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Pacific Railroad Society National Forum Private Car Trip Los Angeles to San Diego and return 6/15/2019

by Chris Guenzler

I saw a post on about a private car trip with the Pacific Railroad Society aboard the National Forum, a private car I had yet to ride. I signed up then called Chris Parker who also signed up. We would take Pacific Surfliner 562 down and Pacific Surfliner 591 back aboard the the National Forum. Chris and I both got open section A so we would be sitting together. I enjoyed my summer vaction after another school year finished and I rode the train daily until the morning of the trip.

The morning of the trip I was up at 4:30 AM and fixed breakfast before I drove north up Interstate 5 to LAUPT and parked un the MTA building parking lot and got my ticket to park my car. I then walked into the tunnel looking for a green vested Pacific Railroad Society to sign in for this unique trip. I then walked up to the platform and boarded the National Forum after a pair of pictures.

Pacific Surfliner 562 at rest at LAUPT.

The National Forum Private Car, walked to the next platform over.

Pacific Surfliner 562 still at rest at LAUPT.

The National Forum Private Car. I then reboarded the train.

National Forum Private Car History

In 1955 and 1956, the Union Pacific Railroad, along with City of St. Louis partner railroad the Wabash, received some of the last sleepers to be built before the advent of Amtrak. In addition, these cars, named in the National series, were also the last passenger cars built with open sections.

The National cars contained 6 sections, 4 double bedrooms, and 6 roomettes (6-4-6). Although similar in accommodations to the pre-war American (4-6-6) series of cars built for the UP, the Nationals had numerous improvements and modifications. The most notable changes from the Americans design were the placement and design of the four double bedrooms. In the Americans, the double bedrooms were over one of the trucks and closest to the vestibule. This meant that one of the most expensive accommodations were located in the one of the noisiest areas of a passenger car. In the Nationals, the bedrooms were moved to the quieter center of the car, away from the trucks and vestibule. In addition, unlike the American bedrooms, the toilets in the National bedrooms were enclosed.

The Nationals were assigned to the City of Portland, City of Denver, and City of St. Louis trains. Numerous changes in the passenger traffic occurred on the UP during the late 1950's and early 1960's. By June 30th, 1968, due to reduction in passenger traffic on the UP and the discontinuance of the City of St. Louis with the merger of the Wabash into the Norfolk and Western, the Nationals service was relegated to the secondary service on the Denver to Portland Portland Rose. By December 1969, the Portland Rose was history and the Nationals were idle. During the 1970-71 ski seasons, the UP Los Angeles passenger office operated at least two ski trains to Sun Valley utilizing the idle Nationals. In addition, the UP used the Nationals in special excursion service until the advent of Amtrak in 1971.

Between 1969 and 1971, the Pacific Railroad Society leased the National Forum and other National cars for excursion service. Impressed with the cars, PRS bought two of the Nationals. In October 1971, PRS purchased the National Forum and, in December 1971, purchased the National Embassy.

The National Forum has been used extensively in excursion travel. The National Forum is the only PRS car that is Amtrak compatible. In 1993, PRS members Will Walters and Marti Ann Draper completed the Amtrak work with assistance from Bill Farmer and Dave Abbott.

Thin wheels and cracked discs delayed the refurbishment of the National Embassy. It was stored and never saw operation service with the Pacific Railroad Society. In 1977, the National Embassy was traded to William Gawzner of Santa Barbara for a former Amtrak, former Southern Pacific Daylight coach.

The Trip

Chris showed up ten minutes before the train left and we were all set to enjoy our day together.

Our open section that we would be sitting in. The train left LAUPT right on time with me enjoying a Coca-Cola.

Santa Fe 4-8-4 3751 is under the 1475 rule being repaired and all of its flues being replaced.

Later in this early morning journey we passed by the Tustin Blimp Hangars which are the world's largest wooden structures.

Barry and Marty Darper talked with Chris and I about several topics.

Chris Parker was truly enjoying his trip this morning.

The train met the Paciic Ocean at Doheny State Beach.

Wave damage at the south end of Doheny State Beach.

South of the North Beach San Clemente station we start our true Surf Riding.

The San Clemente Pier.

Right before we leave the beach.

Me enjoying the National Forum.

Right before we reached Del Mar.

The lagoon before Del Mar.


The other passengers in the open section on this National Forum trip this morning.

A surfer catches a wave this morning.

Two views along the Del Mar Bluffs.

The views along the lagoon after we left the Del Mar Bluffs. I showed Chris the trolley construction in the bottom of Rose Canyon.

Mission Bay San Diego.

Bad view of the San Diego Airport before we arrived into San Diego early this morning thanks to a late running Pacific Surfliner 1567. Chris and I detrained from the National Forum.

Pacific Surfliner 562 now becomes Pacific Surfliner 1569 for LAUPT.

The PRS National Forum waiting for the passengers to Los Angeles to arrive. Chris and I then visited the station.

A Green line trolley heads to 12th and Imperial.

The Santa Fe station in San Diego.

A Green line trolley passes the Santa Fe station on its way to Santee. We walked down to the San Diego

USS Dewey Destroyer Arleigh Burke Class DDG-105 and USS Wayne E. Meyer Destroyer Arleigh Burke Class DDG-108. From there and I bought us Complete Harbor Tour Tickets so we would do bother ends of the harbor.

San Diego Harbor Cruise

See San Diego's top sights from the water, and save money on transport with this affordable cruise that passes Coronado Bridge, the Naval Base, and sea lions. You'll learn about the waterway's importance to the city via narration, and enjoy the view indoors or out. With options including either a 1- or 2-hour cruise, and multiple tour times, this guided cruise fits easily into any San Diego sightseeing plan.

What to Expect

Meet for this San Diego cruise on North Harbor Drive. Once you check in, board the boat and find the area that suits you. You can sit indoors or outdoors, including on the sun deck. Your cruise is fully narrated, and you can learn interesting facts about San Diego, its history, and its landmarks. If you're lucky, you might catch sight of local seals and sea lions, too. What you see depends on whether you're on the 1-hour or 2-hour cruise. During both cruises, you can see the Coronado Bridge, the US Naval Base, and the Star of India. During the 2-hour cruise, you can also see the North Island Naval Air Station, the Naval Sub Base, and Cabrillo National Monument. Snacks and beverages are available on board to purchase. Your tour ends back at the meeting place where you boarded your ship.

Our Trip

We got into the line, gave her our tickets and skipped getting our pictures and then waited for the boat to load on the ramp.

Our boat for the tour was the Spirit of San Diego. Chris and I boarded and took a table on the top deck.

There was a Classic Car show going on the Broadway Pier this morning.

The Broadway Pier is used by Cruise Ship lines and other events like a Classic Car show this morning. With three toots of the horn we were then backing up to start the Harbor Tour.

The view from the upper deck.

The Adventure Hornblower backed from the dock in a straight line.

The USN Midway Midway Class Aircraft Carrier CV-41 provided a great way to start a harbor tour.

The dock from which we came from this morning.

Rear views of the USS Dewey Destroyer Arleigh Burke Class DDG-105 and USS Wayne E. Meyer Destroyer Arleigh Burke Class DDG-108.

View of the San Diego skyline.

The Star of India boat.

The Southern Pacific Ferry Berkely and a ship used in the last Pirates of the Carribean Movie.

There is also a Russian Submarine here in San Diego.

Some other tall ships are moored at the docks.

All kinds of boats can be found in San Diego Harbor.

The Coast Guard has a strong showing in San Diego Harbor.

A large Aircarft Carrier we would see later more close on this harbor tour.

We would see this boat later on the harbor tour.

The views of downtown San Diego.

The entire downtown San Diego skyline.

Looking towards Coronado Bay Bridge.

Kayakers were putting on a show for us this morning.

A restaurant on a point of land.

The entire downtown San Diego skyline.

Looking up to the bridge.

A dolphin leaps from the water.

A like the roads climbing the hills.

Views from our north harbor tour.

Interesting things abound on this unique harbor tour.

We floated by another inlet.

This is where dolphins are trained to find mines.

Interest abounds on this harbor tour.

California Sea Lions are seen on the dock.

These pens area are for the USN Submarines.

A dry dock for USN Submarines.

The Veteran graveyard on Point Loma.

Point Loma.

You can see the Point Loma Lighthouse.

In this view you cab see the Hotel Coronado.

Bunkers for ammunition storage.

Those hills are in another country of Mexico.

Hangars for our quick response team of US Navy pilots.

Wars planes ready to see action when necessary.

Click here for Part 2 of this story!