Home > About this website > GN Finding Trips > 2004 - Part 1
2004 GN Finding Trip
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This years GNRHS Convention was held in Spokane, Washington. Another great opportunity to do some 'Rocky-hunting' before and after the convention. This year found me racing around the western states starting and ending in Denver, Colorado. My route took me through Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska. As a lot of what I saw was located outside of GN country I decided not to write a lengthy trip-report like last year but to rather make a photo essay of the highlights of each day. Last year's report also took away too much time from other projects for the website and hopefully this format will speed things up a bit.
Please follow along on my trip full of expected and some surprise finds and some great visits with (GN) friends along the way.
Day 1, Thursday July 1: Pueblo, CO to Williams, AZ
First stop is the Pueblo Locomotive and Rail Historical Society. In 2002 this group restored GN 2649, a 1952 company built express boxcar and gave it a fresh coat of beautiful Omaha orange and Pullman green. Looking over the Society's collection I come across some former BN Maintenance of Way cars, one of which BN 951864 - a kitchen car - was converted from former GN boxcar 36472, an unexpected find!
In Trinidad, CO I look for the two reported ex GN cabooses X102 and X151, but only find one; X102. Sam Maniscalco, the owner of GN X151, mentions that he thinks it was scrapped, but couldn't say for sure. X102 is owned by his nephew and reportedly holds his baseball-cap collection.
This concludes the GN part of the day which is further spent getting to Williams, AZ while enjoying the scenery on the way and visiting two famous narrow gauge steam railroads, the Cumbres & Toltec, which operates between Antonito, CO and Chama, NM and the Durango & Silverton, which operates between its namesake cities in Colorado.
Day 2, Friday July 2: Williams, AZ to Fresno, CA
Today I start off with a visit to the Grand Canyon Railway to see GN dome coach 1326, which operates on lease on the railroad wearing the number 2097 and 'Kokopelli' name. After an hour wait caused by my early arrival due to Arizona not using daylight savings time I get to see the inside of this magnificent car on a personal tour given by today's conductor. The wait was all worth it as I get to admire the original Indian decorations and dome seats.
After an unplanned but beautiful trip through the Sedona Red Rocks I arrive at Clarkdale, AZ; home to another wandered-off GN caboose; X536. Destined to house the town's Chamber of Commerce, it is slowly being readied to fulfill the role. Only the frame on X536 is still original as the body has been completely replaced by a new structure of freelance design. X536 was donated to the Chamber by the Verde Canyon Railroad located in town. At the depot I find two former Alaska Railroad FP7A's (#1510 and 1512) ready to pull today's train into the much warmer weather of their Arizona retirement home.
Day 3, Saturday July 3: Fresno to Vallejo, CA
An enjoyable trip through the wavy golden hills of California brings me into the Yosemite Park area. First stop is the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad to find GN caboose X213. The gold grass has given way to thick pine forests now. Hidden between the trees I find the railroad and one of its Shays getting ready to pull another trainload of tourists. All steamed up she's looking good and sounds great. I find X213 in the back of a small yard hidden in the brush and - surprisingly - sitting on narrow gauge trucks.
I decide to visit Yosemite Park which isn't probably the best of ideas for the 4th of July weekend but it sure is worth it. I have never seen the Giant Sequoia Trees before and they really are impressive.
After a lengthy trip from Yosemite Park I arrive at Jamestown at the 'Railtown 1897 State Historic Park' where several former Great Northern GSC ore cars are still in use in ballast service on the Sierra Railway. Some have been repainted and some haven't but all still clearly show their original numbers through the paint.
At Oakdale, CA I find former GN GP9 #667 still in BN livery and with a chopped nose at the Sierra Northern Railroad yard. Clearly in use as a parts supplier its years seem numbered.
Day 4, Sunday July 4: Vallejo to Redding, CA
|With the famous Bay Area fog (too) slowly lifting this morning I start with a visit to Richmond. GN caboose X124 can still be found here, at work now for the Richmond Pacific Railroad, a switching road for the harbor here.|
Originally planned only as an optional side-trip I decide to make a detour north to Willits as it is still early. In the former Northwestern Pacific yard there sits former GN heater car #10 (ex EMD F3B GN 354B) still wearing a faded coat of Amtrak silver. When I get into town the 4th of July parade is just about to begin and all streets are closed-off making it very hard to get to the yard. A bit of pleading at one of the road blocks gets me in and happily so as I don't only find heater car #10 but also (surprise!) former GN ranch car 1245 'Whitefish Lake'. I later find out that the Whitefish Lake was recently acquired by the Roots of Motive Power and plans are to fully restore it.
Back south again to the Western Railway Museum at Rio Vista Junction. With a heavy theme of trolleys and interurbans it is also home to Great Northern caboose X344. Also still at the museum is former GN heater car #12 (ex EMD F3B 430C). Parked at a siding down the line she's waiting to be shipped to the Feather River Rail Society at Portola as part of a recent equipment trade.
|After an enjoyable drive along the Sacramento River I arrive at Kirtlan's Silver Bend farm near Clarksburg for another Great Northern caboose, X421. Parked on a siding partly hidden by overgrowth it's waiting for better days, hopefully as part of the train which runs on the farm in the fall celebrating harvest days.|
|Just at sunset I arrive at the former depot at Chico. The depot is in use as a gallery now. The gallery acquired GN coach 1127 last year. Work is underway to prepare the car to serve as an exhibition room.|
Click here to go to part 2 of my 2004 GN Finding Trip