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Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Blue Unit Circus Train to and from San Diego

by Chris Guenzler

8/4/2014 After I saw the circus this year at the Honda Center in Anaheim (Click here for the story), I just needed to wait for the day when the train left Anaheim for San Diego.

That morning I rode to Solana Beach, watched some television and had lunch before driving to the Winston Walker's home in Tustin where his daughter Christy and I walked to the Yale Avenue bridge over Metrolink's San Diego Subdivision. Once we arrived, we saw a headlight coming our way.

A 45-minute late Pacific Surfliner 774 came flying down the rails on its way to Irvine.

Here is some information about the Blue Unit Circus Train.

BLUE UNIT 2014 Circus Train

(The FIRST half of their 2-year tour with the 144th Edition of RBBB Circus: "LEGEND") TOTALS: 61 cars -- 4,490 tons -- 5,409 feet

UP 7249 and UP 6956
RBBX 40006 Coach 172; UP 5459
RBBX 40010 Coach 187; UP Alpine Camp
RBBX 40011 Coach 180; UP Alpine Pass
RBBX 40013 Coach 193; UP American General
RBBX 40014 Coach 199; UP American View
RBBX 40016 Coach 166; UP 5461
RBBX 41301 Coach 167; PRR 8242 Anderson Inn
RBBX 41304 Coach 184; PRR 8257 Elmira Inn
RBBX 41305 Coach 169; PRR 8263 Jeanette Inn
RBBX 41307 Coach 186; PRR 8267 Lewistown Inn
RBBX 41308 Coach 174; PRR 8268 Lima Inn
RBBX 41309 Coach 175; N&W Duke University
RBBX 41312 Coach 191; UP 5513
RBBX 41316 Coach 188; PRR 8260 Greensburg Inn
RBBX 41317 Coach 185; PRR 8288 Uniontown Inn
RBBX 41402 Coach 194; B&O 7103 Kingfisher
RBBX 41404 Coach 190; SAL 52 Pinehurst
RBBX 41405 Coach 170; SAL 55 Cedartown
RBBX 42001 Coach 183; UP 5401
RBBX 42005 Coach 198; Center Vestibule; UP 5407
RBBX 42006 Coach 196; Center Vestibule; UP 5410
RBBX 42009 Coach 197; Center Vestibule; UP 5418
RBBX 42010 Coach 176; UP 5419
RBBX 42011 Coach 195; UP 5421
RBBX 42013 Coach 189; UP 5425
RBBX 42014 Coach 168; UP 5431
RBBX 42015 Coach 179; UP 5432
RBBX 42016 Coach 178; UP 5433
RBBX 43003 Coach 177; UP 5507
RBBX 43007 Coach 171; UP 5540
RBBX 43009 Coach 173; UP 5488
RBBX 43012 Coach 192; UP 5541
RBBX 60001 SHOP 165 (Circus Train Crew); UP 5749 [Postal/Storage; original floor remains in office]
RBBX 60006 STOCK 2; UP 6312 [Baggage/Messenger]
RBBX 60010 STOCK 3; UP 6318 [Baggage/Messenger]
RBBX 60017 STOCK 4; UP 6304 [Baggage/Messenger]
RBBX 63005 SHOP 200 (Circus Porter crew); UP 5758 [Postal/Storage]
RBBX 63009 STOCK 1; UP 5762 [Postal/Storage]
RBBX 63010 PIE CAR 181; UP 5770 [Postal/Storage]
RBBX 63013 Generator/480V[Car 44]; UP 5770 [Postal/Storage] (borrowed from RED UNIT 2014)
RBBX 80702 Flat-89'; SHPX 9500
RBBX 80703 Flat-89'; ACF 4 (prototype ACF piggyback flat, fourth of the first 10)
RBBX 80704 Flat-89'; GTW 303063
RBBX 80705 Flat-89'; GTW 303068
RBBX 80707 Flat-89'; GTW 303461
RBBX 80708 Flat-89'; SHPX 99503 [former Red Unit Bi-level "RBX 27"]
RBBX 80710 Flat-89'; ACF 2 (prototype ACF piggyback flat; of the first 10)
RBBX 80713 Flat-89'; ACF ? (prototype ACF piggyback flat; of the first 10)
RBBX 80714 Flat-89'; ACF ? (prototype ACF piggyback flat; of the first 10)
RBBX 80715 Flat-89'; ACF ? (prototype ACF piggyback flat; of the first 10)
RBBX 80718 Flat-89'; FEC 4039
RBBX 84704 Flat-89'; GTW 303076
RBBX 84706 Flat-89'; TTGX 961763 [a former TTX Corp. Bi-level] (961793?)
RBBX 84707 Flat-89'; GTW 303010 [later, WC 5903]
RBBX 84713 Flat-89'; BTTX 910675[a former Bi-level flatcar; later: JTTX 910675]*
RBBX 84717 Flat-89'; BTTX 930349 [a former Bi-level flatcar; later: JTTX 930349]*
RBBX 84718 Flat-89'; CREX 351
RBBX 84719 Flat-89'; CREX 352
RBBX 84801 COFC-89'; GTW 304235
RBBX 84802 COFC-89'; TTX 151227 [for TOFC loading; later became JTTX 151227]
RBBX 85702 Flat-89'; GTW 303142

*These former BTTX Bi-level flatcars were acquired by RBBB with "JTTX" reporting marks - and with the same number.

This list shows the train's consist in ALPHA-NUMERIC order.(The train never travels in this order.)

Now we waited with Winston and AC Adam calling with updates from First one was "According to the radio conversation I just heard, they are ready to go and awaiting a light". That meant he was following Pacific Surfliner 774. Next "They just squealed around the curve at CP Maple in Orange at 2:17 PM, with UP units". The final one was "Update 2:20 about to roll through Tustin, lined in at El Toro to wait for 7 according to the DS".

Now the three of us saw the headlight and I was ready to take my series of pictures.

I called AC Adam and he posted "According to Mudrock, RBB&B Circus Train passed at Yale Ave in Irvine at 2:32PM." We returned to the Walker house very satisfied then I went home to relax before tonight's Orange County Railroad Historical Society meeting. It was a very good day in my life and next Monday, we would catch the circus train coming northbound.

8/11/2014 I arose early and left the house at 6:00 AM, driving to Califia Beach in San Clemente where I paid to park for three hours and walked towards my usual photo spot here. As I was walking, I heard a train approaching from behind.

Metrolink 803. I then walked south to my usual photo spot at Califia Beach.

Metrolink 607. From here I hiked up to the top of the bluff above the tracks.

The views from my photo location above Califia Beach.

Pacific Surfliner 763 from above. I returned to my usual location.

Pacific Surfliner 763.

Metrolink 850.

Pacific Surfliner 565. I walked back to my car then drove over to the Trestles pay lot, paid to park there and started my hike to San Mateo Bluff down old US 101 highway and called Carl Morrison to tell him where to park.

On my hike, Pacific Surfliner 564 passed me on its way south. I arrived at my photo location on the bluff and give Carl directions to find me.

I enjoyed watching the surfers while I waited for the trains to roll by below.

Metrolink 600.

Pacific Surfliner 567, after which Carl joined me.

Pacific Surfliner 566. AC Adam and Christy Walker kept us updated on the Circus Train's progress and in addition, Mark Johnson was down on Miramar Hill.

Pacific Surfliner 769. Someone posted on "Just heard from SD Dispatcher and it sounds like a 7pm departure like the M-SDGBAR out of SD. Bummer. I was hoping to go out on the pier to get it. Maybe things will change I will keep everyone posted if I hear anymore. I see it now picking up more cars out of SD and it has 2 UP units that it came down with and 2 BNSF units. So it will be lead by a BNSF engine".

A few minutes later, I called AC Adam who was watching the train being made up from a San Diego web cam.

The view from San Mateo Bluff.

Pacific Surfliner 768. AC Adam posted "On his way as of 11:20!"

Pacific Surfliner 573 crossed San Onofre Creek at Trestles Beach, then Mark called said it went by him on Miramar Hill.

Metrolink 851.

Pacific Surfliner 572. Later it was posted "Stopped at Carlsbad, issues with 3rd car from the rear". Mark went by it, stopping at Stuart Mesa on his way to Las Pulgas Road.

Pacific Surfliner 777.

Pacific Surfliner 774. Carl walked back to our cars to pay for more parking and I would use his camera to videotape the circus train when it arrived.

Pacific Surfliner 579 crossed San Onofre Creek at Trestles Beach. Mark called to tell me the circus train went by him at Las Pulgas Road and I knew he would pull into San Onofre to let Metrolink 641 get by.

Metrolink 641 crossed the creek. Now, would the Circus train be our next one? Only time will tell.

Click here for Part 2