Golden Leaves and Black Diamonds - Three SD70MACs lead 70 loaded 100 ton hopper cars at the posted speed of 10 MPH but as soon as they cross the bridge they'll be throttling up to dig into the 1.3% grade up to Hurricane Section. Export coal is a growing business for the ARR with each of the past five years seeing record volumes from 600 thousand metric tons moved in 2007 to 1.2 million by the end of 2011 and 1.3 million planned for 2012. Next year the ARR will have two dedicated coal train sets in service each making the 700+ mile round trip two times per week. . This bridge spans 918 ft and rises 296 ft above the floor below. It is the signature location the on the entire ARR mainline and was the most expensive and difficult engineering project on the entirety of the line. The American Bridge Company started construction in early 1921, erected steel in June and finished in August. To construct the bridge, they strung an aerial tram across the gulch and construction proceeded from both sides. The first passenger train crossed Hurricane Gulch Bridge on August 15, 1921 culminating the $1,200,000 project. For some stunning historic photos of its construction click HERE if interested. While easily the most spectacular point on the mainline between Anchorage and Fairbanks it is rarely photographed except from the train itself. This is because it is virtually inaccessible. I've lived in Alaska more than four years and have longed to figure out how to make this happen. Back in July I went through quite the ordeal and figured it out so armed with this information I just had to go back when the fall colors were out. On Saturday's during passenger season it is possible to shoot four passenger trains in the span of four hours. While on this day I missed the first train I did shoot three others (the southbound Denali Star, the northbound DEX and the Hurricane Turn) and then was rewarded with this late running coal train after that fleet had passed. Making the journey to Hurricane is not for the faint of heart though, since it is a nearly 200 mile and 3+ hr drive from Anchorage, then requires a mile long hike without a trail through the willows and alders in bear country. Armed with my past knowledge, my camera, rain gear, some snacks, a radio, waterproof boots, a machete and a shotgun (yes in case you ask I did shoot down a couple more trees!) everything worked out successfully. Railfanning in the Last Fronteir, like every other outdoor pursuirt is truly and adventure!