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Teslas to Trains - Photographic Society of America (PSA) Conference, Palmdale, California April 8-9, 2022

Photos and Report by Carl Morrison 
Comments welcomed at or

Select the chapter that interests you most, or read through the chapters in chronological order below the Table of Contents.

Table of Contents

I.  Tesla Travelogue O.C., California

II.  Randsburg, California, "Living Ghost Town"

III.  Tehachapi Loop rail fanning

PSA SoCal Chapter Event April 9 Palmdale,  California

V.  Tesla Palmdale to O.C., California.

Tesla Travelogue O.C., California

My Tesla drive on Mojave Desert highways from Orange County, California, to Randsburg, Mojave, Tehachapi RR Loop, Palmdale and back to Orange County via Pasadena.  Many non-Tesla owners think that you cannot take a 400+ mile trip on state highways (not Interstates) and have enough Tesla Superchargers to not run out of battery.  As you can see from the "A Better Route Planner" below you only need to charge at 3 locations - Hesperia, Mojave, and Palmdale (counter clockwise on the map below).  I charged more times because I took  a side trip to Tehachapi (left/west of Mojave).  Palmdale was my destination so I tried to use the Tesla Supercharger in that city since it was only one block from my Hilton Garden Inn where I stayed for a photo conference on Saturday, April 9, 2022.

Oh, by the way, it cost me $26 for the 401 mile round trip.

(To see a larger copy of most images, click the image.)
Randsburg is the red pin at the top of the circle.  I started at the red pin at the bottom. 
The Tehachapi Loop is left of Mojave (top left).  The conference was at Palmdale.

My drive started  at the red pin at the bottom of the map above - I-57 to I-60 to I-15 up Cajon Pass to the Hesperia Tesla Supercharger.  Then Hwy. 395 to Randsburg.

With Autopilot (Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping) I had a few seconds to use both hands to take this photo of a mixed freight train coming down Cajon Pass.

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Hesperia Tesla Supercharger  with snow-capped San Bernardino Mountains as backdrop.  Typical Hwy. 395 scenery, and traffic, north of Hwy 58.

Another view of Hwy. 395 near Boron, California.

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Randsburg, California - "A Living Ghost Town"

Population 37 3/4 - Friday April 8, 2022

Photos by Carl Morrison

The Photographic Society of America (PSA) held a conference in Palmdale, California , April 8 - 10, 2022.  One of the photo outings scheduled for Sunday was Randsburg, California.  However, I had other plans back home on Sunday, so I ventured to Randsburg on Friday.  Fellow PSA member, Donna Judd, and I decided to meet there, 2 1/2 hours from our homes in Orange County, at 10 a.m. at the General Store which has a cafe inside.    The agreement was, if one of us got there before 10, they would start shooting some photos, then return to the cafe to meet the other party.  I arrived at 10:05  and parked at the General Store, soon I spotted Donna's driver, Jenny, who had arrived a few minutes before 10. I hopped in their car and Jenny drove us to various photo spots in and around town, photos to follow.

Randsburg, CA.  - Rand Camp began as a tent city, erected by eager miners rushed to the Mojave desert following a major gold discovery in April 1895. A year later, the town of 1,500 had been renamed "Randsburg." Saloons sprouted, a U.S. Post Office was established, and the communities first newspaper,"The Randsburg Miner," appeared. It is on the west side of U.S. Route 395 between Kramer Junction to the south and Ridgecrest to the north. Randsburg is in the Rand Mountains, and is separated by a ridge from the neighboring community of Johannesburg. Both mine and camp were named after the gold mining region in South Africa. The first post office at Randsburg opened in 1896.

Randsburg is a census-designated place in Kern County, California, United States. Randsburg is located 17 miles south of Ridgecrest, at an elevation of 3,504 feet.  Randsburg has a cold semi-arid climate (BSk) found on the western edge of the Mojave Desert with very hot, dry summers and cool winters.

South of Suez, starring George Brent and released in November 1940, was filmed in Randsburg.  The video for Calvin Harris's platinum single, Feel So Close, was filmed in part in Randsburg. Dwight Yoakam's 1989 video for "Long White Cadillac" was also filmed in the town.

The Rand Mining District was also called the Yellow Aster Mine and the Kelly Mine. The mines started the town of Randsburg in 1895 and later the town of Johannesburg, California and Atolia, California.  The Rand Mine produced more silver than any mine in California. The mine closed in 1929 as it was no longer profitable.

In January of 1898 Randsburg Railway opened. It ran from Johannesburg to Kramer Junction, California with a stop at Atolia.

Rand Mining District California Historical Landmark reads:
    NO. 938 RAND MINING DISTRICT - The Yellow Aster, or Rand, mine was discovered in April 1895 by Singleton, Burcham, and Mooers. The town of Randsburg quickly developed, followed by the supply town of Johannesburg in 1896. Both names were adopted from the profusion of minerals resembling those of the ranch mining district in South Africa. In 1907, Churchill discovered tungsten in Atolia. In June 1919, Williams and Nosser discovered the California Rand Silver Mine at Red Mountain.

The town has an influx of tourists throughout the year. Most visitors arrive between autumn and spring due to the extreme heat in summer. The annual Western Days Celebration starts in the third weekend of September, where the town hosts events such as gun fights, panning for gold, live bands, dances and vendors. During Thanksgiving and New Year's Day weekend, off-roading enthusiasts visit via the town's legal off-roading trail. Local shops are usually closed on weekdays, and open during weekends.

First view of Randsburg after turning off Hwy. 395Evidence of current mining - working with tailings of old mines.

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 My destination was the GENERAL STORE, above left.  However, I parked in front of the rock shop and the first person I met in town was Stephen P. Jones, above, rock shop owner.

Stephen was the friendliest guy in town.  Stop in and check out his rock shop.

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Stephen has an attractive display outside and hundreds of license plates in the corner of his shop.
Stephen's business card reads:
Rock Shop 169 Butte Ave. P.O. Box 127, Johannesburg, CA  93528. 
Cell:  831-917-7757  Buy, Sell, Trade

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Butte Rock Shop on the left; The red Tesla I arrived in town in on the right.    Above right, Donna Judd with driver Jenny, as we began looking for photogenic items in Randsburg.

Some store fronts look vintage.

But upon closer examination, they are only "putting on a good front."

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There seems to be a penchant for putting skeletons in old vehicles around town.

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Perhaps a leftover from the
1898 Randsburg Railway.  Right, Some vehicles have, nearly, been restored.

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Other than rust, there were some colorful spots in town.

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Santa Barbara Catholic Church Butte Ave.

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Some rusty vehicles need a few extra photos.

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This may be my favorite Randsburg portrait.

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Some scenes favored a vintage black-and-white look.

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Some models need a 3-shot treatment.  I once labeled a truck like this:  F.O.R.D. ...Found On Road Dead.

Southeast of town, on a high point, "R stands for Randsburg" and the church steeple looking more noble from here.

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Donna was eyeing this lofty abode, but reasoned that it was too small.


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This fellow mentioned that the population of Randsburg was 37 3/4 and he was the 3/4 because he was a part time resident of 5 days a week, working at a nearby military base on weekends.  His dog was just showin' a bit of love.

A popular building to photograph on Butte Street.

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International brand dump truck.

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Eventually we made it  back to the Country Store's lunch counter.


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Donna spotted a good photo model and asked if she could take his photo.  I took a photo of the store's proprietor, right .

Locals discussing a new tee shirt design at the Country Store.

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Click the menu for a larger, readable copy. 
My hamburger ready for a second bite and the coffee malt on the side.  Both very good.  Donna had Nachos with pulled pork, enough for a group.

Some locals still have classics they drive into town.  Not much in this shot has changed since 1958 when the Chevy Apache pickup was new.

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Colored bottles seem as popular for display in Randsburg as skeletons.

Juxtaposition of time - modern electric vehicle and ghost town antique store.

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Some shots from north of town toward Hwy. 395.


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Time to head for Mojave to charge the Tesla then on to Tehachapi Loop for some rail fanning.  Stephen told me of a cut-across Redrock Rands Rd. which saved me many miles.

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The road looked like Hwy. 50 in Nevada which is called, "The loneliest Road in America".  I crossed a railroad which, from the GPS map on my Tesla's screen, seemed to run into a circle.

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What looked like dry lakes from my car, turned out to be several very large solar farms along Hwy. 14.

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Tehachapi Loop

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From the Randsburg photo shoot, I drove to Mojave to charge the Tesla at the Mojave Tesla Supercharger.
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Any time there are newer chargers at a Tesla Supercharger, the newer ones will be the most powerful, charge at one of the newer cabinets.


From the back of the center where the Mojave Tesla Superchargers are located, you can get this view of the airplane graveyard.

Tehachapi Loop

There is something in common between my electric car and trains.
  Although commonly called "diesels," locomotives actually are electrically driven. The diesel engine drives an alternator, which produces electricity to run electric motors mounted on the locomotive's axles.  So my next stop on this day's outing was the Tehachapi Loop to watch Diesel Electric Locomotives pull trains through the Tehachapi Mountains and the historic loop.


When I arrived at the historic Tehachapi Loop I found a container train stopped in the loop.  This gave me an opportunity to photograph a stationary train on the loop to illustrate the geography.


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Click any photo to have a larger, more readable copy; click back arrow to return to this page of the report.
There is a new overlook of the loop with safe parking and overlook with two historic plaques.

I drove past one hill east of the overlook and found the locomotives for the stopped train.  While photographing them, they started moving to the left.  This meant that they were pushers, so I returned to the overlook to see this train leave the loop.

Grain Train being pushed through the loop.  These cars seem to be 5150 cubic foot, 286,000 GRL (Gross Rail Load) Covered Hoppers great for grain, corn, rice, soybeans.

Why do long freight trains have pushers/helpers?

It is called distributed power units (DPU's)

One on the back is basically a pusher to help get over some high grades or long grades where it would put to much of a strain on the train cars especially if there is curves in the grade.

To reduce drawbar forces. Trains have limitations for tonnage, especially on mountain grade territory. The mid- or rear-end helpers prevent the train from breaking in two.

I also read that the distributed power units on curves like the Tehachapi Loop are used because a long train might turn the inner rail over if  DPUs were not used.  Also, couplers might break in a train too long.


Correction:  APRIL 8

Trains heading west come around the knoll, right, and enter a tunnel, below, under the back of the train and head on west.

Trains heading west come around the knoll, right, and enter a tunnel, under the back of the train and head on west.

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Before the next train arrived, this time from the west, I moved my car up a one-lane dirt road to an excellent vantage point of the loop.  There was a turn around point complete with a picnic table and trash barrel.

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At about 3:55 the lead locomotives entered the loop.  The photo above right shows the lead locomotives about to cross the entrance tunnel with the rest of this train still approaching the tunnel from the west.

The whole loop with the locomotive past the entrance tunnel.

A closer look at the locomotives as they leave the loop with the rest of the train still coming into the loop.

A mixed train like this makes a much more interesting photo than the earlier hopper train where each car is identical to all others.

Finally the end of the train and its one pusher. 4:02 pm

I climbed the hill above my car and watched the train move on east after it curved around the hill I was on.  Note the double track, but the tunnel in the loop is single rack causing quite a bottleneck.

Correction, APRIL 8.

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Tesla's GPS screen showing the car's location - red triangle.

It was time to take Big Red back to Mojave for more charging, then on to Palmdale for the night.  The next morning would the the PSA photo event.

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Heading east from the town of Tehachapi, the same railroad parallels Hwy. 58 and I met 2 or 3 freights.  There were also many wind turbines.  I thought the juxtaposition of oil tank cars and wind turbines was timely with the world trying to change from fossil fuel.

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PSA SoCal Chapter Event April 9 Palmdale,  California

Speakers at this excellent Photographic Society of America event were

Truman Holtzclaw, "Elements of the "WOW" Factor"

His website:    Slide show from one of his Galleries of photos along Hwy. 395:

Afternoon speaker was Sandi Wheaton, "From Corporate Stiff to Globe trotting Photographer on Route 66"

Sandi's travel/tour blog:
 Her Photography Site:  This site opens with a slide show of her Route 66 project.
Cell Phone: 519-796-9966

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Tesla Palmdale to O.C., California.

I left the photo conference in Palmdale and looked for the 3rd time in the day and noticed there were still no open/working chargers at the Palmdale Tesla Supercharger.  Always charge an extra 30% more than it takes to get to your chosen charger destination.  I simply asked the Tesla computer to show the Tesla Superchargers on my route and selected Santa Clarita, charged to 123 miles of range for the 86 miles to my home.

Arrived home safely after an excellent Friday and Saturday of photography.  My notes revealed this summary of Tesla Travel Statistics:

Miles driven - 391.  Cost of supercharging for these 391 miles was $25.96.  Average time spent charging at the 5 charging stops:  13.6 minutes per charge.

Thank you for reading my report.  Check out my other reports:

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Click Here For A Slideshow Of The Photos In This Report ]

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