Facebook Page

Trains Magazine Charter on Albany and Eastern 3/18/2022

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I woke up at 6:00 AM and met Robin, then went to McDonald's and had to use the drive-through as the lobby was not yet open. After breakfast, we drove to the Lebanon station and parked across the street. There we met John Biehn, a friend from previous Trains Magazine photo charters, and I saw Kevin Gilliam arrive. I said hello to him before the three of us checked in and received our name lanyards. Not long after, Carl Morrison and other friends arrived.

Santa Maria Valley 2-6-2 205 Information

Santa Maria Valley Number 205, a recently-restored 2-6-2 that had not steamed in 71 years, will make its photographer's train debut in a Trains Magazine-sponsored event at the Albany & Eastern on March 18.

The locomotive and two coaches will make multiple photo runbys on the railroad's scenic Sweet Home Branch from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Lunch will be included. The date is the Friday before Winterail, the annual multi-media photography and rail collectibles show in nearby Corvallis, Ore. After pandemic-related postponements, Winterail is resuming for the first time in two years as a two-day event in 2022. The excursion starts only 18 miles away from Corvallis.

Number 205 was built by Baldwin in 1924. Retired and placed on display in Santa Maria, Calif., in 1950, it was acquired in 1983 and restored by a private owner, George Lavacot. Earlier this year, it was moved to its new home at the Santiam Excursion Train, which operates on the Albany & Eastern Railroad in Oregon's Willamette Valley. Regular operations with the engine begin in early December.

"We're delighted to offer Trains readers the chance to celebrate the return of this distinctive Prairie-type steam locomotive," says Trains Editor Jim Wrinn. "They'll get the first chance to see the engine on an enthusiast special, get great photos, and come home with great memories". And if they're on the way to Winterail, the timing is great to include both number 205 and the show.

Santa Maria Valley 2-6-2 205 History

Built in 1924 for her first owner the San Joaquin & Eastern Railroad. She would stay on the SJ&ERR until 1933. She was built with a handsome Vanderbilt tender that stayed with her in her first years at her next owner, the Santa Maria Valley Railroad in Santa Maria, California.

In her later years at SMV, number 205 was given the tender from SMV 150, which was a 2-8-2 Baldwin originally built as Vance Lumber 4 for service in Washington state. We see her in the last photo at Santa Maria in 1949 at the end of her service career. She is boarded up and will soon donated to the Santa Maria fairgrounds for display in 1950. She would stay there until 1983 when George Lavacot purchased her and moved her to the Valley & Siletz Railroad shops in Independence, Oregon. That was the start of her laborious rebuild that is just wrapped up.

This locomotive is now better than new and should have a long career ahead of her at her new home on the Albany & Eastern Railroad out of Lebanon, Oregon.

Our trip

We walked across the street, stood behind the jersey barriers and waited just a few minutes for the train to arrive after hearing its whistle.

Photo runby one coming into the Lebanon station.

Albany and Eastern 1099 was built in 1947 by the Pullman Company. It was originally a 56-seat coach car with an eight-seat smoking section on one end. The car was built for the Chicago and North Western Railroad as CNW 841. It was sold to the Great Northern Railroad and renumbered GN 1099 then stored with AERC for many years until they purchased it from private hands. It is currently in the process of being turned into a dining car.

Train Consist

The train had a consist of Santa Maria Valley Railroad 2-6-2 205, RFRX side dump car 4002, WTCX tank car 11, AERC flat car 50435 and Albany and Eastern 1099. We boarded the 1099 and took seats with our friends.

Eizabeth Guenzler, Mrs. Sheehy, Steve Ferrari, Robin Bowers and Carl Morrison were all seated with me on this trip. The train departed and about ten minutes later, we stopped at the old Weldwood Lumber Mill site. A selection of doughnuts and other pastries were offered and we both enjoyed a maple bar and a frosted doughnut.

Part of the consist of our train.

Reverse move one.

Photo runby two at the old Weldwood Lumber Mill site.

The old Weldwood Lumber water tower.

Reverse move two.

Photo runby three at the old Weldwood Lumber Mill site. We all reboarded the train and headed east to our next photo location.

At this location we would have a demonstration of unloading a side dump ballast car.

Photo runby four and the unloading of a side dump ballast car.

Reverse move three.

Photo runby five here. We all reboarded the train and proceeded to our next photo location.

Reverse move four.

Photo runby six in the forest.

Reverse five after I changed locations-.

Photo runby seven in the forest. We all reboaded and the train headed to our next photo location.

Reverse move six.

Photo runby eight on the big curve along the highway.

Reverse move seven.

Photo runby nine on the big curve along the highway. Next the train ran into Sweethome to our next few photo locations.

Reverse move eight.

Photo runby ten in Sweethome.

Reverse move nine.

Photo runby eleven in Sweethome. We boarded the train to our next photo location in this town.

Reverse move nine showing one of the photo lines.

Photo runby twelve at the Sweethome Lumber Mill site.

Reverse move ten.

Photo runby thirteen at the Sweethome Lumber Mill site.

Reverse move eleven.

Photo runby fourteen here.

Photo runby fifteen. Next we went east to Milepost 31 to do our last photo runbys.

Albany and Eastern table car 1099.

AERC flat car 50435.

WTCX tank car 11.

RFRX side dump car 4002.

Santa Maria Valley Railroad 2-6-2 205.

Reverse move twelve.

Photo runby sixteen at Milepost 31.

Reverse move thirteen.

Photo runby seventeen at Milepost 31, our final runby of the trip. We reboarded and the train backed to Sweethome and the engine would run around the train.

The engine running around our train in Sweethome.

A face of a locomotive that any railfan would love. We returned to Lebanon after partaking in the catered sandwich, potato chip and chocolate chip cookie lunch which was provided for all the passengers. Thank you to the steam crew, the Albany and Eastern Railroad, Martin Hansen and Kevin Gilliam for organizing a fantastic photo charter with this unique equipment. Robin and Carl really enjoyed their first Trains Magazine photo charter and Elizabeth and I were equally impressed by the steam engine performed. It was the same high-quality and high-class experience and event that we have come to expect from Trains Magazine. Elizabeth drove Robin and I to Corvallis and we checked into the Days Inn.