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Sparks Yard, Two Stations and the Drive Home 5/20-23/2023

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I arose and following our Internet duties, went down to Rosie's Cafe for breakfast then returned to the room and I started taking pictures.

Union Pacific GP40-2 1372 working a freight.

Union Pacific yard engine SD40N 1539 with SD40N 1488 and SD40N 1372 working in Sparks yard.

Union Pacific SD40M 1539 working the tracks below my window on the 16th floor.

Southern Pacific Sparks station and yard tower, moved to Sparks in 1905 and in use as yard office with tower added, which is visible from the intersection of Pyramid Way and Nugget Avenue.

Union Pacific SD40M 1420 buried in the yard.

Union Pacific C44AC 7204 East with SD70M 4057 and C44AC 7098 in its consist.

Southern Pacific locomotive erecting shop building.

A set of light engines were coming into the yard.

Union Pacific 7204 East still waiting a crew change.

Light engines still moving my way.

Mid-train Union Pacific SD70ACe 8464 was below me.

Light engines Union Pacific C45ACCTE 7500 West, SD70ACe 8727, C45ACCTE 7878, SD70ACe 8690 and C44AC 6267.

Union Pacific SD40M 1539 still switching this train.

Union Pacific SD60M 2580d.

Amtrak train 6, the California Zephyr, made its way through Sparks Yard with engines P40DC 816 and P42DC 22.

Union Pacifc C45ACCTE 7937 East with C44ACCTE 5793 and C45AH 8228 in the consist.

Midtrain power Union Pacific C45ACCTE 5395 and C44AC 6486.

Union Pacific C45ACCTE 7937 East with C45ACCTE 7888, C45ACCTE 5307 and C44AC 7186 in the consist.

Mid-train power Union Pacific SD70ACe 8679, SD70M 3919 and C44AC 6968. Since there were no conference activities today, we worked on finalizing some of the details of our next trip then we decided to drive to the Nevada-California-Oregon Railroad station in downtown Reno.

Nevada-California-Oregon station built in 1910. The Moran brothers extended the tracks to Lakeview, Oregon, thereby making one of the longest narrow gauge railroads in the west. In 1917, the Western Pacific purchased the Reno to Herlong, California line and converted it to standard gauge. The building was designed by Frederic DeLongchamps with the entry porch in Mission style, the roof eaves are Italianate style and door way was Romanesque style, thus three style of architure in this unique building.

Nevada-California-Oregon engine house built in 1889 after which we returned to the Nugget Hotel.

Union Pacific SD70M 4479 East with SD70M 4260 in its consist.

Union Pacific rear end DPU C44AC 7100.

The yard power once again. We went to Rosie's Cafe for dinner then I wrote about today while Elizabeth finalized things for tomorrow's Advisory Council meeting.

Night time view from our 16th floor. then I wrote about this today.

Amtrak California Zephyr train 6 passed through Sparks Yard with Amtrak P42DC's 169 and 196. We called it an early night.

5/21/2023 Elizabeth and I arose and after we did our Internet duties we went to Rosie's Cafe for breakfast and were joined by Bob Brewster and John Goodman. After breakfast Elizabeth attended the NRHS Advisory Council meeting of which she is secretary.

I drove east on Interstate 80 to Mustang but did not like to photo angles, so went back to the Lockwood exit, parked then walked on the bridge and called good friend Randy Jackson and we talked about his Churchill trip in Canada. Soon after the call, the signal turned red and about 15 minutes later, I saw a train coming my way.

Amtrak California Zephyr train 5, with engines P42DC 176 and 172, passed my photo location. I returned to the car and drove west to McCarran Road, passing the train stopped at the east end of Sparks Yard. I crossed the tracks and made a U-turn then saw a grade crossing east of the bridge and headed to it.

Union Pacific C45ACCTE 7775 with SD70ACe 8792 and C44AC 6717 stopped so I walked over for a picture then called Julie, Amtrak's automated agent, to find out what time to train left Reno and it became later and later.

Amtrak California Zephyr train 5 at Truckee River Trail Road, after which I pulled into the parking area of the hotel.

Union Pacific SD70M 4260 West with SD70M 4479 in its consist.

Stored Union Pacific motive power.

Another switcher in the yard.

Union Pacific C45ACCTE 7719 West with C44AC 7179 and C44AC 6760 in its motive power consist.

Union Pacific C45ACCTE 7719 West and with C44AC 7760 and C44AC 6760 in its motive consist.

Union Pacific Sparks Yard.

Union Pacific and BNSF motive power in this yard. Elizabeth returned from her meeting then we both attended the NRHS Board meeting. After that, she had a convention committee meeting and I took Edward Berntsen, the Pacific Northwest Chapter representative to CVS and Verizon. While doing that, it hailed and rained heavily and I was glad to have my umbrella. I returned to the room and about an hour later, Elizabeth returned from her meeting. We then went to the Outback Steakhouse with John Goodman, Al Weber and Dan Meyer and John travelled in our car, while Al and Dan went in another. Good conversations were had during dinner, after which we returned to the hotel.

The view looking south across the valley, after which we called it a night.

5/22/2023 Elizabeth and I arose for the final time here and after doing our Internet duties, went down to Rosie's Cafe for a final breakfast then came back to the room and I checked the internet then I heard movement below our room.

Union Pacific SD40M 1539 switching a string of containor cars.

Amtrak California Zephyr train 5 rolled through Sparks yard with P42DC's 41 and 144 leading the final train through Sparks on this trip. We finished packing then closed the door for the final time. Elizabeth checked us out as I made the way to the car then we loaded the luggage before I drove us on Interstate 80 to Interstate 280, then at Carson City, took US 385 (Carson Street) to the depot in this city.

Virignia and Truckee Carson City station built in 1872. The Virigina and Truckee was created in 1869 and originally ran between Virginia City and Carson City by way of Mound House. It was created to allow massive movement of gold and silver ore from the Comstock Lode to mills along the Carson River. The tracks ran east–west down Washington Street. The Virigina and Truckee's yards and engine house were located just east of the depot along Washington Street. There were no guardrails shielding Carson Street.

In 1906, the Virigina and Truckee expanded the route South from the Carson City depot to Minden to serve agricultural interests at the farms and ranches in the area. The Virigina and Truckee became quite profitable until the 1920's, when they saw their first shortfall. In 1938, with the mining all but non-existent and competition from the newly created United States Highway System, the Virigina and Truckee had to tear up the track from Virginia City to Mound House, which still had a connection with the Carson and Colorado Railroad. The Virigina and Truckee was still leaking money up until her final year in 1950, when Locomotive 27 ran the final train from Minden through Carson City and into Reno.

The historical plaque on the depot.

From here I drove us back into California and we decided to visit Convict Lake.

There once was a time when Convict Lake, one of the most photographed and famous bodies of water in California's Eastern Sierra, was known by other names. Names that also hint at the magical and mysterious appeal of the lake's crystal clear waters.

Unlike many drive-to lakes in the region, Convict was created naturally. It sits snuggled in a box canyon, some 7,583 feet high in the Sierra Nevada. Just south of Mammoth Lakes and a couple miles from Scenic Highway 395, Convict Lake has long been popular with anglers and photographers; both pastimes being easily rewarded by the gorgeous alpine lake teeming with trout.

Peoples of the Paiute tribe have lived in the region since long before Thomas Buoyant lures or digital cameras were around. And these local Native Americans were once known to call the lake "Wit-sa-nap". They believed that lake Wit-sa-nap was created by the Great Spirit as a safe haven for the magical fish—infused with the spirits of children—that swim through the surrounding mountains streams.

The relatively small lake covers around 170 acres and is still known for producing some of the largest and healthiest trout you well ever see. It is usually possible to see halfway to the bottom of the oblong lake since the water is so clear. One of the deepest in the region, Convict Lake has a low of 140 feet and averages 100 feet in depth. Its depth allows the water to remain cold and ideal for trout to live long, happy and well-fed lives. There are even tales that Convict Lake is home to a monstrous brown trout named "Horgon" that few have seen and no one has ever landed.

After miners discovered the area, Convict became known as "Monte Diablo". In autumn 1871, a posse trapped a group of escaped convicts from Carson City, Nevada at the lake. A shootout ensued and two locals, Robert Morrison and Mono Jim, were killed. Most of the inmates were eventually caught and put to frontier justice. The large peaks above the lake were renamed after the fallen posse members and the lake itself became known as Convict.

Convict Lake in all of this beautiful Sierra Mountain. From here I drove us to the Laws Railroad Museum and we walked straight in.

Southern Pacific 4-6-0 9 built by Baldwin in 1909 for the Nevada-California-Oregon Railway in Reno. It was one of seven Ten Wheelers sold to the Southern Pacific by the NCO. In 1929, the engine was sold to the Southern Pacific where it was rebuilt and placed in service on the Owens Valley line, originally built as the Carson & Colorado Railroad, the following year. The locomotive, along with sisters 8 and 18, were nicknamed "The Slim Princess". The last narrow gauge common carrier made its final run on 29th April, 1960. That year, the steam engine was donated to the City of Bishop and it is now on display at the Laws Railroad Museum. She is temporary living down by the turntable unitl the tracks are rebuilt where she is usaully standing.

Carson and Colorado caboose 1 built by the Virginia and Truckee in 1883 as a combination passenger and baggage car but very shortly became caboose 1. The cupola is actually used for ventilation and is painted in Virginia and Truckee yellow.

Southern Pacific box car 67 was built for the Santa Cruz and Felton Railroad. It later went to the South Coast Railroad as their box car 94 then was transferred to the Nevada and California Railroad as their box car 431. It was rebuilt in 1923 and re-numbered to Southern Pacific 67.

Elizabeth then drove us to Ridgecrest where we checked into the Quality Inn and we walked across the street to Kristy's Family Restaurant and I enjoyed a sirloin steak and Elizabeth enjoyed a salmon dinner and carrot cake for dessert. We returned to the hotel and I wrote today's story then we watched "NCIS" before calling it a night.

5/23/2013 Elizabeth and I arose in Ridgecrest and after our Internet duties, we checked out and I drove us over to Kristy's Family Restaurant where we both enjoyed our breakfast. I drove us back to Santa Ana via US 395, Interstate 15 to CA Highway 91 to CA Highway 55, then California Highway 22, exiting at Grand Avenue to the Post Office to get our mail before driving home to the apartment. It had been another great series of trips and we are looking forward to the next one at the end of the week.