Pacific Railroad Society began early in 1936 when six railfans in
the Los Angeles area banded together as the "Railroad Boosters."
Excursions were an important part of the group from its beginning,
and included visits to such now-legendary places as Pacific Electric's
Torrance Shops, the Mount Lowe Railway, and San Luis Obispo's narrow-gauge
Pacific Coast Railway.
a new name was adopted, Pacific Railroad Society. Incorporation
took place in 1957, and in 1980 PRS became a charitable public-benefit
corporation, to facilitate raising funds and soliciting tax-deductible
donations to establish the Pacific Railroad Museum. Am establishment
of a museum was an important long-term goal of the Society.
PRS ROLLING STOCK
OUR MAINLINE PRIVATE CARS
by MARTI ANN DRAPER
most significant physical asset of PRS, as well as the part of our
historical collection which consumes the greatest part of our efforts
and resources, is the PRS mainline private car fleet.
a way, the term "private cars" is misleading, in that the cars were
never used as the private cars of individuals during their lives
as active cars on the railroads. Now belonging to PRS, they are
irrevocably dedicated to educational purposes, and their preservation
and operation are clearly meant to be for the good of the public.
Nonetheless, their legal status is that of "private cars" which
are operated on common carrier railroads, including Amtrak, under
contract. This is so although they are examples of the types of
revenue cars commonly used by the major railroads on their long-distance
trains in the 1940's and 1950's. The PRS fleet includes no business
cars, nor any richly-appointed luxury cars such as were used by
wealthy and influential persons in the past. It is a rare PRS member,
however, who does not feel that he or she has some personal stake
in these cars.
1969 passenger service in the United States was being curtailed
as quickly as the ICC would allow. Failing revenues in all aspects
of passenger operations meant cutbacks, notably on Southern Pacific,
which experimented with providing the most basic services possible.
PRS, however, was enjoying considerable success with excursions,
offering 14 excursions during the calendar year of 1969. During
this period the excursion department was managed by Rolland Graham,
a young, inventive, and hard-driving personality who also had been
editing Wheel Clicks. Rolland foresaw that the excursion
effort would be greatly curtailed in the future as sleeping cars
became less and less available for charter. He also could tell that
the curtailment of dining car services would mean future one-day
trips would be dependent on automat cars or box lunches. With these
ideas in mind, Rolland began to consider seriously the acquisition
of railroad cars by PRS.
first PRS private car, Imperial Bird, was purchased after
Rolland, on the advice of Dick Reynolds, looked into the availability
of the car and did some preliminary negotiations with the representative
of the Autoliner Company, which was in the process of qualifying
as the agent for the sale of all UP passenger cars to be freed for
sale. Each member of the PRS Board of Directors, with the exception
of Leroy Donat, voted for the purchase of the Imperial Bird.
Director Donat explained that he thought the maintenance costs would
be too high, and that the cars would be a financial liability. History
has proved that Director Donat correctly predicted high maintenance
costs, but the revenue generated by the cars during their active
years was more than enough to offset their purchase prices and maintenance
during the years they operated.
supporters of private car purchases, Director Nolan Black led the
way. He gave support and encouragement to Rolland in the search
for appropriate cars. Private car purchases were thought to be important
to ensure continuing excursions, to preserve representative examples
of railroad equipment, and as an investment of surplus capital which
the IRS would presumably rather see tied up in a historical collection
than accumulating interest in a bank. Many members still remember
being asked informally at the 1969 Christmas Banquet what they thought
of PRS getting private cars. Most looked forward to being able to
operate and work on cars under PRS control, although the scale of
the enterprise had yet to be envisioned. The Board of Directors
sent out an opinion poll in December, 1969, which asked the members'
opinion on the subject, and upon the return of the ballots ratified
their purchase of the Imperial Bird.
Imperial Bird was purchased directly from the Union Pacific.
It appeared at the former United States government supply depot
at Mira Loma, where UP stored its surplus passenger cars, during
December of 1969. PRS volunteers, including Rolland, John Petros,
Chris Ditlefsen, Herb Johnson, and Owen Knapp, lost no time setting
about in the fog to ready the car for its first PRS adventure. The
Imperial Bird was a Union Pacific sleeper with four double
bedrooms, four compartments, and two drawing rooms. It was built
in 1942, making it PRS' oldest mainline car. The Bird was
constructed with steel frame and siding. It had a Waukesha-powered
air conditioner and a Waukesha propane engine to generate electricity.
The car had a reputation for a comfortable ride, as well as for
its first-class accommodations. PRS replaced some well-worn walls
and carpeting in some of the compartments with new carpeting and
wood grain paneling. The Bird was used extensively on the
Association of American Railroads required each car in interchange
to bear reporting marks to bill repairs to the owner, and to ensure
unique identification of all cars. At the time the Imperial Bird
was acquired, the initials PRS were already used by the Pennsylvania-Reading
Seashore Lines, so PAR was adopted as the reporting marks for Pacific
Railroad Society. Cars which had no numbers in railroad service
were thereafter given sequential PAR numbers, while others kept
their original railroad numbers and simply had the PAR substituted
for the railroad's reporting symbol.
we had taken possession of the Imperial Bird, Dick Reynolds,
who was also purchasing cars for use with his travel business, alerted
Rolland to the availability of the Timothy B. Blackstone.
The Blackstone was a sister car to one Dick was then negotiating
to acquire, the Samuel King Tigrett. Intrigued, Rolland got
the details, the Board approved the sale, and PRS found itself the
owner, sight unseen, of an American Car and Foundry-built, four-section,
eight-roomette, three-double bedroom, one-compartment sleeper, built
in 1950 and bearing the name of the president of Gulf Mobile and
Ohio R.R. from 1860 to 1890. GM&O shipped the red and maroon
car to Kansas City, Missouri, where Union Pacific put it on the
Portland Rose. The car sustained slid-flat wheels on that
leg of the journey, so UP repaired it, and the car completed the
trip by freight train. The car "popped" into the East Los Angeles
Yard one Saturday where amazed PRS members were working on the Imperial
the Imperial Bird, now bearing reporting marks PAR 1, and
the Timothy B. Blackstone, bearing reporting marks PAR 2,
were used on the Snowflake Special trip to Williams, Arizona,
with return over Santa Fe's Parker District. A northern section,
sponsored by Dick Reynolds' Great Western Tours, which joined the
excursion at Barstow included the Blackstone's sister, Samuel
King Tigrett, as well as Pullman heavyweight Clover Plot
and other unusual equipment.
distinguish the PRS cars, a paint scheme utilizing Armour yellow
and green was devised. The Armour yellow was chosen because the
PRS had been able to rent space in UP's East Los Angeles Yard for
car maintenance, and many of the UP employees helped out with maintenance,
including those who did the first paint job for PRS. Green was used
to distinguish the PRS cars from UP's own cars. Later in the history
of PRS, a broad green stripe, such as Chicago and North Western
used on its passenger cars, was adopted, with a distinctive running
script in the letter board. This script was among several proposals
designed by the Truxign Company, and John Petros, with Rolland's
ratification, chose this style which became a PRS trademark.
bore the early responsibility for managing private car maintenance
and operation, but the heavy workload soon resulted in the appointment
of the first Private Car Committee co-chairmen, John Petros and
Herbert Johnson. Private car workers in the early days included
Jim Atkins, Dingle Baskerville, B. Alan Black, Chris Ditlefsen,
Jim Erdman, Bill Farmer, Jim Futterer, Jim Grupp, Bill Hilbert,
Larry Jennings, Paul Jennings, Gary Kapic, Owen Knapp, Bill Miller,
Brian Norden, Al Novak, Don Schmidt, Chuck Schnaars, Ed Sinclair
and Reid Washbon. Many others showed up to work for one or two weekends
or even for a season or two, drifted away, and then returned to
work again. Careful guidance was given by railroad professionals.
These including Bill Kennedy at GATX, who drove all the way from
Mira Loma, and John Schwartz and Ted Wallin, the electrician and
pipe fitter, respectively, who brought their working knowledge of
the UP cars to the PRS enterprise.
paint, the Timothy B. Blackstone received a change of name
to distinguish it as a member of the PRS fleet. In March of 1970,
a car-naming contest was held. The names Cajon Pass, Golden Sunset,
Mission Arch, Paraiso, and Rubio Canyon were proposed,
with Golden Sunset being the winner. The car therefore ran
as the Golden Sunset for several years. At the time of the
next repainting, it was confirmed that there was at least one other
car which had operated in interchange as the Golden Sunset,
thus violating AAR policy. A majority of the PRS Board of Directors
therefore voted to restore the less lyrical, but more historically
accurate, name, Timothy B. Blackstone.
in March of 1970, PRS bought a coffee shop/lounge from UP, its 5001,
which became PAR 5001. Since this car never had a name, Rolland
christened it the Starlight Cafe. The Starlight proved
to be one of PRS' most dependable workhorses. PRS used it on heavily-patronized
long excursions and one-day trips, where buffet meals for 350 or
more passengers were prepared and served in comfort and a dignified
style. It was the first PRS car equipped with disc brakes and boasted
a counter for buffet meals. The existing layout of the car dated
from 1959 when Union Pacific rebuilt the 1949 ACF product as a coffee
shop/lounge for use on such trains as the Portland Rose.
Indeed, the car was in service on the Portland Rose at the
time PRS bought it. UP completed the run and shipped it south to
PRS. The PRS volunteers, including Owen, Rolland, and John and his
family, climbed aboard the car at SP's Dayton Tower just before
the Mountain Outin' excursion to Tehachapi and gave it its
first PRS cleaning. John reports that UP had sold us the car without
batteries, so, in his words, "The PRS Private Car Committee learned
the purpose of train-line cables" during that trip.
and Rolland actively searched for cars for PRS to buy during 1970
and 1971. They wanted, for historical as well as operating reasons,
to get a variety of accommodations. Coaches were thought to be unnecessary,
since the railroads presumably would have lots of them to charter,
to us, but food service cars and Pullmans would have future value.
A trip to the Penn Central Beech Grove facility proved fruitless,
but while on that trip, Rolland and John encountered the Bloomington
in Illinois Central Railroad's Chicago 12th Street Yard. The Bloomington
was an 11-bedroom car, built in 1953 by Pullman-Standard Company.
before UP closed its East Los Angeles Coach Yard, its dormitory/lounge
6101 was spotted by PRS volunteers as it rested in the East Los
Angeles Freight House located behind UP's 5500 Ferguson General
Office Building. PRS offered to buy the car, and UP agreed. This
1949 ACF product had its original configuration and the original
furnishings, including a modified streamline-moderne door window
and mirror in the lounge section. The colors of the furnishings
were lime green, yellow, light lavender, and aqua, putting the lounge-car
passenger into a frame of mind that is rarely encountered in more
modern surroundings. This car bore heavy service on one-day excursions.
with Dick Reynolds on the Panama Limited, during a PRS excursion,
PRS representatives made a deal to purchase Illinois Central diner
4110. The original name of this car was the Shadrach Bond,
another tongue-twister that caused renaming to be considered. But
historical considerations prevailed, and the 48-seat full diner,
built in 1948 by Pullman-Standard, kept its name. The car was long
rumored to have an "all-electric kitchen," but the PRS crews who
dug out years of accumulated grease from the walls and ducts of
the kitchen reported that the stove burns logs, just like the stove
on PAR 5001. The Shadrach Bond has not been restored to service,
although major work was begun to clean and repaint its interior.
the same trip that brought PRS the Shadrach Bond, John and
Rolland dealt for the purchase of either the Council Bluffs
or its sister, the Cairo. By the toss of a coin, Dick Reynolds
won the rights to purchase the Cairo, while the PRS representatives
won the right to purchase the Council Bluffs. The Council
Bluffs was originally built by Pullman-Standard in 1950 for
the Nickel Plate Road (The New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad
Co.) as the City of Findlay. However, its partial fluting
was removed when sold to IC and the car was renamed. It has an unusual
five-roomette, six-bedroom, five-roomette arrangement. It has only
been used one time, on a lease to Dick Reynolds, and because it
needed extensive mechanical rebuilding plus interior refurbishing,
along with the procurement of authentic folding chairs, it has not
been used since.
the advent of Amtrak, the national corporation for the conduct of
railroad passenger service, in 1971, UP had quite a few cars available
for sale. PRS bid on, and won, the National Embassy and National
Forum. Both cars were sister six-roomette, four-double bedroom,
six-open section cars, built by the Pullman-Standard Company, the
Embassy in 1955 and the Forum in 1956. Due to needed
work on the trucks, the Embassy was held in reserve while
the Forum earned its way as an overnight car and on one-day
trips, where the open sections held a large number of passengers,
and the rooms were desired for parlor-car service. The National
Forum had Budd disc brakes, outside swing hanger trucks, aluminum
outer skin, and an authentic 1956 interior. Due to these features,
and the fact that it was the last built of any PRS car, the Forum
would eventually acquire the highest mileage of any car in PRS service.
have been some periods during PRS' private car ownership when the
cars have not been able to be used at all, and these are the times
that most discourage the Mechanical Department and the PRS membership
in general. The first of these periods occurred, ironically, shortly
after the advent of the newly-formed National Railroad Passenger
Corporation, for a year beginning in 1972. During this period there
was a complete embargo on private car moves on Amtrak due to insurance
concerns. The Amtrak officials had enough troubles just getting
their own equipment, a hodgepodge of technologies from most of the
passenger-hauling railroads in the country, to run, let alone dealing
with private owners.
the year was over, however, Amtrak allowed private cars to run,
but only if painted in "platinum mist" paint with an Amtrak-matching
red, white, and blue striped band across the area between the windows.
PRS grudgingly adopted this scheme, personalizing it with the running
script "Pacific Railroad Society" on the letter boards. This unstable
metal-flake paint was applied to the Imperial Bird, National
Forum, Bloomington, Blackstone, and half of the newly-acquired
Chippewa Creek, with a quick overspray job being done to
the other side of the car just to be able to run it.
Car workers were interested in the unique Creek series sleepers,
with their 12-single room, four-double-bedroom accommodations. The
two-up, two-down window arrangement made them distinctive at a glance,
and the individual rooms would be quite comfortable for single travelers.
In January of 1972, Rolland saw the chance to purchase the Pullman-Standard-built,
ex-Pennsylvania Chippewa Creek from the Penn Central. This
car featured PRS' only 110-volt electrical system, a system which
has been complicated by some uninformed repairs by Penn Central
electricians that left electrical irregularities in the car. In
spite of its quirks, the Chippewa Creek was used on several
excursions. PRS member number one, Dick Fleming, was the AT&SF
engineer on the crew that spotted the Chippewa for PRS at
closing of the East Los Angeles Coach Yard meant that a new work
site would have to be found. Chris Ditlefsen arranged for storage
space on spur tracks at the Dart Warehouse Corporation in East Los
Angeles. This area was sufficient for the storage of a large number
of cars. Space was also leased in the Union Pacific East Los Angeles
Freight House, but access to the Freight House was restricted and
it was thought that extensive mechanical work could not be performed
on the active tracks at Dart. A suitable site was found for three
cars inside the Percival Steel Company building on South Santa Fe
Avenue in Los Angeles. While the inside facilities were good for
preserving the cars, the cars themselves were over silty dirt next
to a dock which prevented the performance of some types of heavy
repairs. PRS workers were content with it, however, until changing
market conditions once again prompted Percival Steel to ship by
rail, and a notice was given that PRS had to get its cars out by
the end of the 30-day lease period.
of the cars were then stored on tracks subleased from the Overland
Rail Travel Corporation at Republic Machinery Movers. This was an
outside spot, suitable for all types of heavy repairs, and situated
next to the Los Angeles Junction Railway engine house, which made
it popular with PRS crews. Other cars were stored on Overland-leased
tracks next to Peachtree Street in the City of Commerce, a site
which again was complicated by its proximity to a dock. The subleased
sites, moreover, were expensive.
intensive effort to find track space for storage and repairs, including
trackwalking by chairmen Jim Erdman and Al Novak, among others,
resulted in the discovery of an unused siding in the yard of the
Kirsch Company on Malt Avenue in Commerce. A lease with Kirsch resulted
in a nearly ideal site. Stand-by power was installed, a water line
was run to the car maintenance area, and the entire yard was fenced.
PRS moved into "The Malt Shop" on March 31, 1975. The area under
the tracks was paved, and a miniature "pit" was dug out. At the
"Malt Shop," up to five cars could be kept, trucks could be removed
and replaced, and there was plenty of space for the storage of equipment.
cars have made many appearances in television and movies. In 1975,
he Starlight was the star of a widely-seen Sanka coffee commercial,
while PRS Pullmans were featured in the small independent film,
Tracks. When used for filming, PRS volunteers always had
to be on hand to safeguard their charges.
POINT FOR THE PRS FLEET
1976 Amtrak began to appreciate the potential income it could receive
from the private car business and abandoned the standard paint policy.
PRS cars were then repainted in PRS Armour yellow and 1948 Ford
initial PRS run of the Chippewa Creek was as a crew car for
the first Oregon Caper trip in 1976. When the steam was turned
on prematurely in the 8th Street Coach Yard, a leak in the car's
interior resulted in it being totally steamed inside, and the crew
had to deal with peeling paint, wet walls, and wet bedding on the
first night out of Los Angeles. The car had some of its carpets
replaced and was repainted inside. Al Novak and crew spear headed
rebuilding of part of the vestibule and body work, and the Chippewa
emerged with a beautiful new PRS yellow and green paint scheme --
on one side of the car only. On the trip to Mexico in 1977, the
car proved popular, but unequal suspension on the trucks resulted
in a discernable list to one side. This was fixed later by PRS mechanics
who replaced 12 truck springs. The low passenger capacity, coupled
with body rust and its electrical idiosyncrasies, put the Chippewa
Creek at the very bottom of the list of PRS cars which could
economically be returned to mainline service.
a dependable site for a home base, the mid 1970's were was the high
point of PRS private car excursions. The cars ran in Amtrak consists,
on special excursion trains chartered and staffed by PRS, and even
in mixed train service for the enjoyment of PRS travelers. PRS hired
porters from the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters to professionally
pamper the sleeper passengers, and professional caterers to cook
the meals on the wood-burning stove of the Starlight Cafe.
Mechanics, waiters, and car hosts were PRS volunteers. This gave
the people who made the cars run a chance to ride on them, although
the opportunities constituted "work as a reward for work."
The efforts of the workers culminated in "Corazon de Mexico"
trips in 1975 and again in 1977 which each included seven of our
own cars in one train; Chippewa Creek, Imperial Bird, Bloomington,
PAR 6101 (Cajon Pass), National Forum, Timothy B. Blackstone, and
Starlight Cafe. Bill Farmer was chairman of the Private Car
Committee at that high water mark. He was also the on-board electrician
for these ambitious trips, keeping all those cars running.
American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners (AAPRCO) was
founded in 1977 and has proved to be enormously helpful to private
car operation. Despite some misgivings that the organization would
serve only the interests of well-to-do people who wanted to run
their "toys," AAPRCO has become a source of affordable
liability insurance, a storehouse of technical data, and, most importantly,
a voice for all private car owners that can be heard by Amtrak.
Without AAPRCO, individual private car owners would have little
voice with Amtrak. PRS representatives, including Bill Farmer and
Karl Strauss, were active in helping AAPRCO stage conventions and
disseminate technical information.
after the 1977 Mexico trip returned, Rolland proposed that PRS accept
the offer of Bill Gawzner, a rail fan who owned the Miramar Hotel,
to trade the National Embassy to him in exchange for ex-Amtrak
chair car 7512. The Board accepted, based upon the changing conditions
which made a coach seem like a more usable car. PRS did not have
a coach. The Embassy was, in effect, a "duplicate"
of the Forum. PRS did not have any ex-Southern Pacific equipment,
and a number of the Mechanical Department crew wanted to acquire
this ex-SP Shasta Daylight chair car. The trade was effected,
and Bill Gawzner got the National Embassy, which has since
been on static display in Santa Barbara.
got ex-SP chair car 2397 in the trade. This car seated 48 passengers,
was equipped with Waukesha air conditioning and power generation,
and had the unusually tall windows which were a unique feature on
the Shasta Daylight. It was built in 1949 by the Pullman-Standard
Company and had been sold to Amtrak in 1972.
unexpected notice at the end of 1977 that we would have to move
from the "Malt Shop" was greeted with sadness and discouragement.
The reason for the notice was that Kirsch's neighbor, Merchant's
Pet Supply, had surveyed the property and found their boundary line
went go directly down the middle of our leased track. Negotiations
to lease the half from Merchant's proved futile, so PRS had to move
its cars. Kirsch, however, kindly let PRS store heavy equipment
in the yard, rent-free, for a number of years. Our crews set out
on a frantic search for a new shop. Unknown to us at the time, the
Imperial Bird, Chippewa Creek, and Timothy B. Blackstone
would not be used after 1977 on PRS excursions.
Dart Warehouse Corporation allowed PRS crews to work at the Eastman
warehouse facility starting when the cars moved from the "Malt
Shop" in December of 1977. As of this writing, the entire PRS
fleet calls Dart home. Dart has been a fair landlord, and we are
truly grateful for the work site.
Bloomington ran on the Barstow Limited trip in 1978.
The Starlight was leased for a trip through Mexico in 1979.
The last, to the time of this writing, PRS special train over Tehachapi
ran on March 31-April 1 and April 28-29, 1979, and consisted of
hi-level coaches, plus private cars 6101, Overland 6102, Starlight
Cafe, National Border and Regal Inn. Soon thereafter,
the Starlight and 6101 were included on the Fiesta Rail '79
train which ran the circle from Los Angeles to San Bernardino on
Saturday, May 5, 1979. In November 1979, a contest was held to name
the chair car, which in its Southern Pacific days had been known
simply as 2397. Steve Holman suggested Shasta Springs which
won the balloting. At the same time, the 6101 was designated the
Cajon Pass, a name suggested by famed Cajon Pass chronicler
EQUIPMENT MAKES JOB HARDER
March of 1980, Rolland Graham finished his 15-year stint as Excursion
Director. For the next six years, PRS private car use was curtailed.
High costs of private car use, mainly switching charges, and the
eagerness of Amtrak to providing passenger space in Amtrak cars,
were cited as reasons. The biggest problem, however, were the technological
changes brought on by the introduction of new passenger cars built
to Amtrak specifications.
of the PRS private cars were steam heated. With the advent of Amfleet
and Superliners, all Amtrak passenger trains were equipped with
a 480-volt three-phase electrical feed system which provides all
power needed for lights, air conditioning, and heating from an auxiliary
generating plant in the locomotive (HEP). Steam was no longer available,
and because Amtrak's new cars needed to be supplied with power and
wired for communications, private cars without HEP could not be
run at any point between the locomotive and the other HEP-equipped
cars. Although the 32 volt D.C. electrical and air conditioning
systems were self-contained in each PRS car, our cars were not supplied
with steam and so were unheated. This made operation in the winter
impossible, and during other periods of the year operation would
be at the whim of the weather.
cars had a smaller-size diaphragm that did not match the top striker
plate of conventional diaphragms. PRS crews altered the existing
diaphragms on the National Forum and lounge 6101 to make
them usable with Amfleet cars. But Superliner cars were built with
the passageways at a completely different level, meaning that PRS
passengers could not pass through between the PRS cars and the Superliners.
This restricted PRS car usage on Superliner-equipped trains to trips
where the PRS car was next to a bi-level "step down" car,
or to trips where the entire excursion could be adequately served
in the PRS cars. On top of the heavy burden of owning and operating
passenger cars, PRS became obliged to find inventive ways to utilize
the cars within the narrow parameters of Amtrak requirements and
modern Amtrak equipment did heighten interest in the PRS cars by
underscoring their historical significance and their comfort. In
spite of the curtailment of private car use, car volunteers kept
working on them. The Timothy B. Blackstone, Starlight Cafe, National
Forum, Bloomington, Cajon Pass, and Chippewa Creek were
taken to Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal in October, 1980,
to film a Hollywood feature, Under the Rainbow.
with eventually having to move out of the Kirsch facility, and not
having any indoor storage space at Dart, in 1980 Chief Mechanical
Officer Karl Strauss proposed the acquisition of a boxcar to use
as a tool car. Since no railroad was interested in donating one,
PRS purchased PAR 55198, a 50-foot insulated box car, from the Santa
Fe and had it shipped to us from Nebo siding. It was instantly pressed
into service. A crew headed by Larry Jennings equipped it with heavy-duty
shelving. In March of 1981, chairman Strauss picked up our new Fairmont
flat car on a custom-built highway trailer. PRS began voluntarily
covering private car workers under workers' compensation insurance
coverage in 1981, simultaneously providing workers with personal
protective equipment including gloves, eyewear and hard hats. In
November, 1982, an open house at Dart was held for the enjoyment
and education of PRS members and friends. Hope that diner Shadrach
Bond could be brought on line motivated a concerted effort to
clean and refurbish the interior. Charlie Wilbur lead a major cleaning
of the stainless steel kitchen.
of our treasures from early private car days was a Pyle National
rear end marker light with a small green light and a huge red oscillating
light, originally used on UP's own passenger trains. In the early
1980's, it was stolen, along with many other valuable and irreplaceable
objects. In 1984, we replaced our marker with a brand new one which
was still being used as of this writing.
a happier note, we were approached with a prospective adventure
for our as yet unused chair car, Shasta Springs. The car
sat idle until 1984, when it was leased for a nominal sum for use
on the Louisiana World's Fair Daylight which ran from Portland,
Oregon, to New Orleans, Louisiana, and return. We concentrated efforts
on mechanical refurbishing of the car, including truck work done
by crews headed by Al Novak, and patching around the roof hatch.
Mike Malone led a team of PRS workers who replaced the glazing of
all the tall windows in the car. The car was then sent out on Southern
Pacific freight trains. It arrived in Portland, Oregon, sporting
a new Dupont Imron Daylight paint scheme. PRS members were
thrilled to see their car whiz by with its sisters as part of the
World's Fair Daylight re-creation, car 8 behind steam engine
4449. PRS individual members rode or followed the train as it made
its was from Portland to the World's Fair in New Orleans, and staffed
official excursions that were planned for the Los Angeles to Phoenix
and Phoenix to Los Angeles segments. The names Shasta Springs,
Cajon Pass, and Starlight Cafe, have never been painted
onto the cars with those names. This reflects the intent to keep
them as historically accurate as possible in outside appearance.
The lack of a name led to a small controversy when PAR 2397 appeared
in the Louisiana World's Fair Daylight train with only its
number, a concession to historical appearance. It took the editor
of Wheel Clicks off guard and prompted him to wonder in print
why PAR 2397 was the only car in the train without a name.
August 1, 1984, the Board of Directors adopted the following policy,
which had been proposed by the Mechanical Department:
shall be the policy of Pacific Railroad Society to maintain its
private mainline railroad cars in operable condition to the extent
feasible within te constraints of budget, maintenance facility and
personnel. As repainting of exteriors becomes necessary or desirable,
the cars shall be returned to former railroad owners' color schemes.
The former railroad owners' or Pullman markings (lettering and/or
numbering) all be duplicated, unless deemed by PRS not to be prudent
or prohibited by the former railroad owner. Present PRS car names
shall be retained but not painted on car exteriors, unless the name
is identical to that designated, and displayed on the car, bu the
former railroad owner. An exception to the foregoing shall be that
the exterior of one of the ex-Union Pacific cars shall be retained
in the yellow and green livery of PRS with appropriate PRS lettering,
including car name."
on August 1, 1984, PRS was given a deadline to move all of its spare
parts and equipment which had been left at the Malt Shop. The decision
by Kirsch Company to sell their property in 1984, leaving PRS with
the job of locating a suitable storage site and to move over 50
tons of unwieldy equipment on 30 days' notice, was another big setback
for the Mechanical Department. In our hour of need, Dave Riggle
found a tiny, rocky lot was available for lease from the Army Corps
of Engineers in Irwindale. The private car workers cleared the site,
spread gravel, and planted oleanders surrounding the property. The
move was completed by August 30, 1984.
tough challenges faced by the workers in this department have seldom
been realized by the passengers who enjoyed riding on a taste of
history. Only the joy of actually riding one of the cars could in
any way begin to compensate for the incredibly long hours, heavy
labor, and often filthy jobs needed to keep the private cars running.
November 3, 1984, the Desert Scout trip to Barstow used lounge
Cajon Pass followed by the Starlight Cafe, newly
repainted in an authentic UP paint scheme. Larry Jennings
headed the paint crew, which worked day and night to apply the primer
and bright yellow coats.
1985 the San Angelo Tank Car Line retired SANX 8200, a tank car
which was used for wine service. Jim Green, President of the company,
offered it to PRS as a donation, which we could scrap if desired.
After viewing the car on the Giumarra Vinyard spur at Edison, however,
the unique character of the car, and the likelihood of its having
future historical significance, were apparent. PRS accepted the
donation February 11, 1985. Some minor repairs were authorized,
and the car was shipped, with transportation donated by Santa Fe
and Union Pacific, to PRS. It remained as part of the collection
at Dart until 1996, when it was sold to the Santa Clara Valley Historical
Society as a water car for use with their Mogul, 1765.
Homan, as Excursion Director from 1985 to 1990, spurred the renewed
use of PRS cars on trips, including one-day jaunts to San Diego
and a lease move of the National Forum to Vancouver, British
Columbia; a one-day trip to Indio using the National Forum,
PAR 2397, PAR 6101, and the Starlight Cafe; and a special
excursion train to Mojave using PAR 2397, the Starlight Cafe,
Lounge 6101, the National Forum, and the leased private
dome observation car, Native Son. Food service was provided
by our own volunteers, spearheaded by Russell and Patty Homan.
dormitory Lounge, Cajon Pass, went to San Diego as part of
our 50th anniversary trip on April 11 &12, 1986.
It ran at the end of the San Diegan with a bright yellow
and green drumhead sporting the Railroad Boosters symbol and the
number "50." Charter member Roy Fleming and his wife Wealthy
occupied the steward's bedroom for the trip.
National Forum, after nine years of inactivity, emerged from
the PRS paint shop with Armour yellow paint and red Scotchlite striping
and lettering. Leased to Dave Rohr, the Forum went to Vancouver,
Canada, for Expo '86. Instead of a professional porter, however,
PRS volunteer Marti Ann Draper attended the Pullman passengers.
newly glossy, the Forum went to San Diego on May 31, 1986,
with John Anderson in full uniform as attendant. Paint crew chief
Larry Jennings completed the Scotchlite lettering by hand painting
borders around each letter.
private car workers were referred to in the 1980's as the Mechanical
Department, and fittingly, during Al Novak's tenure as head of the
Private Car Committee, his job was officially designated Chief Mechanical
Officer by the Board of Directors. The Mechanical Department held
an Open house on September 30, 1986, allowing all members and guests
to walk through the cars at Dart.
October 13, 1986, the Starlight Cafe followed the National
Forum to Oakland on the "Rails North to Roaring Camp"
excursion. The Italian-style luncheon and hot turkey dinner was
cooked enroute not by contractors, but by PRS volunteers Tom and
Carol Peterson, who did a professional job.
February 21, 1987, PRS presented the Indio Date Festival Limited.
This was a special train run under contract with Amtrak which included
2397 in its first run on a PRS special. Also in the consist were
the Starlight, the Cajon Pass, National Forum and
Dave Rohr's Native Son. From September 18 to 21, 1987, the
National Forum ran to Albuquerque on Amtrak's Southwest
Chief. Mike Gormican and Marti Ann Draper served as porters.
This delightful trip was followed by a September 27 trip to San
Diego and return.
November of 1987, a team of vandals and thieves broke into eight
of our cars standing at the Dart Facility. They smashed in the window
in the end door of the National Forum and used its fire tools
to break into the Starlight, Bloomington, Council Bluffs,
and Chippewa Creek. Glass and fixtures were shattered, carpets
had burned spots, and dozens of blankets were stolen. We sent the
Forum to the Trammell Crow siding on Peachtree Street in
the City of Commerce for safe keeping and weighed our options. We
decided upon repairing and rebuilding the chain link fence around
the perimeter, topping the fences with razor wire, and installing
motion detectors which would set off an audible alarm and alert
a private security company. PRS volunteers installed the conduit
for the alarm.
March 16, 1988, PRS received PAR 7199, a 45-ton General Electric
switch engine. PAR 7199, powered by two Cummings 150-hp diesel prime
movers, was delivered on a low-boy truck trailer on the far side
of Dart. UP crews, who dubbed it "the Mule," switched
it around the building and onto our leased tracks at Dart. The locomotive
was donated to PRS through the United States Government's surplus
property program, but substantial contributions by Ted Creveling
and Rolland Graham effected its delivery from El Toro Marine Air
Station to us. The 7199 would be used to move the cars around inside
the Dart plant and to supply air for brake tests and sandblasting.
Mojave Circle special train of April 17, 1988, used a remarkable
array of private cars; Shasta Springs, Regina Wendt, Starlight
Cafe, National Forum, Amber Trail, Native Son, Belle McKee, Silver
Patio and three ex-Santa Fe high level coaches.
Forum made another trip to Albuquerque with Mike Gormican
and Barbara Sibert changing the linens.
National Forum was displayed from October 4-8, 1989, at the
San Diego AAPRCO convention. This was the first time any PRS car
had actually attended an AAPRCO convention. We were surprised and
delighted by the reception our "museum on wheels" received
from the public, which was given the chance to tour all the AAPRCO
cars at the Wright Street Yard.
December of 1989, our lease ran out on the lot in Irwindale. Most
of the equipment was loaded onto commercial trucks and transferred
to Dart. Things which we could not use were sold as surplus and
cleaned off the property. On February 14, 1990, through the efforts
of new Chairman Ted Creveling, PRS acquired a flatcar as a donation
from the Trailer Train corporation. As much of the large equipment
as we could fit was placed upon it.
National Forum took another trip to San Diego on October
27, 1990, and the week after left on a two-week odyssey. This trip
included being shown off at the AAPRCO convention in Galveston,
Texas, followed by a quick trip to New Orleans and back. The trip
took place from November 4 through November 14, 1990, and included
Randy Schlothauer's dome diner, the Columbia River , to provide
food service to the National Forum's passengers. Attendants
were combination porter/mechanics Larry Jennings, Marti Ann Draper,
and Steve Ablonzki. Also aiding the passengers was PRS's
new Excursion Director, Barbara Sibert.
November 23, 1990, the National Forum went to Oakland and
returned on the Coast Starlight. Passengers, lacking
any steam heat from the engine, noted that "it's cold."
IMPOSES HEP DEADLINE
On January 1, 1991, Amtrak imposed the requirement that all cars
handled in its trains had to be equipped with HEP. In addition,
cars 40 years or older had to undergo a detailed rebuilding which
required removal and inspection of trucks, couplers, drawbars, and
other major components.
was rented and used for the filming of the pilot of a television
series, Home Front, at LA Union Station during March of 1991.
It was then leased and sent to Portland to operate behind 4449 in
May of 1991 for Sacramento's 10th anniversary Rail fair.
Following this duty, the chair car stayed in Portland under a lease
agreement and was used on a number of trips behind 4449, including
a series from Portland to San Jose July 18 through 20, 1992. Vince
Cammerano went along as mechanic. Over the Labor Day weekend in
1992, chair car 2397 operated up and down the Sacramento River Canyon
behind 4449, passing its namesake Shasta Springs each time. This
series of special train trips was operated by SP as a peace offering
to the people in the region surrounding Dunsmuir who had been effected
by a metam sodium spill at Cantara the previous year.
of the writing of this article, only one car, the National Forum,
has been modified to meet Amtrak's requirements. The considerable
cost of meeting Amtrak's HEP and related requirements was met in
part by a trust fund which had been set up using the proceeds from
the 1979 Tehachapi excursions, and part by a $10,000 grant from
an anonymous donor. The work was contracted to Southern California
Rail Services, a company set up by Marti Ann Draper and Will Walters,
whose efforts were augmented by long hours contributed by Dave Abbott.
Towards the end of 1991, the car was moved to a siding in Anaheim.
Before the major part of the work could be commenced, however, a
call came in from the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society.
It had completed the renovation of Santa Fe steam engine 3751 and
had received permission from Santa Fe to run a four-day excursion
using the engine. Was our car available for use?
December 25, 1991, before they could sit down to a holiday dinner,
Will Walters and his family finished the lubrication and stenciling
of the National Forum. The car was switched to Kaiser and
became a part of the California Limited, the 3751's train
for the historic four day trip to Bakersfield over Cajon and Tehachapi
it had been returned to Anaheim, the Forum was equipped with
480 volt HEP train lines, communication train lines, a high-pressure
main reservoir line, and a multiple unit train line. Both ends received
rubber diaphragms which were compatible with all types of Amtrak
cars. In addition to the contract services, the Forum had
periodic air brake work done and various repairs to the buffers
and underpinnings. The new HEP installation was first energized
when the Forum was added to the AAPRCO special train to Sacramento
in October, 1993. It continued on a special train which crossed
the Rockies through Tennessee Pass and the Royal Gorge. Barbara
Sibert and Larry Jennings were the attendants, and Will Walters
went along as mechanic and electrician.
May 6 through 8, 1994, our chair car 2397 came to San Luis Obispo
behind former Southern Pacific steam engine 2397. A PRS excursion
was operated to San Luis Obispo to ride on special trains using
our car. 2397 was also used as part of special Peninsula trains
between San Francisco and Palo Alto during the soccer World cup
semi-finals in 1994. Wheel wear caused it to be withdrawn from that
service; the worn wheelset was then replaced with a spare from our
flat car, and the car sat with Golden Gate Railway Museum's fleet
at Hunter's Point, San Francisco, until it was prepared for shipment
back south for use on the Fillmore & Western movie and excursion
On September 7, 1994, we sold our insulated box car and it was shortly
taken away by highway to Parkview, California. We could function
without it because in the spring of 1994, we received ex-SP baggage
car 6617 in exchange for a set of Union Pacific disc brake trucks.
The baggage car was painted inside and out and became the mechanical
department's enclosed storage, shop, and lunch room.
June of 1995, the National Forum carried us to Lamy, New
Mexico, where it was pulled as a special movement over the length
of the Santa Fe Southern to Santa Fe, New Mexico. When it arrived
home, extensive work to install transformers and an electric water
heater was engineered and supervised by Will Walters, and the installation
of electric space heaters was overseen by Stan Ames and John Stahlkamp.
These improvements returned the car to a level of comfort which
had been impossible to achieve since Amtrak discontinued the use
of steam boilers.
thirteen days in September, 1995, the Forum was both lodging
and showplace for PRS members attending the AAPRCO convention that
year. On the trip up, it became uncomfortable when a high pressure
hose to the air conditioner failed. A cell phone call to Mario Ibanez
enabled him to search for a replacement part at Dart, which he expressed
to the Forum enroute. This trip took the Forum through
breathtaking scenery over Rogers Pass, through the spiral tunnels,
and to Banff, Alberta.
The Forum rang in the New Year of 1996 by traveling on a
lease all the way to Miami, Florida. On the way back, at Benson,
it picked up a carload of PRS excursionists who had spent the weekend
riding streetcars and trains.
who chaired the Private Car committee after Rolland Graham were
John Petros and Herb Johnson, jointly; followed by John Petros;
Jim Erdman and Al Novak, jointly; Art Townsend; Bill Farmer; Don
Crow and Karl Strauss, jointly; then Karl Strauss; Al Novak; Marti
Ann Draper; and Ted Creveling.
of the workers who put in many hours have been Dennis Gilkey, Russell
Homan, Roy Idlof, Fred Knox, Mike Malone, MarkReyes, Rick Reyes,
Peggie Riggle, Dave Riggle, Stuart Spencer, Charlie Wilbur, Dave
Mecklem, Bob Large, John Anderson, Tim Johnson, Bobby Johnson, Gordon
Nunnally, Tom Wood, Paul Hampton, Tom Pearson, George Christy, Brian
Norden, Jim Minor, B. Alan Black, Mike Malone, Paul Jennings, Herb
Johnson, Bill Novak, Charlie Wilbur, Dana Parker, Jon Clark, Ron
Beach, Bob Large, Owen Knapp, David Sanchez, Bobby Gallegos, Brad
Graber, Fred Knox, Robert Markowitz, Richard Rempi, John Gonzales,
Jim Van Leersum, Vernon Cook, Steve Ablonzki, and Scott Mayer.
hundreds and hundreds of hours have been provided by Jim Erdman,
Bill Farmer, Rolland Graham, Larry Jennings, Al Novak, Marti Ann
Draper, Karl Strauss, Mike Gormican, Dingle Baskerville, Vincent
Cammerano, Jr., A.T. (Ted) Campbell, Wayne Saunders, John Stallkamp,
Stanley Ames, Stuart Spencer, Ted Shackelford, Mario Ibanez, Reynold
Blight, Dan Dalke, Barbara Sibert, Will Walters, Ted Creveling,
and Dave Abbott. This list is far from being all-inclusive, and
each contribution has its special importance.
The PRS private cars offered a chance for current generations to
experience a living version of what rail travel was like decades
ago. The opportunity to work on them provided great frustration,
as well as great satisfaction, and educated all participants in
the practical technology needed to run cars on actual mainline common
carriers. The cars gave PRS members a chance to interact with the
railroad industry as customers and co-workers. And they have forced
PRS members to work committedly together to preserve the actual
"stuff" of railroad history, the railroad equipment itself.
We hope the future will afford more people the chance to work and
ride on the Imperial Bird, Timothy B. Blackstone, Starlight Cafe,
lounge 6101, Bloomington, Council Bluffs, Shadrach Bond,
Chippewa Creek, National Forum, and chair car 2397.