Trip Report April 2006 Sacramento Revisited by Fred Dunn
SP Shops / Sacramento Southern Crossing of UP Tracks
By Fred Dunn
Edited by Carl Morrison
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My friends and I decided to take advantage of the Amtrak “companion
rides free” offer to revisit the SP Sacramento Shops and the Railroad
Museum. We had made this trip in June, 2005, and a brief
description of the trip is included on my website
We bought tickets for travel from Fullerton to Sacramento on Apr 24,
via bus from Fullerton to Bakersfield, Amtrak San Joaquin from
Bakersfield to Stockton, and bus from Stockton to Sacramento. Our
bus was scheduled to depart from Fullerton at 5:50 a.m., but it didn’t
arrive until about 6:20 a.m. Two of our railfan friends, Lloyd
and George, arrived at the station to see us off. George even
After getting a late start from Fullerton, the rest of the trip went
pretty much according to schedule, and we arrived in Sacramento at just
about the scheduled arrival time of 3:30 p.m.
The travelers: Herb, Fred, Chuck, Roger in Fullerton
Our train at Hanford
We walked from the Amtrak station to our hotel, the Vagabond Inn, which
is conveniently located across the street from the station, and is the
closest hotel to the museum. We noted that our rooms had
refrigerators, so we walked to the nearby Rite Aid Drug Store and
purchased some liquid refreshments. We returned to my room, where
we enjoyed a few drinks before going out for dinner. For dinner,
we went to a nearby Chinese restaurant where we had a very enjoyable
Roger, Chuck and Herb enjoying happy
The next morning, we partook of the complimentary breakfast at the
Vagabond Inn, and then decided to revisit the SP Shops, which we
visited last year. We went back over to the Amtrak station,
crossed all the tracks, trying to be as unobtrusive as possible, and
walked across into the SP shops area. We walked to the rear of
the erecting shops where the turntable is located. As we were
inspecting the turntable, we saw two CA State Park Rangers in the same
area, and figured that the jig was up; we expected to be immediately
expelled from the area. But, much to our surprise, they didn’t
say anything to us.
turntable with Boiler Shop in background
Since nobody seemed to care that we were there, we got bolder, walking
around the area as if we belonged there and exploring all the rolling
stock that was out in the open.
SP Harriman Cars
Santa Fe 2925
Santa Fe 2925
Santa Fe 5021
examine Santa Fe 5021 running gear
Old steam locomotive carcass
SP Dynamometer car
SP crane built 1944;
modified to diesel 1978
Santa Fe rail diesel car (RDC)
Sacramento Northern wooden boxcar
SP rotary snowplow
While we were exploring the area, the museum workers in the boiler shop
backed out the USAF 1655, which the Sacramento Southern uses to move
cars on the North side of the UP tracks. As we were leaving, we
observed the new transfer table, and I peered into the windows of the
erecting shop to try to get a picture of ATSF 1010 (used on Death
Valley Scotty Special), which is stored there.
Sacramento Southern ex USAF 1655
photographed through dirty window
We finished our tour of the SP shops shortly before 11:00 a.m., and
then proceeded to the museum, where we spent most of the rest of the
afternoon. We went over to the Central Pacific station in Old
Sacramento, where some equipment was being moved.
Activity outside CP station
Granite Rock #10 being towed
The guys taking a rest after a day of
We returned to the hotel where we had a few drinks before heading out
for dinner, again at the same Chinese restaurant. We discussed
what we wanted to do the next day. We decided that we would view
the Sacramento Southern crossing of the UP tracks. We were told
by museum personnel that this was scheduled for 1:00 p.m. the next
The Sacramento Southern is the operating railroad of the California
Railroad Museum, and runs all of the tourist train operations.
They also have one commercial customer, a wood products company that is
located South of the museum, which they service once a week. In
the SP days, there were diamonds allowing the Sacramento Southern to
cross the SP tracks. But when UP took over, they removed the
diamonds, claiming that they were high maintenance items. As an
alternative to the diamonds, UP agreed to install temporary tracks for
the Sacramento Southern to cross the UP tracks once each week
(Wednesday at 1:00 p.m.).
The location of the crossover is behind the museum at the approach to
the UP bridge over the Sacramento River, and we arrived there shortly
before 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday. The Sacramento Southern crew was
already there, but the UP crew did not arrive until about 1:30
p.m. While the job is tentatively scheduled for 1:00 p.m., it
actually gets done whenever the dispatcher grants track and time, which
was about 1:45 p.m., after a UP freight crossed over the bridge.
We were told by the Sacramento Southern crew that the previous week
they didn’t get the ok to begin until 4:30 p.m.
UP train passing at location where
crossing is to be installed
The grade of the Sacramento Southern has been raised as it approaches
the UP tracks at right angles, so that when the temporary track is
installed, it sits on top of the UP tracks.
Sac. Southern tracks interrupted at UP tracks
UP arrives. Rails to be installed seen in
Moving East rail in place
Positioning East rail
Moving West rail in place
Sacramento Southern crossing UP tracks
On most days, the Sacramento Southern has freight to deliver to their
customer, as well as empty cars to return to UP. On this
particular day, they had no freight to deliver, just empty cars to
transfer to UP. So once the empties were moved across the UP
tracks, the crossover was removed. But it still took about four
UP employees several hours to accomplish all this. It is hard to
believe that doing this every week is less costly than maintaining
diamonds across the UP tracks, especially since the diamonds are
located at the approach to the bridge over the Sacramento River, where
train speed is slow.
UP bridge. Note high water level
Bridge date 1911
At the conclusion of the afternoon activities, we went back to the
Vagabond Inn for our daily happy hour, and discussed where to go for
dinner. After two days of Chinese food for dinner, we were ready
for a change, so we went to a hamburger place in Old Town, Fannie
Anne’s. It was good, inexpensive and enjoyable.
On Thursday, Apr. 27, we had an early breakfast at the Vagabond Inn,
then checked out and caught the 8:00 a.m. bus to Stockton. At
Stockton, our San Joaquin train left approximately on time at 9:25.
Roger & Herb enjoying the trip
Chuck missing all the fun
We arrived in Bakersfield right on time and transferred to our bus for
LAUPT. We arrived in LA shortly after 4:00 p.m. and our Amtrak
connection to Fullerton was scheduled to leave at 5:10 p.m.
However we were able to catch an earlier Metrolink train using our
Amtrak tickets, and wound up back in Fullerton before 5:00 p.m.