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National Train Day 2011 at Los Angeles Union Station 5/7/2011

by Chris Guenzler

I was still recovering from my bruised rib but nothing was going to stop me attending National Train Day 2011. I had got a noon ticket to go through the equipment display so after my morning chores, I drove to the Santa Ana station, parked and went inside the station to take care of a future ticketing issue but the agent there had a sign that said "Back in 30 Minutes". I then spotted the agent taking care of baggage for Pacific Surfliner 763, which arrived on its way to Los Angeles. Soon I saw a headlight coming and waited for it to arrive.

Pacific Surfliner 564 pulled into the station to take me south to Irvine.

Excellent Conductor Victor D'Agostino II welcomed me aboard. I rode the 9.8 miles down to Irvine where I detrained and took care of my ticketing there. It was unique for this agent to sell me a Jefferson City to Kansas City ticket. I met Cathy and Mary Stanfill and we rode the elevators over to Track 1 to wait for Pacific Surfliner 565. I had picked up a new Amtrak National Timetable and looked through it as I waited.

Pacific Surfliner 565 arrived.

The extremely friendly Conductor CJ welcomed us aboard. I took a four seater in the cab car then called Carl Morrison to tell him where to find me when we arrived at Fullerton. The train went through the Tustin Quiet Zone at the city's single grade crossing at Red Hill before we stopped at Santa Ana. I turned in a ticket for Triple Guest Reward Points which started today as the train stopped at Orange, Anaheim and Fullerton. There Carl, his son, Matt and Don Rowe joined me for the trip to Los Angeles. There was plenty of train fans aboard our train, which arrived early this morning. I detrained and went straight to the displays on Track 11 and 12, walking down the sidewalk to the end of the private car display.

Chicago, Burlington and Quincy dome-observation car 377 "Silver Solarium" built by Budd Company in 1948, one of the 6 dome/sleeper/observation cars specifically built for the California Zephyr. In 1971, it became Amtrak 9252 after more than 20 years of service between Chicago and San Francisco. Amtrak retired the car in 1978 and sold it to Nav Fosee/Cedar Rail Enterprises/Silver Rail Company in 1985, where it was renumbered back to 377 and restored to its original appearance. "Silver Solarium" was then sold to Roy Wullich/Rail Journeys West in 2002 where it entered into charter service after it received modern upgrades in 2003.

Pennsylvania Railroad 10 roomette-6 double bedroom sleeping car 8449 "Silver Rapids" built by the Budd Company in 1948. It served as a transcontinental sleeper that provided coast-to-coast transportation for almost 20 years. The car was removed from the California Zephyr service in the 1960's when most transcontinental sleepers were discontinued and changed ownership from the Pennsylvania Railroad to Penn Central where it was numbered 4378, then to Amtrak 2649, which retired it in the early 1980's and sold the car to a private owner. After extensive restoration work that included interior and mechanical upgrades, "Silver Rapids" is now one of the most versatile sleeper cars in service. The car features eight roomettes that seat two comfortably and six double bedrooms that open up to form three suites that seat four comfortably.

Chicago, Burlington and Quincy dome-coach 4718 "Silver Lariat" built by the Budd Company in 1948 for service on the California Zephyr. A large dining/lounge area seats 42 passengers (36 at tables) and is equipped with a full bar. From this room, passengers can access the Vista Dome above, which provides panoramic views and seating for an additional 24 passengers at tables. In 1971, it became Amtrak 9452 then sold in July 1984 to Ralph Orlandella of Sacramento and was acquired by California Zephyr Railcar Charters in 1985.

Pullman observation car "Virginia City" built by the company in 1928 as "Crystal Peak". Originally the car was designed as an open platform, observation-lounge car with sleeping accommodations for ten, complete with a ladies lounge and shower. It was first assigned to the Overland Limited which ran between Oakland and Chicago. In 1936 the car was removed from service and air conditioning was added and the interior was updated. In 1938, the car was renamed "Golden Peak". From that time until the beginning of World War II, she served passengers on the Golden State Limited. During World War II, the car was removed from service then after the war, she returned again and ran on the Empire Builder for a brief time. In 1950, "Golden Peak" was still listed as a Pullman-owned pool service car and was available for charter and later, for purchase.

In 1954, Lucius Beebe and his partner Charles Clegg purchased "Golden Peak" directly from Pullman Company's Calumet Shops for $5,000. From this point, the car was moved to the shops of the Western Pacific in Sacramento, where she was reconfigured and mechanically overhauled. As part of the reconfiguration process, two of the sleeping compartments were removed to make room for the dining room; the ladies lounge and shower then became the car's kitchen and crew's quarters.

Charles Clegg hired his long-time friend Robert Hanley, a Hollywood set designer (known for designing the sets of "Auntie Mame") to redecorate the car's interior into the style now referred to as "Venetian Renaissance Baroque." Hanley purchased approximately $375,000 in antique furnishings. When completed, the "Virginia City" became the most lavish and expensively outfitted car in the United States. The parlor of the car is an unbelievable sight; it has been richly decorated in furnishings imported from Venice, Italy and other European cities. Two Murano glass chandeliers light the parlor and between them is a painted reproduction from the Sistine Chapel. Heavy gold silk draperies hang over brass-framed windows with mahogany sashes and sills. Richly upholstered furnishings, including a curved brocaded velvet sofa, offer a comfortable place to sit for weary travellers and all but hide the beautiful wood parquet paneling that was original to the car as "Crystal Peak". A solid marble gas log fireplace cannot escape your gaze and conjures up visions of evenings spent in the company of the rich and famous. Atop the fireplace are two cornices which were originally from a 14th Century altar in Spain and above that, hangs a mirror which dates back to the late 18th century. To the right of the fireplace is a fully stocked wet bar. The four distinctly different lamps represent the four corners of the earth: Asia, Greece, Africa and the Pacific South Seas. The writing desk has been recently restored and probably provided a comfortable place for Mr. Beebe from which he penned many a newspaper column for the San Francisco Chronicle, New Yorker Magazine and occasionally a review for Gourmet Magazine. The bookshelves feature several of Mr. Beebe's and Mr. Clegg's writings -- both collaboratively and separately. It is through these books and their extensive writings that most people have learned of Beebe and Clegg.

It is also noted that Hanley was responsible for the creation of the interior of Bebee's and Clegg's first private rail car, "Gold Coast", which is now on permanent display at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento.

Between 1955 and the time of Beebe's death in 1966, "Virginia City" routinely made cross country trips to various destinations including Miami, New York City, Chicago, New Orleans and Denver. After Beebe's death, his partner Charles Clegg inherited the bulk of his estate, including "Virginia City". In 1976, Clegg reluctantly put the car up for sale. For many years the car sat idle in San Francisco facing an uncertain fate. In 1979, Charles Clegg passed away and his sister, Ann-Clegg Holloway became executrix of his estate.

"Virginia City" was purchased from the Charles Clegg estate by Wade Pellizzer on August 21st, 1984. He has since made every effort possible to restore the car to its original 1955 condition; it is because of Wade Pellizzer that our passengers are able to enjoy Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg's "Virginia City" and not a more modernized version of the car. Many of today's private rail cars have been re-modelled to reflect their current owner's visions, detracting from the historical and nostalgic appeal of the cars. Virginia City Rail Corporation is committed to preserving this icon of "Private Varnish" as a testament to the Golden Era of railroading.

Milwaukee Road tap lounge 162 "Montana" built by the railroad in 1947 for the streamlined 1947 Olympian Hiawatha. After being displaced from the Olympian Hiawatha with the delivery of the Super Domes in 1952, 162 was rebuilt to business car "Montana" in 1955. In 1978, it was sold to private ownership, and renamed "Mount Rainier". It was later renamed "Prairie Rose", leased to the Friends of the 261 and Wisconsin Central and painted in Wisconsin Central colors.

Santa Fe 4-8-4 3751 built by Baldwin in 1927 was on display at National Train Day.

At one end of the equipment on Track 11 was Metrolink MP36 878. I walked over to Track 9 to get pictures of the modern railroad equipment.

My pictures had to wait until the Coast Starlight departed on time at 10:15 AM for Seattle.

Superliner Arcade coach 34512, nee Amtrak 74-seat coach 34112 built by Bombardier in 1995. It was converted to a family coach in 1996 and renumbered 34512. Sometime in 2008-2009, the lower level of the car was equipped with video arcade games.

Amtrak Superliner lounge car 33015 built by Pullman-Standard in 1980.

Amtrak Superliner dining car 38040 built by Bombardier in 1994.

Amtrak Pacific Parlor Car 39974 "Sonoma Valley", ex. Amtrak 9974, nee Santa Fe Railway high-level buffet-lounge car 579. Today, this series of cars have been completely refurbished and are currently used exclusively on Amtrak's Coast Starlight train between Los Angeles and Seattle as a lounge for sleeping car passengers. The car features lounge seating, couches, a theater and dining tables inside.

Amtrak Superliner Sleeper 32068 built by Pullman-Standard in 1981.

Amtrak California dining/cafe car 8806 "Salinas Valley" built by Morrison–Knudsen and the American Passenger Rail Car Company in 1995.

Pacific Surfliner business class car 6805 built by Alstom in 2000.

Metrolink Guardian cab car 647 built by Hyundai-Rotem in 2010.

Metrolink F59PHI 878 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1994.

The line of equipment was blocked by the Pacific Surfliner protect engine which is stationed here at LAUPT. Walking down the Track 10 platform, I found Chris Parker and we walked over to the switcher display.

Union Pacific 3G321B 2739 built by RailPower Technologies in 2007.

Pacific Harbor Line 3GS21C 81 built by National Railway Equipment in 2008 from NREX SD40 3178, ex. Norfolk Southern 3178, nee Southern 3178 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1971.

The two engines together.

Santa Fe 4-8-4 3751.

The steam engine's crew.

The tender of Santa Fe 3751.

I had now finished photograhing the equipment and on Track 6 was Pacific Surfliner 572 with dome-coach "Silver Splendor" on the rear. From here I walked down into the station and out onto the south patio to see what else was here as part of National Train Day.

Discover the Rails Sweepstakes tables.

Amtrak Police had a table.

The Pacific Railroad Society.

RailPac had a table.

California High Speed Rail.

California Operation Lifesaver.


Cirque Du Soleil Iris.

The Depot Inn & Suites.

East Meets West Chinese Contributors to American Railroads.

San Luis Obispo Car-Free table.

Trails and Rails.

Fillmore & Western Railway.

Los Angeles Convention and Visitor Bureau.

Santa Barbara Car-Free table.

The Orange County Transportation Authority.

Anaheim and Battle of the Dance.

Challengers Boys and Girls Club.

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engines.

City of Flagstaff.

Shrek the Musical.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority.


Grand Canyon Railway.

Westways Magazine/AAA.

San Diego.

Rail Europe.

Southern California Transit Advocates.

Orange County N Gauge Model Railroaders.

There were culinary demonstrations in the old Harvey House Restaurant.

Amtrak: Dining the Rail Way Then: 1830-1970.

Amtrak: Dining the Rail Way Then: 1830 to 1970.

Amtrak: Dining the Rail Way Now: 1971-Present.

Amtrak: Dining the Rail Way Today.

For Your Dining Pleasure.

General views.

California Missions.

Amtrak California.

At 11:00 AM were the Opening Ceremonies with members of the University of Southern California Marching Band.

Amtrak Kids Depot Party Creation Station.

Amtrak 40th Birthday Table. By this point I had twenty minutes to spare so I bought a Wetzel's Pretzel and sat in one of the waiting room chairs to enjoy it. I then joined the ticketed line for my noon visit through the rail cars. I had a picture taken of me while waiting and we slowly moved up the shorter line and stopped at 11:45 AM to wait. It was well organized but a slow journey through the cars on Track 11. We exited and then were allowed in the cab of Santa Fe 3751. What they needed, though, was metal stairs so people could go up and look into the cab, then go down the stairs on the other side. The Union Pacific always has this when they display their steam engines anywhere on their system.

The view of people entering "Montana" on Track 12. I made my way through this car and finally was able to view the interior of the private car "Virginia City" which was unique, as well as the interior of "Silver Rapids", so my tour of the display cars was well worth the thirty minute wait and the hour to tour the cars.

I went to Trimana in the station to get a Coca-Cola in a glass bottle, which surprised me, and went outside to a table in the south patio where I met a nice family and we talked for twenty minutes. I then walked up towards Platform 7.

Pacific Surfliner 571 on the right and Pacific Surfliner 578 on the left with the marker lights on. I waited and at 1:50 PM, the train was opened and we boarded for a quick trip home to Santa Ana.

Pacific Surfliner 578 headed to San Diego and I drove home, ending National Train Day 2011.