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Steam at Poway 9/2/2012

by Chris Guenzler

I planned another trip down to Poway to ride their steam engine for the first Sunday in September. AC Adam would pick me up in Solana Beach and after we shot a Coaster train at the Batiquitos Lagoon we would head on over to Poway. After my usual chores, I drove down to the Santa Ana Train Station and parked my Geo Metro before waiting for my train to arrive.

Pacific Surfliner 562 pulled into Santa Ana and I boarded the train for my trip to Solana Beach. With Hurricane Ileana spinning off of Baja California, large surf was called for so we will see what we will see running along the San Clemente Beach this morning.

My favorite USA Flag at Capistrano Beach.

The surf of the Pacific Ocean was smaller than forecast.

Views of the San Clemente Pier. Surfliner 562 took me to Solana Beach where AC Adam was waiting on the platform. From the Solana Beach train station we drove north on old US Highway 101 then right on La Costa Ave and set up for a few pictures.

Batiquitos Lagoon.

Pacific Surfliner 567 crossed Batiquitos Lagoon.

Coaster 680 crossed Batiquitos Lagoon. From here we drove out to Poway and got the first parking spot in front of the station. From here we walked over to the engine house where we met Doug Williams along with James and Kim Keeline.

Poway-Midland Railway

The Engine 3 was built by Baldwin in 1907 as an 0-4-0 with 28 inch driving wheels, oil fired and design to run on 42'' gauge for the Henry Lowell Lime and Cement Company. In 1952 it was sold to the South San Francisco Scrap Line where it sat for 8 years. In 1960 Charles Polland of Vista, CA. bought the engine, built some track and ran it on his property in Vista. He gave the engine an 1870 appearance and built an 1870 style passenger coach which could carry 32 passengers. Polland died in 1966. John S. Porter bought the railroad lock, stock, engine and car and moved it to his land in Poway calling it the Poway Village & Rattlesnake Creek Railroad. He built a station house and shed for the engine. Mr Porter died in 1980 after which the little railroad sat unused for seven more years. In December of 1987, the City of Poway purchased the property including the railroad and turned it into the wonderful park you can see today complete with a Farmer's Market. It is one of the few city owned and run railroads in the nation.

The San Francisco cable car was donated by the City of San Diego to the City of Poway on October 30, 1997. It was once part of a fleet of 45 cars that comprised the California Street Cable Railroad Co., which operated a 12-mile line in San Francisco, on California Street, between Market Street and Presidio Avenue. The car still bears No. 17, its original number, and was built in August, 1906 to replace stock that was destroyed in the great San Francisco earthquake and fire of April 18, 1906. Constructed to the 1890 design of the original California Street fleet, it is 30' 5" long, 8' wide, weighs 11,500lbs and seats 34. In 1952, ownership passed to the City of San Francisco when it acquired the California Street line as part of its new municipal cable car system. Rolling stock cutbacks occurred in 1955, at which time No. 17, then almost 50 years old, was sold to the Knott's Berry Farm amusement park in Orange County, California, as one of a package of 6 cars. After providing park visitors with rides for 33 years, the 6 cars were retired in 1988 and No. 17 was acquired by the City of San Diego, with the intention of operating it through the Gaslamp District. Those plans never came to fruition, and in 1997 the car was spotted decaying in the MTDB maintenance yard - which is how it eventually came to reside in our train barn. A comprehensive restoration program by the PMRRV is in progress that will restore the car to operational condition so that it can join our fleet of passenger rolling stock. Although its appearance will be as close to the original as we can make it, it will of necessity remain a battery-operated electric trolley rather than a true cable car.

The trolley car's early history is somewhat hazy, but it was probably built in the 1880's as a trailer car, pulled by a cable car, on the "Yellow Line" interurban trolley system of the Los Angeles Railway Co. ("LARY"). It has undergone several major reconfigurations during its long career: in 1894, it was converted to LARY electric trolley 57; in 1915, to LARY materials car 4311; in the 1940's, to a "California Car" for a major movie studio, to whom it was sold in 1943; and somewhere along the way its electric motors were replaced with a Corvair automobile engine, which is its current mode of power. The PMRRV purchased the trolley in the Spring of 1993 from a private party. Extensive structural, mechanical and cosmetic restoration was carried out by PMRR Volunteers over the following 3 years and the trolley became fully operational in the Spring of 1996. Additional cosmetic changes were completed in 1997.

The gallows turntable of the Poway-Midland Railroad.

The stand up boiler engine.

The open air passenger cars.

The speeder that pulled our train the last time we were here.

The history of the Poway-Midland Railroad.

The caboose, which now rests on a section of track across from the train barn, was built in 1937 for the Southern Pacific Railroad. It was retired from service following a crash in 1964 which severely bent its frame. You can see the damage by looking under the caboose at its eastern end. The caboose was acquired by John Porter and was sold to the City of Poway in 1987. It is an excellent example of a trainman's rolling home of the 1930s and 1940s and is presently undergoing extensive renovation. Eventually, it will be fully restored and outfitted with period-appropriate furnishings and equipment for public viewing.

The boxcar, which now rests on its own section of track across from the train barn, was built in 1960. It was donated to the City of Poway by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Company in 1991. Currently, it is used for storage of parts removed from our rolling stock during renovation and for preservation of our collection of railroad equipment and artifacts. We have a long-term plan to clear the boxcar and set up a series of static displays inside with the theme "The History of Railroading."

Three views of the Engine 3 which was built by Baldwin in 1907.

The Baldwin Builders Plate on Engine 3.

The inside of the Engine 3 Cab.

The fire of Engine 3. We waited for the engine boiler to heat up and I had to go to the car to get some of my business cards for our hosts.

Another view of Engine 3 before we boarded the coach for the Safety Run around the railroad. We left the engine house and headed out on the loop line around Old Poway Park.

We rode the Safety Run around Old Poway Park. Now I would walk around Old Poway Park to get pictures of the steam train out on the early runs of this late morning.

The steam train waiting at the Poway Station. As they loaded the first run of the day I found my first photo location of the morning.

The bridge over Rattlesnake Creek. I set up on the north side of the Old Poway Park. Now we will watch the steam train coming to my photo location.

Here came Steam Engine 3 to my location.

Next the train crossed Rattlesnake Creek on the northeast side of Old Poway Park. I set up at my next photo location.

The train ran along the west side of Old Poway Park. I relocated for my next set of pictures.

The train came across Rattlesnake Creek and by my photo location. I set up again at the Rattlesnake Creek Bridge for my next runby.

The train crossed the Rattlesnake Creek Bridge. I relocated to my next photo location.

The train went through the southwest grade crossing. I relocated to my next photo location.

The train ran through the southeast grade crossing. One more set of photos to get.

The train returned to the Poway Station and we headed back to Solana Beach. I bought an upgrade Pacific Business Class Ticket to use with my ten ride to get home to Santa Ana. Pacific Surfliner 777 took me home to Santa Ana ending a great trip to the Poway-Midland Railroad. A special thank you to the staff members of the Poway-Midland Railroad for giving us a very special visit today.