May 2, 2010 (Revised May 3, 2010)
We witnessed a real treat for steam locomotive enthusiasts this morning! The Central Coast Railway Club, a chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, and the Pacific Locomotive Association arranged for a special excursion train pulled by former Santa Fe #3751 between Los Angeles and San Diego. (Please see their notice about the trip).
When the locomotive is not in service, it is on exhibit on the grounds of the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society in San Bernardino. Do visit their excellent Web site for a complete history of Santa Fe #3751. An interesting fact: #3751 was converted from coal to oil in 1936, about the time diesel engines were coming into use.
We learned about this event from The Los Angeles Times April 30 article by Scott Gold (see attachment at the end of the blog). We were unaware of any coverage about this special excursion train in the local media, prior to its arrival yesterday. However, the San Diego Union-Tribune had a fully-featured article about it in its May 3rd edition, after the fact. See the Photo Gallery link from the Sign On San Diego Web site. We noted in the comments following the U-T's online article that the North County Times had a brief piece about it May 2.
Doug was home when the southbound train sped by through Rose Canyon just below our house Saturday morning. The steam locomotive's loud clatter reverberated off the canyon walls in contrast to the low rumble typical of Amtrak diesel engines. We decided to see the train up close and personal today!
We drove downtown and found a parking place on Beech Street, one block north of the train. There was time to take a look at the locomotive and 10 passenger cars, some of which were vintage domed observation cars. We also noted there was a single Amtrak "helper" diesel engine located behind the tender (in case there was a problem).
After about a 20-minute delay, it was showtime! The lusty steam whistle and swinging bell announced the train's departure and we were able to get some decent shots as it pulled by. What a nostalgia trip!
Our friend Jack Brandais forwarded three YouTube videos that will give the reader a sense of the sights and sounds of an old fashioned steam locomotive (turn up your speakers):
#3751 in Oceanside, 2010
#3751 in Orange County, June 2008 (note: you can hear the diesel "helper" engine in some of the clips).
Car chasing #3751 (not dated, probably 2008)
Please also see The Los Angeles Times article below.