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The Journey To Winterail 2011

by Chris Guenzler

3/11/2011 I arose early and after having breakfast, drove to the Santa Ana station, parked my GEO Metro and walked over to Track 1 then bought my Metrolink ticket to Los Angeles and waited for Metrolink 681, which arrived on time.

The trip to Los Angeles was fast and I waited up at the Patsaouras Transit Plaza where Dave Abbott found me and a minute later, Chris Parker drove up in the rented Nissan. He told me about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. We drove north to Bakersfield to near the Union Pacific yard and crossed the street from the station and just west down the tracks, found why we stopped.

Union Pacific ES44AC 7400

Union Pacific 7400 Pink Ribbon Locomotive celebrates the company's support of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the many lives of employees, family, friends and community members affected by breast cancer. As recipient of Komen's Outstanding Volunteer Group Award, Union Pacific has been dedicated to the cause of eradicating breast cancer for more than a decade. Since 2000, Union Pacific's LEAD (Lead, Educate, Achieve, Develop) women's group has worked to promote the Susan G. Komen Nebraska Race for the Cure! by guiding employee volunteers to organize, plan and implement a registration drive, create promotional campaigns for the Race and motivate Union Pacific's 5,000 local Omaha-area employees. This dedication has inspired affiliate LEAD chapters through Union Pacific 23-state operating system to support local Komen chapters and demonstrates how Union Pacific employees throughout the nation have embraced Komen's promise on a personal level.

Views of Union Pacific 7400.

On the radiator flank the unit reads "Proud Recipient of the Komen Outstanding Volunteer Group Award".

St. Louis Southwestern flat car 9707900 with two barbeques and a large propane tank aboard.

Central California Traction caboose CCT 100, nee Southern Pacific 4107 built by Pacific Car and Foundry. It is used in the railway's Transcaer Training train. From here we left Bakersfield and drove to Seventh Standard Parallel Road to head over to the BNSF mainline but made a quick stop when we saw this below.

Union Pacific 5410 East at Cawelo. We proceeded to the BNSF mainline, meeting it just south of Shafter, where we had our first moving train of the morning.

BNSF 4473 East at MP 896.

Next we found the Loram rail grinder train sitting just east of Shafter.

BNSF 7272 East at MP 902.

BNSF 784 East at MP 918. With no other trains, we headed into Fresno to our next planned stop

The Merci Train Box Car

The Merci Train was a train of 49 French railroad box cars filled with tens of thousands of gifts of gratitude from at least that many individual French citizens. They were showing their appreciation for the more than 700 American box cars of relief goods sent to them by (primarily) individual Americans in 1948. The Merci Train arrived in New York harbor on February 3rd, 1949 and each of the 48 American states at that time received one of the gift-laden box cars. The 49th box car was shared by Washington D.C. and the Territory of Hawaii. Parades and ceremonies of welcome were conducted in the state capitals and major cities of almost all the states. The largest and most attended was in New York City, where more than 200,000 people turned out to welcome that state's assigned box car. The California Merci Box Car is located in Fresno at American Legion Fresno Federal Post 509 at 3509 North First Street.

The stone marker at the foot of the Merci Box Car.

Views of the French Merci Box Car given to California. We continued north on California Highway 99 towards Madera, but stopped on the way for a train.

Union Pacific 8570 East just south of Madera. From here we went to a Carl's Junior for lunch then drove north to Phillipsburg Road and turned right to our next stop of the trip.

Bright's Pioneer Exhibit at Le Grand

This is a collection of old tractors and farm items, harvesters, wood stoves, washing machines, cars and trucks, cast iron seats, sewing machines, a San Francisco street car and the school bus on which the children of Chowchilla were abducted.

We arrived at this working dairy and I went inside the office and found we were at the correct place. One of the employees opened the building and I knew the main reason we came here.

There is plenty to see at the Bright's Pioneer Exhibit.

Several steam tractors were on display.

Many diesel tractors as well.

The colleection also includes vintage cars.

More interior views. I then spotted the object of our search.

San Francisco Muni PCC car 1150, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1946, is tucked away inside the northwest corner of the building. It has been here since 1981.

Avelino Porter steam tractor built in 1873.

More automobiles inside this exhibit.

More tractors.

The Holdener Drive-In-Dairy truck.

There are a large number of tractors in this collection.

Dairyland School District bus. The July 15, 1976 mass abduction inspired by the climax in 1971's "Dirty Harry" involved this bus. The 26 children and the bus driver, who escaped by digging out of a container buried in a quarry, signed the side of the bus.

Another old truck.

I like this car.

A large variety of items are seen in these pictures.

Outside was more farm equipment. I walked around the back of the building for what we saw as we drove in.

Southern Pacific maintenance-of-way bunk car 5451, ex. Southern Pacific heavyweight business car 125 "Coast" (third), exx. Southern Pacific 125 "San Antonio" (second) 1959, exxx. Texas and New Orleans "San Jacinto" (second) 1955, exxxx. Texas and New Orleans 981 "San Antonio" (second) 1946, exxxxx. Texas and New Orleans 2 bedroom-1 compartment "Beaumont" 1929, nee El Paso and South Western coach 782. It was refurbished in 1955, retired in 1958 and transferred to the maintenance-of-way department in 1961 and used as a bunk car. It was then retired and sold in 1968 to Herbert and Karl Reichhold. In 2012, it was moved to Railtown 1897 in Jamestown.

We thanked them for having us and headed to our next stop west outside of Stevinson, heading there via Le Grand Road to California Highway 99 which we took to California Highway 140 west to our next destination.

Click Here for Part 2 of the story!