Winslow Platform


Spread along the hotel and depot complex is the platform. There maybe no finer place in all of railroading for a summer evening of train watching than the platform at Winslow. To lounge amongst the giant cottonwood trees as a slight breeze off the desert rustles the leaves and to listen to the slow tap of a rain bird watering the hotel lawn while flashes of lightening from a distant storm dot the horizon is a moment of peace and contemplation. The Santa Fe loves to run trains at night, and as you lay on the grass, with the wonderful La Posada resting in the background, a headlight appears out of the forest of interlocking signals to the east. Up front are 5 big ones on a trailer train rumbling past at a good clip despite the fact that the crew change point is just around the corner. The Santa Fe's great passenger fleet may be just a memory, but some of the hogheads roll 'em like the Super Chief, and why not, they're anxious and less than a half-a-mile from home. The hotel seems to be the point where most start going for the air. By the time the train stops the rear-end is still hanging at the platform. This train and crew, who have come from Belen, New Mexico, 285 mile to the east, probably ran non-stop. As the train rests you can hear an occasional brake beam snap, a coupler creak, or a slight leak from the air hose. As the train rolled pass you notice one of the signals to the east flip to green. The dispatcher has lined a movement eastward. Sure enough, a headlight reflecting off the standing UPS trailers gets brighter and brighter. Another trailer train with gobs of power on the headend is accelerating into the desert darkness. The cab light silhouettes the conductor in his chair and you can make out that he is reviewing the consist list of his train. This crew will spend the night on the 2nd and 1st Districts. After the last trailer flies past at 60 mph, you can hear the unmistakable release of airbrakes on the westward train. Hissssssssssss. Then a sudden clunk from the couplers as the wheels start to turn and the last trailer, with a blinking fred, disappears around the corner. For a spell it's all quite again except for the cottonwoods, the rain bird and a distant strain of the Winslow yard switcher.

Should you ever be passing through Winslow in the evening, skip the "corner" and head straight to the hotel and depot. There may be no song written for La Posada, but believe me, it's just as fine.