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The Trip to Sparks, Nevada 5/15-16/2023

by Chris Guenzler

The purpose of trip is to attend the joint conference with the Southern Pacific History Center, the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society and the National Railway Historical Society which was being held at the Nugget Hotel and Casino in Sparks, Nevada. Three days's worth of train and bus trips were offered which we both purchased. In addition, this serves as the spring conference for the NRHS and Elizabeth would be involved in the NRHS Advisory Council meeting on May 21 as she is the group's secretary.

5/15/2023 Elizabeth and I awoke and after our Internet duties and finalizing packing, we loaded the car and first visited the post office to hold our mail until the day after we return from this trip. The next stop was OC Printing Services to pick up Elizabeth's NRHS business cards. Once that was done, we drove north on Interstate 5 then exited onto CA Highway 14 to Newhall Avenue, where we turned into William S. Hart Park. However, they are closed on Mondays, so she drove to Pine Street and parked then we walked over to the subject of our photography.

Southern Pacific 2-6-0 1629, ex. Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society 1982, exx. sold to Gene Autry at Newhall in 1957, nee Southern Pacific 1629 built by American Locomotive Company in 1900.

Southern Pacific Saugas station built in 1888. When the Golden Spike was driven at Lang in 1876, tying together Los Angeles to San Francisco and, in turn, the continent-spanning Union Pacific, it signaled an irreversible change in the lifestyle of the Santa Clarita Valley. The Saugus train station opened 12 years later, following the completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s spur line to Ventura.

To accommodate hungry travellers, a cafe known as Tolfree's Saugus Eating House was established at the north end of the depot. It was taken over by Martin and Richard Wood in 1898, who changed the name to Saugus Cafe. In 1916, more room was needed for an expanded passenger waiting room, more railroad workers and additional storage of freight, so the cafe moved across the highway where it stands today.

The last passenger train stopped at the station during April 1971 and freight train service was discontinued in 1979. The depot was closed on November 15, 1978 by the last agent, James Guthrie. Through a massive community effort, the building was saved and moved on June 24, 1980, to its present location on land leased from Los Angeles County within William S. Hart Park.

Southern Pacific caboose 1119 built by the railroad in 1942 which came to this site in 2021 from Fillmore. It was part of Fillmore and Western owner David Wilkinson's private collection.

Elizabeth drove us to Mojave where we stopped at a Carls Junior for a break. We switched drivers and I drove us north through the scenic Red Rock Canyon on CA Highway 14 for my first time to US 395, which we took north towards Bishop. On the way there I suggested to Elizabeth that we visit the home of Southern Pacific 18 in Independence.

Southern Pacific narrow gauge box car 15, ex. Southern Pacific 1927, nee Lake Tahoe Railway 5. It was traded to Carson and Colorado Railway in 2018 and is now in Independence under restoration to operation.

From here I drove us north to Bishop to the Days Inn where we checked in then and walked to Carl's Junior for dinner and relaxed the rest of the evening and watched "NCIS".

5/16/2023 Elizabeth and I arose and after our morning preparations, we checked out and went to Jack's Restaurant where I had French Toast and bacon and Elizabeth enjoyed a Denver omelette. I drove us north along the Sierra Nevada mountains to Sparks, where we checked into the Nugget Hotel and Casino Resort.

The Union Pacific Sparks Yard. We then went down to Rosie's Cafe and enjoyed lemonade with Doug Scott and National Railway Society presdient Tony White, who were there having lunch. After that, they joined us on a trip to the Amtrak Reno station.

Southern Pacific station Reno station built in 1957. The other building is the Railway Express Agency.

Southern Pacific Reno station history board.

Amtrak California Zephyr train 6 which arrived ten minutes early. We then decided to chase it east of Reno.

The sculpture was created from a historic, real 1962 GMC fishbowl transit bus cut up and put back together tapering to the back so it would appear dynamic and have a sense of speed, according to artist Donald Lipski. The bus weighs about 6 1/2 tons and is mounted on a 28-foot post assembly.

Elizabeth drove us out to the Lockwood exit on Interstate 80 and she and I walked back to the bridge while Doug and Tony stayed at the bottom of the hill.

California Zephyr train 6 at the Lockwood exit. We returned to the Nugget Hotel and Tony returned to his room, while Elizabeth, Doug and I walked over to the railroad display here in Sparks.

Southern Pacific bay window caboose 1857 built by International Car in 1970.

Southern Pacific observation car 132 "City of Sparks", ex. Southern Pacific "Houston" 1957, exx. Southern Pacific "San Jacinto" 1953 exxxx. Southern Pacific "Victoria" 1952, exxxxx. Texas and New Orleans "Houston" 1946, exxxxxx. Texas and New Orleans 132 "Lafayette", exxxxxxxx. Texas and New Orleans business car 980, exxxxxxxx. Southern Pacific 132 "City of Sparks" 1928, nee El Paso and Southwestern 283 built by Pullman in 1911.

A pair of wig-wag crossing signals.

Southern Pacific wooden caboose 1153 built by the railroad in 1942.

Southern Pacific narrow gauge 4-6-0 8, nee Nevada-California-Oregon 8 built by Baldwin in 1907. It was donated to the State of Nevada in 1955 and leased to the City of Sparks in 1986.

Southern Pacific replica station built in 1976.

Southern Pacific 8 and its trainset. We walked back to the hotel then Doug Scott watched my Friday night Winterail Program from March. Elizabeth and I went to Rosie's Cafe for dinner then to the R&HLS Meet and Greet in Sierra Room 1 where we chatted with a few of our friends and acquaintances. I wrote this story and Elizabeth proofed it before we called it a night.