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Santa Fe 3751 Chase and Orange County Highlights ~ April 30th and May 1st, 2010

by Elizabeth Guenzler

It was announced that Santa Fe 4-8-4 3751 would lead an excursion southbound from Los Angeles to San Diego on May 1st and return northbound on May 2nd. As I had not ridden behind this steam engine since 2002, I decided it was time to reacquaint myself with her. Plans were made so that we would chase the southbound trip and ride the northbound, thereby getting the best of both worlds. This was also going to be the first time that I would be in Orange County since I had met Chris Guenzler in 2005 and there were several places that he would show Bob and I. So we flew from Seattle to Santa Ana on Friday afternoon and once settled, our first stop was Orange.

The former Santa Fe station in Orange, now a Ruby's Diner.

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner 784 approaching. From 2007 to 2013, the Pacific Surfliner stopped at Orange but due to the low numbers of passengers arriving and departing, Orange ceased to be a stop in 2013.

Metrolink 808 (one of the trains from Oceanside to San Bernardino), led by MP36 894, departing Orange. We went to The Habit for dinner and had plenty to look forward to the next day.

May 1st

After breakfast at Polly's Restaurant, Chris picked us up and we picked up Chris Parker, who had driven to Chris Guenzler's house. The first stop of the morning was Anaheim.

The Union Pacific station in Anaheim, built 1923, and was in use as a YMCA.

Southern Pacfic wig-wag signal at the corner of Lemon Street and Santa Ana Street in Anaheim. This particular signal was featured in the 1922 Magnetic Signal Company catalogue and would finally be removed on February 25th, 2019.

Union Pacific SD70 8382 and SD70 8393 at West Anaheim.

A little far beyond range was UPY B23-7 175 (nee Union Pacific 235) and UPY B30-7 168 (nee Southern Pacific 7819). It was then onto Fullerton.

A BNSF oil train came through first.

The former Pacific Electric station built in 1917, which was a Spadra Restaurant and before that, the Ghiotto Ristorante.

The Union Pacific station, built 1923, which has housed The Old Spaghetti Factory since 1974.

The Union Pacific Overland Route shield on the roof of the station at Fullerton.

Looking south from the platform level.

Looking north from the walkway over the tracks. Next was Brea for the display locomotive for the weekend's abbreviated Railroad Days as it was not being held in Fullerton this year.

UPY 3GS21B 2745 on display.

Signage explaining the ultra-low emitting diesel locomotive. From here, we were taken to La Habra.

The 1923 Union Pacific station in La Habra, now a children's museum.

The Union Pacific Overland Route shield on the La Habra station.

Passenger cars, boxcars and a caboose on display between the children's museum and Depot Playhouse.

Amtrak coach 5271 (ex. Seaboard Coast Line 5271, nee Seaboard Air Line 6241).

The sign on the side of coach.

Southern Pacific caboose 1165.

Pacific Fruit Express boxcar 10418.

Southern Pacific boxcar 19160.

Steam engine and station photograph on a tarpaulin between the museum and theatre at La Habra. Next we journeyed to what I consider a hidden gem in Santa Fe Springs.

Santa Fe 2-6-0 870 (ex. Albuquerque and Los Cerrillos Coal 870 1940, exx. Rocky Mountain and Santa Fe 870 1915, nee St. Louis, Rocky Mountain and Pacific 101 1906) on display at Heritage Park.

Side view of the steam engine.

The Santa Fe section house at Heritage Park.

The replica Santa Fe station, with a semaphore signal and wig-wag signal on display. We managed to get these pictures from outside as the Park was not yet open. Even without being inside, the atmosphere, the displays, the well-kept grounds and rose garden really appealed to me and was a highlight of the day up to this point.

Since the steam engine was scheduled to go through Santa Fe Springs at 09:50, we set up at Lakeland Street crossing.

The old Santa Fe signal bridge which, coincidentally, was scheduled to be removed the next day.

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner 565 with National Train Day/Subway-wrapped car came past our photo location en route to San Diego.

Santa Fe 3751 leading the excursion train north at Lakeland Street crossing.

The Amtrak cars that were part of the consist. With the chase on, we drove south to San Clemente and Avenida Califia. After we parked at the beach, we made our way to an excellent location on a beautiful spring day.

View of the tracks and ocean at San Clemente as we awaited the steam train.

Santa Fe 3751 passing us.

Rio Grande Scenic dome "Nenana" (Santa Fe full-length dome) and other dome cars bringing up the rear of the train.

Two of the dome cars on the rear of the train.

Shortly after, Amtrak Pacific Surfliner 571 came through on its way to Los Angeles. Chris then drove us to Oceanside where we caught Surfliner 578.

The National Train Day/Subway car was seen for the second time this day.

Pacific Surfliner 578 leaving Oceanside with B32-8WH 505 on the rear.

Pacific Surfliner 583 entering Oceanside.

Now it was time for new mileage for Chris Parker, myself and Bob as we rode the Sprinter for the first time, with this being Chris Guenzler's second ride.

Sprinter Details

The Sprinter is a DMU-operated rail line operating between Oceanside and Escondido. The service uses the pre-existing 22 miles Escondido Branch trackage of the San Diego Northern Railroad. Station platforms were constructed for the line's fifteen stations serving the cities of Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos and Escondido. The line provides service to Palomar College and California State University, San Marcos. The Sprinter is the first passenger train service along the Escondido Branch since the Santa Fe discontinued passenger service in 1946. Originally built in 1888, the entire line had to be rebuilt to accommodate more traffic and be elevated because the line runs along a river. North County Transit District purchased the line in 1992 from the Santa Fe, with construction starting in 2005 and opened on March 9, 2008.

The Sprinter DMU approaching the station.

Interior of the Siemens-built DMU, this one 4007.

The route map.

Part of the station area at Escondido, the train's eastern terminus.

Sprinter 4007 during the short layovver.

The station area. Once we returned to Oceanside, it was back to the car and the adventure continued.

The 1887 Santa Fe Carlsbad station.

Roof support detail.

The Pacific Ocean and flowers on a glorious day, at Torrey Pine State Park awaiting the steam train.

Southbound Coaster at Torrey Pine State Park.

Pacific Surfliner 774 southbound came by next.

Santa Fe 3751 leading the train en route to San Diego.

Passengers enjoying the "Pony Express" baggage car.

The rear of the steam train going under Highway 101 bridge.

Afterwards, a stop at Del Mar Surf station, built in 1910.

Then the Santa Fe station at Encinitas, built in 1887. We drove the rest of the way to National City and stopped at the Historic Railcar Plaza.

The Facts of Interest plaque about National City and Passenger Coach 1.

National City & Otay Mesa Horse Car on display.

The 1881 California Southern (Santa Fe) station in National City, which belongs to the San Diego Electric Railway Association Museum. We drove to Chula Vista and checked into the Best Western Hotel then had dinner at Black Angus before relaxing and calling it a night.

It had been an excellent day of railfanning, train riding and seeing historic stations. I had not been to much of California before this and this area had plenty of interesting sights and attractions. Tomorrow, a steam train ride!