Welcome to Katy

“Welcome to Katy” says the sign on the water tower in the background at right in this image of the UP 5950. The red logo on the side of the water tower is the logo of the Katy Tigers, eight-time winners of the state high school football championship.

In the foreground sits two Union Pacific locomotives, the UP 9590 and the UP 9698. Both are GE C44-9W model locos. The UP 9590 was built in June of 1994 while the UP 9698 was built in January 1994. I find it curious that the later built loco has the lower designation number. Part of me is wondering what happened there, but not wondering enough to dig deeper.

In days gone by these locos could have motored east to Houston and beyond but now the line dead-ends a little under a mile behind me at the Martin Marietta cement terminal. The sign on the water tower is now for people arriving by car. Except the people in cars are all local. The through traffic takes Interstate 10 about a half-mile to the south (left of frame) while Katy prospers now as a dormitory town for Houston.

Last weekend I drove to Lubbock in the panhandle. I tried to avoid the Interstates as much as possible. I soon learned that those small towns that are not dormitories for larger nearby cities are not faring so well these days, with shuttered stores and rusted vehicles mere remnants of what used to be.

You get some idea of the scale of these locos from the door in the right-front panel. The design itself conveys the brute power of the 4,400 horsepower (3,281 kW) locomotive, necessary for hauling those long trains of cement and gravel across the country. With a 5,000 US gallon diesel tank and a typical range of 1,000 miles, one of these locomotives would typically get 5 miles to the gallon, give or take.

The website Railroad Picture Archives has pictures of both locomotives showing them from 2002 to present anywhere from New York to California and Illinois to Mississippi.

The image is an HDR blend. I liked the definition of the HDR – my standard of -2EV, 0, +2EV – of the train but not of the surroundings so I blended the HDR with the standard exposure image, masking out everything but the locos. I think it gives the loco more presence in the final image.

Union Pacific 5950 locomotive at Katy, TX.

Union Pacific 5950 locomotive at Katy, TX.

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