Decades at Dale

Written by: Gary Dolzall

Throughout the decades, whether in the era of steam or diesel power, Dale, Wyoming has been a place to witness Union Pacific railroading. On TS2015’s Sherman Hill route, Union Pacific FEF-3 840 in striking Overland livery races UP mail train No. 6 eastbound.

It is place both remote and unpopulated, but Dale, Wyoming is also one of North America’s grandest places to witness railroading TS2015 and the “virtual camera” of Gary Dolzall take us there.

Across the North American continent there are thousands of fine locations to witness the passage of trains and experience the verve of railroading. And, most assuredly, among the very finest is a largely remote and unpopulated place which rests amid the heart of the Union Pacific Railroad’s famed Sherman Hill line. The place is Dale, Wyoming.

Today, and indeed, for decades past, Dale has been an exemplary place to witness the Union Pacific at its busiest and best. Dale derived its name from the Union Pacific’s crossing of Dale Creek, a modest little tributary that nonetheless occupies a deep and wide valley. When the Union Pacific main line was first set down in 1867, its routing rested several miles north of today’s main line at Dale and to cross the Dale Creek valley it relied first upon a spindly wooden, and later, a steel trestle. In 1900, the Sherman Hill line was relocated to its present location and its twin tracks crossed the Dale Creek valley on a newly constructed and massive earthen fill en route to the bores of Hermosa Tunnel immediately to the west. Then, in the 1950s, the nature of Dale changed quite dramatically again, when UP constructed its Track 3 (or Harriman Line) which converged with the Sherman Line at Dale. Track 3 was opened on May 12, 1953, creating today’s Dale Junction – and a train-watching spot extraordinaire.

To the uninitiated, “Dale” may simply be a lonely trackside signpost, but for the train-watcher it is hallowed ground to have once witnessed the likes of Union Pacific’s City of San Francisco streamliner rolling west. All screenshots by the author.

Thus, the decades at Dale have witnessed the remarkable – Union Pacific’s landmark early diesel streamliners and later its “Cities of Everywhere” dome liners; its extraordinary steam triumvirate of the FEF-3 4-8-4, 4-6-6-4 Challenger, and 4-8-8-4 Big Boy; its massive diesels of the 1960s keynoted by the biggest of all, the Electro-Motive DDA40X; and today’s nearly endless procession of intermodal and grain and coal traffic being forwarded by GE ES44AC and EMD SD70ACe diesels. And Dale, too, has often been host to Union Pacific’s steam excursion trains climbing Sherman Hill behind UP FEF-3 844, Challenger 3985, and, in a few years to come, restored Big Boy 4014.

TS2015, its Sherman Hill route, and a variety of available DLC bring Dale to life in dramatic form – its massive fill, its unique rock formations, and, of course, the bustle of the Union Pacific main line. TS2015 also delivers the benefit of a “time machine,” allowing us to witness the sights of Dale not only today, but in the decades past. So join us, as we explore the remarkable railroading sights of Dale, Wyoming. – Gary Dolzall

The locomotives and trains that roll through Dale have changed markedly through the years, but the drama of big-time, busy railroading has always remained. On the TS2015 Sherman Hill route, UP’s great articulateds, a Big Boy and Challenger (above) put on a show, while in a contemporary scene, coal, intermodal, and grain trains converge at bustling Dale (below) behind GE and EMD diesels.

The size of the earthen fill at Dale is such that it makes even a train look diminutive in comparison. In a scene from the late 1950s recreated on the Sherman Hill route with the Smokebox FEF-3, Union Pacific 4-8-4 838 draws an eastbound grain extra across the fill (above), then moments late (below) glides past several of Dale’s rock outcroppings.

In a classic scene repeated at Dale through the decades, one of Union Pacific’s City streamliners rolls west behind a brace of Electro-Motive first-generation F7s (above), while (below), three husky EMD SD45s of the second generation haul heavy tonnage.

Union Pacific has always been synonymous with big motive power, whether it was the Big Boy of the steam era or the DDA40X “Centennial” of the diesel years. At Dale, DDA40X 6945 hustles a piggyback train west while a grain train behind EMD SD40-2s arrives on Track 3.

Approaching Dale on Track 3 of the TS2015 Sherman Hill route, a trio of Union Pacific EMD SD60Ms approach Dale. Track 3, also known as the “Harriman Line,” was opened by UP in May 1953 to provide a lower-gradient route for heavy westbound trains.

Contemporary railroading is showcased on the TS2015 Sherman Hill route at Dale as (above) westbounds are powered by SD70Ms and GP50s (above), while UP SD70ACe 1989 in a heritage livery honoring the Rio Grande leads a stack train west.

Proof that Dale promises to be entirely captivating in the future as well as the past is demonstrated in this view of Union Pacific Big Boy 4014 drawing an excursion over Sherman Hill – a sight that will occur in the coming years!

Gary Dolzall

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