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Chris Parker Memorial Run - LA roundtrip San Diego - October 15, 2021
Chris Parker Memorial Run of the Tioga Pass private rail car.

Tioga Pass - Round trip LA to San Diego, October 15, 2021  (Would have been Chris' 65th birthday)

Chris Parker in the Southwest Chief  lounge car eastbound for LaPlata, Missouri, April 7, 2008
October 15, 1956 - June 26, 2021

Trip report and photos by Carl Morrison -

On September 14, 2021, I heard about this special memorial private rail car trip for Chris Parker as follows:

Good afternoon everyone,

To honour the memory of our dear friend Chris Parker, we are chartering the private car "Tioga Pass" for a round-trip from Los Angeles to San Diego.  This will occur on his birthday, Friday, October 15th (1956).

The car will be on the rear of Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner 562 and returning on 593.  These are the only two trains on the Surfliner route on which Amtrak will allow a private car.

You may board at any Amtrak station.  Below are the departure times for 562:

Los Angeles - 6:05 am
Fullerton - 6:36
Anaheim - 6:45
Santa Ana - 6:55
Irvine - 7:08
San Juan Capistrano - 7:23
Arrive San Diego - 8:58 am
Please let us know which station you choose since Norm Orfall, the owner of Tioga Pass, will need to inform the conductor.

Chris and I have been in contact with Scott, Chris Parker's brother, and he unfortunately cannot attend.  There is no other memorial planned.

Since we will all have a nine-hour layover in San Diego, if any of you would like to ride the San Diego Trolley system (Green, Blue and Orange lines), just let us know and we can do it as a group.  However, the vintage line with the PCC car currently only operates on weekends.

Returning, Train 593 leaves San Diego at 18:40, arriving Los Angeles at 21:39 pm with intermediate stops -- San Juan Capistrano 20:15 pm, Irvine 20:30, Santa Ana 20:42, Anaheim 20:52 and Fullerton 21:01.

This special event is limited to fifteen people. We need your response by the end of the day on September 18th.

The cost will be $115 per person.  You can pay by cheque on October 15th, payable to Norm Orfall.  Coffee, orange juice and pastries will be served on the southbound trip.

We are hoping you can attend, and look forward to your reply.

Yours truly,

Elizabeth and Chris Guenzler

I received a call from Chris Guenzler the evening before and he said the pickup time for me in Fullerton had been moved to a later train and it would be 7:30 a.m.  I welcomed the extra time!


Tioga Pass History

Built in 1959 by the Canadian National Shops in Point St. Charles, Quebec, the car was part of an order for 12 similar cars designed for railroad executives. Originally number 23, and later number 93, Tioga Pass spent most of its life in Edmonton, Alberta. There it served the Vice President of the Mountain Region. Records show the car traveled all over Canada, providing some 30 years of faithful service. By the early 1990s, though, the car was largely redundant and seldom used. Like the passenger trains on which it used to hitch a ride, the automobile and airplane offered quicker and more convenient transportation in today’s fast-paced corporate world.

In 1992 Canadian National decided to sell the car, and a local businessman in Barstow, California named Rutherford P. “Rudy” Hayes bought it sight unseen because, as he put it, “I always just wanted one.” In an epic trip, the car traveled from Edmonton to Barstow in January, 1993. Through fierce cold and driving blizzards, the passengers stayed warm inside. Its new owner was like a proud father, pronouncing the car was all he ever thought it would be. Unfortunately, Rudy never got the chance to travel on his new car. He died of a heart attack only months after it was delivered. The car sat, forlorn and neglected in front of the Harvey House train station in Barstow for several years.

Aronco Leasing Company purchased the car in 1997 from the Hayes estate. A victim of benign neglect, numerous repairs and upgrades were needed before the car could be used again. Starting in 2002, the Tioga Pass has undergone the most extensive restoration since its construction. An exhaustive examination of all of the major mechanical components of the car was undertaken, including the wheels, suspension, couplers, and airbrakes. This thorough examination allows the car to be considered as good as new. At the same time, a number of upgrades were made to allow the car to operate behind Amtrak trains, such as installation of heavy-duty power cabling and signal and communications wiring.

During the off-season in winter 2005, Tioga Pass saw its first significant redecorating in more than 20 years. The living room was completely redone in oak paneling and new furniture was installed. New carpeting and flooring was accompanied by fresh paint and a host of other interior decor changes. A new high-capacity diesel generator was installed, along with miles of new wiring. Almost every trace of the original electrical system was removed in preparation for new equipment. A completely new air conditioning system, and upgrades to the heating, ventilation, lighting, and plumbing rounded out the vast array of improvements.

What is a Business Car?

The railroad business car was, in its heyday, the equivalent of today’s corporate jet. When a railroad executive needed to travel, the business car was the means of choice. It was quite simple to add the car to the end of an existing passenger train and head off for the farthest corners of the railroad to inspect operations, entertain shippers, and woo politicians.

Railroads often spared no expense in building and decorating their business cars to make them quite literally rolling works of art. Skilled craftsmen sometimes spent years installing interiors of the finest imported woods. Brazilian mahogany, rosewood, zebrawood and many other exotic woods found their way inside. Polished brass, gold leaf, and fine silver adorned the interiors outfitted with luxurious linens. Sometimes the decor was limited only by the imaginations of the designers. Some cars were even equipped with bathtubs and fireplaces, a real rarity since the cars must travel down the track safely.

Most business cars traveled with a crew consisting of a cook, one or more servants, and a secretary. Given the need to do business wherever the car might find itself, a fully-equipped secretary’s office was usually part of the plan. The secretary could type up messages and toss them off at any station, where the agent would telegraph the information ahead.

The cook would be in charge of preparing sumptuous meals for the passengers to enjoy in the dining room. A shopping list of hundreds of gourmet items would have to be stored in the limited space in the kitchen. The cook had to do his job even when the car was moving down the tracks at up to 90 miles an hour, a true feat of coordination if ever there was one.

Although most railroad business cars have long since been scrapped, a number still serve the railroads today. Major railroads often have a whole fleet of cars that fulfill the same tasks as the cars of yesteryear. Aboard Tioga Pass, you can still travel in the style of rail barons of yore as you inspect the railroad and entertain your guests.

1959 Canadian National Shops built executive business car. From Canadian National. Original business car layout with two suites, two bedrooms, and lounge and open platform.

About Our Custom Rail Car

Following a three-year, $100,000 mechanical overhaul,Tioga pass is certified to move over almost any railroad in the United States, Canada or Mexico. The car meets all Amtrak and Via Rail Canada specifications for passegener cars, and can move in almost any train to any destination.

Tioga Pass is fully self-contained. Its diesel generator supplies power when not moving, and an axle-driven generator powers the car when riding the high iron. Full heating and cooling systems keep you comfortable, no matter the weather.

With a full stainless steel galley, complete with side-by-side refrigerator and propane range, Tioga Pass has the right equipment to feed hungry travelers. Our skilled chefs can prepare gourmet menus to suit any taste. The fully equipped dining room seats eight for elegant meals as the scenery rolls by outside the windows.

The large living room and full dining room are complemented by two master bedrooms with a bathroom and shower en suite, one single bedroom, and one crew room. Up to twenty people can be accomodated for day trips and night accomodations are available for seven.

The open platform at the rear of the car allows unparalleled views of the scenery along the way. Tioga Pass is available for charter to numerous destinations across North America. Smaller groups can travel on any of the public trips offered throughout the year. When travelling on a private rail car, the destination is only half the fun!

For more information and for
upcoming public trips, visit:
Or contact:
Norm Orfall
Aronco Leasing Company
909 Armory Road
Barstow, CA 92311
Tel.: (760) 953-9620

More information:

Make the screen as wide as possible for best viewing.

Most photos can be clicked for a larger copy.

The Surfliner arrived on time with Tioga Pass at the end.

Exciting to see a private car at the end of an arriving Surfliner, especially if you are to board it.

Owner, Norm Orfall, came out to lower the steps for us to board.

Elizabeth and Chris Guenzler were already aboard to welcome us participants.

Bob Riskie, left, had boarded in Los Angeles, and Bob Gordon, standing, boarded with me in Fullerton.

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Norm Orfall, owner, remained ready to welcome other guests at Anaheim and Santa Ana.  I took a quick tour of the Dining room, and enjoyed a cup of coffee and a coconut macaroon.

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Norm had set a place at the table for Chris Parker (RIP).

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Norm helped passengers board in Anaheim - Barbara Cepinko, Steve Grande, and J David Aton.

For photography, since passengers cannot be on the platform when the car is in motion, the best places are the seats overlooking the platform.  Here, leaving Anaheim.

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Chris asked us each to relate to those assembled our favorite time with Chris Parker.


As we passed a friends house in Santa Ana, I shot a photo.

At Dana point, we were running on the beach, literally.

Recently rail service between Orange County and San Diego was closed during reinforcement of the tracks near San Clemente.  Norm mentioned that we would know when we got there by the slowness of the train.  Sure enough,  being the last car in the consist gave us an excellent view of the rocks that had been placed between the tracks and nearby surf  near San Clemente.

A major oil spill recently took place from a broken pipeline near LA/Long Beach Harbor and had fouled beaches there and farther south in Orange County.  Above, crews still work on cleaning up the errant oil with security helping pedestrians avoid the oil and newly placed rocks along the right-of-way in the foreground.

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In the left photo I noticed that the rails and tie hardware was rusty from the splash from the surf.  Right, sea water is about to splash on the newly placed rocks and earlier waves had made the tracks wet at this point.

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Left, telltale curve before the county line.  Right, Orange/San Diego County line.

White under the rails is the concrete Trestles Bridge.  County line is below the bluff on the right.  San Mateo Creek runs under the foreground bridge.

Trestles is a collection of surfing spots between northern San Onofre State Beach in San Diego County and southern San Clemente in Orange County in California. Trestles consists of, from north to south, Upper Trestles, Lower Trestles, and Middle Trestles. North of Upper Trestles is the surf spot called Cottons. 


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At the San Onofre siding, more evidence of track work by stored equipment and cars for hauling rock from some states away.

San Onofre nuclear power plant.  The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) is now in the process of decommissioning.  More information.

We continued our Chris Parker Memorial Run with the "Best Seat in the House - Tioga Pass"

San Diego Northern Railway?  I know it as Coaster Yard.

Hotels in Oceanside between the station and pier.

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At Oceanside and other stops, we made sure we were only on the platform while stopped. Robin heading back in.  Quick shots from the platform toward the rest of the train.

Sprinter in Oceanside awaiting a trip to Escondido.

Carlsbad Coaster Station which we passed at maximum speed allowed.

CP CARL with the old Carlsbad station on the right. 

Serious construction project around Leucadia/Encinitas area, perhaps an underpass.  Click here to Read More.

The railroad and Hwy. 101 cross many lagoons and estuaries off the coast.

The New York Central 3 private car had left San Diego and was heading north.

Solana Beach Amtrak Station.

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Del Mar Racetrack and former Del Mar Station, right, replaced by Solana Beach Station which does not block streets for stops.

Wave Crest Resort in Del Mar with views of the blue Pacific and blue Surfliners and blue Coasters.

The sandstone bluffs of Del Mar caved and are having a face lift these days.

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Hwy. 101 crosses the railroad as it curves inland and climbs to CP Miramar. 1933 bridge that crosses the railroad.
Due to a disagreement on how best to maintain this historic bridge, Del Mar bought the bridge from San Diego for $1 in 2000. Source

At times the railroad and trolley Blue Line extension to La Jolla tracks are adjacent north of San Diego.

"On November 21, 2021, the UC San Diego Blue Line light rail extension will open and expand the San Diego Trolley system from Downtown San Diego to the UTC Transit Center, serving nine new Trolley stations."  New stations would be above Old Town on the Blue Line map below.  Source

Mid-Coast Trolley Route Map

Click the image above for a much larger copy.
Nine new stops will be available north of Old Town stop on the map above.

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After docking in San Diego, we took the opportunity for some photos of the elegant Tioga Pass. (Photo of me and Robin by Chris Guenzler.)

At this point of the trip, we were instructed to be back at the Tioga Pass by 8:30 for a 9 pm departure.  Elizabeth had a key to the car and Norm suggested that we could also return to the car and he would probably be there.  J David decided to take the trolley to the Tijuana stop.  Barbara and Steve joined the Hop On Hop Off  San Diego City Tour and "mostly explored the Gaslamp Quarter. So much live music, wine bars, and craft breweries! Almost like Portland, OR"  by Steve Grande.  Chris and Elizabeth lead a tour of the trolley system which Robin and I joined.

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We had our Compass card and were prepared to reload it with a day pass.  However, the lady on the left informed us that the Compass cards were out and we needed to purchase a new card for $2 and an all-day pass for $6.  Then at each transfer to another line, or to return on the same line, to scan our card on the photo right above.  She said the scan may show that we are paying more than $6, it would still be good for the day.

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Our Green Line trolley arrived and took us to Santee, but the wrap prevented any good photos.  We took a group photo at the end of the line in Santee before going back a few stops to Arnele Avenue to catch the Orange Line. 

At Arnele Avenue, we transferred to the Orange Line.  Their units had not been wrapped and were better for photography.

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(Click the map for a larger image.)
Inside the trolley were these posters.  We were using the Pronto system, but not on the iPhone.  We tapped our day pass cards each time we transferred to a different line.

On the Orange Line trip, I spotted a window seat behind the operator and took some photos as if I were on a cab ride. 
Above, the Green Line sign in the window had been reversed so outside it said Orange Line.

I could easily see the control panel through the window, but wanted to ask the operator how much of the operation was automated.

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L to R: Interior of our trolley with low center boarding making it easy for wheeled conveyances.  Underground San Diego State trolley stop.  Using the bars for exercise a passenger does some chin ups.

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Left, View past the operator of an approaching trolley.  Above, Downtown La Mesa.

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No. 3* at La Mesa is the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum with a Pacific Fruit Express car and a caboose.  Right:  Northbound Orange Line on adjacent track.

*Mojave Northern Railroad #3 (Above left)

As fuel and water for this six-wheel switch engine with no pilot or trailing wheels are carried in an 800-gallon oil tank and a 2,000-gallon water tank on the locomotive’s frame, “saddling” the boiler instead of in a tender, it’s called an 0-6-OT saddle tank engine. This gives it excellent rear visibility for switching. Builder’s No. 1972, it weighs 118,000 lbs (59 tons), has 42″ drivers, 17″ x 24 cylinders, 190-lb.boiler pressure, and 15,275-lb. tractive effort.

The “teakettle” went new to the Mojave Northern Railroad, built in 1915-16 by the Southwestern Portland Cement Company from its plant at Leon (for MN builder Carl Leonhart) in northern Victorville, CA, 5.5 miles to Sidewinder valley in the Mojave desert (extended five miles to Bell in 1947 and seven more to Reserve Quarry (lime rock) in 1951). The plant, quarry, and equipment were owned by SWPC, which leased the MN until 1925, when its status was changed from “Common Carrier” to “Plant Facility”. Never lettered SWPC, MN No. 3 was used mainly in the Leon cement plant area until replaced by diesels in 1957. It was painted black with silver running board, cab stripes, boiler front, and lettering: “MNRR” on its tanksides and small “3” in large cab side boxes. In 1956 the headlight, drivers, and wheel rims were painted silver and the cab numbers repainted with larger ones in small boxes. MN No. 3 pulled a flatcar with wood guard rails on a Railway & Locomotive Historical Society (Southern California Chapter) excursion on May 5, 1956, and was rarely used after that.

MN No. 3 was donated to the PSRMA on Friday, the 13th of May, 1966 by the SWPC. Because the PSRMA had no facilities of its own at that time, storage space was rented at the Orange Empire Trolley Museum (now Railway Museum) near Perris, California. MN No. 3 was taken there by the Santa Fe, and snap-tracked the final half-mile to OETM rails July 30, 1966. As MN No. 3 had a damaged crown sheet in its firebox which required major repairs and was condemned by state inspectors after April 1967 hydrostatic tests, it was not restored. Its photo was in a 1967 Trains issue. It was maintained by member Charlie Holcomb until he died in April 1977. During 14 years of storage in an open unfenced area, MN No. 3 was vandalized and had some parts stolen. In mid-1980, MN No. 3 was painted black with silver trim. The wheels and drivers were painted all-black, the tank side’s “MNRR” not reapplied, and the cab numbers were repainted in larger rectangular boxes.

On January 9, 1981, MN No. 3 arrived in San Diego with another museum saddle tanker, E.J. Lavino No. 10, on their own wheels after weeks of preparation at the OERM, and three days enroute on the Santa Fe. Transferred to La Mesa by the SD&AE, MN No. 3 was displayed at the north end of the La Mesa Depot Museum exhibit. An electric cable was run to it and its headlight turned on at night. Because of its condition, it was made a permanent part of the inoperable display, and in 1988 was lifted by crane, turned around, and placed at the south end of the display track. It was repainted black with silver trim (including wheel rims & tanksides “MNRR”) in August 1993. It now stands only a few feet from passing San Diego Trolley LRVs.

It was repainted and lettered again in April 2009.

Lemon Grove trolley station. 

We rode to the 12th and Imperial station and transferred to the Blue Line to San Ysidro at the US/Mexico Border.

Blue Line Trolley arriving with the Library dome in the background.  Petco Baseball Park is nearby as well.

A sign of the times was COVID-19 Testing sites at many trolley stations.

First photo opportunity on the Blue Line was the Trolley Barn.

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As we passed the Pacific Fleet Blue Line Trolley stop, I noted the new camouflage pattern on a passenger.

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Left, SDIV (San Diego and Imperial Valley) Switcher 701. Right, A & C (Arizona and California) 3112 and SDIV 702 in San Ysidro.

The San Diego and Imperial Valley Railroad is a class III railroad operating freight rail service in the San Diego area, providing service to customers in the region and moving railcars between the end of the BNSF Railway in Downtown San Diego and the Mexico–United States border in San Ysidro. More at: Wikipedia
Founded: 1984
Main region(s): San Diego
Length: 38.8 miles (62.4 km) (7.2 miles (11.6 km) currently unused)
Fleet size: Two NRE 3GS21B diesel-powered genset locomotives
Parent organization: Genesee & Wyoming  (I have seen this color scheme on other locomotives around the country.  A nice interactive map of all their shortlines in the US:


At the end of the Blue Line,
Chris waits to board our ride back north to San Diego. There are some shops and a walkway and highway entrance to Tijuana, Mexico, at this stop.

Returning to San Diego and the America Plaza Station on the Blue Line, we pass close to Petco Park at 12th and Imperial.

We noticed this beautifully restored building along the route at Park and G Streets.

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Back at the Santa Fe depot, we walked west on Broadway to the embarcadero and noticed the Disney Wonder cruise ship in port.  Click here for More information on Disney Wonder.

Farther south along the docks is the Midway.

The USS Midway Museum is a historical naval aircraft carrier museum located in downtown San Diego, California at Navy Pier. The museum consists of the aircraft carrier Midway. The ship houses an extensive collection of aircraft, many of which were built in Southern California. More Information.


Referred to by many as The Kiss, this huge sculpture was created by the artist Seward Johnson. Its proper name is Unconditional Surrender. It’s based on a photograph taken during V-J day in New York’s Times Square. An American sailor, overjoyed at the news of the war’s end, grabbed a random nurse nearby and gave her a spontaneous kiss. The photograph became world famous.

A temporary Unconditional Surrender statue was originally placed at this site, but it was replaced with a permanent bronze version in 2012. Unlike most other monuments and memorials located on the Greatest Generation Walk, just south of the USS Midway, this statue is so enormous it can be glimpsed from several points on San Diego Bay.  Source.

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This yacht looks large until, (right) it gets near the USS midway.

Across the bay, from our window table at the Fish Market, was the modern carrier No. 72.

USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) is the fifth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier in the United States Navy. She is the second Navy ship to have been named after the former President Abraham Lincoln. Her home port is NAS North Island, San Diego, California; she is a member of the United States Pacific Fleet. She is administratively responsible to Commander, Naval Air Forces Pacific, and operationally served as the flagship of Carrier Strike Group Nine and host to Carrier Air Wing Two until 2012. She was returned to the fleet on 12 May 2017, marking the successful completion of her refueling and complex overhaul carried out at Newport News Shipyard. On 1 April 2019 USS Abraham Lincoln was deployed to the Middle East as the flagship for Carrier Strike Group 12 and Carrier Air Wing Seven assigned to her.  More:

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There are several harbor cruises to chose from docking between World Pier and Broadway Pier.

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Lunch at Fish Market and a short walk to Seaport Village.

While seated at bay's edge at Seaport Village, this large Navy ship passed with a harbor cruise ship as a size indicator.

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After people-watching from the seawall, we searched out Spill the Beans for a coffee.

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It was nearing time to return to the Tioga Pass.  We walked to the trolley stop near Kansas City Barbeque, where the piano scene in Top Gun was filmed, and caught our trolley back to the Santa Fe Station.

Back at the Tioga Pass I thought the light was good for a few portraits of Tioga Pass.




Rest in Peace my friend, Chris Parker, I know your favorite spot in the world was on the platform of this very rail car - the Tioga Pass.

Heading north out of San Diego, the Surfliner is usually in push mode so the last of the consist is the locomotive.  However, we were connected at the very end, so we became the caboose, again with excellent views out our back window, albeit dark.  The Tioga Drumhead reflected in the locomotive.

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(L to R) The place set for Chris by Norm.  Leaving Solana Beach Station.  After I departed the Tioga Pass in Fullerton.

Thank you Elizabeth and Chris Guenzler for planning this memorial on Norm Orfall's Tioga Pass!


In this report:

Tioga Pass rail car information: and

San Onofre decommissioning:

Encinitas Underpass work:

Del Mar Hwy. 101 overpass:

San Diego Mid-Coast Trolley Extension:

La Mesa Mojave Northern Railroad's Locomotive No. 3:

SDIV Railroad

Genesee & Wyoming Railroad interacrive map of their holdings: 

Disney Wonder cruise ship information:

The Midway information:

Unconditional Surrender/The Kiss art piece information:

The Fish Market:

USS Abraham Lincoln 72:

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