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Northern California 2011 Explorer

Central Coast Railway Club

by Chris Guenzler

This trip happened after I contacted the Central Coast Railway Club about writing a story surrounding this trip. They asked if would advertise the trip for them, and if so, they would give Trainweb a pair of tickets. Not only did we do that, but I mentioned it on Let's Talk Trains which I knew spurred one listener, Gene, to buy a pair. I contacted Chris Parker to see if he wanted to go and his answer was yes. After one of our Orange County Railway Historical Society meetings, I took my Guest Rewards Companion and my gift certificates to my excellent night-time Amtrak Agent Marty, who took care of getting us to Emeryville and back home from Sacramento. I booked all the hotels and then we just had to live to the night of departure.

Getting to Emeryville

Getting back from the Little Rock Express trip, I managed to be off a day, and after I took my mother to see "Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides", she reminded me that I was planning to leave for this trip tonight. That proved what a lack of sleep will do to a person. I had to take my ten ride and turn it in to the conductor on Pacific Surfliner 583 since it expired on June 4 when I would be away, then finished packing and watched "NCIS" until 8:00 PM when I took a nap until 11:00 PM.

I finished up a few things, put my luggage into my Geo Metro and then Chris Parker arrived and we loaded his luggage into my car and went inside to say goodbye to my mother before driving to the Santa Ana station and parking in the northeast parking lot, after which we walked over to wait for Thruway Bus 5811 which arrived 25 minutes late. The bus driver talked non-stop the whole way to Bakersfield and I finally fell asleep around San Fernando and slept most of the way to Bakersfield, where she parked in front of the station and not in the correct bus bay. Twenty minutes after we arrived, San Joaquin 711 opened its doors which had a consist of engine 2014, Superliner coach 3194 "Cedar Grove", coach 8013 "Klamath River", cafe 8801 "San Joaquin River", coach 8008 "Stanislaus River" and cab car 8303 "Mount Diablo".

The train left Bakersfield and into what was left of the night. I bought a cinnamon roll and an orange juice then started making the pages for this story and wrote it up to this point before working on the July OCRHS program as the train headed to Fresno. That was finished on the way to Merced where we took a fresh air break then later at Modesto, took an extended fresh air break. The train ran onto Stockton where all the connecting buses were waiting for their passengers then continued across the lands and water of the California Delta to Antioch.

The train at Antioch.

The view through the door.

Chris Parker during the fresh air break here. The train ran along the Carquinez Strait to Martinez then continued along reaching San Pablo Bay before running parallel along the shores then cutting inland to Richmond and the BART connection there. It was a quick trip in Emeryville where Chris and I detrained, ending a tiring, but good, trip aboard Amtrak.

Chris watched my stuff and I went to Subway across the street then returned to find Bart Jennings at the station. A little while later, I had to excuse myself to go get sick to my stomach, the first of three times here. The third time Chris got me some 7-UP which really helped. Before the train arrived, we made our way to the pedestrian bridge and climbed up on the second landing to watch the train come into Emeryville.

Northern California 2011 Explorer 6/3/2011

The Northern California 2011 Explorer arrived at Emeryville station and Chris and I boarded Car 4. The train had a consist of engines 88 and 90 elephant style, private car "Caritas" with the open platform facing the power, Amfleet coaches 82620, 82560, 82540, Horizon cafe/business class 58107, Amfleet coaches 82530 and 82710, Great Dome 10031 "Ocean View", Rio Grande Scenic full length dome 511 "Nenana", Milwaukee Road Super Dome 53, California Zephyr short domes "Silver Lariat", "Plaza Santa Fe", Chicago, Burlington and Quincy "Silver Splendor" and ATSF open platform heavyweight 33. We departed with the two of us in the car 58107 to start the trip to Oroville today.

The Golden Gate bridge.

San Francisco before we arrived at Richmond, our first passenger stop, then proceeded to Martinez.

Running along San Pablo Bay.

The oil refinery before Crockett. The train entered the tunnel that took us to the Carquinez Strait.

The Interstate 80 bridges.

C&H Sugar plant in Crockett.

The bulk carrier "North Prince" was travelling up the Carquinez Strait.

The Martinez railroad bridge and the Interstate 680 bridge, after which we stopped at Martinez.

Southern Pacific 0-6-0 1258 after we left Martinez.

The lift bridge east of Martinez was up thus we were faced with a red signal.

The bridge is up!

"North Prince" was what we were waiting for. Remember, river traffic always has the right-of-way over rail traffic.

Under the bridge went "North Prince".

The bridge started to go down.

The bridge has returned to accepting rail traffic.

San Joaquin 715 arriving at Martinez after which we headed out onto the Martinez bridge.

Views from the Martinez bridge.

The United States Navy Mothball Fleet.

The train sped across the Suisan Wetlands before we raced through Suisan-Fairfield.

At Canon, the outside connection to the Western Railway Museum in Rio Vista.

The replica Southern Pacific depot in Dixon built in 2006.

Putah Creek before we arrived in Davis, our next station stop.

The Southern Pacific Davis station built in 1913.

Davis Tower, also built in 1913, was getting buried by the trees. We left here with our next stop being Sacramento.

The train crossed the Yolo Bypass.

Beyond the bypass, downtown Sacramento could be seen and we travelled through West Sacramento.

Crossing the Sacramento River into the state's capital city.

The Sacramento Amtrak station where we made our next stop, during which the offical trip coffee mugs were loaded on board and I bought the very first one. After our passengers boarded, we were off for Oroville.

Curving out of Sacramento and headed to Haggins, our connection to the old Western Pacific.

The former Southern Pacific Sacramento Shops.

Curving off onto the connection.

Train 5, the California Zephyr, was waiting for us.

The rear of the train coming off the Overland Route.

Crossing the American River.

Rolling north towards Marysville.

Modoc Railroad Academy.

Rice paddies.

The train crossed the Yuba River into Marysville.

The former Sacramento Northern right-of-way into Yuba City.

Crossing the former Southern Pacific Roseville to Dunsmuir Line.

Views of the Sutter Buttes.

Closing in on Oroville.

The lumber mill just outside Oroville.

We slowly made our way through Oroville Yard to the former Western Pacific station, now a bar and grill, where our trip would end today.

Oroville 6/3/2011

I was first off the train, found Bus 4 and took the first row of seats then called Chris to let him know where I was. He joined me and once we had a full bus, we took off to the hotels on the Oroville Bus Route. We were the second stop and I checked us in. When the truck with our luggage arrived, we helped unload the truck with the Days Inn's luggage then worked on the story before taking it easy and getting to bed early for the big day tomorrow.

Click here for Part 2 of this story