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ATSF3751 in San Pedro

ATSF 3751 in San Pedro, California

October 27 to 31, 2004

Story by Richard Elgenson
RailNewsNetwork writer
Photographs by Glen Campbell except otherwise noted.

In late October 2004, steam locomotive 3751, retired from the Santa Fe Railway, was run to San Pedro California from its home in Los Angeles for an educational outreach program sponsored by the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society, the Port of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District.  During this successful event 3 day event,  over 400 elementary school students toured the train and received lessons in safety, history, science and geography.  The train layed over for a total of 5 days, the last two days open to the public.

                                                                                             Photo by Richard Elgenson

The train was composed of the vintage 1927 Baldwin Locomotive Works Santa Fe 3751, a 4-8-4 wheel arrangement, the SBRHS Railway Express baggage tool car, the newly restored sleeper car Pacific Sands, ex-Southern Pacific lounge car Overland Trail, and ex-Canadian Pacific Royal Canadian Mounted Police stock car Pony Express.  The train was run from Amtrak's Redondo roundhouse through the Alameda Corridor and finally onto the Pacific Harbor Line in the Port of Los Angeles.  It was parked at Harbor Boulevard and 6th Street, just across from the Los Angeles Maritime Museum.

                                                                                                                                                                             Photo by Richard Elgenson
                                                                                             Photo by Richard Elgenson

The educational outreach program was staffed by volunteers from the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society, Operation Lifesaver and the private railroad car owners.  The school children arrived by various means including walking and bus.  Students were directed to the last car of the train, Pony Express, where they received a presentation by a member of Operation Lifesaver regarding highway-rail grade crossing safety.

Photo by Steve Crise

Pony Express was built in 1941 in Montreal Canada as a baggage/express car with beautifully curved sides. It is an open car and up to two school classes could be seated on the floor.  After the half hour Operation Lifesaver segment, volunteer Nancy Fengler, used a laptop computer and projector for a lesson on modern railroads, including types of trains and local railroad companies. The differences were explained between long distance and commuter passenger trains, and also the different types of freight trains such as general freight and specialized container intermodal trains.


Next, the class was moved into the next car forward, Overland Trail, a vintage 1949 lounge car with the only operating barber shop in the country.  In the 39 seat Streamline Moderne main salon, Betty Campbell delivered a history lesson about the development of the United States through the expansion of the railroads and the transcontinental railroad which opened up the West.  One interesting fact in this segment was the use of railroads during the U. S. civil war.  The great locomotive chase was covered as well as the ceremony at Promontory Point.  The Overland Trail crew was dressed in 1950's uniforms as Conductor and Stewardess.     

The classess were then split up into smaller groups and taken into the Pacific Sands sleeper car to find out how travel was done in the past before mass airline travel.  The SBRHS volunteers took the children through the sleeper and and explained the different levels of accomodations and service.  The Pacific Sands contains six double bedrooms convertable to  2 room suites and ten single occupancy roomettes.  The students were amazed by the smart  design of the sleeping compartment which were shown in daytime and nighttime configurations.

The next educational location was on to a platform to view the steam locomotive cab and also to a tent outside the locomotive to get a lesson in science.  SBRHS engineers and volunteers explained the operation of the steam locomotive cab.  Steam locomotives are complicated to operate compared to modern diesel-electric locomotives.  They were also extremely labor intensive for maintenance.  Even though some modern railroads employ a fireman, he has no fire to control.  The 3751, once a coal burner was converted by the Santa Fe to consume bunker oil.  There are many gauges and sight tubes for liquids.  The steam locomotive engineer had a very small window in front of him and an openable window to his right.  They did not have great sight forward with 40 feet of locomotive ahead of him.  At the science table, Wolf Fengler explained the difference between base and acid solutions to the students.  This is important in the operation of a steam locomotive boiler.  Water must be kept at the proper ph level to avoid corrosion of the boiler interior and other steam pipes in the boiler.  Steam locomotives had such safety concerns as running low on water which could cause a boiler explosion.  A flat driver wheel was a lenthy process to remove and replace.  Modern diesel shops have drop pits to remove and replace traction motors and wheel sets.


On their way out of the SBRHS educational outreach event, students were given handouts from Operation Lifesaver including pencils, bookmarks, bracelets and saftey literature.

Photo by Richard Elgenson

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