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Down to San Clemente to See the First Run of the Private Car "Acoma" 12/29/2012

by Chris Guenzler

I knew the private car "Acoma" was going to make the first public trip to San Diego on December 29, 2012. Since Carl Morrison was planning to ride it, I would take pictures at Califia Beach. A storm storm was expected to move in later in the evening as forecast and I decided to make a round trip to Oceanside before driving to San Clemente. That morning I drove to the Santa Ana station and parked, being greeted with a most wonderful sky.

What a way to start the day. Pacific Surfliner 562 picked me up and onboard was Steve Grande going to San Juan Capistrano, so we had a nice talk. Once he detrained, I had a quiet ride to Oceanside where I boarded Metrolink 661 with my weekend pass for the return trip to Santa Ana. I went home for a few minutes and heard on the radio that the storm had sped up and I hoped to get my picture before the rains arrived.

I drove to Califia Beach, parked and paid three dollars for three hours. As I started walking, I saw a red signal behind me and here came a headlight so climbed up along the cliff for a much better view.

Pacific Surfliner 566 went through Califia Beach. The funny thing was that it surprised me to see this train here as it had come into Santa Ana as I detraind from the Metrolink train. The signal turned red as I made my way to my photo location and waited for the next southbound train.

Metrolink 857 for Oceanside came next. There was a major rain storm moving across Dana Point but it went east. I called Winston and AC Adam for Doppler radar reports then called Carl and learned the "Acoma" was the rear car on Pacific Surfliner 572.

Pacific Surfliner 769, which was Amtrak 562 which I rode south this morning.

Metrolink 859 heading to Oceanside.

Pacific Surfliner 768 on its way to San Diego.

I knew the storm clouds were heading my way but hoped they would not reach me until after the "Acoma" had passed.

Metrolink 665 came next. It was raining again over Dana Point.

Pacific Surfliner 573 heading to Los Angeles.

It started to rain so I waited in the little cave and checked for a red signal every few minutes.

I used my umbrella and practiced taking pictures of Metrolink 662 then called Julie, Amtrak's automated agent, to learn that Pacific Surfliner 572 was running eight minutes late.

I finally saw a red signal then a headlight and knew the train was on the way. The rain was pouring out of the sky and the wind was blowing hard but nothing was going to stop me from getting my pictures.

Pacific Surfliner 572 with the "Acoma" went through Califia Beach. It was built for the Santa Fe in late 1936 by Budd for the new streamlined Santa Fe Super Chief. This all new, extra-fare sleeper car train went into revenue service on May 18, 1937 on a once-a-week round-trip between Chicago and Los Angeles. As built, it was a lounge/dormitory/barber shop car. The Super Chief was the train of the Hollywood Stars and the rich and famous. The car was purchased in 1995 by John Bond and Ronald Ashcraft of Albuquerque {Southwest Rail Car LLC} who have continued to restore and preserve this car.

Carl called and said "I was the photographer who survived the bad weather". I went home and dried out before making one more Metrolink round trip to Oceanside.