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The 1999 National Railway Society Convention Sacramento California

by Chris Guenzler

With the NRHS Convention going to be in Sacramento the same time Railfair 1999 was going to be taking place was a cause for me to go. I would stay with my brother Bruce and his family and take the San Joaquin up from Santa Ana to Sacramento. I signed up and managed to get on three of the convention trips I signed up for.

6/20/1999 I took the midnight Thruway Bus out of Santa Ana for Bakersfield before I boarded 713 for the trip to Stockton and the Thruway Bus to Sacramento. Bruce met me and we walked over to the convention hotel where I picked up my convention packet complete with the tickets for all three trips.

6/21/1999 I drove into Sacramento to work with my brother Bruce early in the morning. My activities started with breakfast in old Sacramento, a picture of the Coast Starlight running a few hours late before Railfair 1999 opened its doors. Being one of the first people in allowed for pictures of the equipment without anybody in front of it. I had such good luck and with the temperature rising like it had for days towards the 100 degree mark, I decided to find some air conditioning for a few hours. I went to the Amtrak Station and from the ticketing machine I bought a round trip to Martinez on the next Capitol train which was Capitol Train 727. I turned in my Alaska Airline Mileage Cards with my ticket like I do on all Amtrak West trains. It was a quick and pleasant trip and I arrived at the much cooler Martinez on the Carquinez Straits. After a few minutes wait in that nice air I boarded Capitol Train 724 for my return to the far hotter Sacramento. I returned to the Railfair Grounds which was basically empty for a few more pictures before meeting Bruce and Karla for dinner before we all called it a day.

NRHS 1999 Convention The Franklin Canyon Special 6/22/1999

After all of those San Joaquin trips through Port Chicago where I wished that we would stay on the Santa Fe into Richmond, this day would be the day I would finally get my chance to ride into Richmond. Bruce drove me into work again with him and I waited for our train to arrive from Oakland. The equipment was delayed as it ran behind Capitol 720 which was having some mechanical problems of its own. The Coast Starlight arrived while we were waiting and two UP freights passed through town before our train set finally arrived almost two hours late. It was the Amtrak West excursion train running push pull with F-40 PH's on both ends including the Operation Lifesaver 231 along with the ex Great Northern Dome car in the middle along with a Cal Trains Bi-level coach in the consist. The Dome Car had been running in the San Diegan pool and I had ridden in it many times. We finally departed Sacramento and went east to Elvas Tower where we turned south towards Stockton. We went by the Siemens Plant and crossed Calvine Road where I crossed the ex SP line to and from my brother Bruce's house. We traveled south through Elk Grove and under Highway 99 before crossing both the Consumnes River and Deadman Gulch before going through Galt. We traveled through Acampo before crossing the Mokelumne River and rolling into Lodi with its nicely restored depot. The special next crossed Bear Creek before entering northern Stockton. We ran down to El Pinal where the former Western Pacific now comes onto the former SP line through Stockton. We ran by the Stockton Terminal and Eastern interchange and by the old SP Station before we came to a halt at the interchange track with the former Santa Fe {BNSF} where we sat for the next two hours near where Stockton Tower once stood. In that time, as the BNSF refused to take the train, Amtrak 712 and 711 both went by as did two of BNSF's own freight trains.

Once we were finally allowed onto the BNSF we ran into Mormon Yard to switch ends before we ran forward crossing the former SP line and running by the Santa Fe Station where Amtrak stops. We ran south of the Port of Stockton before we crossed the French Camp Slough. We ran out into California Delta Country through Gillis and after Holt crossed Whiskey Slough. We ran out to Middle River where we crossed branches of the San Joaquin River and at Orwood we crossed the main channel on a drawbridge. We ran west to Bixler before we curved to the northwest. We ran through Knightsen and Oakley where we turned to the west through Antioch along the south shore of the San Joaquin River. We ran through the industries and the steel mills at Pittsburgh. Now we had Suisan Bay to the north as the river emptied into it. We crossed over the former SP line to Tracy and passed through Port Chicago with the Concord Weapon Station. We passed the interchange the San Joaquin trains used to reach Martinez and I was now on virgin track. We passed the refinery and crossed Pachero Creek before we went into the siding at Maltby for an eastbound BNSF freight followed by a cab hop. We were getting even later and now the crew was wondering if they would die on the law. We ran behind Vine Hill and around the south side of Martinez. We crossed the Muir Trestle and made our way up the canyon to Glen Frazier before plunging into Franklin Tunnel under Franklin Ridge. We emerged on the west side along Rodeo Creek and ran to Christie siding. The special descended the canyon to Hercules and by the siding at Collier before running under Interstate 80.

Our Train ran through Pinole with San Pablo Bay in sight. We turned south running by the UPS North Bay facility before we went into the siding at Rheem and we sat for almost an hour after creeping there as the BNSF yard was having problems taking the two freights they had ran in front of us to here. We finally crossed the SP line and went into the Richmond Yard where we pulled in front of the yard office. Box Lunches were brought on for a rather late meal as the engine crew changed ends and with them now under the true threat of dying on the law. The train high balled Richmond for Stockton. The BNSF gave us the railroad and we made a fast return to the Mormon yard in Stockton where they quickly changed ends. The UP had been notified about the crews hours of service and took as with no delay and gave us a fast trip back to Sacramento which we arrived at 7:45 PM when we should have been here at 5:00 with the crew 15 minutes from dying on the law. My brother Bruce met me on the platform and we headed to the house. I had finally gotten into Richmond, now for my first solo 844 trip tomorrow.

NRHS 1999 Convention City of Tehama 6/23/1999

I went with Bruce to work again this morning to take the City of Tehama excursion behind the Union Pacific 844, their 4-8-4 built in 1944 and never retired from service. It would be pulling the UP all yellow excursion train. We waited for first the Coast Starlight to leave Sacramento and then a UP hotshot freight who was about to die on the law. Sounds very familiar. Finally our train which we could see over in the old Sacramento shop area went out onto the mainline before backing down to the station. We loaded quickly and with a long blow of 844 whistle we started moving forward. I was excited to be finally riding behind the UP 844 solo for the first time after seeing all of the pictures of it over the years. The Train headed east to Elvas Tower before crossing the American River. We paralleled the Sacramento Light Rail for a few miles before running along McCullean Air Force Base before we waited for a freight to clear at Antelope. After sitting for twenty five minutes we headed onto the bypass around the yard where we came to a stop to wait for a pilot engineer. Either the UP forgot to call a pilot engineer for the trip up to Tehama or the person just did not show up. What a way to run a railroad! We waited there for almost two hours until a pilot finally arrived.

The Union Pacific 844 went by the diesel shops then by the Roseville Depot that Amtrak uses. We turned north and headed up the Valley Sub. We crossed Pleasant Grove Creek before passing through Whitney with the chasers on the highway trying to keep up with the UP 844. We crossed Imgram Slough and Rayine Creek before blowing through Lincoln. We made a series of curves that led us to Brock before we bridged the Bear River into Wheatland. We trestled Dry Creek, traveled through Olivehurst, crossed the Yuba River before we went through Marysville. The UP 844 led us across the former Western Pacific {UP} at Binney Junction, over Jack Slough before it came to a stop to detrain us for a photo runby. The UP 844 backed around a curve before it charged forward billowing black smoke and providing a great photo subject. The engine sure lived up to its reputation.

Once back on the move again, we crossed the Feather River before we went into the siding at Berg to let a freight run by us. With the Sutter Buttes to the west, we went out onto the mainline with all the pacers on the highway waiting for us and after crossing Highway 99 we went through the "Speed Trap" of Live Oak. We continued north through the towns of Gridley and Brigg before we crossed the Cherokee Canal and went into Richvale. It seemed that everyone was out to watch our steam train pass by. We crossed Dry and Butte Creek before we reached Durham. We bridged Comanche Creek and entered Chico where we crossed Chico Creek before going by Cal State Chico. We spanned Mud Creek before we went into the siding at Anita to let another freight pass so we would not delay him when we got to Tehama to turn the train on the wye there. Once on the move again, we crossed China Slough, went through Vina and bridged both Devon and Torres Creek before passing through Los Molines. The 844 turned to the west, crossed the Sacramento River and headed into Tehama where the train was wyed. On the way back and running so late, they canceled our second photo runby of the day and headed back to Sacramento. The sun had set by the time we got back and arrived into Sacramento at 9:09 PM with Amtrak number 5, the California Zephyr arriving over six hours late after problems in Colorado. I walked off the train satisfied after my first solo trip behind the Union Pacific 844. Tomorrow I would be going over Altamont Pass but only as far as Oakland as the last two nights were taxing my brother who had to be in Oakland anyway so I agreed I would drive back with him allowing him to use the Diamond Lane on the Freeway. I slept soundly that night after two long but good days of train riding.

NRHS 1999 Convention The West Coast 6/24/1999

This trip was going to be over the old Western Pacific {UP} line over Altamont Pass into Oakland and back via the Cal P line to Sacramento. I rode in with Bruce again to work on his way to Oakland and this time the equipment arrived in Sacramento early, the same train set as the Franklin Canyon trip. We all boarded and those of us who were on board for all three trips so far were surprised that we left on time. We went east to Haggin, before we went down the connection to the old Western Pacific. Our train went across the American River before pulling forward under the Cal P and traveled through downtown Sacramento. We went by the old WP Station before passing the old South Sacramento Yard. Once out of town we headed south across open countryside to Franklin and Thornton. Entering northern Stockton, the train went onto the new connection that took the train onto the former SP line through town. The ex WP line was ripped out after the UP's merger with the SP. We passed the old SP station before crossing the BNSF at the former location of Stockton Tower. In a surprise move we stayed on the old SP which put me on new mileage to Lathrop. The train went through the SP Yard and by all the industries on the south end of Stockton before running on the west side of the Sharp Army Depot. We turned east onto the San Joaquin Subdivision for two tenths of a mile before we took the connection back to the former WP line. The train crossed the San Joaquin River before flying through Tracy by the Altamont Express station which was not here the last time I went this way behind the UP 3985 back in 1992. We went across Altamont Pass at a much faster rate than in 1992, and it seemed like in no time we were at the summit of the pass. We dropped down the west side and crossed the Greenville Trestle. We ran through the Livermore Valley passing through Livermore and Pleasanton before we ran through Niles Canyon with its pair of tunnels. We exited the canyon, crossed the ex SP line the Amtrak Capitol trains use and followed BART into Oakland. We ran onto the new Magnolia Connection new trackage for me to get onto the ex SP Coast Subdivision to Amtrak's Jack London Square where we all would detrain for about five hours.

I told my Car Attendant that I would not be back and he thanked me for that and for riding the train. With time, I had lunch and explored Jack London Square. I shot pictures of a few trains before I was met by Bruce and we drove back to Sacramento.

The Trip home 6/25/1999

To get back home it was one more trip to work with Bruce, Amtrak 702 the Sacramento to Bakersfield San Joaquin, the bus to Los Angeles and Metrolink 662 home to Santa Ana.