If you are going to be in the Central Valley of California I suggest that you check out what Fresno has to offer for the railfan. Fresno is located on Highway 99 between Bakersfield and Sacrmento. It is served by UP,BNSF,San Joaquin Valley Railroad, and Amtrak's San Joaquin Service. Here is a short tour and information about railfan spots in the Fresno Area.
CALWA CROSSING- Located at the southern end of the BNSF Calwa yard
this is where the BNSF (former ATSF) Bakersfield Sub crosses the UP (former SP) Fresno Line. This is a very busy location, If your lucky you can see 5-6 Trains per hour. This is where most of the local railfans spend their time. If you can only visit one place I reccomend Calwa Crossing.
BNSF CALWA YARD- Located a just north of Calwa Crossing is BNSF's Calwa Yard this is a fairly large yard. And it has a pretty good size intermodal
facility. The UP mainline skirts along the
western end of the yard. There is no locomotive matinence or fueling facility at Calwa, but there is usually 10-12 engines idling in the yard. Calwa originates and terminates quite a few intermodal trains and some manifest and grain trains.
AMTRAK DEPOT- The Amtrak Trains through Fresno use the old ATSF mission-style depot in downtown Fresno, many BNSF and SJVR freights roll past the depot and Amtrak stops about 10 times daily. The depot is within walking distance of Fresno's best
model railroad shop.
DOWNTOWN-UP- The UP line runs through downtown Fresno a few blocks east of highway 99. The old SP depot is
still there although its not used by the railroad. SJVR does a fair amount of swithching in downtown but keep an eye out because this is not one of the greatest parts of town.
UP FRESNO YARD- Union Pacific's Fresno Yard is located right next to highway 99 and is easiliy accesable. UP originates and terminates a few Manifest and Grain trains here and has a small intermodal facility. The UP main line has a fair amount of traffic and old SP 4 and 6 axel units still run in pairs on most of the local trains through Fresno.
Locomotives lay over at the north end of the yard near the Ashlan avenue overpass.
SAN JOAQUIN RIVER BRIDGES- Both UP and BNSF cross the SJ river on large bridges. Both bridges are only mile or so north of town and some very good photos can be taken of trains rolling over the bridges.
RADIO CHANNELS- Here are the railroad radio channels used by UP,BNSF,Amtrak, and SJVR in the Fresno area:
UNION PACIFIC- Dispatcher 73(road):
Fresno Switching: 161.430
PBX Frequencies: 160.890-160.950
BNSF(also used by Amtrak)-Bakersfield sub dispatcher(road):
Stockton sub dispatcher(road):160.650
SJVR: Road Channel: 160.365, also uses UP and BNSF channels.
Well that is a brief summary of what Fresno has to offer for the railfan, their are other places of interest in the Fresno Area and if you want more information or directions to the places listed above e-mail me and I will be happy to give you info.