the most interesting segment.  Right now they show it as open, I do have business in the area as I haven't done Caliente Creek Road yet. 

https://www.fs.usda.gov/ivm/



hotdogPi

What even is a bodfish? I'm only getting results about the city, not the fish.
Clinched

Traveled, plus
US 1A, 13, 44, 50, 302
MA 22, 35, 40, 107, 109, 126, 141, 159
ME 22, 25, 26, 77, 100
NH 27, 111A(E); CA 133; NY 366; GA 42, 140; FL A1A, 7; CT 32; VT 2A, 5A; PA 3, 51, 60, QC 162, 165, 263; 🇬🇧A100, A3211, A3213, A3215, A4222; 🇫🇷95 D316

Lowest untraveled: 36

Max Rockatansky

Apparently named after George Homer Bodfish.  Gold Rush settlers had strange names sometimes I'm finding.

pderocco

Quote from: Max Rockatansky on April 22, 2024, 07:44:44 AMInterestingly I'm finding that the Forest Service usually has a pretty decent way of tracking if roads are open via the Interactive Map.  Apparently the Forest Service owned portion of the road (28S06) is 11.55 miles long and stretches west from Havilah. I'd be happy with just the Forest Service part given that seems to be the most interesting segment.  Right now they show it as open, I do have business in the area as I haven't done Caliente Creek Road yet. 

https://www.fs.usda.gov/ivm/

Actually, the whole length is a great experience. The grassy western part is less interesting because it's so long, although the views are nice. And by all means, drive out to the Breckenridge Mountain fire lookout.

The NFS map you linked to only shows a portion of the road within the NF as belonging to it. So perhaps the county does indeed maintain the western part where the slide was. That was at 35.463908°,-118.648342°.

Max Rockatansky

One way to know for sure is if the portion west of the Forest Service maintenance has Postmiles.  Pretty much every Kern County Mountain highway has them.



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