The Headlight
Southern California Scenic Railway Association, Inc.

The mission of the Southern California Scenic Railway Association is to provide and administer volunteers and to raise and manage funds to focus public awareness on Southern California rail history and promote railroad safety
Volume 16, Number 3Fall 2001


By Sue Kientz, SCSRA President

Just as we were anticipating doing track work in Fullerton for the Fullerton Railway Plaza Association (FRPA), a nonprofit group planning a Sacramento-class railroad museum at the Fullerton Station, SCSRA was given notice by Linda Barth that we have 30 days to remove our collected track materials, stored at Travel Town.

On the one hand, this deals the final blow to any hopes we still entertained of building the Zoo Railroad. Linda’s ultimatum was, either SCSRA gives the Travel Town Museum the track materials with no expectation that SCSRA will be involved in their use, or we must remove them from Museum storage.

On the other hand, however, our FRPA friends have great plans, both near-term in the shape of upcoming track work needs, and far-term in their wonderful museum complete with turntable, display track, and restoration area, that we are thrilled to join with them to bring to realization a first-class railroad museum here in Southern California.

The job of moving all the materials, which stands at 174 sticks of 90 pound rail (about 1,000 pounds each!), 34 bundles of ties, pallets and pallets of signal equipment, tie plates, spikes, etc., etc., is quite daunting, especially in the time frame of Linda’s notice (see pictures of our track materials). But between SCSRA and FRPA and our contacts, this monumental task is being tackled, and will be finished by the end of November.

Update, Dec 30: Rain, rental equipment breakdowns, the difficult task itself, and the holidays now have the job expected to be completed by January 15, 2002, our new approved deadline. See pictures of the move

As of this writing we are still finalizing transportation and the new storage site down in Fullerton, but we have already moved much of the material into the museum parking lot for speedy loading. Thanks to FRPA’s Carole Wink and our own Jerry Price, we have two donated trucks and drivers promised. New SCSRA board member George Engelage of Coast Rail Services (at left with Ingrid Allwelt, Gordon Bachlund, and Gordon’s cigar) generously provided us with 26 sturdy wooden boxes with latched lids for all our tie plates, spikes, and other small items. George, Carole, FRPA President Dick Hopping, and FRPA board member Stan Swanson have been extremely persistent looking for the best storage area for the materials, for which we are very grateful.

Soon we’ll be ready to roll!

Click pictures for enlargement


By Gordon Bachlund, Mechanical Chief Officer

I am pleased to report that Doug Stephens has accepted responsibility for coordinating our continuing efforts on the M.177. While declining morale has taken a severe toll on active volunteers, Doug (first picture, right) has galvanized a team that includes the writer (second picture, far left), Don Schuster, Tim Riley, Dan Price (second picture, far right), Jeff Barrow (first picture, left), and Darlene Sexton.

The team has met and formulated a plan of attack that emphasizes the exterior of the car body, beginning with the roof. To this end, we have inventoried existing supplies of primer and paint, we have procured new air hoses to replace those that have apparently become lost or deteriorated, a new paint gun, and new hoses and liners for our paint pot. Doug has mounted our air dryer components onto a floor-standing bracket, and Doug, Don, Jeff and Dan have made repairs to a work platform to be used with the SCSRA forklift.

The first steps to clean the roof have been taken, and in the coming quarter we expect to see a new black color coat applied.

On the money side of this project, President Sue Kientz has applied for a number or grants, including those with which we have been successful in the past (Parson’s and Ahmanson). Such funding is key for us to make progress on the generator and exciter, the two big items needing restoration by outside vendors.

Click pictures for enlargement


By Sue Kientz, SCSRA President

Although still only operating on the extended Interim permit, SCSRA remains viable and is still performing M.177 work, as Doug Stephens settles in as M.177 Project Coordinator, and still conducting monthly Caboose Train Operations, although with a skeleton staff, as you will read in Jim Hoffmann's report.

In last issue, we reported on the new, tighter restrictions on our museum activities that were handed down to us by the City of Los Angeles. Despite what many see as a grim situation here at Travel Town, I say we have made definite progress in improving our lot, as well as expanding to better pastures.

Letters to the Mayor — This past quarter I have written about our situation to the Mayor, the City Council, and the Parks Commissioners, as have a number of our associates. While no one is outright championing our cause, we have brought notice to our situation and have therefore strengthened our position. The City has had to explain the harsh restrictions and cancellation of evening training to many of these people, and we have had opportunity to tell our side. Dept. of Parks Assistant General Manager Anthony Coroalles actually told some in the mayor's office and Council District 4 about how wonderful SCSRA is and that they are not unappreciative of our efforts. I think we’ll be more liable to believe that if our long-term permit is renewed, which is up at the end of December.

Track Material Removal — As mentioned in the lead story, the City now insists we remove our track material. But first we had to determine which material is ours and which may be claimable by the City, which meant engaging an attorney. Our attorney found that really all the material we collected is ours. The City then argued that the Pasadena/MTA Blue Line is Travel Town's because Travel Town is mentioned in the release paperwork. This ignored a lot of key details of that donation, so SCSRA, on advice of counsel, proposed a settlement where one-third of the Pasadena/MTA Blue Line material is designated as SCSRA's, and the rest as Travel Town's. Incredibly, the City did more than take us up on our offer. Linda withdrew all rights to all the track material except for the few sticks of 75 lb. rail and tie plates and other 75 lb. hardware that was originally from Travel Town grounds.

George's boxes fit Joe's trailer as
if they were made for each other
Once this move is all over, there will be a lot of thanking going on, but in advance I must express real gratitude to the FRPA Board of Directors and to George Engelage for making themselves so available to discuss what we need to do to make this move happen, and I must also recognize the key help of Gordon Bachlund, Dan Price, and Jeff Barrow, who have been getting e-mail from me in droves (more than usual, anyway) since we were given our 30-day notice to remove. You guys are the best!

Fullerton Fall Dinner Meeting — Meanwhile, SCSRA directors and officers attended the Fullerton Railway Plaza Association's Fall Dinner Meeting in early October. The FRPA had invited us to attend so that we could become familiar with their goal of a first-class rail museum in Fullerton. Soon after FRPA’s Stan Swanson approached us about track work they need at the Fullerton Station, to extend one of their existing spurs. At long last, SCSRA track work is a'coming! It’s such a welcome feeling to be so well regarded as we are by the FRPA members.

M.177 Needs YOU! But back at our current camp, at Travel Town, we must not forget that we are still involved in important work here, specifically M.177 restoration and operating the caboose train ride. As for M.177, Doug Stephens needs volunteers. I hope you will come out and help, or say "yes" if he calls and asks you to come help. Doug has a good game plan, but he needs both skilled and eager-to-learn volunteers to make that plan work.

Operations Needs You, TOO! As for Public Operations, we desperately need everyone's participation. We need not only engineers and brakemen, but flagpersons and car attendants. Nancy Gneier of ASRA tells me that her high-school docents are busy with other projects at Travel Town (apparently track work) and can no longer help us with Operations. So we need YOU to fill that role. I also would like someone to volunteer to get lunch on Sundays, since Yvonne Ramsey is no longer serving lunches for SCSRA at Operations or on other Saturdays. I have been arranging lunches on Saturdays, but need someone to do the same on Sundays. Your help at this time means so much, to your fellow SCSRA Associates and the Association as a whole.

We Own The Best Part — About M.177, I'd like to tell you something none of you may have thought about. We all know that M.177 physically belongs to the City of Los Angeles. But if you ask me, M.177's spirit is ours. Who but us uncovered the details of her early life, her past, as our past president and departed friend Chell Hurdle told us her story in many issues of The Headlight, a story untold for many years. We brought her engine back, reassembled it, got it started, and in the process put life back into her. We have made her move, have made her shine with new paint. I've now sent letters of inquiry out for several grants and hope that we can obtain the funds needed to finish the generator and the exciter, to see her move on her own power.

Since 1986, we have adopted M.177, like a parent adopts a child. It's not our own, but we are responsible for her. We should take pride in all we've done to bring her back to full operating condition. And we must see her restoration through to the end, because it is the right thing to do—for all SCSRA associates present and past who contributed their time, effort, and money for her behalf, and for the people of Los Angeles who will enjoy her in the future.


PART TWO: Where Do You Put 19 Cabooses?

Reprinted with Permission by The Red Caboose Motel and Restaurant, Strasburg, PA

In the previous installment, we read how Donald M. Denlinger of Soudersburg, PA, came by 19 cabooses on a dare. He finally arranged financing to develop them into a hotel, but now he’s got to find where he can put his unexpected treasures. . .

Finding land on which to build a dream out of his nightmare was another problem. Most of the farms along the Strasburg Steam Rail Road are owned by Amish who would not lease land for a commercial operation such as a motel at any price because they would stand rebuked by their church.

By this time the 24-hour limit on the Gordonville siding occupancy expired and the cabooses were displaced again, this time to the Lancaster yards. Result: another waybill (at a minimum of 75 miles per caboose).

The next day a desperate Denlinger contacted Amherst Industries, Inc., train builders, whose representative agreed to receive the cabooses on their tracks and work their exterior renovations into their overloaded work schedule. These gentlemen not only provided a port in the storm, but were many times later to serve willingly as advisors.

Then came the discovery that the tracks serving Amherst Industries (located near Landisville, PA) belonged not to Penn Central but to the Reading Rail Road which levied another minimum hauling charge. Fortunately, Denlinger recalled one farm along the Strasburg Steam Rail Road that was not owned by Amish. Even though he knew the owners he did not actually expect them to be interested in leasing any of their ground. Sure enough, they were not . . . but they were interested in selling the farm due to their age and potential retirement from active farming. An offer to purchase the farm was made on a five-year-installment basis.

After several days deliberation, the owners agreed and even went a step further by offering to manage the motel during the first year of operation.

This big solution however was offset by still other problems. For instance, there was the matter of laying about 1,000 feet of track, a feat to be preceded by the installation of sewer, underground electric, and water lines. Each project had to be completed under severe winter weather conditions.

Railroad ties were offered to Denlinger at 50˘ each if he could wait until spring when workmen started taking up the old yard tracks. New creosoted ties cost $5 each and it seemed a better idea to wait for the thaw, since almost 500 ties were needed. The cabooses were again scheduled to roll in five short weeks. There was no time to wait.

Denlinger got special release papers to go onto railroad property at the Columbia yards and remove the ties himself. He soon found out why railroad workmen wait until after the thaw. Each tie was frozen into the ground and had to be pried up and physically lifted into the truck. Between Denlinger, the owner of the truck, and his helper, the three loaded 15 tons of frozen ties.

Before they left the yard, a Penn Central official inspected the load and made X marks on many of the ties. The X-ed ties, they were told, were to be unloaded as they might be needed by Penn Central track repair crews. What would you have done? Denlinger did likewise. The load left intact.

Later loads netted 30 tons of steel rail and rail bars. As Denlinger finally dragged himself, numb with cold and dog tired into the cab of the truck, he wondered if it was worth it. His faith was wearing thin.

Still he plodded on by purchasing three 12,000 gallon railroad tank cars at $400 each. It was his idea to bury them (without wheels), two for use as septic tanks and one beside the well pit to serve as a 12,000 gallon reservoir of fresh water. In order to be used for water the inside of the tank had to be sandblasted, vacuumed, and sprayed with nu-pon, before the PA Dept. of Health would pass it as safe for potted water.

The scene so often set for casualty finally found a victim. The man spraying the inside of the tank called to his helper on top to throw down a light. The helper responded by dropping an ordinary trouble light into the tank. The bulb broke on impact, creating a fatal spark which ignited the gases, hurtling the workman’s body through the neck of the tank and penetrating a corrulated roof 20 feet above.

On another tank a workman fell 20 feet from the scaffold breaking his back and shoulder. The latter incident occurred during a pressure test required by the Interstate Commerce Commission. Failing such a test, the tanks are scrapped.

Meanwhile, back on the motel site, Denlinger ordered special tracks for the cabooses laid perpendicular to the track of the Strasburg Steam Rail Road. In order to roll the cabooses up the Strasburg line and onto his track a very expensive switch would have to be installed. Denlinger’s friends at the Strasburg Steam Rail Road offered to help solve the problem by allowing track workmen to bend about 200 feet of Strasburg track into the field to join the caboose spur.

Denlinger decided about this time that it would be nice to equip the caboose motel with a dining car (at right). It proved to be a costly inspiration. The red tape involved in purchasing a P-70 coach from Penn Central’s graveyard at Holidaysburg, PA, unraveled into another nightmare.

Finally, Denlinger called on his old school buddy whose dare started this whole thing. Through his connections the friend helped in securing the car and routing it to Columbia where it would rendezvous with the cabooses for their trip to Paradise, PA, for pickup by the Strasburg Steamer and a final trip to their own siding.

Complications set in at Columbia that day owing to the involvement of two different railroad companiers and their respective unions. The crews arrived and departed the Columbia yards at different times. After friendly pressure was exerted both at Harrisburg and Lancaster, the Penn Central dispatcher was able to hold the engine one hour overtime until the Reading engine delivered the string of cabooses from Amherst Industries. In the interim, the entire Penn Central crew was paid (by Denlinger, of course) time-and-a-half for the holdover in Columbia. Still, Denlinger rationalized, the cost was less expensive then waiting another day and paying double waybill.

The string of N-5 cabooses and the P-70 coach arrived in Paradise where the Strasburg Steam Rail Road meets the Penn Central main line, ready for the grand and final pull by the famous Strasburg Steamer No. 31.

It was February 27, 1970, when the shiny black engine came laboring through white billowing clouds of steam around the curve at Paradise.

The large steam engine looked mighty bossy as it took its place at the front of the line of cabooses. Three blasts of the whistle and the cabooses squeaked and groaned along the last two miles of their nearly 5 million mile life (most of the N-5 cabooses were built in the early 1900s at a cost of $15,000 each).

Engine No. 31 snorted and occasionally spun until it got the 500 tons of iron and steel rolling uphill toward Strasburg. The steam engine’s rhythmic labor echoed across the valleys and at every grade crossing there were cameras snapping to preserve the visually historic sight for future exclamation.

A slight delay was encountered while the gandy dancers drove their final spikes, connecting the bent Strasburg rails to Denlinger’s motel trackage. The signal was given to the engineer and the cabooses started around the curve, their red coats brilliant against the cold blue sky.

The first group of cabooses was soon in place. Because of their short wheel base, the radius of the turn was no problem, but the engine started spinning as the 80-foot P-70 coach came into the curve. There was a sickening rumble as the 80-ton giant dropped onto the ballast before the engine could be stopped.

A huddle including Denlinger, the engineer, and other railroad representatives provided the idea of getting a construction crane to lift the fallen giant back on the track. Several phone calls proved that no crane would be available until the following week.

The only thing left to do would be to send a track crew to Philadelphia (at $10 per hour) to get 80-ton jacks, rerailing butterflies, cutting torches, pulling cables, and other wrecking equipment.

By the time the equipment arrived from Philadelphia, it was getting dark, the winter winds had reached a chill factor of -5 degrees, and it had started to snow. Most of the workmen had gone without lunch or dinner. The day seemed lost.

After jacking the car high enough to fit the wheels on the track it was discovered that their trucks could not be made to turn any sharper because they were pressing against the two steel I-beams that run the length of the car. The radius of the track could not be changed. The only course of action left was to use acetylene cutting torches and remove the brake arms and anything else that was binding against those I-beams.

About 11 p.m., the P-70 was back on the track. Once again the old steam engine threw its power against the coach which was still not off the Strasburg Steam Rail Road’s main line, a line which had to be cleared for the next day’s run.

Being dark it was impossible to see the track bending. Again came the sickening rumble accompanied by knowing groans from exhausted and chilled workmen. The heartless giant had again left the track and was resting on the stones.

To make matters worse, the Strasburg Engineer reported that since they could not get past the derailed coach to water, the boiler was in danger of blowing up.

A call was placed to the Bird-In-Hand, PA, Fire Company which brought 500 gallons of water.

Denlinger, whose pressure was rising as fast as that of the engine’s, had had enough. Bank the fires in the engine, everyone go home, and come back tomorrow with rested bodies and hopefully, fresh ideas, he suggested. He was quickly informed the ICC rules do not permit an engine with fire to sit unattended on ICC tracks.

It was then decided to drag the coach just far enough to allow the Strasburg Steam Rail Road tracks to be put back and thus make way for the engine to return to its station.

A wrecking winch and a bulldozer were summoned and cables attached. There was much groaning and moaning—some mechanical, some human—as cables stretched. Wheels spun on frozen ground. Then the giant car began to move, breaking ties and rails in the course of its progress. At one point it lurched dangerously to one side. It was 2:30 a.m. when the last of the workmen was able to leave the site and the Strasburg steam engine was able to reach home. The latest nightmare was over.

Next Issue: The Story of the Red Caboose Motel continues with Denlinger’s next problem: how to outfit and restore his Caboose Motel? More problems, and more miraculous solutions, keep coming as Mr. Denlinger prepares his cabooses for Opening Day. Until next issue, see The Red Caboose website


Saturday, Dec 15, 2001

Hot Cider/Punch 5 p.m., Buffet Dinner 6 p.m., Train Movie and Cartoon 7:15 p.m. at
Sue Kientz/Ron Baalke Residence

Buffet Dinner is Fully Sponsored by SCSRA

Gordon Bachlund will screen a vintage train movie and full-length cartoon, after which all are invited to stroll down nearby Christmas Tree Lane with its huge Deodar Trees alit with hundreds of colored lights
RSVP by December 10
Hope to see you there!

The party was a success! See the
Pictures and MPG Movies


A Letter to the Editor from Ray Crapo

Dear Sue:

Thank you, and bless you, for “The Long and Winding Story” in the Spring 2001 issue of The Headlight. It might have made me sad had not the theme of your determination to get to the root of things and rectify it been so strongly evident throught your long, properly detailed dissertation. Rarely do railway museums tell the truth so clearly!

In one way yours truly was genuinely surprised that such a situation had gone on for so long in the organization. It is a worthy organization, dedicated to a good and proper cause, and has sited itself where it can do a lot of good for many, many generations... should it succeed in its mission. Should it now not succeed in its mission, it still was a worthy effort, because so many individuals did so much to humanize Travel Town, a fine collection which people like myself have visited many, many times and been graciously received. On the other hand, due to my personal and professional concentration on railway museum organizations themselves (as clearly differentiated from their collections) during the last several decades, what was revealed was found, sadly, to be very ordinary in my experience. Let me back up a bit to explain that apparent contradiction.

You may or may not know me as the author of a number of widely reproduced (by railway museum organizations) articles in the late and perhaps lamented Locomotive and Railway Preservation Magazine. The theme was always the same: the first thing to be preserved and restored is the organization—the human beings. If you can do that, then you can start on the equipment. Until my wonderful spouse’s health restricted my “away from home travel,” yours truly went from railway museum organization to organization to solve problems almost identical to yours. People who could lay track, restore dead mechanisms, and perform artistic miracles in genuine restorations spent little or no time in the more critical art of getting along with one another.

Time after time yours truly led long, detailed, exhausting weekends with railway museum organizations like yours that fell apart on the human side. We have been able to rebuild several of them because the problem is always people. That is why what has happened at SCSRA is not surprising. Sad, yes... almost predictable, also yes!

Why do things such as you describe frequently happen at railway museums? Let me, out of ignorance beyond the details you provided in The Headlight, share long experience with you and your troubled colleagues. What is suggested is carefully weighted after long experience, but may not be the case in your group.

Almost always, situations like the one SCSRA is facing are inspired by one critical person who has, for several years, declared that he or she knows better than the Board or Management. This person excites a small cadre, usually of people who work on equipment, but almost always at least one Board member, and seeks power over the organization for personal satisfaction. “Power” in SCSRA’s situation is most likely the ability to deal with the City. Such people give themselves away with two characteristics: (1) the museum is perhaps the center of their lives (for the rest of us, the Association is a part of our lives), and (2) most such people detest their “real work” and want to become the Association’s “power broker” instead. Since the Association is the center of their lives, they want to be on center stage. You should examine the Association for people who detest their real work. It’s a place to start.

Most such folks are full of bluster, having a lot of personal time just to gab with people, and when professionally confronted through devices such as rumor control, recant their ways. Yours truly has been the “confronter” in many railway museum situations. One must remember, however, that a few issues they surface may have some legitimacy to a few people. Most of what they advocate has little or no legitimate claim to the organization’s resources. Rarely are they major issues, but they are important to a few volunteers. That is why your own full disclosure in the Spring issue is so powerful. The person who would destroy your efforts must be confounded by such honesty, and his or her hand will have to be exposed in a less subtle manner soon. Whenever anyone tells you that he or she really knows what is going on, target that statement relentlessly, and exhaust his or her sources. “Rumor control” is an art that stabilizes organizations. It assiduously traces each and every rumor either back to its source or to several people who will not reveal its source. They are then to be dealt with as its source. Yours truly has had to do a lot of rumor control.

There are many other tools that will lead you to those persons or the one person who would rearrange SCSRA’s “little world” because he or she cannot order his or her own “big world.” Finding the person is not like finding a criminal. There is no criminal intent! His or her misguided ego has simply gone astray, and SCSRA is the victim. In this case, so are the visitors to Travel Town and the City of Los Angeles. This person or group has obviously had Linda’s ear for many years, and no one else appears to have had the other ear. Linda and I met a number of times many years ago, and I found her then to be a person of integrity. My uninformed belief is that some person or small group has found her ear on a “calamity” basis during the last year or two (perhaps longer) and has led her to believe, out of her own good will and concern, that the Association does not know what it is doing. This often stems from a person who thought that he or she would become the next leader of the Association but didn’t. Not unusual in my experience!

Out of present ignorance but past knowledge, yours truly would deal with Linda on a very open and honest basis, which would seem to be what you are attempting. Stay the course! She has little motive, other than fear of embarrassment, to support any other than SCSRA for what it has done in the Park. It would seem right now that she has been influenced by people or a person claiming to represent what is “really going on” in the organization. When one examines the total scope of Linda’s current responsibilities, it is amazing that she is able to continue her advocacy for your very excellent efforts!

Know that the Association will be in my prayers. Too many good people have spent too much good effort to blow it apart now. However, the issues are personalities, not projects. One can sniff that out over 3,000 miles away! Keep on digging. There’s human rust and rot to be discovered and an organization to be restored. Please stay in touch.

With best regards,

Ray Crapo

PRAIRIE ECHOES — “Never More than a Stop for The Doodlebug”

By Mary Jo Hurdle, Historical Research Associate

The following letter was received from Mrs. Marsha Hayes (Independence, KS) regarding M.177’s stop at Crane, KS. She writes:

Dear Mrs. Hurdle:

As far as I can tell, Crane was never more than a “stop” for the “Doodlebug.” It had a station home, some pens for cows, and mainly a place to leave milk and cream cans. I don’t think it was a “town.” The place where it was is totally trees and grass and no sign of anything. One man, Mr. Jack Sherwin, who lives about three miles from site said his mother (Jack is about 80) took the train at Crane into Independence to high school. She left Sunday night and returned Friday evening, and boarded during the week. This would have been around 1918.

Keep up the good work!

Marsha Hayes


By Jerry Price, General Superintendent

I’d like to welcome all of our new friends who have signed up this past quarter:

SCSRA No.NameHome Town
324David Hanpeter and Rosalie MaxwellGlendale, CA
325Michael SchusterWoodland Hills, CA

Those of you working Operations have already met Michael, as he is Don Schuster’s son and has assisted us as flagman and caboose attendant. David and Rosalie, be sure to drop by and introduce yourself the next time you are near Travel Town!


by Gordon Bachlund

Director Joe Barilari has tendered his resignation from the Board. Joe has been an active Associate since our earliest days at Travel Town, having been appointed M/W Superintendent in 1994 and elected to the Board in 1998. To properly honor Joe's many years of exemplary volunteer service he has been made an honorary Life Associate.

I am pleased to announce that Mr. George H. Engelage IV, a sustaining member of the SCSRA since 1989, has been elected to the Board. George is President of Coast Rail Services, the firm that donated the SP and ATSF cabooses that we have used since 1990 to provide interpretive train rides to Travel Town visitors. Please join me in welcoming George to the Association's Board!

I am also pleased to announce that Greg Smith agreed to serve another term as Corporation Secretary.

Thus, I feel we are well poised to enter the Year 2002 on a sound footing, ready for all the exciting opportunities that await us.


By Tim Riley, Safety Officer

A quarterly safety meeting was conducted on Saturday, October 6, 2001 as required per terms with our Permit at Travel Town Museum, City of Los Angeles California.

M177 Restoration Project — A safety briefing is planned for at the beginning of each workday to ensure that all involved with the M.177 Project are aware of and are in compliance with all safety related issues. Proper safety equipment will be provided to all, including but not limited to safety gear and water.

Operations Department — As dictated by the FRA, City of Los Angeles and the SCSRA Officers and Board of Directors, safety is of the utmost concern at all times. All persons in attendance were reminded that the safest course of action must always be taken. The following safety concerns/plans for the Operating Department were noted:

In sum, we are 100% accident free because we operate 100% safe. I feel that the only reason this has remained true was due to the hours upon hours spent by the dedicated operations training staff performing after-hours training.

Mechanical Department — It was suggested that the SCSRA contact the City of Los Angeles and request that the following is repaired on Charley Atkins (#1) to make it safe before its required use on the next day of Operations.

Maintenance of Way — The operations track is deteriorating and will require track maintenance including replacement of broken ties, respiking and tamping in order for it to continue to remain safe. The City of Los Angeles has stopped the SCSRA Maintenance of Way Department from performing required track work. I recommend that the Board of Directors submit a request to the City of Los Angeles for repair as soon as possible.

The Operation Dept. staff in attendance were advised of the possible unsafe condition and all agreed that the 4 mph speed restriction be enforced at all times until repair is completed.


By Gordon Bachlund, Mechanical Superintendent

Diesel Shop — The City has removed maintenance of the diesel-electric locomotives from SCSRA responsibility, notwithstanding that our permit has not been similarly amended. The City has advised that former SCSRA associate Greg Ramsey, directly volunteering to the City, is now responsible for all diesel locomotive maintenance. Prior to this unfortunate administrative change, Tim Riley assembled a team comprising Don Schuster, Darlene Sexton, Jeff Barrow, Dan Price and Brian Moore, that pressure washed Charley Atkins' No. 2 engine compartment, which was heavily soaked with lube oil from a long standing crankshaft bearing leak dating from when the rebuilt engine was installed, as well as both cabooses.

Battery Servicing — Replacement of the caboose batteries continues to be investigated. The existing batteries are being given periodic equalizing charges and are still somewhat serviceable.


By James G. Hoffmann, Operations Superintendent

I am once again ensconced in my theater for the school year and therefore am a bit late in submitting this report.

The biggest problem we now face in the Operating Department is declining morale. The combination of events which we have faced during the last year is taking its toll on everyone. I must stress, however, that we cannot let these events prevent us from continuing our demonstration train operations. We owe it to the public, especially the eager children who can be seen jumping up and down with excitement as the train approaches, to continue to provide a quality entertaining and educational experience. I urge you all to keep signing up and coming out on Operations days. We need at least 10 people per day to cover all positions, including Car Attendants, Flagmen, and Station Agents. Keep the faith, everyone!

From Chief Instructor’s Desk — Gordon Bachlund reports that we have been obliged to severely restrict training owing to yet more rules from the City. In summary, hands-on training may now be conducted outside the Restoration Yard from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., and within the Yard from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and only on Saturdays, and only with 48-hours prior written authorization. Our highly successful Friday evening training sessions are now history, even after Tim Riley’s detailed Safety Report was forwarded to the City, explaining the key importance of this extended after-hours training. Accordingly, we have opted to accept no new trainees at this time and to concentrate on working with those already in training.

Gordon is pleased to report that Don Schuster has been qualified as a locomotive servicing engineer. Meanwhile, we are continuing to work with Dug Ward (locomotive servicing engineer), Don Schuster (train service engineer), Annette Sevigny and Sue Kientz (brakemen). Gordon is also pleased to report that Tim Riley has been appointed Dispatcher.

Our public operations were held July 7th and 8th, August 4th and 5th (pictures are available), and September 1st and 2nd.

Operating DayPassengersDonations
Saturday, July 7331 $ 113.82
Sunday, July 8350 123.00
Saturday, August 4523 320.70
Sunday, August 5545 249.96
Saturday, September 1384 115.75
Sunday, September 2419 115.61
Total: 2,552 $1,038.84
Total to date:107,158$46,736.56

Operating Days: 180

And now for this quarter's honor roll. Those with recorded times included the following:

Gordon Bachlund, Jeff Barrow, Andy Evans, Mike Flaharty, Nancy Gneier, Sue Kientz, Charity Lawrence, Dan Price, Tim Riley, Don Schuster, Annette Sevigny, Darlene Sexton, Ed Temm, Mike Vitale, Dug Ward, Alan Weeks.

Thanks to all of you and to anyone whose name I missed!


By Gordon Bachlund

In the past several issues, Association President Sue Kientz has succinctly and accurately documented the "Long and Winding Story" of recent administrative perturbations and our decaying relationship with Mrs. Barth and the City of Los Angeles. This, as you have read, has led to massive demoralization of our working volunteers. My own morale has suffered greatly, as has my respect for the City's representatives.

However, I am happy to report that at another railroad museum things are much, much better.

Tim Dulin and I were invited to participate in "Movie Railroad Days" at the Railtown 1897 Historic Site, a project of the California State Railway Museum Foundation. Held over the September 29 and 30 weekend, we set up and operated a Movie Theater in a baggage car as part of a weekend program that commemorated the Sierra Railroad's nearly 75 years of involvement with the movie industry. We were well equipped to do this since I have ample equipment and a growing library of films that we used to support "Movie Nites" at Travel Town.

"Movie Railroad Days" featured many exciting events for the visiting public, including two steam powered trains (a tourist train with the Sierra's No. 2 three-truck Shay on the point, and a photographer's special train with the Sierra's venerable No. 28 2-8-0 and a consist of their oldest wooden cars), and host of special events including celebrity autograph signings, presentations on railroad movie special effects, exhibits of movie railroad props, tours of really historic equipment, handcar rides, and a real locomotive simulator for the kids, roundhouse tours, blacksmith demonstrations, musical groups, etc. And, on Saturday evening, a delicious barbecue dinner was served.

For me, the premiere attraction was the staging, three times daily, of simulated movie and TV location shoots. A theatrical troupe from Sacramento provided celebrity lookalikes, and they did an admirable job indeed, complete with directors, actors, camera and sound crew, with a theater organist providing appropriate musical accompaniment. My favorite was a recreation of Director Edward Cline choreographing a railroad scene from "My Little Chickadee" (filmed on the Sierra in 1940, and which we screened at Travel Town in 1996) with W. C. Fields and the irrepressible Mae West. Mr. Fields was at his finest and the repartee between the Great Fields and Miss West was hilarious—and authentic.

The baggage car Movie Theater provided continuous shows both days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The feature was Kansas Pacific, filmed on the Sierra in 1953, and we included an interpretive short subject, "The Ballad of the Iron Horse" (with much footage filmed on the Sierra), as well as a fun sing-along cartoon based on the song "I've Been Working on the Railroad."

The CSRMF people were highly supportive of what we did for their weekend event, and it was really wonderful, after several years of neglect and harassment, to feel really and truly appreciated! It was easy to see why Railtown has attracted a large corps of willing and enthusiastic volunteers, ranging from maintenance and restoration workers to docents and train crews. I was told that Railtown's active volunteer cadre numbers well over 100!

The Railtown 1897 Historic Site is located in Jamestown, CA, a few miles south of Sonora on State Highway 49 in California's historic gold mining country. It is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. Steam train rides are offered every weekend from April through October. Visit and click on "Railtown 1897" for a real treat!

2001 SCSRA/ASRA Calendar of Events

is published quarterly at Los Angeles, California, and is the official publication of
P.O. Box 39727, Griffith Station, Los Angeles, CA 90039-0727
(323) 667-1423 and via the World Wide Web at

A California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation, Incorporated January 4, 1984
IRS Tax Exemption No. 95-3947766

Editor: Sue Kientz

Any article or feature published in The Headlight may be reprinted in whole or in part provided that proper credit is given the source.





Associates with inquiries regarding project work schedules
may contact any of the above by leaving a message at (323) 667-1423.

Questions and comments to Sue Kientz, SCSRA Publications Manager