This travelogue covers my journey on the Overland Trail private lounge car pulled by the Santa Fe 3751 steam locomotive from Los Angeles to Railfair'99 in Sacramento, California. Everyone at TrainWeb is making this trip which includes Ray Burns, Andrew Held, and myself, Steve Grande.
In this car is just the three of us and the car owner, Bill Hatrick, and his family.
The following sets of photos were contributed to us by visitors to TrainWeb:
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.
YEAR MON DA DAY Actual-Departure-Time (Scheduled-Departure-Time) Time Zone
1999 JUN 13 SUN 08:10 Pacific Time Amtrak Coach Yard
I'm writing this travelogue from onboard the Overland Trail private car in the Amtrak Coach Yard. The Overland Trail will be part of the consist that will be lead by the Santa Fe 3751 steam locomotive on its way up to Sacramento.
Most of the consist has already been put together except for the steam locomotive, tender and the tool car. Right now we have BNSF locomotive 4419 in the lead in the bright BNSF pumkin orange Heritage II color scheme. Following the locomotive are ten newly painted BNSF boxcars. The Overland Trail private lounge car is positioned behind the box cars. The very last car on the train right behind the Overland Trail is the Tioga Pass which has an open platform.
1999 JUN 13 SUN 08:36 Pacific Time Amtrak Coach Yard
The Amtrak Sunset Limited is just pulling in next to us at the Amtrak coach yard. There are no passengers onboard, so obviously it has already been to the station and dropped off its passengers at the end of its westbound trip.
On the other side of our train, 3 Amtrak locomotives just went by. The first was a Genesis in the usual paint scheme while the second Genesis was in the new Phase IV color scheme. The last locomotive was in the Pepsi Can color scheme.
Bill Hatrick, the owner of this private car, just came by the table and offerred us a pastry and coffee. Looks like that will be my breakfast today!
1999 JUN 13 SUN 08:56 Pacific Time Amtrak Coach Yard
We're on the move! We moved a few hundred feet south, but we are still in the Amtrak coach yard. Right outside our window, they just pulled the express cars off a Superliner Consist, probably the Sunset Limited.
CH 23 (160.455) - Found the frequency of the workers in the railroad yard! There is a brakeman right outside our window and I can hear her on the scanner.
1999 JUN 13 SUN 09:15 Pacific Time Amtrak Coach Yard
First whistle from the Santa Fe 3751 steam locomo! They've placed the 3751 at the head of the train. The conductor had to change the battery in the ETD, End of Train Device. It had a dead battery.
1999 JUN 13 SUN 09:23 Pacific Time Amtrak Coach Yard
We're moving out being pulled by the 3751!
CH 36 (160.650) - Just changed to the road frequency as we pulled out.
1999 JUN 13 SUN 09:27 Pacific Time Amtrak Coach Yard
We've stopped again. Someone called to change over to Channel 25 but the Pac Sec did not have Channel 25. The Pac Sec called to the Redondo Junction Dispatcher on Channel 36 and asked them to switch to Channel 36 to tell the head end of the 3751 that he doesn't have Channel 25 on his radio. Unfortunately, the Dispatcher reported back to the Pac Set that he doesn't have Channel 25 either! Just then, the head end of the 3751 must have figured it out as they came back on the radio reporting that they are back on Channel 36.
They are now testing the ETD. It has passed the test.
The San Bernardino Dispatcher wanted to know if the 3751 has already made arrangements for water. The response came back affirmative, that arrangements have been made with the Fire Department to provide water in San Bernardino.
The brakes are not setting properly on one of the box cars, I believe 779093. To avoid further problems, they are going to set out the car.
1999 JUN 13 SUN 10:00 Pacific Time Amtrak Coach Yard
They've turned the angle cock on the steam engine and are now backing up the train to set out the boxcar with the problem brakes.
I was asking around to find out what a "Pac Sec" was. I was told it is a portable radio set. So, I guess the person carrying this radio is just referring to themselves as the "Pac Sec".
1999 JUN 13 SUN 10:09 Pacific Time Amtrak Coach Yard
We are on the roll forward again! The freight car has been set out and we are heading forward again. For those that are familiar with the area, all of this activity has taken place near the Redondo Roundhouse right across from the Sears building. I can see two San Diego Coaster Commuter railcars sitting in the Redondo Yard. We've stopped again by the Redondo Yard and are going through the brake tests again.
1999 JUN 13 SUN 10:15 Pacific Time Amtrak Coach Yard
The whistle just blew for the second time and looks like we are about ready to go again. Warren Scholl, the locomotive engineer, came on the radio. It looks like setting out that boxcar solved a lot of problems. The Pac Set that they are no longer seeing any leaks on the brake line after two minues. Two more blows of the whistle! We are ready to proceed!
1999 JUN 13 SUN 10:19 Pacific Time Amtrak Coach Yard
"Pac Set to 3751. I am going to walk the release."
1999 JUN 13 SUN 10:21 Pacific Time Amtrak Coach Yard
"Pac Set to the 3751. It is a good release, two-way."
I heard some discussion about testing the emergency. We then heard a relase of air and next heard on the radio: "Pac Set to the 3751. Double zeroes in the rear, I'm walking the set." I'm just guessing that they first check out regular braking and then check emergency braking.
1999 JUN 13 SUN 10:25 Pacific Time Amtrak Coach Yard
"Santa Fe 3751 to Redondo Dispatcher. Santa Fe 3751 ready to depart 9th street." "Highball east crossing from 2 to 1" Coming out of 9th Street and crossing over from track 2 to track 1. Cleared with Foreman Miller. "Santa Fe 3751, there are a lot of people out here. You can blow your whistle and ring your bell freely."
Richard Hamilton, the organizor of the San Diegan Club, was traveling with a couple other members of the club up to Fullerton on the Amtrak San Diegans to watch the Santa Fe 3751 come through Fullerton. They were running about 15 minutes late and would have missed the 3751 if it had been running on time. He did not know that I would be riding on the train with the 3751. Assuming that I would be at the station, he asked jokingly if I would step out on the tracks or do something to keep the 3751 from going through before he got there. I replied that would not be possible since I would be on the train as it came through Fullerton!
Using my cell phone, I kept them up to date until we passed Hobart Tower.
1999 JUN 13 SUN 10:28 Pacific Time Amtrak Coach Yard
I think we are finally on the move for real this time!
1999 JUN 13 SUN Approx. 12:30 Pacific Time San Bernardino, California
There were a massive number of people both at the Amtrak San Bernardino station, over the bridge, and a bit down the track where we stopped for water!
What happened between Redondo Yard and San Bernardino is a blur. There were so many people along the tracks and so much to see and photograph, that I didn't have an opportunity to write anything! The photos and video clips are posted below.
We placed the "www.TrainWeb.com" 8 foot by 2 foot banner in the private car window that we plan to use in our booth at RailFair'99. The banner has our logo on one end and "www.TrainWeb.com" across the rest of it. It had to go across two windows, but the space between the windows just hid the "www." so that the logo and the "TrainWeb.com" could still be seen by everyone on the south or east side of the train.
Once we passed Hobart Tower, we really started picking up speed. We waved out the window of the Overland Trail at everyone that was waving to us, and then some. As we got closer to the Fullerton Depot, I went out onto the open platform on the trailing car. Andrew Held and three other people from the other private car were already out there. We went through the depot pretty fast which made it a bit difficult to capture a video clip while waving at the same time!
I called my wife, Barbara, on the cell phone and told her we were almost by the street near her office. She was in the office with my older daughter, Jodina. They drove down as close as the could to the tracks and then walked over to the tracks to await the 3751. As the train sped by by the street, we all waved at each other!
I stayed on the open platform all the way to San Bernardino taking various photographs and video clips which are posted below. A helicopter from Channel 9 news followed the train for much of the way to San Bernardino and I even took some photos and video clips of it posted below.
There were thousands of people scattered along the stations, crossings, and bridges. People even staked out spots on private property along the tracks and traffic would come to a crawl on the interstates when our train came within sight!
I heard that there are 4 people riding in the locomotive and 16 people riding in the tool car. There are 7 people riding in our car, the Overland Trail, and 4 people in the private car behind us, the Tioga Pass. That is pretty close to everyone on the train!
Bill and his family prepared some great sandwiches and sides for lunch for us plus had plenty of soda and snacks available all day long! That's great because I thought we were going to have to survive just on the beef jerkey that Andrew brought along.
1999 JUN 13 SUN 13:23 Pacific Time San Bernardino, California Departure
We just burst through the yellow ribbon! From the head end of the 3751 we heard that we were ready to roll except for the yellow ribbon across the tracks. The engineer asked if someone could take the yellow ribbon down. The dispatcher replied that it was for crowd control and that it was OK to burst through the yellow ribbon.
1999 JUN 13 SUN 14:34 Pacific Time Mile Post 48.5
You have a defect! Axle 6 Right Side. Axle 6 Left Side. We were allowed to ignore this detector per a Track Order. The steam locomotive had dumped hot water from the boiler on the detector and had set it off!
1999 JUN 13 SUN 14:55 Pacific Time Victorville, CA
We arrived 5 minutes early into Victorville to take on more water. Looks like we made up all the lost time! Once again there are many many people taking photos and just watching the Santa Fe 3751 at Victorville as we take on water. A number of people on the train have taken this 30 minute water stop to get off the train for a few minutes.
1999 JUN 13 SUN 16:21 Pacific Time Lemonwood Turnaround
We are now sitting in one leg of a large Y. One freight train went by in front of us and out the other leg of the Y and then another freight train came from that same leg of the Y and went out behind us.
We are going to pass the switch and then back into the other leg so that we will be able to enter Bakersfield from the correct direction tomorrow.
1999 JUN 13 SUN 17:05 Pacific Time Barstow, CA
The opportunity to take this trip just came up on about Wednesday, June 9th. Andrew found a post on an SP newsgroup reporting that the Overland Trail would be in the consist of the 3751. He called Bill Hatrick to get more details about it. Bill told Andrew that the Overland Trail would be used as part of an excursion train up at Railfair and invited us to come along.
Although we were planning to prepare for the show over the next several days and head up on the Coast Starlight on Wednesday, June 16th, we realized that this would probably be a once in a lifetime adventure! Thus, we decided to pack up everything early and head up with the Santa Fe 3751 steam locomotive on Sunday, June 13th, instead.
We realized there would be a problem in trying to transport everything up to the show. Andrew had planned to drive it up to the show a day before Ray and I arrived and having everything set up. If the three of us went up in the Overland Trail, then we needed another way to get our equipment for the display up to Railfair.
We asked Bill Hatrick if we would be able to take all our materials in the car up to Sacramento with us. He asked how much we had. We replied that it would all fit under on, and over a 6 foot table. As it turned out, that estimate maybe should have been that everything would either fit under or be stacked high on a 6 foot table! Bill said it was OK to bring up our display material. There would only be 7 of us on the car that holds over 30 people, anyway!
We had everything all packed up by Saturday morning, June 12th. We planned to take everything down to Los Angeles Union Station by 11:30 P.M. to meet the Overland Trail as it returned from its last excursion run on Saturday. Then we came up with a brainstorm! The Overland Trail passes through Fullerton 4 times on the days that it operates the San Diegan excursion. If Bill had room on his car, maybe we could load a little onto his car each time it passed through the Fullerton Depot so that we would not have so much to load in the evening.
We brought just 3 suitcases down to the platform when the Overland Trail headed north into the Fullerton Depot on its first return from San Diego. Bill Hatrick and Matt Melzer, who is the WebMaster for RailPAC and sometimes works on the Overland Trail, stepped off the car when the train arrived into the station. Bill took on our 3 suitcases and told us to bring the rest of our stuff out to the platform for his next southbound trip which would be a few hours later that day. We brought the rest of our things down to the platform just before the southbound train came to the station. We filled up two flat dollys with about 6 boxes on each! Bill was able to load everything on his car, even the dollys!
Amtrak held up the train for an extra minute to give us enough time to load everything in. We greatly appreciated Bill's help and Amtrak's cooperation! Now we would just have to bring a couple of small bags with us when we boarded the car in Los Angeles instead of having to wander around the station with 2 or 3 dollys full of boxes!
That evening, Ray and I drove the company van to the Los Angeles Union Depot and Andrew drove in his car. We left the vehicles at the station for the 18 days that we would be away so that they would be ready to use to take the equipment back to our office after we returned. We just had a few items remaining to be carried on board. Since we arrived around 10:30 PM at the station, we had a bit more than an hour to wait for the Overland Trail to get into LAUS on the last northbound Amtrak San Diegan of the evening.
After the Overland Trail arrived, we waited for the excursion passengers to leave the train. We then boarded with our few remaining items and move all our display items to a more convenient location on the car that was out of the way.
Andrew slept on the train while Ray and I went to a hotel within walking distance of the station for the night. Since we didn't know where the Overland Trail would be in the morning, we made a plan for Andrew to call us at 6 A.M. on Sunday morning, June 13th, to tell us where the Overland Trail was at the moment. We slept until 5:30 A.M., got up and got ready to go. Andrew called at 6 A.M. as planned and told us that most of the consist had been put together and was in the Amtrak yard.
A taxi was waiting for us at the hotel by 6:15 A.M. We told the driver that we wanted to go to the Amtrak Yard. He asked: "To Union Station?" We corrected him and said: "No. To the Amtrak Yard. Do you know where that is?" He said he did and off we went!
The taxi driver did know exactly where the Amtrak Yard was located and went down a few back streets bringing us right into the lot! I guess he has taken Amtrak employees to or from this yard before.
The only problem was that the Overland Trail was not in sight! The taxi driver got out and asked one of the Amtrak crew members where the steam locomotive was. The Amtrak crew person said that he thought we needed to get on in Union Station. Just then, my cell phone rang and it was Andrew saying that he could see our taxi and that we was walking down towrd us! We had the taxi driver turn the car around and head up the tracks toward Andrew. We picked up Andrew and drove further up the tracks to the consist.
The BNSF 4419 locomotive was closest to us in the consist followed by the 10 newly painted BNSF boxcars, the Overland Trail, and then the Tioga Pass. We walked down to the other end of the train and boarded the Overland Trail. The rest of the story is above!
It is 5:20 P.M. Pacific Time and I'm still on the Overland Trail as I write this. Ray and I will be heading off the car shortly to go to a nearby hotel. Andrew will be staying on the car for the night. I'll be uploading this travelogue and the photos and video clips via modem from the hotel. In the morning, we'll be back to the car.
Click herefor the next segment of this travelogue.