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Winterail 2009 with two train rides on the way there

by Chris Guenzler

It was time to plan the Winterail Trip for this year. I decided since rail traffic would be way down due to the economy it would be a good time to start to photograph old train stations in the San Joaquin Valley. Chris Parker would get the rental car and I would get the hotel. The Best Western in Stockton closed so I picked the new one in Manteca. Chris got Dave Abbott to come along and with a list of SP Stations I was ready to take yet another unique trip to Winterail.

Metrolink 681 3/13/2009

I was up early and after breakfast I finished packing. I drove down to the Santa Ana Train Station and parked in the northeast parking lot. I walked to Track 1 via the Santa Ana Blvd crossing and left my luggage on the handicap ramp and walked to the Metrolink Ticketing Machine and bought my ticket to Los Angeles. The train came in right on time and I boarded the Cab Car and relaxed as the train went through the morning darkness to LAUPT which it arrived into ten minutes early. I walked over to the Garden Tracks and noticed that my Metrolink unit was in their new modified green numbered paint scheme.

The drive to Stockton 3/13/2009

I waited by the gate for Chris Parker and Dave Abbott to drive up. Chris pulled up in the rented hybrid Nissan and after I loaded my luggage in the back, Dave drove up and parked his car inside the fenced area and soon his car was locked inside while we would be gone until Sunday evening. We soon were driving north on Interstate 5 and stopped at the Roxford exit. There we met Larry and Don and I discussed the day plan as they would drive in one car and the three of us in the other. We drove north over Tejon Pass and through Bakersfield to our first stop of the day in Earlimart.

There we found the former Southern Pacific Station freight portion now part of a hardware store in Earlimart. We stopped to get gas before we headed north to Pixley.

In Pixley we found the Streamline Modern-style Depot moved across Highway 99 on 1575 N. Park Drive. From here we drove to Porterville and this was the first time I have ever been there. First we found the former Southern Pacific Station.

The Porterville Museum is located at 257 North D Street in the former Southern Pacific Station.

The former Southern Pacific Tracks are not in service behind the museum. We then drove over to the former Santa Fe Station in town.

The former Porterville Santa Fe Station now a Senior Citizen Center.

A crossing signal along the former Santa Fe route through Porterville which is now a trail.

The former Santa Fe right away in Porterville.

On the way out of town, trees in bloom in Porterville before we drove north to Exeter.

Two views of a mural in Exeter.

Rail America ENR 3909 at Exeter.

San Joaquin Valley Railroad 2042.

San Joaquin Valley Railroad 2038.

San Joaquin Valley Railroad 1826.

San Joaquin Valley Railroad 2037.

The San Joaquin Valley Railroad Shop in Exeter.

San Joaquin Valley Railroad 3829. From here we drove to Visalia were we found the former Southern Pacific Railroad now The Depot Restaurant & Square.

The former Southern Pacific Visalia Station.

We decided to have lunch and I enjoyed a French Dip Sandwich.

Above the door to the 612 Lounge is this headlight from SP 612.

In the window is this steam engine.

Fantastic stained glass of this steam engine. After an excellent lunch we headed for Dinuba but missed the road and ended up in Goshen where I spotted a train moving.

Two views of the San Joaquin Valley Railroad at work in Goshen before we drove to Dinuba.

The Dinuba Southern Pacific Station was moved and is now the Alta District Historical Society Museum. From here we drove to Selma.

The Selma Southern Pacific Passenger Station is now the Selma Police Station. From there we drove to Clovis Ave in Fowler and stopped at the former Southern Pacific Station.

The Southern Pacific Fowler Station has been a church and whorehouse over the years since it had been moved.

Driving north on CA 99 wildflowers were in bloom as we headed to Merced to pick up Ken Ruben at the Amtrak Station and before leaving town we stopped at the former Southern Pacific Merced Station.

The former Southern Pacific Merced Station.

A Union Pacific Freight passed through Merced while we were there. From there we drove to Manteca and checked into the Best Western. My non smoking room was turned into a smoking room and when I objected to this, we got a suite with a king size bed and a roll away. I gave Chris the bed and I took the roll away. After we got settled in, Chris drove us over to the Altamont Commuter Express Station in Manteca and dropped Ken, Dave and I off. Chris would meet us at Stockton.

Ken and Dave at the ACE Station in Manteca.

Altamont Commuter Express Train 04 3/13/2009

The train pulled in for my first trip on this service.

Me riding the ACE Train to Stockton. I hoped it would go Western Pacific all the way but at the junction to the former Southern Pacific we diverted onto that route. A few people going to Winterail were aboard this afternoon and once on the SP mainline the train made its way into Stockton stopping at the ACE Station at the former Southern Pacific Stockton Station. From here we drove to the Friday Night Pizza and Slide Show at the Winterail Venue.

Railfan Magazine and NRHS Slide and Pizza Party 3/13/2009

This event starts off the Winterail Weekend Experience. Pizza and sodas are had before you enter the Winterail Hall. Then a great series of presentations are shown over the next 3.5 hours with a great variety of subjects. The shows were: California Passenger Trains from the early 70's by Drew Jacksich, Trains from New Zealand, Fiji, Jamaica & South America, Cinematic Steam in the 21st Century by Ben Kletzer, Tribute to Donald Duke by Steve Crise, Steam and Snow by Mike Masse, Friends of 4449 part of a DVD "Legends of Steam Volume II" by Marcam Productions, Norden Experience Mike Pechner, Contemporary Railroading in Mexico by Nate Mulhlenthaler and Bart Jennings Rare Mileage Trips by Chris Guenzler. After a great night of railroading, we returned to the Best Western in Manteca for the night.


Chris and I got up and drove over to Perko's for a good breakfast. Later we picked Dave and Ken up and we drove to Stockton and parked in the parking lot ready for another great day of railroading.

Winterail 2009 3/14/2009

We all got in line to enter the Swap Meet that goes on to late afternoon,. I first went to the Stanley Room before heading into the main hall. This year I purchased a Wabash April 29, 1951 Passenger Timetable, an Arkansas and Missouri Railroad Co Timetable No. 2 January 24, 1988, The Amazing Journey of Santa Fe's RDC Cars and the DVD "Legends of Steam Volume II" by Marcam Productions. At about 10 AM I got my Tri Tip Sandwich and started the line to get inside the Theater. At 11 AM they opened the doors and I found us four seats. At Noon the Pre-Show Announcements were given and then the first show was the "Oliver Brothers Salt Revisited" by Wayne Monger and Vic Neves. Part of a DVD called "American and the Passenger Train" by Richard Luckin. That was followed by Steam Charters" by Gary Hunter. "The Bill Darrough Story, Part Duex" by Steve and Ken Sloan was the next presentation and was a continuation of a show from 2007. The last afternoon show was "Railroads of Hong Kong" by Gordon Glattenburg. Next were the Winterail Shorts. The first one was "25th Anniversary of the Feather River Rail Society" by Wayne Monger, then the "Cal-P at Night" by Alex Ramos and the "Mt. Lowe Railway" film by the Mount Lowe Preservation Society. We always leave before the "Three Favorites" and we headed to the Black Angus for dinner. I had a Sirloin Steak and Ice Cream with Hot Fudge. After dinner we went to Stockton Crossing missing three freight trains but saw some old friends. Back at the event first the Photo Contest Winners were announced followed by Mel Patrick getting the Winterail Hall of Fame Award. I had always admired Mel's photographic skills over the years and was very happy he was the winner. The first of the evening's program was "Jim Shaughnessy" by Jeff Brouws. The next program was a repeat for me but as good as ever being "Surf and the Southern Pacific" by John Roskoski. "Route 66 Rails" by Elrond Lawrence was next and followed by the final program of the evening "72-82 Western Pacific's Final Decade" by Ted Benson, Dick Dorn, Dale Sanders and Dave Stanley. It had been another great Winterail Show and with that we returned to the Best Western in Manteca for the night.

Click her for Part 2 of this story.