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To the La Plata Spring 2012 Railfan Event

by Chris Guenzler

After cooking and sweating at the 2011 Railfan Event last summer in all of that heat and humidity before Train Festival 2011, I wanted to run another event and picked my Spring Break. Winston and Christy would join me in La Plata so we would do the Columbia Star Dinner Train and do the Disney Museum in Marceline before my event would take place. I would have to leave Thursday night in order to be there Saturday morning. After working as a sub for the last 5 months I needed a break. The last time I had been to La Plata was after Train Festival 2011 last July so it would be great to be returning to my other home on this planet we all live on. The morning of the trip, I did a Metrolink roundtrip to Oceanside, then I worked at Santa Ana Valley High School, came home and waited to be driven down to the Santa Ana Train Station by my mother.

My luggage for the trip waits at Santa Ana.

Pacific Surfliner 583 3/29/2012

Pacific Surfliner 583 pulled into Santa Ana right on time and I took a lower level seat in the Pacific Business Class Car for my trip to LAUPT. I was given a bottle of wine and a USA Today as the train headed to Anaheim. Things were going good until we neared CP La Palma where we came to a stop. The conductor made an announcement that I couldn't make out then she opened the side door and I saw why we were stopped.

Some how a SUV had gotten onto Track 2 and was sitting between the rails. We managed to get by it and ran to Fullerton. After that the train made its way into LAUPT with no other delay coming into Track 12 for once.

The view as we waited for the Southwest Chief to back into LAUPT.

Southwest Chief 4 3/29/2012.

At 6:28 PM the train finally backed into LAUPT. It had a consist of Engines, 61 and 821, Baggage 1730, Sleepers 32111 Texas and 32068, Diner 38068, Lounge 33019 with Coaches 34095, 34113 and 31046. I had Room 6 in the 32068 with Chuck as my Sleeping Car Attendant. We were delayed because of a bad ordered coach car that had to be cut out of the train. The train left at 6:49 PM, 34 minutes late out of the gate, and headed to Fullerton. I got a 7:45 PM Dinner Reservation. I put on the first CD of Jethro Tull Nightcap and enjoyed that until my dinner time. I took a fresh air break at Fullerton and then the train next headed to Riverside. Before we got there I got called into the Dining Car. I was seated with a couple from Erie and a young lady going to Ohio. I enjoyed a New York Strip and Vanilla Ice Cream. After dinner I returned to my darkened room for a three train meet as we climbed Cajon Pass above Devore. We had an eastbound train on Track 1, westbound on Track 2 and our train on Track 3. We climbed the 3.3 % south track from Cajon to Summit tonight as the BNSF was trying to help us make up time. Once we reached Summit, I made up my room and called it a night.


I got up halfway to Winslow and took a picture of the sunrise this morning. At 6:30 AM I was in the Dining Car seated with a gentleman who was returning home to Albuquerque after a train trip to Vancouver, BC. I enjoyed French Toast and the pork sausage patties which were excellent. After changing my clothes and making up my room, I watched the Lady Gaga Monster Ball Tour at Madison Square Garden DVD that took me into New Mexico this clear morning. After we stopped at Gallup we took the south track to Gonzalez passing an auto train and grain train and we crossed over to the north track there. That DVD took me about 25 miles east of Grants and I put on my second CD of Jethro Tull Nightcap. As the BNSF dispatcher continued weaving us around the BNSF freights out on the mainline this morning, we ran with no delays to Dalies and I want to thank the BNSF Dispatcher for keeping us moving this morning. The train went down to and then across the Rio Grande River then sprinted north to Albuquerque, our servicing stop on this trip. We arrived into Albuquerque about 10 minutes late and I got some much needed fresh air. For this stop I got On-line to clear out my e-mail then got to watch a very talented young lady with her Hula Hoop performing on the station platform. The train left Albuquerque 11 minutes late with me watching Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides.

Just before we arrived into Lamy, Santa Fe Southern 93 was sitting on the BNSF interchange track. Due to several slow orders we departed Lamy at 1:31 PM {1:17PM}.The train climbed Glorieta Pass and at Fox on the east side of the pass is where we met the westbound Southwest Chief. We waited 14 minutes before it ran by us. Next it was more slow orders which would cost us more time. I think Amtrak needs to reroute this train to the Southern Mainline. The Pirates took me down to the Pecos River as we continued on to Las Vegas, our next station stop of this trip. Next I put on my DVD of Cheap Trick Live in Germany 1983. We left Las Vegas at 3:40 PM {3:03 PM}.That DVD took me to Springer where I put on my CD of the Keith Emerson Band and I got a 5:30 PM Dinner Reservation. I took a fresh air break at Raton and then was called into the Dining Car. I was seated with a couple going home from Albuquerque to Topeka and a beautiful young woman going home from Los Angeles all the way to Quebec City. I enjoyed another steak and Vanilla Ice Cream. After dinner it was back to my room for the CD of Chicago If you Leave Me Now that took me almost to La Junta where I took my last fresh air break of the day. We left La Junta and I made up my room for the night.

3/31/2012 I woke up at Topeka and at 6:30 AM went to the Dining Car and was seated with a gentleman who was heading back to the Bronx. I had French Toast and pork sausage which was excellent. I changed into a new set of clothes before the train was refueled at the BNSF Argentine Fuel Pads. From there we departed for Kansas City, our next station and fresh air stop of this trip. From Kansas City I just sat back and relaxed the rest of the way to La Plata, where I arrived at 10:19 AM finding Bob Cox waiting for me.

La Plata 3/31/2012

Aaron Thomas picked me up in the Depot Inn & Suites Van and took me to the hotel then checked me into the Pullman Suite for my stay. Winston and Christy were in the lobby and after checking E-mail we headed out in our rental car to the old bridge west of Gibbs.

The views from the bridge west of Gibbs.

The view of the bridge.

Christy and Winston on the old bridge west of Gibbs.

BNSF 4772 West at the old bridge west of Gibbs.

BNSF 7900 West at the old bridge west of Gibbs.

BNSF 7450 West at the old bridge west of Gibbs.

Unknown BNSF westbound came to a stop and sat at Gibbs for well over an hour.

BNSF 7405 East at the old bridge west of Gibbs.

BNSF 7507 East at the old bridge west of Gibbs.

The crossing at Banner Road. We waited here for the BNSF westbound but give up on it and returned to the Depot Inn & Suites. I worked on finishing this story before getting ready to drive down to Columbia and the Columbia Star Dinner Train tonight.