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The trip home from Niles Canyon 12/7/2020

by Chris Guenzler

Robin and Chris met us at 7:30 AM at our car and I drove us all to the Pleasanton station.

Southern Pacific Pleasanton station. From here we drove over Altamont Pass as this was Robin's first trip to the pass.

The station sign board on the Pleasanton station.

Union Pacific 3075 East at Altamont. We next drove to Powers Park.

Southern Pacific 0-6-0 1293 at Powers Park. Next we looked around the Tracy yard.

Union Pacific Cotton Belt GP60 1004.

A long line of stored Union Pacific motive power at Tracy.

Union Pacific SD70M 3916. Next we drove to Mossdale.

The Southern Pacific Mossdale Bridge across the San Joaquin River. We drove to Escalon and took Highway J7 to Riverbank before going to MacDonald's in north Modesto for a drive through breakfast which we ate in the parking lot.


The Modesto Southern Pacific station. Next we went to the Modesto & Empire Traction shops.

Modesto & Empire Traction RP20BD 2003.

Modesto & Empire Traction RP20BD 2006.

Modesto & Empire Traction 2006 and 1501.

Modesto & Empire Traction RP20BD 2006.

Modesto & Empire Traction SW1500 1501. Next we returned to Highway J7 to head to Merced.

RPRX RP20BD 5405 at the Sierra Grain Terminal in Hughson.

Amtrak San Joaquin 713 north of Denair. We drove into Merced.

Amtrak San Joaquin 712 at Merced. Next we took Elizabeth and Robin to the Southern Pacific station in town.

The Southern Pacific station in Merced. Next we took Elizabeth and Robin out to the Obelisk along Highway 140.

This is the George Hicks Fancher's Obelisk. Fancher was a wealthy California rancher and he made sure people would remember that. His will stipulated that $25,000 be used to erect a monument in his honor and the product was the 68-foot tall granite plinth towering just off the California 140 highway. When the obelisk was being planned, a local schoolteacher even lobbied to use the funds to build a library in the small town, but this was vetoed by Fancher's surviving family. To this day, the huge gravestone stands, maintained by a trust, and the small town of Merced remains in its shadow.

George Hicks Fancher's Obeslisk.

The Santa Fe Le Grand station. We had no more trains along the BNSF we went into Madera so Robin could photograph that station. Our next stop would be in Kingsburg.

The planters of these trees came pretty close to pinpointing on Highway 99 the midline between the northern and southern borders of California. The northern border of California next to Oregon at around 42 degrees 00 minutes latitude. The southernmost point of the southern border, where California, Mexico, and the Pacific Ocean come together, is at around 32 degrees 32 minutes latitude. Doing it the simple way, you arrive at a midpoint latitude of 37 degrees 16 minutes. Where the palm meets the pine is three miles south of the city of Madera at around 36 degrees 54 minutes latitude. So the planters were off by around 22 minutes of latitude - a crow hanging out at the palm and the pine would have to fly north around 25 miles to get to the midline of California. Well, when you use miles instead of minutes. Taken from A Geographer's Scrapbook.

The Kingsburg Southern Pacific station built in 1903.

The station sign board on the Kingsburg Station.

The unique water tower in Kingsburg.

The signboard at the Kingsburg station.

The plaque on the Kingsburg station building. Elizabeth would drive us home from here.

J.D. Heiskell GP9 1886, originally Northern Pacific 232, north of Pixley.

Union Pacific 5622 East north of Pixley. She drove us into Bakerfield to The Habit where we ordered at the drive through and ate in the car under Covid-19 restrictions. After dinner we had one more stop to make in Bakersfield.

Rail America GP40 5033.

San Joaquin GP38 2082.

San Joaquin at work in the last light of day. Elizabeth drove to the rest area in light traffic and we all used that stop before she drove to Los Angeles Union station and we dropped off Chris Parker before she drove us to Santa Ana where we said goodbye to Robin. She then drove us back to our apartment. It had been an excellent trip but it was good to be back home.