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
Long Beach. Since the cars were to be exhibited in Fullerton on
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
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
the return trip for some people. The local railfans who populate
Glendale Station were astonished that this special train stopped at
this location. We boarded quickly and were soon under way.
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
The hosts brought deli platters, while I brought homemade hummous
. This was a most impressive way to travel.
feature of these cars has to be the open end outdoor platform.
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
Below left, box cars for the
Anhauser-Busch Brewery. Below right, airplanes at Van Nuys
Below, Van Nuys Airport with Santa
Monica Mountains in the backround.
Below, ascending the Santa Susana
Mountains in Chatsworth.
Holland America Santa Barbara
Richard Elgenson RailNews Site