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Santa Fe 3751 to and from San Bernardino Railroad Days 4/16/2011

The Chase

by Chris Guenzler

When it was announced Santa Fe 4-8-4 3751 would be going out to San Bernardino Railroad Days, I decided this time to ride westbound on Sunday in the "Pony Express". Bob Riskie decided to come down from Oregon for this event so he asked Chris Parker and I if we wanted to chase the train east on Saturday. We both agreed and would meet him on the platform near the train after 9:00 AM that morning.

4/16/2011 I arose early and prepared myself for the day then drove to the Santa Ana station and walked over to Track 1. Pacific Surfliner 763 arrived early and other than crossing over to Track 2 at CP Maple, and stopping at Anaheim on the wrong track then re-crossing back to Track 1 at CP La Palma, it was just another quick trip to LAUPT. A phone call told me where Chris Parker was over on the platform of Track 12. After the Redondo Los Angeles flyover, I wanted to try for a picture of Santa Fe 3751 in the 8th Street coach yard so went downstairs in the Superliner coach and waited for my opportunity.

Santa Fe 3751 waiting at the 8th Street coach yard. The train arrived early at LAUPT and I walked over to Track 12, found Chris and we walked down to the end of the platform to wait for a sign of our train approaching. A few minutes later, I saw smoke moving from over along the Los Angeles River and we set up for our pictures of Santa Fe 3751 and train revrsing into the station.

The rear car was Canadian National observation car 93 "Tioga Pass" built by Canadian National in 1959. The car was part of an order for 12 similar cars designed for railroad executives. Originally number 23, and later number 93, "Tioga Pass" spent most of its life in Edmonton, Alberta. There it served the Vice President of the Mountain Region. Records show the car traveled all over Canada, providing some 30 years of faithful service. By the early 1990s, though, the car was largely redundant and seldom used. Like the passenger trains on which it used to hitch a ride, the automobile and airplane offered quicker and more convenient transportation in today’s fast-paced corporate world.

In 1992 Canadian National decided to sell the car, and a local businessman in Barstow, California named Rutherford P. "Rudy" Hayes bought it sight unseen because, as he put it, "I always just wanted one." In an epic trip, the car traveled from Edmonton to Barstow in January 1993. Through fierce cold and driving blizzards, the passengers stayed warm inside. Its new owner was like a proud father, pronouncing the car was all he ever thought it would be. Unfortunately, Rudy never got the chance to travel on his new car. He died of a heart attack only months after it was delivered. The car sat, forlorn and neglected in front of the Harvey House train station in Barstow for several years.

Aronco Leasing Company purchased the car in 1997 from the Hayes estate. A victim of benign neglect, numerous repairs and upgrades were needed before the car could be used again. Starting in 2002, the Tioga Pass has undergone the most extensive restoration since its construction. An exhaustive examination of all of the major mechanical components of the car was undertaken, including the wheels, suspension, couplers, and airbrakes. This thorough examination allows the car to be considered as good as new. At the same time, a number of upgrades were made to allow the car to operate behind Amtrak trains, such as installation of heavy-duty power cabling and signal and communications wiring.

Amfleet coach 82727, nee Amtrak 21265 built by Budd Company in 1975 was substituting for "Amber Trail" which was cut out of the train at midnight.

Southern Pacific lounge 2981 "Overland Trail", ex. Amtrak 3500, nee Southern Pacific 2981, built by Pullman in 1949.

Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Vista-Dome 4735 "Silver Splendor" 800604, nee "Silver Buckle" built by the Budd Company in 1956. It was part of the last two complete conventional train sets to be ordered new in the pre-Amtrak era and traveled over 4.5 million miles on a daily basis between Chicago and Denver until 1980.

With standard coach seating for 50 and 24 seats up in the dome, "Silver Buckle" provided fast and comfortable service for budget-minded patrons until Amtrak's bi-level Superliners arrived. Officially retired in 1981, the car spent time in storage at Oakland, California and Beech Grove, Indiana before being auctioned off by Amtrak to a railcar shop owner in 1993. In 1997, the current owners, Heidi and John Caestecker, purchased the car in the Midwest and moved it to Fullerton with the intent of restoring it to operating condition as a luxurious dome-diner-lounge. Dining capacity will be 24 at tables upstairs and another 24 in the long end of the lower level. A cocktail lounge seating 10-12 will be featured in the short end, with kitchen and restrooms under the dome.

Pacific Railroad Society Pullman Sleeper "National Forum" PAR 1207. In 1955 and 1956, the Union Pacific Railroad and the Wabash Railroad, both of whom partnered to run the City of St. Louis, received some of the last sleepers to be built before the advent of Amtrak. In addition, these cars, named in the National series, were also the last passenger cars built with open sections.

The National cars contained 6 sections, 4 double bedrooms and 6 roomettes (6-4-6). Although similar in accommodations to the pre-war American (4-6-6) series of cars built for the UP, the Nationals had numerous improvements and modifications. The most notable changes from the Americans design were the placement and design of the four double bedrooms. In the Americans, the double bedrooms were over one of the trucks and closest to the vestibule. This meant that one of the most expensive accommodations were located in the one of the noisiest areas of a passenger car. In the Nationals, the bedrooms were moved to the quieter center of the car, away from the trucks and vestibule. In addition, unlike the American bedrooms, the toilets in the National bedrooms were enclosed.

The Nationals were assigned to the City of Portland, City of Denver and City of St. Louis trains. Numerous changes in the passenger traffic occurred on the UP during the late 1950's and early 1960's. By June 30th, 1968, due to reduction in passenger traffic on the UP and the discontinuance of the City of St. Louis with the merger of the Wabash into the Norfolk and Western, the Nationals' service was relegated to the secondary service on the Denver to Portland Portland Rose. By December 1969, the Portland Rose was history and the Nationals were idle. During the 1970-71 ski seasons, the UP Los Angeles passenger office operated at least two ski trains to Sun Valley utilizing the idle Nationals. In addition, the Union Pacific used the Nationals in special excursion service until the advent of Amtrak in 1971.

Between 1969 and 1971, the Pacific Railroad Society leased the "National Forum" and other National cars for excursion service. Impressed with the cars, PRS bought two of the Nationals. In October 1971, PRS purchased the "National Forum" and three months later, purchased the "National Embassy".

The "National Forum" has been used extensively in excursion travel. The National Forum is the only PRS car that is Amtrak compatible. In 1993, PRS members Will Walters and Marti Ann Draper completed the Amtrak work with assistance from Bill Farmer and Dave Abbott.

Amtrak dome-lounge 10031 "Ocean View", ex. Amtrak 9361 1971, nee Great Northern 1391 built by Budd Company in 1955. It was converted to head-end power from steam heat in March 1985 and renumbered 9300. Re-numbered 10031 in April 1999, the car is now Amtrak's only dome car on the fleet and is used on special trains and is also the featured car on select trains during different times of the year. This car is equipped for food service on the lower level and the entire dome section consists of lounge tables.

Canadian Pacific Railway horse car "Pony Express" PPCX 800320, ex. Canadian Pacific 2410, nee Canadian Pacific 4210 built by Canadian Car and Foundry in 1941.

Metrolink F9PHI 877 for head end power for the train.

Santa Fe 4-8-4 3751.

Three more views of Santa Fe 3751.

A low headlight view.

A cast of characters on the front of the steam engine. Chris and I found Bob who was with his friend John, and we walked to the other end of the train after we visited with many people on the platform.

Bob and Norm Orfall on the rear platform of "Tioga Pass", which is owned by Norm. From here we walked about six blocks to where Bob parked the rental car and drove over to Mission Road where we walked onto the old bridge into the former Southern Pacific piggyback yard to set up for the first set of pictures.

We saw the Coast Starlight reversing into LAUPT late this morning as Santa Fe 4-8-4 3751 came out by Mission Tower, crossed the Los Angeles River and started towards us.

Santa Fe 4-8-4 3751 put on a great show of steam and sound as it ran below us here. We returned to the car and headed for the Interstate 10 freeway but something caught my eye on the way.

A National Train Day billboard. Our plan was to pace the train down Interstate 10.

The view across the road.

The engine crew of Santa Fe 3751.

A view of this beautiful engine at track speed.

Two more views of the engine crew.

Two views as we left Santa Fe 3751 in the middle of Interstate 10. We exited at Valley Boulvard and drove over to the Metrolink flyover of the former Southern Pacific's Sunset Route.

That was a great runby. I was almost back to the car when I tripped and hit my left ribs, left knee and left index finger hard into the sidewalk. I was in great pain and I called out "help" and Chris Parker helped me get back up and into the car. It hurt to breathe but I did not feel anything out of place on my ribs. I knew I must have a bone bruise and would have to take it easy for a couple of weeks. Once back on Interstate 10, I finally called Let's Talk Trains as we drove out to the Etiwanda Avenue grade crossing to set up for our next pictures. There we met more friends and after about thirty minutes, a headlight was spotted coming our way.

Santa Fe 3751 put on a great show at Etiwanda Avenue. We drove to Arrow Highway which we took to Beech Avenue, then turned right onto Ceres Avenue then left on Catawanba Avenue which we took to the end of the road at the Metrolink tracks. The steam train had stopped for Metrolink 359.

Santa Fe 3751 at Catawanba Avenue in Fontana. From here we drove to San Bernardino and parked the rental car in the new parking structure at the Metrolink station then walked over to San Bernardino Railroad Days.

Brand new BNSF ES44C4 6662 built by General Electric in 2011 was open for tours.

BNSF 3GS21C 1300 built by National Rail Equipment in 2010, was also open.

The actors that we had seen in Los Angeles were still performing their skits.

Metrolink new Guardian cab car 656 was open.

Down in the nose of the cab car, you can see the collision protection device.

Two views of Santa Fe 3751.

Metrolink 878.

Another view of Santa Fe 3751.

There was a covered area with tables where a band was performing. I bought a plate of tri-tip which seemed to take forever to get to me on this very hot mid-April day.

The Old Blue Bus 5876.

Next I toured the train then the interior of the new BNSF locomotives.

It was possible to get a clear shot of Santa Fe 3751 at San Bernardino Railroad Days. We all found each other then Bob wanted to see the inside of the new Metrolink Guardian cab car.

Bob Riskie exiting. From here we drove to Pasadena to go to The Original Whistle Stop where I acquired issues of Passenger Train Journal. Bob then drove us back to LAUPT where a very sore Chris boarded Pacifc Surfliner 582 home to Santa Ana. I watched the Los Angeles Kings play the San Jose Sharks as I wrote this. Tomorrow I ride back to LAUPT from San Bernardino behind Santa Fe 3751.

Click here for Part 2 of this story