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Through the Smoke As We Head to Sacramento 9/10/2020

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I decided to ride the Skookum steam engine on the Niles Canyon Railway. By coming up here, it gave us an opportunity for Elizabeth to ride the Sacramento light rail, both of us the Sonoma- Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). I needed SMART and the Berryessa end of BART plus the VTA from Tasmin to Mountain View. We left Santa Ana at 8:50 AM and drove CA 57 to CA 210 when in Monrovia, we had to turn off the air conditioning because the air was so smokey, you could taste it. This was horrible. We continued up Interstate 5 to CA 43 which we took to our first stop in Shafter. After seeing the Pacific Electric Trolley Cafe closed due to COVID-19 and not open on this day of the week. In Shafter, I asked Elizabeth if she had ever seen the station to take pictures. She said that she would like to so we pulled into the parking lot and found the gate open and walked into the property.

The Shafter Santa Fe station, now a museum which was closed due to COVID-19.

I like wig-wag train signals.

Santa Fe wooden caboose 773. Here we found a caretaker who knew who I was when I gave him my card and we both thought it was from Winterail in Stockton. From here we drove to Wasco and made our way over to the locomotive that is in town.

Savage Rail GP7u 8611.

BNSF 7283 East at Sandrini. We drove north on Highway 43 and I had a surprise to show Elizabeth in Allensworth.

Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe wooden boxcar 1332 used a station at Allensworth.

Elizabeth at Allensworth.

Colonel Allensworth, a retired clergyman from the all-black 24th Infantry regiment, along with William Alexander Payne and three other black settlers, established the town to be the first in California, founded, financed and governed by blacks. Allensworth's reputation drew many from all over the country to the town, causing some to buy property sight-unseen in order to support the efforst. In the early 20th century, the area caused a great boom and hosted California's first African-American school district by 1910. With the death of Colonel Allensworth in 1914, the town experienced extreme losses coupled with severe drought and decreased crop yields. Many residents left the area following World War I and the town was scheduled for demoliton in 1966 when arsenic was found in the water supply. The town was memorialized as a State Park in 1974 and hosts events annually to preserve its history. We then drove to Corcoran and waited for Amtrak, so we thought. We saw a headlight but slowly made out it was a BNSF baretable train.

The Amtrak station in Corcoran.

BNSF 4173 East at Corcoran. With this train in Corcoran when Amtrak was due, we knew that if we could get north, we could get a picture of it out of town, which is what we decided to do.

Amtrak San Joaquin 710 north of Corcoran. From here we went to Guernsey and asked if we could take photographs of the two locomotives on the property and they said to take it through the fence.

J.D. Heiskell and Co. GP9u 26 and SD9 50. I then took Elizabeth to find some other locomotives in Hanford and were we surprised with our finds.

Progress Rail SD40T-2 2941 and SD40T-2 2925, both former Southern Pacific units.

A view of both units at the grainery. We went back to the next crossing and found another locomotive.

Hanford Grain SE15B 1501. We drove to Selma and had lunch at The Habit before continuing north on CA 99. Now I will show you views of the California high speed rail project's bridges that we passed.

The California high speed rail bridge crossing California Highway 99 south of Fresno.

Union Pacific GP60 1081.

The bridge of the San Joaquin River and the Union Pacific main line. From here we drove to Merced so Elizabeth could photograph the Southern Pacific station.

The former Southern Pacific station in Merced, now the Chamber of Commerce.

Amtrak San Joaquin 715 at Sharon.

BNSF 8063 East at Sharon.

Southern Pacific Merced station before we drove north to just short of Elk Grove where we made a slight detour to see what was left of the California Central Traction at Liberty Road.

California Central Traction at Liberty Road.

The orange Sun at Liberty Road. From here we went to Calvine Road and the Texas Roadhouse for an outdoor dinner under the tent.

My nephew Adam and Elizabeth under the tent.

My nephew Adam and Elizabeth outside of the tent.

My nephew Adam and the author outside the tent. I had a top sirloin which was excellent and good conversations were held between the three of us.

After dinner on the way to the car, I shot a picture of the restaurant before we drove to the Delta King and parked in the parking structure by the I Street bridge. We walked along the railroad to the Delta King and checked in and had a very nice night aboard the ship.