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Double T Ranch History Train 9/23/2021

by Chris Guenzler

My wife and I had learned about the Monterey Branch excursions using hand cars and wanted to partake in this unique event. Our summer plans did not allow for an earlier participation than the last weekend of their season. As we were planning this trip, we received an e-mail about Railbikes on the River Fox train in Sacramento. While I had already ridden this line, I wanted my wife to have an opportunity so we signed up for that. In addition, the Santa Cruz, Big Trees and Pacific had started their operating season so we decided to do this as well. I then invited our friends Robin and Bill to join us. Arrangements were made and a good weekend came together.

Elizabeth and I woke up and after breakfast and checking our Internet, we left and drove to Huntington Beach to Bill Compton's house where Robin Bowers had driven to. We loaded up our car and after finding out what the traffic was doing, decided to take Interstate 405 to Interstate 605 to Interstate 210 to Interstate 5, which we took north. We stoppped at the Tejon Pass rest area before we drove down the Grapevine into the San Joaquin Valley and stayed on Interstate 5 to CA Highway 43 which we took north to the Pacific Electric car south of Shafter, where I became the driver. We drove a little way to just south of Wasco for the first and only train of the day.

BNSF 7128 East with BC Rail 4649 as a DPU. We drove to Selma for lunch and then drove CA 99 and saw two Union Pacific trains in daylight before we turned off onto California 140 and following Elizabeth's excellent directions, the four of us made it to our surprise location for Bill and Robin. We were met by Tony Azevedo, the man who put this whole thing together and would give us a railroader's tour.

Double T Ranch History Train in Stevinson, California

The Double T is a scenic, spacious venue located in Stevinson California, the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. This well-appointed facility depicts a charming old Western town. The brainchild of its founders, Tony T., and Carol Azevedo, the Double T was created as a way to preserve history and at the same time allow their guests to enjoy the heritage that has made our country great.

The backdrop to this enchanting facility is The History Train. It is led by a vintage 1887 steam locomotive, the oldest Union Pacific steam locomotive in existence. The foreground to this venue is the turn of century Victorian home. Together with the museum, gardens, dining area, wedding pavilion, and dance barn, this venue is a welcome change that you and your guests will talk about for years to come.

The staff at the Double T will guide you through the planning process, helping you to create a day that is one of a kind. You can rest assured, on the day of your event, that all of the details will be taken care of.

The Double T is ideal for weddings, corporate meetings, company picnics, fundraisers, class reunions, retirement parties and much more.

Double T Ranch History Train

Called the American Standard, 737 has a unique history. It was built in 1887 by Burnham, Parry, Williams & Co. in Pennsylvania. (Also known as the Baldwin Locomotive Works). It began its career as one of the largest locomotive orders on record up to date, being commissioned for use on the Union Pacific Railroad. In 1904 Southern Pacific purchased the engine for the Louisiana Western and it was renumbered the 246. Shortly after, in 1913, it was sold to the Erath Sugar Company and again renumbered. She would finally be known as the 216 and ran until 1955.

From 1957 to 1965 it resided at Bellow Falls, Vermont. Then in 1965 the Steamtown Foundation acquired it and moved it to Scranton, Pennsylvania. The Steamtown Foundation donated it to the Nevada State Railroad Museum in 1996 who in turn loaned it for display to the Feather River Rail society in Portola, California. Eventually title was transferred to the Feather River Rail Society and in 2003 the Double T purchased the engine for the History Train, where it is proudly displayed as the Southern Pacific 216.

It is in fact known as the oldest Union pacific steam locomotive left in existence. It was moved by semi-truck and weighs 65 tons, not including the tender.

Southern Pacific 4-4-0 216.

The builder's plate for the engine.

A velocipede in its folding conditions.

Santa Fe baggage car Railway Express Car 1772 built in 1910 by the Pullman Company. It was purchased from the Electric Car Museum in Rio Vista and transported by house movers to The Double T in 2003. Tony took all of us inside.

Railroad memorabelia.

Railroad lanterns and oiler cans.

Marker lamps.

Railroad lanterns.

Railroad emblems and model railroads.

A fake smokestack once applied to Southern Pacific 216.

Model railroad trains on display.

Railroad lanterns, marker lamps and paintings.

Railroad belt buckles.

Railroad employee timetables.

Railroad pictures.

Railroad marker lamps.

Pictures of how the locomotive looked when built and after it became a Southern Pacific engine.

Various railroad equipment.

Pennsylvania Railroad P-70 1660 built in 1914 as a passenger car by the Standard Steel Car Company. It was commissioned for the Pennsylvania Railroad and operated in the New York area. In 1949 1660 was completely remodeled and updated. It continued to be used as a passenger car until its retirement in the early 1960s. This car represents the first leg of an immigrant's journey west. If you were an immigrant at the turn of the 19th century entering the United States through Ellis Island, this was the type of car that would have started you on your journey west.

Table car in the Pennsylvania Railroad P-70 1660 used for dining car services on his train here.

Santa Fe 21 "Muskegon". Built by the Barney and Smith Company in 1890 for the Santa Fe Railroad, the 21 started out as a dining car. On July 9th, 1905, a huge crowd watched as a special Santa Fe Train Called the "Death Valley Scotty" left Lost Angeles for Chicago in an effort to break the existing world record of just under 53 hours. The train was composed of an engine, baggage car, Pullman sleeper and a Fred Harvey dining car, which was our car 21. During the trip, speeds of 106 miles per hour were recorded – faster than any train had ever run before. The engine and crew were switched frequently and they made the trip in 44 hours and 54 minutes – a new world record!

In 1910 car 21 was converted into a business car. On February 20, 1947 car 21 made history again by being the first train car in the United States to transmit audio communications by radio. They transmitted not only to other train depots but to aircraft flying above.

From 1947-1957 it was used primarily for transporting officials and entertaining prominent farmers of the area. Good hospitality often resulted in increased agricultural shopping business. It was then sold to the Stockton Terminal and Eastern Railroad, which used it as their stationary headquarters. The Double T then relocated car 21 from the STER where it had sat since 1957, to Stevinson for the History Train.

The Santa Fe Caboose 414 was the first all-steel caboose the Santa Fe owned, built in the 1920s.

Union Pacific bay window caboose 24599.

State Belt Railroad flat car 01.

GATX tank car 1090.

A hand car.

Locomotive driver wheels.

Two State Belt Railroad flat car numbers unknown. Tony then showed us other parts of his agricultural museum and I had a nice talk with him and told him of the death of Chris Parker and he was very sad as he remembered Chris being with me on my last visit and what a nice human being he was. We all thanked Tony for his hospitality and remarkable collection before it was time for us to leave. I drove us west on CA 140 to CA 33 which follows the former West Valley Line of the Southern Pacific, now California Northern. But this time we saw no trains. We did, however, see something we needed another picture of.

Southern Pacific water tower at Westley. I drove us into Tracy where we had dinner at Jersey Mike's then turned over the car to Elizabeth who drove us north via Interstate 205 and Interstate 5 to Woodland and the Quality Inn. We checked in for the night and relaxed.