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This segment of my travelogue covers our jouney in the Overland Trail private lounge car pulled by the Santa Fe 3751 steam locomotive from Sacramento to Fresno, California, on our way back from Railfair'99.
Click on the above photo for a rather unique video clip of the Santa Fe 3751 ringing its bell as it backs up under an underpass. The Overland Trail private lounge car was attached to the nose of the 3751. I took this photo and video clip by getting real low to the floor while I was in the open doorway of the Overland Trail aiming my camera almost straight up at the bell of the 3751.
If you have any difficulty with the above links, please send e-mail to me about which link is broken. Since I am uploading all these files from the hotel each night, I do not have the time to review them all. I have selected just the video clips that I thought were worthwhile, but I have not had the time to filter which photos are not worth posting. Thus, for now, I have posted all of the photos that we took.
As most of you who are frequent visitors to TrainWeb already know, you can click on any photo on this page to display a larger image of that photo.
1999 JUN 28 MON 06:00 Pacific Time Sacramento CA
Ray Burns, Frank (Sailor) Runyon, and I, Steve Grande, awoke at 4:45 AM at the sound of our alarm clock and wake-up call. Andrew Held slept on the Overland Trail private lounge car. Ray, Sailor, and I checked out of the Holiday Inn Capitol Plaza hotel at 5:45 AM and got down to the Sacramento Amtrak Station at about 6:00 AM.
Ray and Sailor will be traveling home in a Standard Bedroom in the Sleeping Car on the Amtrak Coast Starlight today. Sailor is taking my place for the reservations that I had made months ago to come to Railfair'99 before I knew that I would be traveling on the SF 3751 train. Ray felt a bit ill late in the week and we decided it would be better if he made the journey back in one day rather than the 3 it will take this train to get back to Los Angeles. Also, it will make it a lot easier coordinating the unloading process once we get back if Ray is waiting for us with our van.
I had checked the status of the Amtrak Coast Starlight last night. The automatic system told me that it had arrived into Klamath Falls 7 minutes early and departed on time. That reminded me of when I had talked to a gal training to be an Amtrak engineer at Railfair'99 last week. She said that once she completed her training, she would be starting on the Coast Starlight run between Sacramento and Klamath Falls. She mentioned something about Amtrak adding a second daily Coast Starlight. I mentioned to her that some people would like to see the Amtrak California Zephyr continue on beyond Emeryville and terminate all the way down in Los Angeles which would provide another daily run between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. She said that she had heard that was going to be done. I don't think Amtrak is going to implement both another Coast Starlight and extend the Zephyr to Los Angeles. Perhaps they are just planning to extend the Zephyr to Los Angeles which is how Amtrak will add another train to the Coast Starlight route at least between Los Angeles and Sacramento. It would only take one more trainset to extend the California Zephyr to Los Angeles and would have the advantage of restoring some Los Angeles connections that were lost when the Coast Starlight schedule was changed. Having a 2 or 3 hour layover at Sacramento or Oakland would eliminate most problems of trains arriving late from the east.
The automatic system also told me that the southbound Coast Starlight had departed Klamath Falls on schedule. At that moment, I realized that Ray and Sailor would be boarding the Coast Starlight when the Amtrak engineer and conductor that just boarded the train in Klamath Falls would be ending their day of work.
In the morning, I checked the status of the Coast Starlight again and found that it had arrived early at its last stop and departed on time. By the time we got to the Amtrak Sacramento Station around 6 AM, the Coast Starlight had already arrived!
After dropping Ray and Sailor at the Sacramento Amtrak Station, I had the taxi driver head for the Circle Of Lights just south of Old Town Sacramento. That is where we had last seen the train and where Andrew said the train was located.
The taxi driver found the train in just a few minutes, but it took us a little longer to find a vestibule door where I could board! I had to walk through one coach car to get into the Overland Trail private lounge car.
1999 JUN 28 MON 06:45 Pacific Time Sacramento CA
They have started to work on the private cars. A trainman came through the car and removed an electrical cable that connected our car to the one on the south side of our car. He placed the cord under the table across from the one that I am sitting at right now. The cord is about 3 feet long and has a large flat head on each end with two thick wires running between the two heads. There are two prongs on each end. One is thick and square and the other is flat and rectangular.
1999 JUN 28 MON 07:09 Pacific Time Sacramento CA CH 15 (160.335)
The car just jerked a little for the first time!
"Take it south easy. Take it south easy."
We are moving!
"You are clear 913. Take it south."
We are moving a lot!
"Hey Jim, we'll pull it up here in the clear and then tie it down."
We stopped moving. We just moved a bit south on the track along side the Sacramento River.
"Is that good enough?"
"Yeah, that's good enough, anywhere in here will do."
"Set the brake and we'll go pick up the 6051."
There is a lounge car connected to this car on the south side. The south end of that car is rounded and there is a baby grand piano at that end of the car. The car connected to the north end of this car is a coach car. I used the vestibule of that car to get on the train this morning as the Overland Trail does not have a vestibule of its own.
1999 JUN 28 MON 07:32 Pacific Time Sacramento CA CH 15 (160.335)
The train horn just sounded. At first I didn't realize it was the locomotive sounding its horn as it sounded more like a boat horn and we are right next to the Sacramento River.
A Southern Pacific Dinner Car just pulled up next to us and I took a couple of photos of the inside of that car from the inside of this car.
I just heard on the radio: "Better tell those guys in the Overland Train that we are going to move." Then someone shouted from the other end of the car: "Anyone on the Overland Trail?" I shouted back: "Yep!" They replied: "We're going to move!" and I replied "OK!"
"This is 915. We are ready to move!"
There goes the horn! We are moving north again!
As we passed the old 6051 Southern Pacific diesel locomotive, I took a photo of part of the number on the side of the train and then of the front of the locomotive.
You have to be a bit more careful riding these freight trains than riding in passenger trains. Freight trains start and stop quite a bit harder than passenger trains. Sometimes there can be a surprising lurch which can throw you off your feet if you are not prepared!
We are doing a lot of back and forth moves as we shuffle these cars around in attempting to put together each consist to leave Sacramento.
"Take it ahead 913. Anywhere in there is good 913." "This is 913. Are we on spot?" "On spot 913."
1999 JUN 28 MON 07:53 Pacific Time Sacramento CA CH 15 (160.335)
Radio: "He is washing the windows." "How Professional!"
1999 JUN 28 MON 08:00 Pacific Time Sacramento CA CH 15 (160.335)
Larry Boerio, another person that will be traveling on the Overland Trail all the way from Sacramento to Los Angeles, just arrived onboard. He evidently went through a bit of an ordeal this morning. He kept an eye on the Overland Trail from his hotel room, checking about every 5 minutes. When he checked at 7:15 AM, the train was still where it had been all morning. But, when he checked the train at 7:20 AM, the Overland Trail was gone!
Figuring that it had started to head north, he went to Old Town Sacramento to find the car. Because of the security from Railfair'99, he had a problem getting anywhere near the tracks! But, it turned out that we weren't even anywhere near Old Town but were quite a ways south of there. He eventually made it to the train and boarded around 8 AM.
1999 JUN 28 MON 08:06 Pacific Time Sacramento CA CH 15 (160.335)
The crew unhooked the lounge car from the south end of our car and brought it south. Then, the old Union Pacific 351 diesel locomotive came right up to the south end of our car and connected up to our car. I took pictures and a video clip of the locomotive hooking up. If I turn around and look over my left shoulder, I can see the headlamp of the 351 through the door window about 5 feet from me!
As I was standing by the doorway of this car and watched the 351 approach, I realized that this was the closest I have ever been to a locomotive that was heading directly toward me!
1999 JUN 28 MON 09:11 Pacific Time Sacramento CA CH 15 (160.335)
Right now there is a flatcar connected to the north end of this train.
They are going to take the roundend car off our train and then they are going to shove the flatcar onto the roundtable so that the Overland Trail can be put on the nose of the 3751 for now.
1999 JUN 28 MON 11:40 Pacific Time Sacramento CA CH 15 (160.335)
We've been sitting in the Union Pacific Sacramento Yard for the last few hours, but I've had a chance to take some of the most unique photos and video clips since the last report!
After the roundend car and the flatcar were taken off our car, our car was placed onto the nose of the Santa Fe 3751! I took photos and a video clip of the approach and the connection to the 3751 while standing in the doorway of the Overland Trail.
Once we were connected to the 3751, the 3751 moved backwards over the temporary rails that were placed over the UP mainline. From the video clips posted to this page you will see the UP bridge over the Sacramento River go by as we cross the rails that were placed over the mainline.
As we traveled under the freeway, I layed all the way down on the floor near the doorway of the Overland Trail to get a shot of the front of the 3751 with the bell ringing. In the video clips you can see the underside of the freeway go by and the bell of the 3751 ringing as we moved backwards under the freeway!
I'm not sure what we are waiting for. The Santa Fe 3751 with its tender is attached to one end of this car and BNSF #4419 diesel locomotive is attached to that. The box cars, tool car and the Tioga Pass are all somewhare in this yard. All we need to do is to assemble all these cards in the yard and we would be ready to go!
1999 JUN 28 MON 13:30 Pacific Time Sacramento CA CH 15 (160.335)
We finally got moving! However, I think we are just moving slowly through the yard. We still need to rearrange the consist and add the boxcars, the toolcar, and the Tioga Pass to the consist. The Dispatcher said that realistically we won't get past Elvis Tower until about 3 PM or 3:30 PM.
1999 JUN 28 MON 14:00 Pacific Time Sacramento CA CH 15 (160.335)
We just saw the 3751, its tender and the 4419 go by us two tracks over in the other direction. Right after that, a diesel pushed a consist that had the 3751 tool car in the lead followed by several hoppers and then the Tioga Pass private car. After they connected that consist up to the locomotives, they disconnected the Tioga Pass and brought it back to connect to the rear of our car. Then they pushed our car and the Tioga Pass onto the end of the consist with the locomotives and the hopper cars. By 2:15 PM our consist was together: 3751, tender, 4419, tool car, several hoppers, the Overland Trail, and then the Tioga Pass with the open platform. The only problem is that our entire train is still facing the wrong way! All we can guess is that we are going to wye at Elvis Tower.
1999 JUN 28 MON 14:40 Pacific Time Sacramento CA
We are finally leaving! The train is traveling backwards with the 3751 powering the train from the rear and the open platform Tioga Pass in the lead. But, at least, we are moving in the correct direction!
1999 JUN 28 MON 14:48 Pacific Time Sacramento CA
We will be taking the old Southern Pacific San Joaquin Subdivision Fresno Line from Sacramento to Fresno. We just passed over the northbound Union Pacific Canyon Subdivision Line that we had come up on. The train continued, in reverse, onto the wye at Haggin Tower. As we passed over the freeway, I wonder what all the drivers below thought of this locomotive going by in reverse above them?
1999 JUN 28 MON 14:49 Pacific Time MP 90.6 Haggin Yard CA
1999 JUN 28 MON 14:55 Pacific Time Elvas Tower
We backed by the Elvas Tower onto the northbound SP track.
1999 JUN 28 MON 15:02 Pacific Time
Our car stopped on top of the bridge over the river for a while.
1999 JUN 28 MON 15:08 Pacific Time
Forward! The 3751 is finally moving forward for the first time today that the Overland Trail has been in the consist!
1999 JUN 28 MON 15:08 Pacific Time
We are just passing Elvas Tower again as we start to head south on the UP/SP Fresno Line.
1999 JUN 28 MON 15:27 Pacific Time MP 44.8
1999 JUN 28 MON 15:40 Pacific Time MP 55.5 54 MPH
1999 JUN 28 MON 15:52 Pacific Time MP 65.9 54 MPH
1999 JUN 28 MON 16:00 Pacific Time MP 78.5 64 Axles
1999 JUN 28 MON 16:35 Pacific Time MP 84.2 CP Market
1999 JUN 28 MON 16:37 Pacific Time MP 84.4 Church
1999 JUN 28 MON 16:42 Pacific Time Mormon Yard, Stockton
There was a very large fire in Stockton just a few blocks from the yard. All trains were told to blow their horn freely since there were so many people near the tracks.
1999 JUN 28 MON 16:53 Pacific Time Walnut
1999 JUN 28 MON 17:06 Pacific Time MP 1109
1999 JUN 28 MON 17:21 Pacific Time MP 1099.4 64 Axles
1999 JUN 28 MON 17:30 Pacific Time Riverbank Arrive
1999 JUN 28 MON 18:03 Pacific Time Riverbank Leave
A count was given to the Dispatcher that we have 11 cars. I guess that does not count the 3751, the tender, nor the BNSF diesel locomotive. The 11 cars would be the tool car, the 8 hopper cars and the 2 private cars.
1999 JUN 28 MON 18:27 Pacific Time Denair
1999 JUN 28 MON 18:29 Pacific Time MP 1079.4
1999 JUN 28 MON 18:37 Pacific Time MP 1076.2
Hot Box Detector at Mile Post 1076.2 reported that Axle 6 on the left side is hot. We have a waiver for the first 6 axles which are under the hot boiler of the locomotive. Thus, we just high balled that detector and kept on rolling.
1999 JUN 28 MON 19:12 Pacific Time MP 1051.1 CH 30 (160.560)
"Give us some smoke there 3751."
"3751, Can you give us some smoke there please?"
"OK, there you go!"
Suddenly, smoke appeared going by the window!
1999 JUN 28 MON 19:48 Pacific Time Madera
1999 JUN 28 MON 20:08 Pacific Time MP 1010.0
Another Hot Box Detector reported a problem under the locomotive and we were allowed to ignore it per the standing train order.
1999 JUN 28 MON 20:45 Pacific Time Fresno, CA
I got off the train at the Amtrak station in Fresno. There was someone on the platform that was doing the official video of this run of the 3751 who wanted to know what time the train would be leaving in the morning. We had not been informed yet and we told him to check with the 3751 crew up at the head end of the train.
There were a number of cabs waiting right out front of the station and I took one to our hotel, the Best Western Village Inn. Kirk Shneider was coming down on the southbound Amtrak San Joaquin and would be meeting me at the hotel. His train was running a bit late but he managed to find his way to the hotel not long after I had arrived.
I had set a wake up call for 5:45 AM and arranged for a taxi to pick us up at 6:15 AM. However, Andrew Held called us at almost midnight to update us that the crew call would not go out until 10 AM! Thus, I changed the wake-up call time to 7:30 AM and changed the taxi to come for us at 9 AM. That would get us to the yard well before 10 AM and onto the train long before it was ready to depart in the morning.
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