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Sierra RR RailFan Photo Train

Sierra Railroad RailFan Photo Train

March 14, 2004

Story and photographs copyright 2004 by Richard Elgenson



Oakdale, California
At least 70 passengers were disappointed by the theft of a diesel locomotive horn from the Sierra Railroad locomotive number 42. Even without the recently restored the Baldwin S-12, the railroad pulled off an enjoyable photographers fan trip.  The approximately 40 mile round trip started nearly 35 minutes late due to other undetermined reasons.  The railfans were huddled around in groups of 3-5 people waiting for the boarding call.  The train consist for the journey was an ex-SP GP-9 #46, a baggage HEP car, lounge car with booths and a dance floor (ex-Santa Fe Budd coach), a converted Long Island Railroad coach with 4 and 2 tables seating (Yosemite Valley car), and Half Dome yet another table car.  These cars are part of the Sierra Railroad Golden Sunset Dinner Train consist.  The dinner train features double deck cars with kitchens on the lower level.  The Sierra has a nicely designed and built depot which is next to the dinner train comissary.  Once loaded and under way the mood on the train turned gleeful.  Traveling with TrainWeb fellow Chris Guenzler, our table mates for the day were 3 railroad industry veterans and a Union Pacific Historical Society member.
First run by above and below.


The above two and below left images show nearby orchards.  The San Joaquin Valley is world renown for the amount and variety of agriculture.  The winter rainstorms have caused everything to turn green!


Here we were on an outstandingly beautiful late winter day heading eastbound from Oakdale to Cooperstown, a distance of slightly less than 20 miles.  Shortly our consist would be due for the first of five photo run by's, two of which were done twice!  Every rider was issued a box lunch with an excellent tri-tip sandwich with separately packed condiments consisting of fresh lettuce and thick slices of tomato plus packets of mustard and mayonaisse, Also included were potato chips, pasta salad, an apple, candy bar with Sierra Railroad label and bottled water.  Complementary soft drinks were available too.  The immediate joke at our table was that one could not open and enjoy the box lunch until notified by a central authority which made me feel like I was back in school being told when to start an exam.  Chris and I had overdosed on a large dinner the previous night during the Winterrail show in Stockton, CA with fellow Orange County Railway Historical Society members Steve Donaldson and Gordon Follett. Nearby milepost 7, the train braked to a stop and all who wanted to exited for the first run by.  The adjacent hill to the south rose about 100 feet or more, so I scampered to the summit and viewed the train backing away into the distance.  The gently rolling pre-Sierra Nevada foothills were enhanced by the handsome blue/teal, yellow, and stainless/silver paint scheme of the dinner train cars proceeding forward. 


Above and below, the second stop, also beneath a hill, was choice due to the "S" curves in the track around the hilly topography.  It was at this location that the Sierra Railroad decided to give us 2 photo run by opportunities  Between run by stops, the boldest of passengers broke into and enjoyed their box lunches.




The photographers were mostly polite to one another, staying out of others photos.  Plus, all on the ground calmly and immediately boarded the train for the next run by location.

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