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My First Derailment 7/21/2012

by Chris Guenzler

It started out like any other train trip as we left the Gold Mine on the Smith Ranch & Julian Railroad.

The switch to the Gold Mine.

The switch to the Gold Mine Loop.

The train crossed the bridge just below the Gold Mine Loop.

The view of our train returning.

Ore car along the route.

The train crossed the bridge.

The bridge as we made the turn away from it. It felt like we were going a little too fast as we came out of that next curve. I felt the wheels coming off the track and heard them on the ground. Next the car started to turn over to the right and suddenly I was launched out of the car over AC Adam. Next thing I knew I was flying through the air before I landed rolling down the hill through the brush. My next thought was where would I stop. I had tucked and rolled with my camera flying off from around my neck. It felt like I was moving in super slow motion. I came to a stop upside down before I rolled one more time to an upright stop. I was covered with stickers from the plants but I was alright. I stood up and was amazed just how far down that hill I had rolled. I found the camera and it was alright. Now I climbed back up the hill and found AC who ended up just below track level. I helped him up and he was alright so then I looked at the track and ties to determine where we had derailed. Then I took a pair of derailment pictures.

This is what the derailment scene looked like. From here AC Adam and I walked back down to the car and after someone checked on us and took our names, we left Julian for Oceanside and he got me back there for a late running Pacific Surfliner 583 running with Amfleet cars today to return me to Santa Ana and my car that took me home. My Amtrak train crew did a fine job including asking me if I was alright and if I needed anything. What a day it had been surviving my first train derailment.