Facebook Page

The Journey North and the Monterey Branch Sunset Handcar Tour 11/24-25/2022

by Chris Guenzler

This trip was planned very quickly after I received an e-mail from Mason Clark of Handcar Tours about a sunset trip riding the handcars in Marina over Thanksgiving weekend. Elizabeth and I then checked the Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad in Felton and they were running trains up the mountain on weekends. We arranged our hotel reservations and were all set to go!

Thanksgiving morning 2022 we were up and ready to leave following our internet duties and finishing packing. We loaded the car and Elizabeth drove us to the rest area at Tejon Ranch on Interstate 5 on a light traffic morning; I then drove the rest of the trip. We descended the Grapevine and I had the idea that I wanted to go to Arvin.

The remains of the San Joaquin Railroad tracks in Arvin. We then followed this railroad until it turned west and went through Edison and on into Bakersfield where we found many items to photograph.

San Joaquin Valley GP38 2082, ex. Cascade and Columbia River 3806, exx. Minnesota Northern 3806, exxx. Mackenzie Northern Railway 3806, exxxx. Kiamichi Railroad 3806, exxxxx. Pittsburgh and Lake Erie 2025, exxxxxxx. Conrail 7755, nee Penn Central 7755, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1969.

San Joaquin Valley GP38-2 3533, ex. Helm Leasing 1809, exx. Union Pacific 308, exxx. Union Pacific 1808, exxxx. Missouri Pacific 2020, nee Missouri Pacific 869, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1972. Elizabeth pointed east and I walked back across the street.

BNSF 5491 West with BNSF C44-9W 741, built by General Electric in 1977, in the consist. From here we drove to the Union Pacific yard.

Union Pacific SD70M 1979, nee Union Pacific 4332 built by Electro-Motive Division in 2001. Union Pacific's "We Are ONE" Employee Resource Group (ERG) Commemorative Locomotive celebrates inclusion and is named after the year that the railway's first ERG, the Black Employee Network, was established. The groups which are listed on the "N" are AERO - Asian Employee Resource Org., BEN - Black Employee Network, Bridges (LGBTQ+), CONAH - Council on Native American Heritage, EASE - Employees with Disabilities, LEN - Latino Employee Network (LEN), LEAD - A Women's Initiative, UP Ties and UPVETS.

San Joaquin Valley GP38-3 2126, ex. Esquimalt and Nanaimo 3809, exx. Minnesota Northern 3809, exxx. Kiamichi Railroad 3809, exxxx. Pittsburgh and Lake Erie 2031, exxxxx. Conrail 7778, nee Penn Central 7778, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1969.

San Joaquin Valley GP38-2 3818, ex, CORP 3818, exx. Central Oregon and Pacific 5001, nee. Colorado Wyoming 2001, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1973.

San Joaquin Valley GP38-2 3517, ex. Helm Leasing Company 1813, exx. Union Pacific 313, exxx. Union Pacific 1813, exxxx, Missouri Pacific 2033, nee Missouri Pacific 882 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1972.

San Joaquin Valley GP40-2LW 3033, ex. Central Oregon and Pacific 3033, exx. Toledo Peoria and Western 4052, nee Canadian National 9422, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1974.

San Joaquin Valley motive power set. From here I drove us over to the San Joaquin Valley yard in the BNSF yard in Bakersfield.

San Joaquin Valley NZE24BDE 2408 nee CSX 2GS14B 1318, built by Knoxville Locomotive Works in 2019.

San Joaquin Valley PR30B 3003 built by Progess Rail in 2012.

San Joaquin Valley GP40 442, ex. Florida East Coast 442, exx. Conrail 3193, nee Penn Central 3193, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1968.

San Joaquin Valley BL20-2 2121 ex. Rail Link 2122, exx. Central Oregon and Pacific 2122, exxx. Mackenzie Northern Railway 2122, exxxxx. EMD Leasing 122, exxxxxx. Burlington Northern GP9 1713, nee Northern Pacific 213, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1955.

San Joaquin Valley GP38-2 3545, ex. Helm Leasing Company 1839, exx. Union Pacific 359, exxx. Union Pacific 2097, exxxxx. Missouri Pacific 2097, nee Missouri Pacific 946, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1973. We next drove to the Black Angus for our Thanksgiving Linner where Elizabeth had her turkey with all the trimmings and pumpkin pie and I enjoyed a Top Sirloin and a Cowboy Chocolate Chip cookie, which was excellent. After that I drove us over to the BNSF tracks hoping for a few trains.

BNSF 7962 West at Belsera.

BNSF 5410 West at Ulna siding.

Amtrak San Joaquin 714 north of Angiola, our last train of the day. I drove us north on CA Highway 43 to CA Highway 99 to Madera where we checked into the Holiday Inn Express and then went to Rotary Park for a walk. We returned then went for anotheer walk around the building before I worked on this story. I finished it and Elizabeth proofed later in the evening after watching a couple of her television programs.

11/25/2022 We ate at the hotel this morning so after we did our Internet items, departed Madera. I drove us via California Highway 99 and California 152 to California Highway 33. We stopped in at Dos Palos but city hall was closed as we expected it to be on this day after Thanksgiving, so Elizabeth was unable to acquire a municipal pin from here, one of the few that she had not received a reply from. I returned us to California Highway 162 then crossed the California Coast Mountains then took California Highway 156 to US 101 to Salinas. We checked in early to the Best Western then took US 101 to G11, a local road into Watonsville.

Here we found Santa Cruz Big Trees and Pacific CF7 2467, ex. Texas Rock Crusher 104, exx. Red River Valley and Western 305, nee Santa Fe F7A 216L built by Electro-Motive Division in 1949. It was rebuilt by Santa Fe in 1974, becoming CF7 2524. I then drove CA Highway 1 through some bumper-to-bumper traffic to Marina and our first event of the trip.

Monterey Branch Handcar Tours Sunset Tour 11/25/2022

We arrived as I was listening to my Pittsburgh Penguins playing the Philadelphia Flyers and at the end of the first period, they were ahead 2-0. We checked in with Donna Clark and signed releases before Mason Clark gave everyone a safety briefing about the equipment we would be using. We received our own handcar and were soon on our way.

My lovely wife Elizabeth ready for this handcar adventure.

Trees dotted this portion of our route.

Doing this trip with just two people was not as easy as four people when we had Robin Bowers and Bill Compton with us in September 2021. It was rather more challenging.

The moisture in the air is really visible today.

We managed to climb this hill.

It levelled out and I was very happy about that.

The old Fort Ord siding, which was closed after the United States Army Base closed in 1994.

Views along our handcar tour. We managed to get to the viewpoint for the sunset.

The sun was going down over the Seventeen Mile Drive on Monterey Peninsula.

Two views of Monterey Bay.


Four more views of the sunset and Monterey Bay.

Elizabeth and Chris Guenzler at the viewpoint taken by Mason Clark.

Four more pictures from the viewpoint. We had Adam Hansen assisting us on the trip back.

At one of our stops, the sand dunes of old Fort Ord. We returned to our starting point and the trip was over. A very tired Chris had Elizabeth drive us to BJs Restuarant in Salinas where Elizabeth had Chicken Fettucine Alfredo and I had Prime Rib Dip, of which I only ate half, after which we returned to the Best Western for the night.