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Four Gauges of Railroading in One Day 7/21/2012

Featuring the Descanso, Alpine & Pacific Railway, Poway-Midland Railroad and the Smith Ranch & Julian Railroad

by Chris Guenzler

After AC Adam and I could not ride the steam train at Poway on July 8th, a new plan was made. First since AC Adam had never ridden the Descanso, Alpine & Pacific Railway, that would be our first stop with Poway as second since, according to their schedule, the steam engine would be running this Saturday.

I arose and after my morning preparations, drove down to the Santa Ana sation where I parked in the northeast parking lot then went to the platform to wait for the train to arrive.

The first gauge of the day would be the standard gauge rails of the San Diego Subdivision.

Pacific Surfliner 562 arrived and I boarded the rear open coach and made the story pages for this trip then relaxed the rest of the way to Solana Beach, where AC Adam was waiting to pick me up. From here, we drove to Alpin using the directions I had printed and found our next railroad to ride this morning.

Descanso, Alpine & Pacific Railroad 7/21/2012

This is a two foot narrow gauge heritage railroad owned by Roy Athey, who began building the train setup on part of his 2.5 acres of land with friends Casey Derengowski and Jerry Petriozzi after he retired from the San Diego County Probation Department in 1988. A model train enthusiast and train historian, he opened Descanso, Alpine & Pacific Railway to the public in May 1990. The railway consists of a 1935 Brookville locomotive and riding car, five stations, a blacksmith's quarters and a 100-foot-long train trestle that gives riders scenic views of the Cuyamaca and Palomar mountains.

We pulled up to the gate and found this sign.

This sign made me very happy and a great way to start the day. We drove in and parked.

The Pond station sign.

The old turntable pit.

The Shade depot.

Another of the buildings here.

The wooden homemade caboose.

Roy came down the hill with our train for this morning's trip then showed us a few things.

The working telegraph and telephones were both demonstrated.

The timetable board.

Roy showed us the rail used on his railroad and then told us from where he acquired them. We would now start our trip by heading up the hill to the driveway.

Views going up the hill to the driveway.

This was as far we could go as the track was out of service beyond that point.

The wig wag crossing signal.

The Yard Limit sign.

The train dropped down the grade to the Shade depot.

We ran by the Shade station and past the wooden caboose.

We ran through Garden.

Passing the hand car shed and the shop building.

We came to the switch for High Trestle loop.

We started out on High Trestle.

View from High Trestle.

Views of the circular trestle.

Far below is the 18 inch mining railroad on Roy's property. Roy then aligned the switch to take us into his shop area.

The working blacksmith shop and Roy gave us several demonstrations while we were here.

One of the working telegraph poles. Roy then reversed us down to his mainline and aligned the switch so we could continue our trip on his railroad.

The handcar shed.

The railroad's motor car.

There are little mileposts all along this railroad.

At Garden we switched to the lower loop track.

The train crossed this small trestle.

We took this curve as the grade took us down.

The switch at New Marnell.

Looking back to where we had just been.

This engine, called Little Trammer, was manufactured some time prior to 1930 by the Mancha Storage Battery Locomotive Company in St. Louis. The builder's plate indicates "Mine Locomotive Motor, Type M 8, Amps 94, Volts 40, Speed 925, Serial number 20791". The locomotive is powered by two 725 batteries, 20 volts, in series.

The 18 inch dump car.

We next ran to the Bob Cat cut.

Looking back to where we had been.

Exiting Bob Cat cut.

The train crossed the Howe wooden through truss trestle like the one on the Durango & Silverton Railroad.

We made a stop at El Pozo.

Roy lit the oil switch lantern to give us another demonstration.

Roy showed us the green aspect of the lantern.

He also showed us his working telephone system he has on his property.

We now would head back to the Shade Depot.

We ran by "Little Trammer" on the way back to the Shade Depot.

Finishing the lower loop near New Marnell after which we returned to the Shade Depot and I called Let's Talk Trains.

The 2.5 ton Brookville locomotive that pulled our train this morning.

One last look at the 20 inch track at the Decanso, Alpine and Pacific Railway. Roy showed us some material and then we swapped a few stories, informing AC Adam and I about a railroad up in Julian that would be running later today and to give them a call. We thanked Roy for allowing us to visit his unique railroad here in Alpine then left for Poway and I made a telephone call to get us on the 1:00 PM train at Julian.

Click here for Part 2 of this story