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Tioga Pass Trip to Santa Barbara 10/20/2007

by Chris Guenzler

It was just going to be another Saturday train trip up to Los Angeles but this time Chris Parker and Larry Boerio would be leaving on the rear of the Coast Starlight aboard the Tioga Pass private railroad car. Surfliner 565 came into Santa Ana on time and I settled in for my trip to Los Angeles. We were delayed by the Coast Starlight backing into LAUPT. We arrived into LAUPT a few minutes late and we had come in on Track 7 across from the Coast Starlight. I walked down to the rear of the train finding the Tioga Pass bringing up the markers on the Coast Starlight this morning. The Tioga Pass was on the rear of the Coast Starlight at Los Angeles Union Passenger Station with Larry Boerio on the platform.

The Tioga Pass on the rear of the Coast Starlight at Los Angeles Union Passenger Station with Larry Boerio on the platform.

The Tioga Pass is an ex Canadian National built car that was constructed in the CN Shops in Point St. Charles, Quebec in 1959. I asked if Chris Parker was already aboard and was asked into the car. Larry told me that he was running late so I took a quick look at the car. Back on the ground, I met Norm Orfall and handed him one of my business cards. Larry detrained and we talked for a few minutes after he learned that Chris Parker had just arrived and was in the parking structure by the MTA Building. A few minutes later Chris came walking up and I decided to get a picture of him and Larry on the platform of the Tioga Pass.

Larry and Chris on the platform of the Tioga Pass. I said my good bye to those two and started walking away to walk over to Track 10 to shoot a picture of the Coast Starlight leaving LAUPT. I then heard Norm say stop him and was waving me to come back to the car. Norm asked me if I wanted to come along for a ride. Knowing that my dog Clyde was locked up on my porch and had food as well as plenty of water, I decided to ride to Santa Barbara. Norm welcomed me aboard the Tioga Pass and I sat down on one of the couches. A few minutes later, the Coast Starlight left Los Angeles Union Passenger Station on time.

Leaving the platform as we started our trip. The car was deadheading to Seattle to start a Charter Trip from there.

The Coast Starlight left Terminal Tower behind.

At Mission Tower we curved north along the Los Angeles River.

The old Southern Pacific Railroad painted wall that read "7 Trains a day to San Francisco".

As we passed the Gold Line Shops where new cars were waiting for the opening of the Gold Line Extension East Los Angeles line.

Next we passed the Metrolink Shops with a Sounder Car at the south end of the building.

The train was curving along the Metrolink Yard. I went back inside the car at this point and started talking with the other passengers and staff of the car. At Van Nuys I stepped back onto the rear platform for another few pictures.

A leased engine and ex SP engine switching a Van Nuys. At all stations most of us would come out onto the rear platform to wave good bye to people watching the Coast Starlight departing their stations.

Norm was talking after we left Van Nuys. Chris took several short breaks from the open platform.

Larry was enjoying the Tioga Pass.

The switcher hard at work after we had left Van Nuys. Norm and I started talking and soon I learned he had worked as a brakeman on the Southern Pacific over the line and as a Trainmaster for the Santa Fe at Fullerton. For over the next hour Norm told me truly interesting stories about working for the Southern Pacific. Having read John Signor's book on the SP Coast Line, Norm's stories really added to my knowledge about this rail line. As we talked, the Coast Starlight passed through the Chatsworth Tunnels and we traveled down the Simi Valley. At Strathearn, we took the siding for Surfliner 774. Back on the move again, we headed for Oxnard where we all did the rear platform thing again. At Ventura we held the mainline for an eastbound Union Pacific freight train. Back on the move once more, we went through Ventura before crossing the Ventura River and reaching the shore of the Pacific Ocean.

The Coast Starlight and Tioga Pass meet the Pacific Ocean. Back inside the good conversations continued before the chimes for lunch were sounded. Turkey sandwiches were the choice for lunch today. I then rode the open rear platform on a beautiful warm day waving to the cars and trucks on Highway 101 as we continued north.

The train went by Rincon Point.

Just west of the old railroad siding of Ortega.

A few minutes later, the lagoon by the Santa Barbara Zoo came into view and I knew my trip aboard the Tioga Pass was just about over. I returned inside the car and told everyone good bye and have a safe trip. I had just decided to write a story about this trip only a few minutes ago when Chris Parker and I were talking out on the rear platform. The Coast Starlight arrived into Santa Barbara and I detrained.

The Coast Starlight at Santa Barbara.

The Tioga Pass at Santa Barbara.

Chris having some fun with Larry.

Chris and Larry with the Tioga Pass at Santa Barbara. I walked over and thanked Norm for a very unique trip aboard the Tioga Pass this morning. I walked into the Amtrak Station to buy a Pacific Business Class ticket back to Santa Ana as the Coast Starlight left Santa Barbara. As I walked towards State Street, I saw Lawrence Dixon, a fantastic Amtrak conductor, and told him I would be back after picking up my lunch. I took the Electric Bus to The Habit where I got a Tri Tip Sandwich to go. Across the street I got some cans of Coca-Cola for my trip home before I walked back down to the Amtrak Station. There Lawrence and I talked before I went track side to wait for Surfliner 784 to arrive into Santa Barbara.

Surfliner 784 10/20/2007

I boarded the Pacific Business Class and settled in for my trip home. Conductor Mike Monroy took my ticket and soon I was eating my Tri Tip as Lawrence joined me to continue catching up. Our train held the mainline at Seacliff for Surfliner 769. Later at Ventura we again held the mainline for a westbound Union Pacific freight train.

Me enjoying my trip in Pacific Business Class on Surfliner 784 today.

Car Attendant Lee Jackson who took my picture has only six months left in his career with Amtrak. After Simi Valley we did not go into Hassen but kept going to Chatsworth where we took the siding for Surfliner 775.

Surfliner 784 at Chatsworth.

The train arrived into Van Nuys at 3:59 PM and we would not be leaving until 4:15 PM. Our train made its way into LAUPT early then was held for a late running Bakersfield bus. The trip back to Santa Ana was quick and I returned home to liberate my dog Clyde from the back porch. He was one happy dog to see me. What a great day it turned out to be with me taking my first trip aboard the Tioga Pass.

For more information about the Tioga Pass please visit the web site below.

Or contact:

Norn Orfall,

Aronco Leasing Company, 2690 Palermo Street

Barstow, Ca 92311,