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Down the ex Western Pacific, the SP Valley Line and over Tehachapi 1/25/2009

by Chris Guenzler

They announced more Detours of the Tehachapi Loop on and I decided to do it one more time. It worked out that one the southbound detours would be on a Sunday that I could do. I would get to Sacramento on Saturday and would stay at the Vagabond Inn that Carole Walker booked me into. I worked two weeks at Jefferson Elementary School and was ready to take another train ride.

Thruway Bus 1/24/2009

I drove down to the Santa Ana Train Station after a down pouring of rain at 4:50 AM which lasted about 15 minutes. The rain stopped long enough for the Thruway Bus to come and pick me up as the lone passenger. We drove north to Fullerton through the rain picking up five passengers before I slept most of the way to Los Angeles. There we picked up about eight more passengers before the bus left for Bakersfield. It rained into the San Fernando Valley then on the climb to Gorman. Once over the Tejon Summit we came into bright sunshine as we dropped into the San Joaquin Valley. There after the I-5 spilt we ran into the Tule Fog that was really thick. That lasted until Bakersfield where the fog lifted and we arrived early into the Amtrak Station there. The train was open but they would not let you sit in the comfortable Surfliner style seat Cab Car.

San Joaquin 713 1/24/2009

San Joaquin 713 waiting to leave Bakersfield. The train consisted of Engine 2001, Cal Coaches 8016 San Luis Rey River and 8026 Petaluma River, Cafe 8806 Salinas Valley and Cab Car 6963 Point Reyes. The train left Bakersfield on time with me watching my DVD of Guns N' Roses "Live in Tokyo" that took me above Hanford. Next I put on my DVD of Quiet Riot "Live" that lasted to above Madera. Next I put on my DVD of the "Southern Pacific, The Colorful Years" which lasted until near Stockton. I enjoyed the California Delta as the sun was out for our crossing of it. The clouds and wind returned as we ran west along the Carquinez Straits.

Plant switcher in Port Chicago. The train arrived into Martinez and I detrained to a cold windy afternoon. I waited outside and talked with some of the station docents while I waited for my next train.

Looking across the Carquinez Straits at Martinez.

A Union Pacific freight showed up just before my Capitol Train to Sacramento.

Capitol Train 736 1/24/2009

I boarded the train and soon we crossed the Carquinez Straits and passed the US Navy Mothball Fleet. We passed another Capitol Train then a UP freight.

I finally took a picture of the Suisan Fairfield Station. The train sped to Davis and then ran into Sacramento. I walked over to the Vagabond Inn and checked in. I went to Johnny Rockets for dinner then returned to my room for the night.


I got up at 5:15 AM and checked the Internet learning that the Coast Starlight was over two hours late. I learned later that the Coast Starlight got stuck up on the hill at Fields behind a freight with DPU troubles. They picked up a UP patch crew at the crossing just below Fields and took them up to a freight in the siding at Fields. That crew traded out with the patch crew and then the Coast Starlight took those guys up behind the stalled out train where they ran the DPU's as a manned helper to the top of the hill. I went to Dennys for breakfast then watched Meet the Press before I walked over to the Amtrak Station with a new ETA of 8:30 AM. I meet some Railfans in the station and then we all walked out to Track 3 to wait for the Coast Starlight to arrive into Sacramento.

A rainbow with the pot of gold at the former Sacramento Shops. We waited out in the cold morning air for our Coast Starlight to show up into Sacramento.

Coast Starlight 11 1/25/2009

The Coast Starlight pulling into Sacramento 2 hours and 15 minutes late at 8:25 AM. I boarded the second of three coaches but they had the last one closed off. The train consisted of Engines 66 and 67, Baggage 1204, Transition 39031, Sleepers 32068 and 32009, Pacific Parlor Car 39975, Diner 38040, Lounge 33049 and Coaches 34048, 34508 and 34117. John joined me at my seat for the trip south today. At 8:50 PM we began backing up out of the Sacramento Amtrak Station.

The former Sacramento Shops of the Southern Pacific Railroad.

The skyline of Sacramento as we continued our back up move.

The former Western Pacific route looking south through Sacramento. Our train then switched onto the connection to the former Western Pacific at 8:56 AM.

Looking down the former Western Pacific route we would take from the connection that we are on.

The Haggin Control Point as we backed by it. The train continued backing across the American River in order to pass the switch and signal so we could wait for a green signal to proceeded south.

The American River as we backed across it. At 9:01 AM we proceeded south down the former Western Pacific and under the former Southern Pacific Line.

The former Sacramento Western Pacific Station now the Old Spaghetti Factory. We picked up the Sacramento Light Rail line that we will follow south out of town.

The former location of the Western Pacific Jeffrey Shops in Sacramento.

The Campbell Soap Plant in Sacramento.

Once out of Sacramento, the rural countryside took hold.

A lake along our route.

Looking northwest across the southern Sacramento Valley.

The sky would prove to be interesting to watch on our trip.

Looking across the fields of green.

Water, water everywhere.

Let the vineyards be fruitful.

Interstate 5 with Mount Diablo behind.

More vineyards and Mount Diablo before we reached Stockton.

At EL Pinal at 10:02 AM we returned to the former Southern Pacific Valley Route.

The Southern Pacific Stockton Station now the Altamont Commuter Express Station for Stockton.

The former Western Pacific Station is being worked on as we passed through Stockton without stopping.

At 10:07 AM we crossed the BNSF at Stockton Crossing.

At the former Western Pacific Shops, the Altamont Commuter Express trains lay over for the weekend.

At 10:17 AM we went through Lathrop with this track heading for Tracy.

At 10:19 AM the Coast Starlight crossed the former Western Pacific.

The former Western Pacific line heading to Oakland.

A few minutes later we started our running along CA Highway 99 which we would run along most of the way to Bakersfield.

The Stanislaus River at Ripon.

Later we went by the Modesto Southern Pacific Station at 10:39 AM.

The connection to the Modesto Empire and Traction in Modesto.

The Tuolumne River at Modesto. I went to the Lounge Car and visited some more with John.

Bear Creek as we entered Merced.

We ran by the Southern Pacific Station at 11:12 AM.

The main drag of Chowchilla.

More of our sky as we rolled south.

The Fresno River as we approached Madera passing there at 11:42 AM.

The San Joaquin River.

We stopped at the UP Fresno Yard to change our UP Pilot Crew.

An ex Amtrak switcher 2046 at Fresno. We left the UP Fresno Yard at 12:09 PM.

The skyline of Fresno.

The Fresno Arch.

NS power in the BNSF Calwa Yard.

Relco switcher at the south end of the BNSF Calwa Yard.

The SP Kingsburg Station.

The former Southern Pacific Fowler Station off line.

The Kings River south of Kingsburg.

Zacky Farms switcher at Traver.

San Joaquin Railroad engine at Goshen Jct.

Airplanes at the Visalia Airport. We ran south to Tulare passing through there at 1:12 PM.

Engines at a plant south of Tipton. John and I went into the Dining Car for lunch and were greeted by Richard Talmy, an excellent Amtrak waiter. I had the Angus Beef Burger along with Vanilla Ice Cream.

UP power at Famosa.

John enjoying the Dining Car.

The Kern River as we entered Bakersfield.

We stopped at the Bakersfield Station to change crews and they let us have a fresh air break.

Passengers enjoying the fresh air break.

The Southern Pacific Bakersfield Station.

The Coast Starlight rests at Bakersfield.

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