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Holland America Santa Barbara Excursion Page 1

Trainweb Trip to Santa Barbara

Aboard Holland America McKinley Explorer Ultra Dome Cars

April 7, 2003
Copyright 2007 by Richard Elgenson

I became aware of the new Holland America McKinley Explorer ultra dome cars from the TrainWeb site.  They were to be on exhibit at Los Angeles Union Station March 28 - 30, 2003.  Having most Fridays free, I decided to take the MTA Blue Line from Long Beach to Los Angeles and finish the ride to Union Station via the MTA Red Line.  I was impressed with the new ultra dome cars 89 foot length and 18'1" height.  Most impressive was the outdoor viewing platform at the end of the cars.  These cars are a married pair with the galley at the mated end of each car.  These cars are were built by Colorado Railcar Manufacturing to replace the aging McKinley Explorer cars that have been in Alaska service since the mid 1980's.  There were three people running the cars around the western U.S.  Jack and Charlotte Shaw and one assistant were recruited by Holland America Westours to work the cars from Denver Colorado through Albuquerque N.M. to California and up to Seattle.  While talking to Jack and Charlotte, we realized that we had a common acquintence in Alaska.  Jack started his railroad career with the Northern Pacific Railroad and retired from the Burlington Northern Railroad in the late 1980's. After retirement, he was asked to work on a project with the Alaska Railroad in the risk management capacity.  Eventually he became involved with Westours and spent part of the year in Fairbanks Alaska. After my visit with the Shaw's, I returned to Long Beach.  Since the cars were to be exhibited in Fullerton on April 4 - 6, I planned to view them again.


In the week between the cars being in Los Angeles and Fullerton, I became aware that the TrainWeb staff was going to ride these cars from Glendale to Santa Barbara on Monday April  7.  On my second visit to the Holland America Ultra Dome cards, I asked Jack Shaw if I could bring a date.  His reply was yes, so back at home, I invited a neighbor to join me on the excursion.  On Monday, we raced from Long Beach to the Glendale train station with a few minutes to spare before the scheduled pickup by the special train.  We soon found the TrainWeb group and waited....and waited.  The train showed up about 75 miutes late which would impact the return trip for some people.  The local railfans who populate the Glendale Station were astonished that this special train stopped at this location.  We boarded quickly and were soon under way.  It turned out that there was only about 15 people on this train including the conductor.  Each of these cars are manufactured for a capacity of 88.  We had plenty of room to stretch out or find a new seat every few minutes.  The hosts brought deli platters, while I brought homemade hummous and pita bread.  This was a most impressive way to travel.  The best feature of these cars has to be the open end outdoor platform.  The only better place to have an open end outdoor platform would be on the upper level, which is reality as of 2006 as the Alaska Railroad bought similar cars for their GoldStar Service.


On board, Ray Burns poses for photograph while holding camera.  Below right, Bill and Debbie Hatrick and family, owners of Overland Trail, enjoy flying through the San Fernando Valley.


Below, Burbank Airport.   The green areas are infield, painted asphalt off limits to airplanes.


Below, the Stevens' and Jack Shaw.


Below left, the author of this story.  Below right, Chris Guenzler with the I-405 overcrossing in the backround.


Below left, box cars for the Anhauser-Busch Brewery.  Below right, airplanes at Van Nuys Airport.


Below, Van Nuys Airport with Santa Monica Mountains in the backround.


Below, ascending the Santa Susana Mountains in Chatsworth.



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