Sunday, April 13, 2014

Today's Train of Thought- The Nut Job, April 13, 2014

Todays' Train of Thought takes us all the way out to the Golden State and California's breadbasket in the Central Valley. Besides the area's once-considerable agricultural yield, the area around Bakersfield sits on top of the Lower Monterey Oil Shale- reportedly the second largest known deposit outside of the Bakken.

While not Hollywood, there has been plenty of drama unfolding in the Central Valley in recent years. Despite the considerable opposition to fracking by Democrats and the state's influential environmentalist groups, production is still taking place in the Bakersfield area among others and Governor Brown stopped short of an outright ban in 2013.

But even before oil was discovered in Kern County, the Central Valley was known for its agricultural production with a favorable year-round climate for growing nuts, berries, produce and citrus. However, since 2009 an unholy alliance of state and federal bureaucrats and environmental groups obtained a court order shutting irrigation in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley Deltas in order to provide a safe habitat for the Delta Smelt, crippling some of California's most productive agricultural land. The shortfall in yields for nuts like the almond has led to an increase in their value and has become a sought after commodity for organized crime, with frequent reports of entire truckloads of almonds or pistachios disappearing after being picked up by truckers with legitimate-looking paperwork.

Even with the recent decline, there's still plenty to keep the two class 1 railways that serve the Central Valley busy. Here, contributor Matthew Griffin caught BNSF GP39-2 #2947 still lettered for Santa Fe parked in an almond grove in Shafter, CA on the Lone Star industrial lead on March 10, 2013. Capable of being operated by remote control [that's what the red sticker on the front hood indicates- NANESB!], the Santa Fe geep- along with a cascade green Burlington Northern unit- is actually awaiting a fresh crew among the falling blossoms.

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