This portion of the Santa Fe Route is divided into the following subdivisions:
· Needles Subdivision from Barstow to Needles (mileposts from Albuquerque)
· Seligman Subdivision from Needles to Williams Junction (and East Winslow)
The Needles Subdivision is double-track, current-of-traffic (Rule 251), Automatic Block Signals, Track Warrant Control, with a dispatcher in Fort Worth, TX. The vast majority of the line has a 70 mph speed limit for freight, with many stretches having Automatic Train Stop fitted permitting a 90 mph speed limit for passenger trains. From Daggett, MP 737.3, where there is a crossover at the junction and another just east of the junction, the two main BNSF tracks continue in an east-southeast direction, over a bridge across a wash just east of the UP junction (but still west of the BNSF east-facing signals) and past those east-facing signals. There are intermediate signals at Cool Water (MP 735.9), Gale (MP 735.3), detectors at MP 733.3, a grade crossing at Hidden Springs Road (after which the Barstow/Yermo airport is alongside to the north), Minneola (MP 732.5), and a grade crossing at Minneola Road. All of these crossovers were installed in 1999 along with the CTC. The line continues straight ahead, with Old US 66 immediately to its right, as far as Newberry Springs, where the old highway crosses to the south side of I-40, while the rail line continues straight ahead. There are Intermediate Signals at MP 730.x and MP 728.x, crossovers at Newberry, MP 725.6, where there is also a 7352 ft. siding off track 1 (to the north side of the tracks) and a 5,363 ft. siding on the south side. There are extra tracks on both sides of the line between West and East Newberry, with two additional tracks on the south side serving a ballast supply facility. After crossing Newberry Road, there is no paralleling road of any kind until crossing Port Cady Road, east of which there is a dirt road along the south side of the line. There are also crossovers at MP 724.3 (CP7245), the east end of the siding, and Intermediate Signals at MP 723.x and MP 721.x. At MP 720, the 0.7% rising grade from Barstow comes to an end, replaced by a 1% climb west of Pisgah and then 1.8% east of Pisgah to Ash Hill.
There are Intermediate Signals at MP 718.x, MP 716.x, and MP 714.x. An orthogonal dirt road crosses the line at Hector (MP 712.8), where there are crossovers and an extra track on the south side of the line, and the passenger speed limit drops to 80 mph. There are intermediate signals at MP 711.x, a detector at MP 711.1, and more intermediate signals (MP 709.x), and the line curves to the southeast and crosses another dirt road, passing under the two bridges of I-40 before reaching the crossovers at Pisgah, MP 706.6, where the passenger speed limit is back to 90 mph, and there are a 6,605 ft. siding to the north and a 6,682 ft. siding to the south. Old Route 66 is again alongside the track, first on the south side, then crossing the line to the north side. At Lavic (MP 702.7), the speed limits drop to 79-70 and then 70-65 for the traversal of the curvy section followed by the grades of Ash Hill. There is a spur on the south side of the line east of Lavic. The line crosses another dirt road, and then runs along the north side of a dirt road (with I-40 to the north side of the line) with intermediate signals at MP 700.x, MP 698.x and MP 696.x, as the line curves due east, crosses over the dirt road and twists back and forth to Ludlow, MP 693.4, where there are crossovers and a setout spur on the south side of the line. The erstwhile Tonopah and Tidewater narrow gauge railroad once crossed the line here. The speed limit reverts to 79-70, and there are detectors on both tracks at MP 690.3. Following another road crossing and a set of intermediate signals (MP 690.x), the line heads east, rejoined by Old Route 66 on its north side, the latter crossing the line and turning away southeast before the line itself turns southeast through crossovers at Ash Hill, MP 686.7, where there is a 5,414 ft. siding to the north and a 7,113 ft. siding to the south. All of this is across rolling terrain, populated only by scrub and desert animals, between numerous ranges of treeless mountains.
After crossing another dirt road at Ash Hill, the line again comes alongside Old Route 66, with two sets of intermediate signals (MP 685.x and MP 683.x) intervening. The two tracks then separate for the descent of Ash Hill, with speed limits of 55 mph for passenger and 50 mph for freight as far as Siberia. The mainly westbound track (to the north/east side of the line) heads southeast through Klondike (MP 682.0), with an extra track on the north side of the line, to maintain a 1.4% grade westbound, and then turns west-southwest, with a set of intermediate signals (MP 678.x) east of the curve to rejoin the other track near Siberia, with the mainly eastbound track (to the south/west side of the line) heading directly downhill alongside Old Route 66, almost due south to crossovers at Siberia (MP 676.8), where there is a 6,746 ft. siding to the north and full line speeds resume. The rejoined line now resumes an east-southeasterly heading, with Old Route 66 alongside to the south, passing Intermediate Signals at MP 673.x and MP 671.x, and crossovers at Bagdad (MP 669.3), where there is a 5,022 ft. siding to the south. The line and road continue together in the same direction to Amboy, with intermediate signals at MP 667.x and MP 665.x, detectors at MP 665.0, and Intermediate Signals at MP 663.x. There are crossovers at Amboy, MP 661.5, with 5,296 ft. siding to the north and 5,406 ft. siding to the south. Old Route 66 crosses to the north side and diverges from the tracks, being replaced by a dirt road on the north side to crossovers at Saltus (MP 658.4), where there is a 2,590 ft. siding to the south and another dirt road crosses the tracks. The line then turns east, with dirt road accompaniment on both sides, past Intermediate Signals at MP 656.x, Bolo (MP 655.0), intermediate signals at MP 654.x, more intermediate signals (MP 652.x), and crossovers at Cadiz, MP 648.1, where there are a 9,328 ft. siding to the north and a 9,292 ft. siding to the south, and the former Santa Fe branch to Parker and Phoenix, now owned by the Arizona and California, branches off to the southeast.
The main line turns northeast, with dirt road accompaniment now on the south side. (A paved road south from Old US 66 crosses the tracks at the east end of Cadiz.) There are intermediate signals at MP 645.x, detectors at MP 644.5, and Intermediate Signals at MP641.x and MP 639.x. At Danby (MP 634.7), another dirt road crosses the tracks, and there are crossovers, a 5,383 ft. siding nto the north and a 5,841 ft. siding to the south, followed by intermediate signals at MP 632.x, MP 630.x and MP 628.x, and detectors at MP 628.1. At Essex (MP 626.2), there are crossovers, another road crossing, a 5,369 ft. siding on the south side heading east, and Old US 66 resumes accompaniment on the north side, until it diverges to the east-northeast while the line continues northeast, past another set of intermediate signals (MP 624.x), with another paved road on the northwest side. The line is now climbing steadily, from the low point at Cadiz to an upcoming summit at Goffs. There is another set of intermediate signals (MP 620.x), the line passes under I-40, crossovers and setout tracks at Fenner (MP 618.7), and three more sets of intermediate signals (MP 616.x, MP 614.x, MP 613.x) before the detector on the south track at MP 612.4.
There are crossovers at Goffs, MP 609.1, with a 9,218 ft. siding on the north side of the line and a 7,254 ft. siding on the south side, where the passenger speed limit drops to 80 mph. At the summit at Goffs, the accompanying paved road crosses from the north side to the south side (at Lanfair Road or Mountain Springs Road), and is now called Goffs Road, while both line and road head due east together. An ATSF branch north to Vanderbilt, CA, and Searchlight, NV, once headed northward from Goffs. The line is now descending to Needles, and the passenger speed limit has dropped to 70 mph. There is a detector on the north track at MP 607.5, three sets of intermediate signals (MP 607.x, MP 605.x, MP 603.x), two more dirt road crossings, and an extra track on the north side before the crossovers at Homer (MP 601.5), which has a 6,716 ft. siding on the north side, and more detectors at MP 600.7. After the crossovers and 5,418 ft. north side siding Bannock (MP 597.0), where the speed limits drop to 65-55, there are intermediate signals (MP 595.x), and US 95 crosses the line and becomes the accompanying road on the south/west side (until it connects with I-40) as the line turns southeast with Piute Wash to its east. Between the US 95 crossing—Arrowhead Junction, MP 594.x, where there are more intermediate signals—and Ibis (MP 592.3, where Two Main Tracks, CTC, start, the speed limits drop to 55-50), the tracks are again separated, with the north track making a wide curve to the north to provide a lower grade (1.4%) for westbound trains, and there is a 5,650 ft. siding on the north side. There are two sets of intermediate signals (MP 590.x, MP 588.x), and a short extra track on the north side just west of Java. At Java (MP 585.6), where the speed limit is 55-50 there is a 5,317 ft. siding on the north side, the line turns from southeast to just north of east, then turns southeast again to pass under I-40.
There is no accompanying road along this section, until after the line has passed under I-40 again to enter Needles. There are detectors at MP 584.6, intermediate signals (MP 582.x), crossovers at West Needles, MP 580.2 (west of the twin I-40 bridges), where the speed limits drop to 45-40 for the passage through Needles, and more intermediate signals (MP 579.x). The passenger depot at Needles (MP 578.0) is on the west side of the tracks, while the yard and other facilities are on the east side of the tracks. In the depot area, there are four parallel tracks, with extra tracks on both sides of the line and crossovers among them at both ends of the station.
East of Needles (which is at only 250 feet altitude), the speed limit ridses to 50-40 line continues southeast, again as double track, current-of-traffic (Rule 251), Automatic Block Signals, controlled from Forth Worth, with some track segments in western Arizona having only recently (2002) been converted from Rule 251-based double-track absolute block signaling). The line runs along the west bank of the Colorado River, again with no nearby road accompaniment, through East Needles, where there are crossovers at MP 574.7 on a very short stretch of Two Main Tracks, CTC and a maximum speed of 79-70, until it turns east and crosses the Colorado River on a deck truss bridge at Topock, where there are more crossovers at MP 565.1, and a 5,357 ft. siding to the north and 5,491 ft. siding to the south, with maximum speed 50-45 for the river crossing, and then crosses over Arizona Route 66, the eastward continuation of Old Route 66. After crossing the river, the line, now DT, Rule 251, ABS, TWC again, climbs over 7000 ft to the Arizona Divide, west of Flagstaff. In the lower altitudes, the terrain is desert, just like the Mojave, as the line passes through Kingman Canyon. At first, the line continues due east, along the north side of the Sacramento Wash, with no nearby roads (other than I-40 a little to the south), passing detectors at MP 561.5 and crossing a dirt road before reaching Powell (MP 558.8). From Topock to East Griffith, the line speeds are again 90 mph for passenger trains and 70 mph for freight.
There are crossovers at Franconia, MP 552.7, with a 5,198 ft. siding to the north and 7,132 ft. siding to the south. East of Franconia, the line turns northeast to Haviland (MP 545.8). It then crosses Sacramento Wash and turns due north, crossing another stream and then Willow Creek at Yucca (MP 540.2), where there are more crossovers and a 5,160 ft. siding. The line passes under I-40 and through more detectors at MP 536.4, crossing another creek and then a dirt road before reaching a crossover at Athos (MP 535.6), where there is a 7,100 ft. siding on the south track. The line crosses Black Rock Wash and another dirt road on the way to Griffith. There is a crossovers at Griffith (MP 526.8), with a 5,422 ft. siding off the north track and a 7,106 ft. siding off the south track. North of Griffith, the tracks separate, and speed limits drop to 60-55 mph for the passage of the most rugged section of Kingman Canyon, with the south/east track passing through Harris (MP 521.5), where there is a 7,117 ft. siding, and the north/west track passing through McConnico (MP 521.2), where a former ATSF branch north to Chloride once departed in a westerly direction. At McConnico, there is a siding and two-track yard which services the North Star Steel plant, a “mini steel mill” using an electric furnace. From McConnico, Route 66 joins on the west side of the tracks for the rest of the way into Kingman. In Kingman (MP 516.4, maximum speed 45-40), there are crossovers and the tracks turn from northward to eastward, crossing South Second Street and South Fourth Street. East of the latter, the depot is on the north side of the line, while to its north, former ATSF 4-8-4 3759 is stuffed and mounted in a park. US 66 runs parallel to the line, on the north side.
From Kingman to Seligman, the line is generally accompanied by the alignment of Old Route 66 (here, AZ 66), although the two are not always sufficiently adjacent to one another for viewing the lineside from the road. Along this stretch, the line is steadily climbing, passing the Hualapai Mountains and Peacock Mountains to the south of the line, the Music Mountains to the north, and then the Cottonwood Cliffs to the south. Leaving the deserts of the Colorado River valley behind, the hilly terrain is generally of the savanna grassland style, studded with separated trees, generally deciduous in nature. The line leaves Kingman headed northeast, maximum speed 90-70, ascending at a grade of 1,4%, passing signal 516.1/2 at the east end of the depot, the tracks separate for a short distance, crossing Stockton Hill and under County Road 245, passing intermediate signals at MP 514.x and crossovers at Getz (MP 513.9). The line now descends at a grade of 0.9% through detectors at MP 512.5, passing under the I-40 bridges, crossing Diagonal Way at Berry, and passing crossovers at Berry (MP 509.4), with a 7,130 ft. siding to the north and a 7.132 ft. siding to the south, and a wye at the end of the extra track on the south side, before crossing Industrial Parkway, Mohave Airport Road, and Bruce Road at grade, with Route 66 running parallel on the west side. There are two sets of intermediate signals (Mp 507.x and MP 505.x), the line starts to climb at 1.3% eastward from MP 504, and there are two more sets of intermediate signals (MP 503.x and MP 500.x with an extra track on the south side between them.
There are more crossovers at Walapai (MP 499.9), with a 5,550 ft. siding to the north and a 5,939 ft. siding to the south, minor roads crossing on each side of the crossovers, and more intermediate signals (MP 497.x), before the line turns southeast at Antares, starts an 0.8% downgrade from MP 495 to MP 490, and enters Crozier Canyon, with speed limit 80-70, towards Hackberry (MP 489.0), where another minor road crosses, with the line still accompanied by Route 66. Crossing another minor road and turning north-northeast past another set of intermediate signals (MP 487.x), with an extra track on the south side, the line starts to climb again as it passes through the Hualapai Indian reservation at Valentine. There is a minor road crossing and crossovers at Valentine, MP 484.0, with an 8,376 ft. siding on the south side, where the speed limit drops to 70-60 on the south track, and another minor road crossing near Hualapai Indian School and one near the old location of Crozier. The line then turns generally northeast, curving back and forth through canyons, passing intermediate signals (MP 481.x), a detector on the south track at MP 480.7, where the speed limit on that track is 45-40, passing more intermediate signals (MP 479.x) and another minor road crossing, crossovers at Truxton (MP 477.3), where the speed limit is 75-70 on the north track and 65-60 on the south track, and there is a 5,423 ft. siding on the north side and a 5,557 ft. siding on the south side of the line east to MP 476.x, more intermediate signals (MP 475.x), detectors at MP 473.9, where the speed limit is 85-70 on the north track and 75-70 on the south track, a minor road crossing entering Yampai Canyon, more intermediate signals (MP 470.x), a road crossing and crossovers at Peach Springs, MP 465.8, where the speed limit is 70 mph on the north track and 65-55 on the south track, with a 5,714 ft. siding on the north track and a 7,743 ft. siding on the south track.
The line turns generally east, accompanied by IR 19 on the north side, passing intermediate signals (MP 462.x) and then Shipley (MP 461.4 on the north track), with speed limit 60-55 on both tracks, through Faught Canyon, a road crossing entering Nelson Canyon, and extra track on the south side before reaching the crossovers at Nelson (MP 460.2), where the rail-served Nelson Lime Plant is on the north side of the track. There is a tunnel in Nelson Canyon, with speed limit dropping to 50-45 on both tracks, two sets of intermediate signals (MP 458.x and MP 456.x), Fields, another road crossing, more crossovers at the summit at Yampai (MP 453.8), with a 6,784 ft. siding on the north side of the line to its east, and a 5,329 ft. siding on the south track, Intermediate Signals at MP 452.x, detectors at MP 452.1 with an extra track on the south side to their east, and Intermediate Signals at MP 450.x.
Heading east-southeast, on a 1.4% descent east of Yampai, with speed limit 79-70 on both tracks, there are crossovers and a water tank on the north side of the line at Pica, MP 446.9, a 5,355 ft. siding on the north side, a road crossing at Pica, intermediate signals (MP 442.x), and Audley, MP 439.6, where a 1.4% upgrade starts and there is another road crossing. Route 66 rejoins on the north side, there are intermediate signals (MP 438.x) and a turn due south to Chino, where Fort Rock Road crosses and the line starts a 1.4% descent, more intermediate signals (MP 436.x) and a short line separation, and then a turn just south of due east to crossovers at West Seligman, MP 429.8, where Two Main Tracks, CTC, begin, a business spur off I-40 crosses overhead and extra tracks through Seligman begin, and the facilities at Seligman (depot and former Harvey House on the north side, sidings on the south side). A line southeast to Prescott once headed off south of the main line at Seligman.
There are more crossovers at East Seligman, MP 427.9, followed by a bridge over the business spur off I-4, detectors at MP 426.9 and two sets of intermediate signalsMP 425.x and MP 423.x), with Route 66 still running parallel to the north. After passing through Pan, the main line turns east, crossing Route 66, and there are crossovers at West Crookton, MP 420.5, with a minor road crossing, and East Crookton, MP 418.3. The latter is the start of an alignment newly engineered in the late 1950s (brought into use on December 19th, 1960), known as the 'Crookton line change', to avoid the curving descent to, and sharply curving climb from, Ash Fork. The ‘new’ line generally follows the contour of the land, descending for 12 miles from Crookton to Eagle Nest, with speed limit 90-70, accompanied by a minor road on the south side, heading east-northeast, then north, and then east-northeast again after crossing a couple of minor roads, past three sets of intermediate signals (MP 416.x, MP 413.x, and MP 410.x) to crossovers at West Eagle Nest, MP 407.5, and East Eagle Nest, MP 405.5. There is a setout track on the north side between the crossovers. Eagle Nest is at 5,205 ft. elevation, and is the start of a 35-mile climb, with many cuts and fills to smooth the grade.
After another minor road crossing, the line then heads due east with a minor road on its north side before crossing another road and making a sweeping turn to the south with that road now on its southwest side, past detectors at MP 401.2 among three sets of intermediate signals (MP 402.x, MP 400.x, and MP 398.x), and a sweeping turn back to the east, with a couple of minor road crossings along the way. There are crossovers at West Doublea, MP 395.1, a turn to the northeast, and crossovers at East Doublea, MP 392.0. Along this stretch, the new line is visible from the old line down to Ash Fork (still used by Phoenix trains), and the old line is (less-easily) visible from the new line. The accompanying road crosses from the south side to the north side as the line curves northeast. There are two sets of intermediate signals (MP 390.x and MP 387.x) and then a deep cut which has a braced pipeline crossing overhead. Another sweeping curve takes the new line back to a southeasterly direction, through crossovers at West Perrin, MP 385.6, and East Perrin, MP 383.1. These are followed by two more sets of intermediate signals (MP 380.x and MP 377.x) and detectors at MP 377.6.
At Williams, the line crosses Airport Road and the Grand Canyon Railway, passes under I-40 and Route 66, and then turns east and joins with the old line to/from Ash Fork, at West Williams Junction (MP 375.0), which also has crossovers and an Amtrak depot on a 2400 ft. siding on the north side of the tracks, followed b crossovers at East Williams Junction, MP 374.3y. (The Ash Fork line still operates as part of the line to Phoenix.)