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Fillmore and Western 7/3/1993

by Chris Guenzler

The Fillmore and Western was hosting a Rail Festival over the July 4th weekend with Bruce Fenton and I deciding to attend. We drove up to Fillmore found a place to park and started our visit.

The Fillmore and Western Railroad is part of a company called Short Line Enterprises which was founded in 1967. This company's train equipment has been used in many movies over the years. In 1985 the company moved its operation to the Newhall Ranch to be closer to Hollywood. They prospered at that location until 1990 when they lost their track lease. They searched all over Southern California for a new location for their operations needing a railroad line to continue doing business. They finally picked the ex Southern Pacific Santa Paula Branch in Ventura County. This line was ideal as it was located in a rural area and the town of Fillmore was a unique city. The city had great enthusiasm for the vintage train operations and that lead to the redevelopment of the 1920's Central Business District. It's a case where a business and city works hand in hand for the best of everybody. We need more of this in our world!

We looked at the railroad's equipment on display including the ex SP RS-32. The passenger train came into the loading area with the ex CNW F units on the west end and the ex Great Western steam engine 41 on the other. The F units numbered 100 and 101 came by way of the Maryland Midland and were originally CNW 4068 and C&N 4063, both built in 1949. The Great Western 51, a 2-8-0 built in 1906, spending its early years in Colorado.

Today's trip was going to Sespe which is about six miles west of Fillmore. The F units would pull the train west to Sespe and the 51 would pull the train east back to town. After all the pictures were taken, Bruce and I boarded the train for our first trip on this railroad.

With two toots of the 100's horn, the train started west. We slowly moved across the main drag of Fillmore which would make a good movie set due to its historical looks. We went by the former packing house. The train rolled along crossing Sespe Creek on a Truss Bridge.

This stream has several branches and moments later, our train crossed another bridge over the rushing water. The train ran west through the orange groves that Orange County once had. In fact when my family moved into our house in 1959 we had an orange grove right across the street until the housing track was put in 1967. My early train riding was through orange groves all the way across the future city of Irvine. Santa Ana Canyon was still full of orange groves when I took that rerouted Desert Wind though there with Jeff in 1980. You are lucky to find an orange grove in Orange County any more. So it was no surprise that I enjoyed my journey through these in Ventura County.

We continued west as Bruce and I enjoyed this trip. We crossed Snow Creek as well as some smaller creeks as our journey through the groves went on. The train went across Boulder Creek before we reached Sespe where we paused briefly before we started back to Fillmore.

Now we got to enjoy that chug, chug, chug of the ex Great Western 51 as well as its whistle. The engine sound was so enjoyable to hear and watching the plume of smoke rise from the engine was very impressive.

The engine looked beautiful as it curved ahead of the train and out the Sespe Creek Bridges.

We steamed by the packing house and back into town.

We arrived back in Fillmore and after a few pictures, Bruce and I had some lunch while the next train loaded. We then went to the west bridge to set up and start our photography and chasing of the next two trains of the day. After a very satisfying day of steam on the Fillmore and Western we headed home to Santa Ana.

Fillmore and Western 7/29/1995

Jeff picked me up and we headed to Fillmore for a trip to Santa Paula. We drove to Fillmore via Moorpark and found a place to park. We purchased our tickets and looked around until boarding time. Our train had the RS-32 4009 on the west end and the ex Great Western 51 on the east end. We left at 11:00 AM and followed my pervious trip out to Sespe. We ran out onto new trackage for me before crossing Highway 126 with the Santa Clara River to our south. People driving on the highway took long hard looks at our train as this was a unique rail adventure. We ran west to the south of the highway until Keser where we crossed the road again before running into Santa Paula stopping at the old wooden station so that the crew could change ends before heading back to Fillmore.

I really enjoyed another trip through the Orange Groves. We shot a few pictures of the train departing back to Santa Paula on another trip before heading home.

Fillmore and Western 3/24/2000

I drove down to the Amtrak station in Santa Ana to take train 769 to Moorpark. I had a relaxing ride with cute young women talking to me about my train travels most of the way there. We ran on time to Moorpark where Jeff was waiting for me having drove up from Long Beach. Jeff drove us over the hills to Fillmore where we parked and We found the friendly little "Sespe" a 0-4-0 built in 1891 running happily back and forth.

We purchased our ticket for the trip to Wiloughby before we boarded our train pulled by the F-unit 101 on the west end and Ventura County ex SP S-6 FW 1049 on the east end.

The train headed west across Sespe Creek and out into the Orange Groves to a place known as Wiloughby.

We returned to Fillmore where Jeff got the chance to run the Sespe and after a shot of him in the cab I went out to the signal to wait for him to pass

Once Jeff had finished his running of the Sespe and we looked around a bit more, it was time to get me back to Moorpark so I could catch 784 home to Santa Ana ending another great trip to the Fillmore and Western Railway.