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Coming Around the Bend

Coming Around the Bend

© 2019 RGallucci Photography

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Some may ask why Ciégna Creek in Vail Arizona was such a popular place to watch the historic Union Pacific Big Boy 4014 make its traverse across the state. For some, it was the pure beauty of watching the 1,200,000 pound behemoth gracefully navigate the tight, downhill S-turn before straightening through its passage under the equally historic Ciégna bridge.

For others, it was the exceptional accessibility of the spot. Lined up along the bridge, people were treated to a view of the train approaching through a forest of iconic southern Arizona high desert saguaro and other cactus. Most probably did not know that the structure they stood upon was constructed in 1921 as part of U.S. Route 80, a major transcontinental highway. The bridge itself is the oldest open-spandrel arch bridge in Arizona.

For me, it was the totality of the event. Ciégna creek is a favorite photography spot. It is an ideal location for dark sky night shots, as well as capturing passing storms during monsoon. The historical importance and photogenic qualities of the place make it a magnet for photographers visiting the area. Adding UP's Big Boy to the mix was too good to pass up.

I was blessed to shoot Big Boy from three locations on this day. Ciégna creek was easily the most crowded and most exciting.

Putting the historical timeline in context:
Arizona became a state in 1912. It was the last of the contiguous states to join.
Ciégna Bridge was constructed in 1921. It is the last of its kind in the state
Big Boy 4014 was delivered to Union Pacific is 1941. It is the world's largest steam engine and the only Big Boy still operating.
What better set of circumstances could there be?

Coming Around the Bend
©RGallucci Photography

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Shoot date: October 19, 2019
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
¹⁄₈₀₀ sec at f/9.0 Bias:0 EV
Lens: EF300mm f/4L IS USM +1.4x III
ISO: 400