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GCL LA to Parker Page 1

The Grand Canyon Limited

Los Angeles, CA to Parker, AZ

May 14, 2012

Story and photographs by Richard Elgenson
RailNewsNetwork writer

On my way to catch the GCL, I had time to drive by the Amtrak yard which is visible from the Santa Monica Freeway (Interstate 10) just south of downtown Los Angeles.  I rolled the window down to snap some photographs and heard the 3751 steam whistle.   The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Tansportation Authority building is seen in the distance and it in turn is at Los Angeles Union Station.  The GCL is just leaving to pick up her passengers at Union Station.  I am one of those passengers looking foward to a magical journey to the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  I had never been on a trip sponsored by the Central Coast Railroad Club.  They formed in 1952 and have been doing excursions and railway preservation ever since.  I have been on a number of Trains and Travel charters and know to expect great equipment on cool railroad routes.

As I collected 500 photos on this day, I 'll  show pictoral highlights of the first day.  My apologies as I discovered that my camera CCD had dust on it which appears in most photos.

The Grand Canyon Ltd, May 14, 2012, at the Amtrak Yard just before shoving train to Union Station. Notice the yard guys/gals watching in a group. Second photo, crew member climbing into or down from AMTK 66. Since I was a passenger in the car, I was able to get these and could hear the 3751 whistle. They left within a minute or two towards Union Station about 2 miles north of here. Union Station is at the location of the MTA building seen right center in the photo.

Trips like this are nice as one can meet many new people as well as catch up with old friends.  Each car had a Central Coast Chapter (NRHS) car host.  I was familiar with many of the private car owners, so it was nice to be able to enjoy the comforts of various different styles of their passenger cars.




The excitment was building as departure time approached.  A friend caught this video part of the GCL.


Silver Splendor, Sky View and Palm Leaf tagging along behind us.  Caritas, Gordon Zimmerman and Overland Trail ahead.  A Metrolink train is just visible on the LA River bridge on the Sunset Route.


After a few minutes, we reached the Los Angeles River flyover bridge which separates passenger and freight traffic.  Rails used to be at grade as evidenced by the old cantilever signal bridge.  Few of these are left in southern California.


Several miles away, Downtown Los Angeles is visible over the train.


Once on the BNSF mainline, the Grand Canyon Limited hustled though eastern Los Angeles County and into Orange County, past Fullerton and into the Santa Ana Canyon.


Once past the Riverside County line, we crossed under the Panorama Road bridge just before the junction with Union Pacific line from Ontario Airport.


People were at various locations viewing and photographing the train.  Below right we see Downtown Riverside and the Barton Road overcrossing.


Another old cantilever stands before the overcrossing of the Santa Ana River.  It too is out of service.


One of the fun aspects of a trip like this is to meet a lot of people.  The train was not so crowded and people were socializing in most of the cars I visited.  I was familiar with most of the car owners and could tell who the NRHS guys were by their vests.  The 3751 crew mostly had hats or overalls or Hawaiian shirts and were easy to spot.    They mostly held court in the steam locomotive, the Caritas car and the Zimmerman baggage car.  Most people were kept out of the 3751 crew area in the baggage car by a car host and yellow chain.  In the baggage car, the 3751 group was selling souvenirs in the gift shop.  After midday, Robin from the 3751 group walked the train in a 1940's style dress to pass out literature to entice passengers to visit the gift shop.  Robin could sell ice to Eskimos, so I made several purchases over the duration of the trip.  Meanwhile, the Central Coast Chapter folks set up their shop in the Royal Gorge lounge car.  Two women were selling shirts, coffee mugs and hats out of the Royal Gorge bar.  For relief from all my other duties, I would do business with them and hang out.  You can never buy too many souvenirs on a trip like this.  Including my visits to the Grand Canyon Railway stores in Williams, I ended up with 10 shirts, 2 coffee mugs, and 2 pins.  Out of that quantity, most has been or will be given out to friends for general purposes, birthdays, or holidays.

Grand Canyon Limited Page 2