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2004 GN Finding Trip

Part 1

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Click for larger image    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!

 

GN Express Boxcar 2649 - Click for larger image

Former GN Boxcar 36472 - Click for larger image

 

    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.

GN Caboose X102 - Click for larger image

 

    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. 

 

Cumbres & Toltec 495 at Antonito - Click for larger image Cumbres & Toltec 487 toiling uphill - Click for larger image
Cumbres & Toltec train high in the mountains - Click for larger image Coal Tower and Sand House at Chama - Click for larger image
Durango & Silverton 482 returning to Durango - Click for larger image Durango & Silverton 482 heading into the loop to servicing - Click for larger image

 

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. 

 

Grand Canyon Railway Dome Coach 2097 'Kokopelli' - ex GN 1326 - Click for larger image

GN 1326 dome interior - Click for larger image

GN 1326 stairs to dome - Click for larger image GN 1326 Indian Motive - Click for larger image

    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.

GN Caboose X536 future home of Clarkdale CofC - Click for larger image   

Verde Canyon RR FP7A #1510 ready to pull its train into its namesake canyon - Click for larger image

 

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.

 

   Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine RR Shay #10 ready to pull its train of tourists - Click for larger image

GN Caboose X213 - Click for larger image

 

    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.

 

'Young' Giant Sequoia Tree at Mariposa Grove - Click for larger image Fallen Monarch Sequoia Tree at Mariposa Grove - Click for larger image
Yosemite Park with Bridal Veil Falls on right - Click for larger image California Tunnel Sequoia Tree at Mariposa Grove - Click for larger image

 

    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.

   Sierra Ry 117 - former GN GSC Ore Car 74473 - Click for larger image

Sierra Ry 178 former GN GSC Ore Car 75151 - Click for larger image

 

   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.

Ex BN 1819 GP9 - former GN 667 - as parts-supplier on the Sierra Northern RR - Click for larger image

 

Day 4, Sunday July 4: Vallejo to Redding, CA

Richmond Pacific RR caboose 124, former GN X124 - Click for larger image 

   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.

Amtrak Heater Car 660, former GN #10 - Click for larger image

Amtrak 8153 Whitefish Lake, former GN 1245 Ranch Car - Click for larger image

    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.

   GN X344 Caboose - Click for larger image

Amtrak heater car 662, former GN 12 - Click for larger image

   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. GN caboose X421 - Click for larger image

GN coach 1127 at Chico, CA depot - Click for larger image  

   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