Chris Guenzler wanted to know if I would be
interested in getting some photos of the RB Circus train
relocating from San Diego to Oakland on Monday. I was definitely
interested in doing this. On July 6, 2015 near Rosenberg, TX, I
was traveling on Train 1, Sunset Limited, when we took to a siding
awaiting the blue circus train to pass us. Ringling Bros. has two
circus trains, the blue and the red. Every year during the summer,
the Ringling Bros. train comes to southern California. One year it
will be the red train and the next year the blue train. As I saw
the blue train last month and will have a chance to see the red
train this month, I will be one of the few people to see both
trains in the same year. So I was definitely ready to see and
photograph the red train moving up the coast.
Our adventure began at the Santa Ana station when we boarded
Metrolink train #600 at 8:53 AM with arrival at San Clemente North
Station at 9:33 AM. There we were meet by a former co-worker of
Chris, Caroline, who lives nearby and gave us a ride to the San
Onofre State Beach Trail. The trail runs along the San Mateo Creek
(Spanish for: St. Matthew Creek) whose watershed
mostly straddles the border of Orange and San Diego Counties. We
walked the trail from I-5 to the ocean which ends at the
Trestles, a well known surfing spot.
Trestles and San Mateo Point.
Soon we have Amtrak Pacific Surfliners speeding
Southbound # 566.
# 566 crossing San Mateo Creek.
Location of former Nixon White House in San Clemente.
Orange County and San Diego County line.
San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station in distance.
Northbound # 769.
We leave the Trestles location and walked
along the water's edge on the sandy beach. After about three
quarters of a mile, we come to a high bluff with a lifeguard
look out perched on the top. We ascended the steep side on a
well worn trail made by surfers and beach goers. GPS:
33 22.991, -117 35.074.
Southbound # 768
Power for # 768.
After taking our photos near the lookout
point, we moved south a few hundred yards to await the
circus train. GPS: 33 22.905, -117 34.841.
Northbound # 573 crossing San Onofre Creek.
Power pushing train # 573.
Train # 572 approaching the lifeguard lookout.
Train # 572. Our west coast viewliner consist with
cabbage car on end.
At ocean's edge.
It is now 1:00 PM and still no circus train.
So we wait and work on our sunburn.
Northbound train # 777 heading for a 8:30 PM arrival in
San Luis Obispo, CA.
Southbound train # 774.
It is close to 3:00 PM and still no
circus train. We had been hoping the train would pass by
around 11:00 AM. as it has in past years. Chris had
several spotters stationed along the route to relay
train status. The consist was assembled as scheduled
around 9:30 AM. Then it lost time. One story was the
hand brake was left on one of the cars. Looks to be
somewhere 4 hours late.
Happy Times are Here
First sighting of the circus train at 3:05 PM.
The first section on cars behind
the engine houses the animals, the second section
is the living quarters, offices and the pie car
and the last section carries the hardware: cages,
vans to shuttle performers from the parked cars
and the arena, work trucks and tractors.
At 3:08 PM the last car passes
by. 5 minutes for the complete train to pass by.
The last car has ramps that drop down on the ground for loading
and unloading of the vehicles. Plates are placed in between the
rail cars so the vehicles are driven from car to car to end car
After the circus train left we
walked to the Old Pacific Highway where Chris's friend Caroline
picked us up and dropped us off at the San Clemente North
station. We had a few minutes before the Metrolink arrived so I
bought a soda then walked to the beach and took one last
Southbound Surfliner # 580 heading toward the San Clemente Pier.
This train made a mysterious stop at the San Clemente north which
is not on the Surfliner schedule.
Our Metrolink train # 812 arrived on time at
4:50 PM. This is an Oceanside to San Bernardino train and picks
up many riders at Irvine and Tustin. At 5:43 PM we arrived at
Santa Ana. I dropped Chris off at his residence and drove home
to end a good day and adventure.