In March of 1995, the California State
Museum in Sacramento invited us to bring the 5623 to their annual
Thereupon began a 7 day a week push to finish a few hundred details and
get her ready for her first public outing. Not only that, she would be
back on home rails for the first time in over 3 years. This was an
too good to pass up. And so, on June 12, 1995, she was interchanged to
the S.P. and put to bed for the night in the Oakland Diesel Shop. Well,
that was the plan at any rate. Fortunately, a good friend who has since
retired, brought her out for my son to take some night shots of the
visitor. SP5623 had been here many times during the past 40 years and
night could have been like any other. The 5623 glistened in the company
of locomotives too modern for the period but she was the star of the
All 5 of the following photographs were taken by Brian T. Wise.
At this time, Errol was engineer
on the Ozol job which was bulletined from Oakland to Roseville. He
went to work in Ozol, got the power, brought it to Oakland for
if required and then went back to Ozol to pick up his train. The plan
that he would come to Oakland as usual but would pick up the 5623 and
it as the lead unit on the train. The train for that day consisted of 2
well worn Geeps, SP3852, SP3873 and 6415 tons of train. Errol coupled
the train at Ozol, worked between there and Suisun, then left the cars
at Tolenas, between Suisun and Canon, and ran the 3 units light to
After dropping the 5623 off, the crew returned to Tolenas to finish the
While waiting for Errol to
with our "escort" power, I managed to round up most of the roundhouse
and got them to pose with the 5623. I am proud to say that a copy of
photo hangs on the West Oakland roundhouse office wall to this day. My
Pinole is the site of this great
spot made famous in years past by the great rail photographer Fred
Back in the late 1950's, Fred photographed the 5623 on the head end of
the Senator in the same spot, but I have been unable to get permission
to use the photo on the web site. Perhaps some day that will come to
Brian T. Wise photo.
Seen in front of the Martinez
the 5623 and the two trailing geeps are in in run 4. Yet to come is the
run 8 charge up the incline to the Martinez bridge. As it turned out,
2 Geeps assigned to the job would not have been up to the task of the
approach. The two together did not put out sufficient horsepower in the
first place and the 3873 was not loading fully. The 5623 had to work.
work she did. Brian T. Wise photo.
Barely visible behind the tangle
of antique bridge iron are 3 relics in charge of 6415 tons of train. In
another quarter mile, once clear of the bridge's 30 mile per hour speed
limit, engineer Ohman will begin to widen out on the throttle of the
and the the trailing units will obey the command passed through the MU
cables. Don Buchholz photo.
On the east end of the bridge,
no more than 30 seconds after Don Buchholz snapped the photo above, the
5623 and her helpers dragged the 32 loads and 6 empties off the span.
can see the wisp of black exhaust from the stacks of the 3852 as her
forced her to load harder and make up for the lagging 3873. The clear
of the 5623 are a testament to the condition of her engine and
system. Brian T. Wise photo.
The classic Davis depot forms
background for the 5623 and friends. Except for the truck in the
one would be hard pressed to put a year on this image. Brian T. Wise
Sacramento at last! The three
emerge from under the "I" Street Bridge approach structure and coast
the east end of the passenger train platforms. Brian T. Wise photo.
My favorite photograph to come
of Railfair '95 is this one. It represents two things to me. First,
within arms reach of each other are S.P.'s 3 major pre-1959 paint
Tiger stripe on Baldwin switcher 5208, Black Widow on Geep 5623 and
well known of all, Daylight on E9, 6051. Second, the photo spans the
of passenger power from the utilitarian geep to the twin engine epitome
of the diesel age. Photo by Brian T. Wise
There's lots of black and orange
in these photos. CSRM's beautifully restored Baldwin AS615 switcher
great coupled to the 5623. Who knows, they easily could have been in
same place at the same time within the past 40 years. Left photo by
Gaal. Right photo is mine.
While not a passenger
CSRM's Santa Fe F7 number 347C still brings to mind the legions of
equipped 4 axle cab units that once pulled America's passenger trains.
"E" units were a dedicated luxury, but the "F"'s and Geeps were
doing everything. Aaron Stout photo.
One of the fun things we got to
do that weekend was provide the power for the CSRM's Sacramento
passenger train.The excursion train departs from the boarding area at
reconstructed Central Pacific freight station. My photo
Another cool thing was spinning the
5623 on CSRM's turntable. Photo by Dave Maffei.
The car of
military vehicles immediately
behind the 5623 were from a military historical group who had equipment
on display during the weekend. Here, we are crossing Capitol Avenue
Errol in the engineer's seat, entering the museum grounds. Shortly
this, the 5623 suffered her first (and God knows, I hope only) road
First and third photos by Aaron Stout, center photo is mine.
Unknown to us, during the 8
rebuild and repainting operation, algae had infested the fuel tank of
5623. Shortly after our one run on the Sacramento Southern, she began
for fuel and would not stay running. This should
have been no big deal and should
have easily corrected by changing all the filters but should
did not work that day. As it turned out, the algae had worked it's way
into the injectors and plugged their screen filters. Jim Plunkett photo.
So, we spent the rest of the
on display, and probably had more fun anyway. I am sure that many
of visitors did as they got to tour the cab and hear all our tales
railroading. My photo.
Having visitors line up to pass
through the cab was kind of a surprise but a lot of fun. Plenty of
to be answered and photos to be taken. By the way, the large holes in
roof of the 6051 were due to the radiator hatches being taken out in
to remove the stacks (mufflers) from both engines. They had devoloped
cracks and had to be removed to be repaired. My photos.
Another photo showing
in orange. Western Pacific F7 913, Southern Pacific E9 6051 and
Pacific GP9 5623. Brian T. Wise photo.
A shot I could not resist. 1955
vintage passenger power coupled to 1995 technology. A world of
in implementation but identical in purpose. My photo.
The littlest railfan making a
effort to get that foot up on the step. Of course, grandpa eventually
him so the other photo could be taken of Matthew and his dad. His dad
is the one who is responsible for all the beautiful lettering work on
5623 and many of the photos seen throughout this site. My photos.
What we have here is a classic
of "stuff happens". One of the locomotives on display was the Santa Fe
1010, the famous Death Valley Scotty engine. At one point, it became
to couple it into the 5623 and this was the result. That long, pointy
catcher on the 1010 stuck out just far enough to bend up the steam
cover on the 5623. Oh well, another day, another ding. My photo.
If the depth of field on my
was a bit better and the 3852 had not been bouncing around quite as
you could see that the speedometer needle is pointing at 65mph. A worn
out old geep at that speed is a real adventure in movement. When it is
not bouncing up and down with a slight rotary motion, it is banging
to side. But Errol, in the cab ahead, has a grin a mile wide. And, if I
said that I was not having fun, I would be lying. My photo.
Rod Ciganovich caught the 5623
Davis, scooting along at track speed, on her way back to Oakland on
19. Although dead internally from the fuel algae problem, she could
operate as lead unit in MU with the trailing geeps.
Jim Bartolotta captured this beautiful shot as we set
out our train in the siding
at Bahia. I notice that I can see my arm out the window of the
second unit from which I took the window photo above. The arm in
the cab window of the 5623 belongs to Errol.