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Pacific Railroad Society 75 Year Excursion Tehachapi and Palmdale Cutoff Trip

by Chris Guenzler

Pacific Railroad Society was running an excursion from Los Angeles to Bakersfield and back in celebration of both the Society's 75th Anniversary and the 40th Anniversary of the last wildflower excursions over Tehachapi that ran until Amtrak was formed.

I decided to partitipcate in this excursion after talking to Marti Ann Draper one morning on Pacific Surfliner 774 on the way back from Oxnard. I would have to take the Thruway Bus to LAUPT the Saturday morning of the trip but could take a Pacific Surfliner home on Sunday afternoon. I reserved a room at the Best Western in Bakersfield for Saturday night then contacted Conductor Larry of Let's Talk Trains fame to have dinner with him that evening. All that was left to do was to live until the day of the trip.

The Trip North to Bakersfield 4/2/2011

I arose at 4:30 AM and after preparing myself for the day, drove to the Santa Ana station and parked in the northeast lot. The bus loading area had been moved to Spot 3 and our new driver did not know about it so he had reversed into his normal space. The trip to LAUPT was quick and I debussed, visited the station to pick up my ticket near the old ticket counter then went to the end of Track 12 to wait for the train to arrived.

Pacific Surfliner 799 waiting to leave LAUPT.

Pacific Surfliner 799 departed for San Luis Obispo.

Amtrak's Southwest Chief 3 arrived.

Our train reversed into LAUPT with a consist of engines P42DC 156 and 510, baggage car "Pony Express" 800320, Amfleet coaches 22510, 82720 and 82006, Great Dome 10031 "Ocean View", Amfleet coaches 82710 and 82560, full dome "Nenana", short dome "Silver Lariat" and sleeper PAR 1207 "National Forum".

With the train spotted, everyone boarded their assigned car and seats, then it departed on time at 9:00 AM.

We left and headed for the Sunset Route, passing the junction with the line to San Diego.

The former Union Pacific lead to Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal was passed as we crossed the Los Angeles River. I walked forward to the "Pony Express" for some pictures.

The yard tower at the Union Pacific Yard.

Motive power and the skyline of Los Angeles.

Yard tower and motive power.

A Union Pacific freight reversing into the yard.

Heading to the Alhambra trench.

Going through the Alhambra trench.

Mission San Gabriel Arcangel, founded by Spaniards of the Franciscan order on "The Feast of the Birth of Mary," September 8, 1771, as the fourth of what would become twenty-one Spanish missions in California.

At El Monte, Metrolink's San Bernardino line joins the main line to run along the old Sunset Route.

A Metrolink San Bernardino line train passed us on its way to LAUPT.

The Metrolink flyover across the Sunset Route and the San Gabriel River.

The Metrolink San Bernardino line heads off for Baldwin Park and points east.

Part of the Alameda East grade crossing separation project in El Monte.

The junction used by Union Pacific freights to reach Orange County and other points.

The City of Industry Union Pacific yard.

Union Pacific motive power in the yard.

Interior of former Canadian Pacific baggage car "Pony Express". The train stopped in Ontario for passengers and at this point, I walked the train to see who else I knew aboard this trip and found quite a few rare mileage riders.

Mount Baldy.

Arizona and California GP30M 3002, ex. Ohio Central 4217, exx. CSX 4217, nee Chesapeake and Ohio 3023 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1963 at the grain elevator in Fontana.

United States Army 80 ton switcher 1601 built by General Electric in 1951, also at the grain elevator.

An industry that produces cylindrical pipes.

Interesting sky.

We had reached West Colton Yard.

Train being pushed to the crest.

A set of crest units.

Pilot crew change here.

The crest units went to work.

Our Amtrak crew went to meet the new pilot crew for brief meeting.

The train pulled up to let our crew reboard.

Additional crest locomotives.

Two views of retarders.

The crest and the bowl yard.

The bowl yard was full of cars.

Crest Tower.

The departure yard has trains ready to roll.

The balloon track and yard bypass track.

We reached the Palmdale Cutoff.

The train climbed the connecting track to the Palmdale Cutoff.

Crossing over the bypass mainline.

Slover siding.

The end of Slover siding.

Approaching the bridge over the Metrolink San Bernardino line.

Metrolink's San Bernardino line.

Two views of Lyle Creek.

The rear of our train.

Heading to the Lyle Creek bridge.

Traversing Lyle Creek as we made our way to Cajon Pass.

Click here for Part 2 of this story