A Photo Essay
All Photos by the Author
The Copper Basin Railway (CBRY), based in
Enter 2006. After a
period of relative inactivity on the photography front following the birth of
our daughter, I decided it was getting time to do something big. Knowing that the
The CBRY is welcoming to visitors—but it is IMPERATIVE that you first check in at the office. As long as an employee is available to escort you, there is a very good chance you will be allowed to take photos on the property. However, even with a signed release form, visitors are not allowed in the shop and yard area at Hayden unescorted. I can’t say this enough—PLEASE play by the rules. Companies this accommodating of railfans are becoming less and less the norm, and it is best to keep a good thing going. Safe, professional conduct is expected of you around the property, as well.
Due to the unusually large selection of photos from this visit, I have elected to share the sights of the CBRY with you through a photo essay—a first here at ShortlinesUSA.com. I hope you enjoy reading about what was truly an inspirational trip for me; one that solidifies why I do what I do. Please enjoy this special feature on the CBRY!
n Michael Derrick
The CBRY ore train, symbol OT-1, is the most important train
on the CBRY. OT-1 shuttles copper ore
between the ASARCO copper mine at
The schedule on this train is so rigorous that it will even sit at Hayden to leave on schedule. For instance, the next run to Ray from Hayden was to depart at noon on the day of our visit. At approximately 1150, the train pulled up to the yard office and awaited its scheduled departure time. Essentially, the railroad and ASARCO work around the schedule of this train, so its performance is critical to the operation—hence the strict schedule that is maintained.
There are numerous locations to photograph OT-1 along its route. Following are several views of OT-1 along its journey.
OT-1 approaching Ray Junction with loads
OT-1 exiting Tunnel 2, just south of Ray Junction
OT-1 working hard with loads at Kearny, AZ
As you can see, good photo opportunities abound at Ray
OT-1 approaching Hayden
OT-1 working upgrade at the south end of Hayden Yard
The following series of photos chronicle the process of OT-1 dumping ore at Hayden. This operation is easily viewable from the parallel highway. Note the operator, who releases the ore via dump handles on the side of the ore hoppers. The hopper doors are pneumatic, and each car is emptied in a matter of a few seconds as OT-1 slowly rolls through the dumper.
A view of the ore dumping process
OT-1 at Hayden Yard, with empties and ready to complete another cycle. Note the Roustabout job coming down from the smelter just below the stack.
OT-1 at the busy Hayden Yard, with arrival of the Roustabout from the smelter and the Local power being readied for a trip to the UP interchange at Magma, AZ.
The “Local” and “Unit Train”
Two other trains you will hear on the CBRY are the “Local,” which travels from Hayden to the interchange with Union Pacific at Magma, AZ, and the “Unit Train” which carries acid tanks from Hayden to the mine at Ray. Both typically depart Hayden in the late afternoon to early evening, and combined with the afternoon OT-1, make the late afternoon your best time for seeing the CBRY at its busiest between Hayden and Ray Junction.
The backbone of the CBRY’s locomotive fleet are 8 GP39/GP39-2s, though the 3 veteran ex Rock Island GP18s and 5 GP9s are still earning their keep. While OT-1 is typically powered by 3 or 4 GP39s, the GP9s and GP18s have been known to make their way into the consist, and sometimes lead. Power for the Local, Roustabout, and Unit Train can be a mix of anything on the roster.
The entire active roster was repainted within the last couple of years, so the paint on all locomotives is in very good shape. Regardless of the locomotive consist on any of the trains, rest assured the classy copper-nosed units will be looking sharp.
No discussion of the CBRY would be complete without a tribute to its President and COO L.S. “Jake” Jacobson. After spending time with Jake during our visit to the CBRY, it is no wonder the man is one of the most revered managers in the shortline industry. An intense passion for his employees, dedication to safe operation of the railroad, fostering the business of his railroad and his neighbors’, and a down to Earth common sense approach to all of this are the key tributes that make Mr. Jacobson literally a legend in the industry.
In fact, his dedication to safety resulted in an award created in his namesake: The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association’s (ASLRRA) “Jake Award.” These awards are given to ASLRRA member railroads to recognize those with outstanding safety records. When the “Jakes” were first awarded, there were only a handful of railroads that received them, known as the “Magnificent Seven.” Today, hundreds of railroads are receiving Jake Awards, a tribute to the hard work toward safety by the ASLRRA and Mr. Jacobson. You can learn more about ASLRRA and the Jake Awards by visiting http://www.aslrra.org
I would like to thank Jake and all of the fine people at the Copper Basin Railway for their courtesy and professionalism in facilitating our visit. It is through their cooperative spirit and passion for their work that you are able to enjoy this photo essay.
- Michael Derrick
Jake Right at Home
Common Sense Approach to Safety
The Grand Finale—CBRY Local at Sundown