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Southern Pacific 1995 Company Picnic

In August of 1995, the West Oakland S.P. Safety committee began to make preparations for the annual employees picnic. This year, the event was scheduled to be held on the 7th of October, in the city park in Martinez, California, right across the street from the Martinez AMTRAK station. We were asked to participate by bringing the 5623 up to Martinez and having it open for folks to see. As you might guess, the decision on that question was a no-brainer. The morning of the 7th saw Errol drive to Ozol, pick up his conductor Dick Scholl, drive back to Oakland to get the 5623.


Errol and Dick arrived just as I was finishing the 2 hour car wash job. Believe me, that is a lot of body to wash by hand. And, yes, that is a mop I am using. Have to be careful of the paint, you know. Shortly after this photo was snapped, I fired the engine up and got ready for the ride. Errol said that since he had run it to Sacramento in June, he felt that I should run it this time. After checking my wallet to make sure my license was there, I suppressed the urge to giggle, released the independent and opened the throttle to run 1. Aaron Stout photo.

Errol, Dick Scholl and I stand waiting for the 16th street tower to give us clearance to proceed from the Wood street yard lead out onto the east bound main. Brian T. Wise Photo.

With white flags flying, we approach Martinez. Just ahead, at the west end of the AMTRAK platform is the switch into the old cannery spur. Long buried under inches of dirt, the S.P. MW department did a great job of cleaning the area out for us for this event. Rod Ciganovich photo.

Once safely on the cannery spur, we had to abide by FRA rules and protect the main line against the movement of the 5623. This meant digging in the concrete-like dirt in order to put a derail and blue flag on the track between the locomotive and the switch to the main. Jim Plunkett photo.

Two Southern Pacific veterans face each other for a day. S.P. 1258 is one of 38 home built S12 class 0-6-0's entering service between 1919 and 1923. The 1258 is one of only 6 (1257-1252) which were built in the Los Angeles General Shops instead of the Sacramento General Shops where the 5623 was rebuilt in 1977. Rod Ciganovich photo.

One of the many displays presented for the entertainment of the S.P. families was this 7 1/2" gage Atlantic from the Golden Gate Live Steamers. Left photo is mine, right is by Rod Ciganovich.

Since there was absolutely no advance advertising of the display of the 5623, most Caltrains customers got quite a surprise when they made the station stop at Martinez. Rod Ciganovich photo.

And then, it was time to go home. Rod Ciganovich caught us exiting the cannery spur, crossing the creek and heading west. Down the road a bit, I said, "What's the speed here?". Errol said, "60". I said, "Do I have to go that fast?". And we didn't.

I will be the first to admit that this is a pure railfan, boy-oh-boy were we having fun, photograph. No, my finger is not up my nose and it is not wiping away tears of joy: it is just scratching. The blur out the window gives a little indication of the 45 mph speed and the intent stare is recording every foot of the way home. Torpedo Boat crewmember Arron Stout is in charge of the video this trip and Jim Plunkett recorded the scene from the fireman's side.

And then we have the picnic that didn't happen. In 1996, the Safety Committee again asked to borrow the 5623 and this time, with the PLA's NWP #30 caboose in tow. Every local official approved the equipment and the move was all set. but, this was just before the U.P. merger and someone up the line decided that this was not a good idea. Too bad, sure would have been a neat looking cab-hop. My photos.

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