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The Two Day Trip Home from Sacramento 4/4-4/5/2021

by Chris Guenzler

After our lunch in Galt, I drove Elizabeth and I down to Keyes where we finally had an opportunity to shoot the plant switcher at A.L. Gilbert Grain Facility. When we arrived, we soon discovered there were two switchers.

A.L. Gilbert GP10 2004, originally Detroit, Toledo and Ironton GP7 957.

The other engine we found was GATX Locomotive Group SW1500 150 originally Terminal Railroad Association (St. Louis) 1502. We drove down to Fresno and paid to park at Roeding Park so we could ride the Willis Kyle Railroad there. However, although there was lots of parking slots, they were all filled with people out and about on Easter Sunday. We left and headed down to Burrell where we found railroad tracks but no depot, although one of our resources said it was here. She consulted a Southern Pacific station website and learned that it was in Riverdale, along with that town's station. So we drove through orchards to Riverdale. We knew it was at 700 Mount Whitney Avenue and we drove up and down looking for the address and anything resembled a station. Finally, Elizabeth spotted a driveway that gave the address on the mailbox and we drove down that road and she spotted the station building and we stopped the car.

The Southern Pacific station from Burrell. We next drove into Riverdale where I had to stop and take a picture for Steve Barry's sake. In his bi-weekly slide shows, he has shown many of these unique oversized roadside attractions back east.

Riverdale, California's contribution to roadside photography. We continued a short distance and at a car dealership, we found our prey.

The 1912 Southern Pacific wood station in Riverdale.

The Riverdale station board. I drove us back over to CA Highway 43 where we could follow the BNSF main line down to Fresno.

BNSF 5193 West with a grain train west of Stoil. We got back into the car and continued our drive south but soon spotted another headlight coming our way.

Amtrak San Joaquin Train 719 heading toward the Bay area. From here we headed into Bakersfield, stopping at KFC to pick up dinner which we took to the Best Western Plus Hill House. We had dinner, did our Internet, wrote two stories and called it a night.

4/5/21 We woke up and after packing up and checking out, I drove us over to Maggie's Sunrise Cafe for breakfast where I had French Toast and bacon and Elizabeth enjoyed a Denver Omelette. I then drove us over to the Union Pacific yard in Bakersfield where I spotted something out of the ordinary.

Norfolk Southern SD70ACe 1195 and 1176 with Union Pacific AC4400CW 7214 out in front of the still-standing Bakersfield station. I drove east into the Tehachapi Mountains and had no trains. I took Elizabeth up to the Tehachapi Loop overlook hoping for a train but alas, was denied.

The view of the Tehachapi Loop through the leafless trees.

The National Historic Civil Engineering landmark plaque.

The California Historical Landmark plaque.

Myself pointing to the two unique monuments.

His lovely wife Elizabeth in between the two unique monuments. We continued east on Tehachapi-Woodford Road for just a short distance but had to stop when we saw something out of place here.

Former Belt Railway of Chicago caboose, BRC 209, sits east of the Tehachapi Loop along the road, still showing the logo of its most recent owner, the Pacific Locomotive Association (Niles Canyon Railway). We continued our drive through Tehachapi, got on CA Highway 58 which took us to CA Highway 14.

This is the crossing of the San Andreas Fault. We exited CA Highway 14 and I drove through Soledad Canyon for Elizabeth's first time through here by automobile.

The Vasquez Rocks. In 1874, Tiburcio Vasquez, one of California's most notorious Mexican bandidos, used these rocks to elude capture by law enforcement. His name has since been associated with this geologic feature.

The only train we saw through the Canyon was Metrolink 209 on its way to Lancaster. We drove through the tunnel then switched drivers and Elizabeth did an excellent job of driving us home to our apartment in Santa Ana. It was certainly good to be home but we had had a fantastic trip.