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Steam at Poway-Midland Railroad 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 photographed a Coaster train at the Batiquitos Lagoon, we would head over to Poway. After my usual chores, I drove down to the Santa Ana station and parked before waiting for my train to arrive.

Pacific Surfliner 562 arrived and I boarded the train for my trip to Solana Beach. With Hurricane Ileana spinning off Baja California, large surf was called for so we would see the surf as we made our way along the San Clemente Beach this morning.

My favorite United States flag at Capistrano Beach.

The surf of the Pacific Ocean was smaller than forecast.

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

Batiquitos Lagoon.

Pacific Surfliner 567 crossed the lagoon.

Coaster 680 also crossed the lagoon. We then drove out to Poway and were able to park in the first spot in front of the station. We walked over to the engine house where we met Doug Williams along with James and Kim Keeline, members of the crew.

Poway-Midland Railway

Cowell Cement 0-4-0 3 was built by Baldwin in 1907, is oil-fired and designed to run on 42" gauge for the Henry Cowell Lime and Cement Company. In 1952 it was sold to the South San Francisco Scrap Line where it sat for eight years. In 1960, Charles Polland of Vista, California, 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 and 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 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.

San Francisco cable car 17 built by the California Street Cable Railroad in 1906 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 Company, which operated a 12-mile line in San Francisco, on California Street between Market Street and Presidio Avenue. It was built 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.

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 17, then almost 50 years old, was sold to the Knott's Berry Farm amusement park in Orange County, as one of a package of six cars. After providing park visitors with rides for 33 years, the six cars were retired in 1988 and 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. 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 spring 1993 from a private party. Extensive structural, mechanical and cosmetic restoration was carried out by PMRR Volunteers over the following three years and the trolley became fully operational in spring 1996. Additional cosmetic changes were completed in 1997.

The gallows turntable of the Poway-Midland Railroad.

The stand-up boiler engine.

Open air passenger cars.

The speeder that pulled our train back in July when we were here.

The history of the Poway-Midland Railroad.

Southern Pacific caboose 1037 built by the railroad in 1937. It was retired from service following a crash in 1964 which severely bent its frame. 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 1930's and 1940's and is presently undergoing extensive renovation. Eventually, it will be fully restored and outfitted with period-appropriate furnishings and equipment for public viewing.

Santa Fe box car 591260 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 Cowell Cement Company 0-4-0 3

The Baldwin builder's plate.

Interior of the steam engine's cab.

The fire of Engine 3. We waited for the engine boiler to heat up and while it did so, I returned to the car for some business cards for our hosts.

Another view of the steam engine 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 the park to get pictures of the steam train on the early runs of this late morning.

The steam train waiting at the station. As they loaded the first run of the day, I found my first photo location.

The bridge over Rattlesnake Creek. I set up on the north side of the park. Now we will watch the steam train approaching.

Here came the steam train.

Next it crossed Rattlesnake Creek on the northeast side of the park and I set up at my next photo location.

Its passage along the west side of the park, after which I relocated.

The train came across Rattlesnake Creek and past my location. I set up again at the Rattlesnake Creek bridge for the next runby.

Crossing Rattlesnake Creek bridge and again, I relocated.

The train went through the southwest grade crossing, after which I moved.

Going through the southeast grade crossing. One more set of photos to take.

The train returned to the Poway station and we drove back to Solana Beach where 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, ending a great trip to the Poway-Midland Railroad. A special thank you to the staff members for giving us a very special visit today.