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Trains Unlimited Tours "Domes to the Feather River Railroad Days"

by Chris Guenzler

Emeryville 8/26/2005

The group met at the Amtrak Emeryville Station for the private car trip to Sparks, Nevada. I came off Capitol Train 522 from Oakland this morning finding Bill Parks, our tour guide, talking with some other passengers. I quickly introduced myself and this started the first of the many great conversations I would have on this trip. We all moved our luggage over by the elevator where it would all be loaded first followed by our passengers. The station agent announced a delay to our California Zephyr and we learned it was a problem with the Amtrak dining car. They expected an hour delay to our departure. That meant I could railfan from the pedestrian bridge while I waited.

The first UP freight caught me by surprise but it stopped and I found this ex BNSF switcher 3528.

Capitol Train 527 from Auburn pulled into Emeryville.

BNSF 5743 next passed through Emeryville.

The California Zephyr pulled into Emeryville at 10:10 AM. The CZ had a consist of Engines 138 and 61, Baggage 1353, Transition 39007, Sleepers 32095 and 32026, Diner 38014, Lounge 33000, Coaches 34000, 34001 and 35009, Plaza Santa Fe 503 800392 and Silver Lariat 800190.

Plaza Santa Fe

Built by Pullman in 1950 as Pleasure Dome-Turquoise Dining Room (a favorite of film stars and other notables)-bar lounge 503 for the Santa Fe's premier "Super Chief" streamliner. Acquired by Amtrak in 1971 and renumbered to 9353. California Rail Tours, who added the car's originally intended Plaza Santa Fe name, has owned this dome car since 1986. Dome, nine-seat private dining room, bar-lounge under the dome, full beverage and limited meal service. Diesel generator, stereo. Capacity 40. The car is based out of Salinas.

The Dome of the Plaza Santa Fe.

The Forward Lounge of the Plaza Santa Fe.

The Lower Lounge and Bar under the Dome of the Plaza Santa Fe.

The passageway along the Lower Lounge.

The Turquoise Room of the Plaza Santa Fe.

Silver Lariat

Silver Lariat was built by the Budd Company in 1948 for the famous California Zephyr train which operated between Chicago and San Francisco. The Silver Lariat, following its CZ days, wandered the country as Amtrak 9452 until 1985. After Amtrak service from 1971-1985, the present owners completely overhauled Silver Lariat mechanically, and renovated the interior. The car features an observation dome seating 24, for viewing the passing scenery, complete with lounge tables. Very comfortable reclining coach seats on the main level seats 44, with pillows and blankets available for overnights. Silver Lariat can carry 68 day passengers and 40 overnight. Dining tables are available on the lower level. The galley provides beverage and full gourmet multi-course dining service. The car is Amtrak compatible, including push-pull service. Silver Lariat has an on-board diesel generator, TV/VCR, including public address, CD player, and radio tuner. It is now owned and operated by California Zephyr Railcar Charters, headquartered in Costa Mesa, CA. Bert Dorland, William Hall and Cliff McDaniel of the Silver Lariat Staff.

Forward Coach Section of the Silver Lariat.

Bert Dorland, William Hall and Cliff McDaniel of the Silver Lariat Staff.

The Rear Coach Section of the Silver Lariat.

Passageway under the Dome of the Silver Lariat.

The Dome of the Silver Lariat.

The Domes to the Feather River Railroad Days Trip 8/26/2005

I took a seat in the Dome of the Plaza Santa Fe and we departed Emeryville at 10:22 AM {9:15 AM}. I took the pictures of the inside of the cars as we headed north through Berkeley.

Our CZ passed the BART Richmond Station.

Our train ran along San Pablo Bay at Pinole.

Looking back at the Interstate 80 Bridges at Crockett.

Running along the Carquinez Straits. We stopped at Martinez to pick up two passengers for our tour.

Curving onto the great railroad bridge at Martinez.

The Mothball Fleet of the United States Navy.

We stopped at Bahia to wait for Capitol Train 533 to head west towards the Bay Area.

A look back at the Silver Lariat as we passed through Cannon.

We traveled to our next station stop of Davis.

The CZ crossed the Yolo Bypass on the way to Sacramento. We departed Sacramento at 12:41 PM {11:14 AM}. The CZ headed east by the former McCullen Air Force Base and on to the JR Davis Yard in Roseville. We stopped at Roseville before we started the climb into the Sierra Foothills. I decided to take a better look at the Plaza Santa Fe.

Passengers enjoying the Forward Lounge of the Plaza Santa Fe.

Bartender Norman Bardley.

Wayne Yetter Jr, car owner and bartender waiting to serve.

I had lunch in the Turquoise Room of the Plaza Santa Fe with Ed Martin of San Francisco.

The passengers enjoying lunch in the Turquoise Room of the Plaza Santa Fe.

Our hip shaking Waiter William Hall who was excellent and entertaining.

Steve, our wonderful chef, who would cook all our excellent meals in the small gallery of the Silver Lariat.

Lelia, our wonderful Chef Assistant who just got out the dessert plates.

The Artwork on the forward end wall of the Plaza Santa Fe

The more I walked around the Plaza Santa Fe the more things I found to look at.

Me enjoying the Plaza Santa Fe inside a tunnel we passed through.

View of the Santa Fe Grill Work in the front of the Dome. We climbed into the pine trees before we got around the UP 5876 East and arrived into Colfax. We left Colfax at 3:58 PM {12:26 PM} and started the true climb over the Sierra Nevada.

The CZ crossed Long Ravine before we rounded Cape Horn. The CZ kept climbing passing through Gold Run, Alta and Blue Canon.

View from the Dome of the Plaza Santa Fe below Emigrant Gap.

The Gap of the Yuba River that Yuba Gap is named after.

The CZ runs through Yuba Gap.

Climbing between Yuba Gap and Norden. The CZ ran through Soda Springs and Norden before we entered the "Big Hole" also known as the Donner Pass Summit Tunnel. We exited and minutes later rounded the Sanford Curve before we ran down Cold Stream Canyon to Truckee. After a double stop, we departed Truckee at 6:22 PM {2:43 PM} and headed to Reno in the fading light of day. We followed the Truckee River Canyon east to Verdi before we passed through the ever expanding greater Reno Metro Area.

The Reno Sign that reads "Biggest Little City in the World". This might be the last time I see the sign lit up as it would not be seen from the train when the California Zephyr rides the new route through the trench.

The California Zephyr during its station stop at Reno. The CZ departed Reno at 7:33 PM {3:58 PM} and headed the last few miles to Sparks.

The CZ arrived into Sparks at 7:42 PM and after I detrained I walked for this view of our cars on the rear of the eastbound California Zephyr.

The Silver Lariat in Sparks.

The Plaza Santa Fe in Sparks.

This Shuttle Van took us to the John Ascuagus Nugget. I went straight to Room 1711 and had to go down to the Front Desk to have my phone turned on for a dollar a call. I walked over to the In and Out Burgers for Dinner before returning to my room to call home. My luggage was delivered to my room and I recharged the Digital Camera Batteries before calling it a night.

Sparks 8/27/2005

Up early, I visited a Bagel Counter for a Maple Bar and some fresh squeezed orange juice. I played a few slots before walking over to the Century 14 Theater to check show times for later this afternoon. I watched some of CNN news to get caught up on things and then the weather channel to see where Hurricane Katrina was. At 9:00 AM I walked out to board the bus for the trip to Portola Railroad Days 2005. It took about fifty minutes to go from Reno to Portola.

Portola 8/26/2005

I got off the bus and walked across the Guilling Street Bridge of the Feather River to a drug store for some supplies before heading back across the bridge.

The Middle Fork of the Feather River off the Guilling Street Bridge.

Street Vendors in booths on South Guilling Street.

One of our Trains Unlimited Passengers at the booth.

Kenneth Roller, local Portola Train Artist.

Portola 23rd Annual Railroad Days Festival Golden Spike Parade "Railroad Ties" 8/26/2005

At 11:00 AM every horn that could be blown in the Portola Railroad Museum blew to signal the start of the Golden Spike Parade.

The local Sheriff makes sure the parade route is clear so the parade can start.

The Golden Spike Parade Flag Bearers.

The Golden Spike Parade Banner Carriers.

The 2005 Grand Marshall's Willie Lawrence and Betty Marshall.

Fire Truck with Explorer Scouts.

The First of the Fantastic Restored Cars in the Golden Spike Parade.

A Portola Fire Truck.

More Classic Autos.

Sierra Power Company Hot Stix Drill Team from Reno, Nevada

You can not have a Parade without horses.

I called Lets Talk Trains, the Internet Radio Show every Saturday morning 10 to 12 Live or 24/7 in the archives and told about Portola Railroad Days. Once done, I started towards the Portola Railroad Museum.

A wooden Western Pacific Caboose now serving in another capacity. From there it was an easy walk to the museum.

The Portola Railroad Museum 8/26/2005

The view looking into the Portola Railroad Museum.

I walked to the Excursion Train that would take me around the balloon track and boarded a Southern Pacific Bay Window Caboose for the trip. After a nice ride and getting a feel for the museum again, I went to start my tour of the grounds taking pictures of the new things I have not seen before and a few of the old.

Union Pacific Western Pacific Heritage Unit UP 1983, a guest at the 2005 Portola Railroad Days.

A look inside the Portola Railroad Museum Shop Building.

The inside of the newly acquired ex California Zephyr Dome Car Western Pacific 832 Silver Lodge.

The Oregon Northwestern Baldwins.

An old friend from Stockton, Stockton Terminal and Eastern 506.

Milwaukee Road and some Kennecott friends.

Sierra Pacific Industries Quincy Railroad 12.

Quincy 1100.

Western Pacific 917D.

Great Western 705.

Western Pacific 921D.

Western Pacific 707.

Oregon Northwestern Caboose 204.

Quincy Railroad 3.

Quincy Railroad 4.

Union Pacific 5469 West left Portola during our visit.

After I photographed this excursion train again, I made one last trip aboard it.

Bill Parks our Tour Guide on the UP 1983.

The Southern Pacific Rotary Snowplow on display at Portola. I returned to the bus which departed from the Portola Railroad Museum at 2:42 PM. I was back in Room 1711 by 3:40 PM. Later, I walked over to the Century 14 Theater to see "Sky High" which was excellent. I returned to the Nugget for their "Buffet Dinner" which filled me up nicely.

The view from my Room 1711 before I relaxed for the rest of the evening.

Sparks 8/27/2005

After going for another light breakfast at the same counter, I checked on the westbound CZ that at this point was only an hour late. I walked over to Victorian Square to see some railroad displays.

The Sparks Station at Victorian Square

Also here is a railroad display with narrow gauge Southern Pacific 8 on the point of a train.

There are standard gauge cars behind the SP 8. I returned to the room, checked the Weather Channel about Katrina and got lucky with Jackie Chan in "Mr Nice Guy". During a commercial break, I checked the hotel info channel and found out our train had lost even more time. I walked over to the 7-11 for more Coca-Cola for my trip home tomorrow. About 9:20 AM I walked over to the yard to where the cars were parked.

A while later when we all aboard, the UP switch crew arrived to put our cars on the back of the California Zephyr and we all had to detrain until our cars where attached to the rear of the CZ. This was for safety reasons.

The UP SD-70ACe 8399 coupled on to our two private cars.

The UP 8399 then pulled our cars down to the east end of the Sparks Yard and waited for the CZ to arrive.

California Zephyr 5 8/27/2005

The CZ arrived at Sparks at 11:34 AM. The CZ came in with engines 197 and 202, Baggage 1212, Transition 39011, Sleepers 32047 and 32074, Diner 38024, Lounge 33022, Coaches 34091, 34072 and 31042, Express Trak 74032 and 74041. They added our Silver Lariat 800190 and Plaza Santa Fe 503 800392. Once we were connected we all reboarded the cars and at 11:56 AM {8:55 AM} we departed Sparks. I was once again in the Dome of the Plaza Santa Fe.

The CZ rolled west into Reno.

The Reno Trench is still under construction. It will take all rail traffic off the surface and put it down into the trench eliminating many grade crossings. We departed Reno at 12:16 PM {9:14 AM}. We headed west out of Reno following the Truckee River.

Traveling up the Truckee River Canyon from the rear door of the Plaza Santa Fe.

The train running along the Truckee River Canyon towards Truckee. We departed Truckee at 1:18 PM {10:15 AM. We rolled west towards Cold Stream Canyon.

Climbing the grade towards the Summit Tunnel.

Below is Donner Lake as we climbed towards the Summit Tunnel.

Exiting the Summit Tunnel also known as the "Big Hole". We ran down to Norden and had to wait for an eastbound UP freight

Leeanne Curts caught me doing what I do best. My best side?

Here came the UP 8051 East through Norden.

Taking a curve below Soda Springs.

We passed under a signal bridge.

A pair of tunnels with one still in use above Yuba Gap. The bells were then chimed and I went into the Turquoise Room for lunch.

My table mates for lunch, Leeanne and Richard Curts and Melissa Arnold.

Leeanne took this picture of me at lunch. Bill Parks and his wife were also in the Turquoise and we had a good discussion. Lunch was Sliced Roast Tenderloin of Beef with a Bourbon Cream Sauce which was excellent. Three UP eastbound freights went by us during lunch.

The CZ crossed the Long Ravine Trestle. While waiting for dessert, we stopped at Colfax 3:44 PM {12:26 PM}. Dessert was Chocolate Applesauce with Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce which was also excellent. I returned to the Plaza Dome for the trip down through the Sierra Foothills to the Sacramento Valley.

Later the CZ exited the Bloomer Cut as it neared Rocklin. Descending into the Sacramento Valley you could see the Sutter Buttes, Downtown Sacramento and Mount Diablo on this very clear afternoon. The CZ stopped at Roseville at 5:15 PM {1:35 PM} and headed to Sacramento.

The Southern Pacific 2252, a 2-6-2, is on display at Roseville. We ran by the JR Davis Yard and onto Sacramento. All of us getting off at Sacramento had to find our luggage to be off loaded at the station. We curved west at Elvas tower before we pulled into the Amtrak Sacramento Station at 5:40 PM {2:15 PM}. I said my goodbyes to all my new friends before I detrained ending another excellent Trains Unlimited Tours Trip.

Sacramento 8/27/2005

I retrieved my luggage and walked into the station to let my brother Bruce know I had arrived. I walked over to K Street to wait for a Trolley to Meadowview. After a ten minute wait, the Trolley came and took me south to the Meadowview Station where Bruce met me to take me home to his house for the night.

Going Home 8/28/2005

I went to work with my Brother Bruce hearing about Hurricane Katrina on the radio. We got to the station before 5:00 AM and I read the USA Today and listened to tunes before going outside to wait for my train to be spotted in the station.

San Joaquin 702 ready to take me to Bakersfield. This train had Cab Car 8301 Mt Whitney, Cafe 8803 San Gabriel Valley, Coach 8007 Russian River and Coach/Baggage 8205 Monterey Bay with engine 2010. We departed Sacramento on time on a beautiful clear morning. We lost twenty minutes heading down to Stockton on the Union Pacific. The BNSF kept us on their mainline all the way to Bakersfield. I boarded the Thruway Bus to LAUPT where we arrived at 2:20 PM.

I missed the Surfliner 578 but I had Metrolink 684 waiting to take me home in Los Angeles. We left LAUPT at 2:50 PM and rolled the miles home to Santa Ana on time ending another exciting rail adventure.