You may remember a few issues back we talked about the SCSRA's Tenth Anniversary, by which we were celebrating ten years since incorporating as the Southern California Scenic Railway Association. Now we are looking at another ten year anniversary: Ten years of working at Travel Town!
To recap just how we got to Travel Town from a small group of rail enthusiasts, you may recall that the association began when Hank Andreoni, Gordon Bachlund, Greg Smith, Hal and Debbie Hoadley, Randy Matus, and Clarence Ridenour got the idea that it would be interesting to start up a shortline rail operation somewhere. Clarence Ridenour got us going on trying to acquire the Santa Fe's abandoned branch to Lake Elsinore, and we spend many weekends exploring the grade in the washed-out section and the still-intact sections of the track. Clarence corresponded through letters and visits with officials of Santa Fe as did Hal Hoadley, but eventually we had to admit that we were defeated, since the Santa Fe branch was for sale, but none of us were millionaires!
Our next prospect was a branch of the Southern Pacific in Redlands. We were again excited to get going. We had the line appraised but soon discovered we were not even close to what our guess of the value was! After months of meetings we were still without a project.
Then in fall of 1983 we discovered (or was it rediscovered?) Travel Town in Griffith Park. Our first interest at the Travel Town museum was the operation of the miniature train for the concessionaire, Railroad Supply Corp., as a fund raiser. In March 1984, we discussed possible restoration of existing Travel Town equipment. By the following September, we decided to propose a locomotive restoration to the city, with the miniature train operation seen as a way to finance that operation. A proposal was drafted by March 1985 to restore the CP< Shay. The following month, the Travel Town museum expressed interest in a railway from Travel Town to the zoo. Then on November 1, 1985, the SCSRA board of directors met at LALS in the UP caboose with Linda Anschultz (she wasn't married to Mr. Barth yet) to discuss our proposal to restore equipment at the Travel Town Museum. The proposal was to restore M.177. By December, the city had accepted our proposal and we were on our way!
On January 24, 1986, at a special meeting, the board allocated the first budget for M.177 -- $100!! By February the permits were signed to begin the restoration, and work finally began on the first Saturday in February 1986, as Hal Hoadley and Gordon Bachlund opened the car, lubed the sliding doors of the baggage section, and swept out many years worth of debris using brooms and cleaning supplies just purchased from our gigantic $100 budget. The following week, we found the cleaning items missing, and thereupon installed our first Association brass padlocks on M.177.
Early on we feared that there may have been water damage to the engine, but this could not be confirmed until the heads were removed. Nonetheless, we made a restoration schedule and prepared a budget. As time has shown on so many restoration projects, the early schedule and budget failed to forsee a plethora of problems and a gaggle of cost increases (can anyone tell who contributed to this article??). Replacement hardware proved quite expensive and, even as now, volunteer participation was often less than overwhelming.
June 1986 saw our first ever issue of The Headlight. It contained a brief history of SCSRA activities (used in the preparation of this article), and featured the initial installment of what has become a regular feature, "Doodlebug Notes." By then, Rebecca Barron (later Rebecca Matus) had joined, along with Joe Barilari, and Joe became a regular Saturday volunteer, bringing his own tools to augment the few tools we were able to buy. Gordon and Joe were the mainstays of our little mechanical department, but in time other now familiar names joined the early ranks: Cliff Bornschein, Steve DeVorkin, George Funck, Tom Graham, Douglas Haughe, Bruce Henrie, Chell Hurdle, Don and Shirley Kramer, Ted McConville, Paul Nelson, Cliff Phipps, Greg Ramsey, Joe Siemons, Ed Sikora, Jim Vicars, and Chuck Wilkie. Each of these brought a special measure of skill and devotion to the M.177.
There is a good chance that January 1997, the close of our tenth year at the Travel Town Museum, may see completion of M.177. Let's all get behind this project and make this happen!!
While in my home town of Pampa, Texas, this July for my 40-year high school class reunion, I visited with Harold Thrasher, who was for several months brakeman on the M.177 on the Pampa, Texas, to Clinton, Oklahoma, run (called the "COW," for Clinton and Oklahoma Western, the name of the railroad before it was acquired by the Santa Fe.) You may remember Harold from Chell's "Prairie Echos" column; he has been corresponding with Chell for some time.
Harold went to work for the Santa Fe in 1937. He became brakeman on the M.177 in 1952. Harold told me that the engineer let him run the motorcar on a few occasions -- and gave him a hard time for going too fast! After the motorcar was dropped from the Pampa-Clinton run at the end of February, 1953, he continued as brakeman, and later conductor, on the mixed train on the same route for several years. He retired in 1980 as the number one conductor (in terms of seniority) on the Santa Fe's Plains Division.
While talking with Harold, I discovered that our paths had crossed (without our knowing it) more than once before this visit. He was brakeman on a train involved in a serious accident in the late 1940s as a result of a tornado which had put a large number of signals out of service. I was about ten years old at the time, and I remember going to Oklahoma to see some of the damage done by that storm. While recovering from the trauma of the accident, he worked at a grocery store about two blocks from my home. The store was owned by the father of a classmate of mine who was at my class reunion and who remembered Harold. The photos I took of the M.177 at Pampa as a teenager were almost certainly taken while Harold was brakeman.
Harold had many interesting stories to tell about the M.177, life on the Pampa - Clinton branch, and railroading in general. My wife Sarah and I videotaped most of our visit. Copies of the tape are available in the SCSRA library. Anyone wishing to borrow a copy should see me.
We have many interesting developments to report in the period ending August 31, 1995. To begin with, elsewhere in this issue Jim Vicars will be reporting on his summer vacation trip to Pampa, Texas, the results of which were, to say the least, incredible. They relate not only to our research, but also to his experience as a youth there. Sadly, one of the results of his visit was confirmation of the passing of our valued correspondent, L.H. Bromert of Amarillo, Texas. He was the last surviving crew member of the tragic M.105 accident, on February 19, 1943. We will miss his extraordinary stories of life on the C.O.W. line.
A previous correspondent, Miss Marie McDaniel (Rock, KS) sent a contribution for M.177. She had a visit from Alice Hutton (Brea, CA), a former passenger on M.177, who suggested the contribution. Our thanks to both of these ladies.
The postmaster at DeSoto, KS, forwarded one of our inquiry letters regarding the community of Cedar located on the Kansas City to Newton route to Ms. Pansy Penner (DeSoto, KS). Ms. Penner tells us that she has resided near Cedar since 1914. The bulk of the town, small as it was in the beginning, was washed away in a 1951 flood, leaving only 7 residences in that vicinity. She rode passenger trains in the area but never had a chance to ride the motorcars.
You may remember that we previously heard from Mrs. Claire Nichols (Nortonville, KS), about her experiences on the family farm. She has sent us a beautiful photograph of the passenger shelter and station sign at Nichols Station. The shelter was just large enough to accommodate two or three people. The background of the station sign again shows the flat, almost empty prairie through which M.177 ran on most of her routes. She enclosed two articles, one about the antique Santa Fe equipment display at the preserved Atchison depot, and the other about preservation of the Atchison-Topeka right-of-way by the American Trails Association of Utah, under the federal National Trails Act. The land will be used for a recreational trail but can be reclaimed for a rail right-of-way at a later date, if needed. Mrs. Nichols also enclosed two letters; one from her brother, Mr. Herbert E. Worley, and the other from a friend, Ms. June (Gaut) Boyce.
Mr. Worley (Topeka, KS) remembers attending the one room Nichols school, with one teacher for 16 students in grades 1 through 8. He started the eighth grade 70 years ago this year; the teacher was barely older than he was. He also remembers the family semiannual cattle drives to the siding at Nichols Station to load them for market. Sometimes they had to reposition the cattle cars using a hand operated wheel jack, similar to the one donated to SCSRA several years ago. Mr. Worley remembers seeing the construction of the original AT&SF office building at 9th and Jackson in Topeka, as well as the new structure now in use.
A major event which impacted the farmers in the area occurred in 1925, with the erection of a 60,000 volt power line between Atchison and Topeka. Most of this line followed along the edge of the railroad right-of-way. This line enabled the electrification of the local farms for the first time, thus doing away with the kerosene lamps and lanterns which Mr. Worley remembers using as a young boy (1925!!!)
Ms. June (Gaut) Boyce was born and raised on the family farm near Valley Falls, KS, along this line, and following graduation from high school, rode the motorcars to Topeka weekly to attend business college. She remembers the car being turned before being backed into the Topeka depot. She also remembers very well the friendly conductor, Mr. Henry McDade, as has almost everyone else who has written about this line. In August 1956, she began a 30 year career as a clerk at the AT&SF general office building in Topeka, and says, "I felt proud of being one of many employees working for the railroad." She was saddened by the passing of the motorcars from the line.
You may recall that some months ago Mr. Ron Chamberlain (Wichita, KS) told us he had seen a Santa Fe motorcar in an old Roy Rogers movie. We had talked to the Roy Rogers Museum people at Apple Valley to see if Mr. Rogers might remember anything about this at all, and sent a follow up letter with a set of M.177 materials. Mr. Roy (Dusty) Rogers, Jr., checked with his father, but Roy does not remember anything about the scene.
We began our search for a copy of the video with KCET here in Los Angeles. They had no information on this movie, "Home in Oklahoma." I had received a catalog from Flashback Videos (Goddlettsville TN), a seller of old movies and serials, and contacted them. Although they did not have it, they referred me to one of their catalog advertisers, Mr. Boyd Magers, publisher of a "B" western movie newsletter, and operator of Video West Video Sales (Albuquerque,NM). He had the movie in stock, and I purchased a copy. In the meantime, he referred me to one of his columnists, Mr. Tinsley Yarbrough (Grenville, NC), who is a "B" western movie location historian. After viewing his copy of this film, he said he believed it was shot on location near Davis, Oklahoma, on the ranch where Roy and Dale were later married. He suggested that I talk to the director of the movie, Mr. Bill Witney (Pioneer, CA).
Mr. Witney told me that he did not specifically recall a great deal about this 1946 movie, except that it was all filmed on location at the Bill Likens ranch at Davis. This was one of the 47 Roy Rogers movies he directed. It was the first directing effort following his return from World War II, where he served as a Marine combat photographer. He remembers that the area was infested with chiggers and that he never wanted to return there again. There is a photograph of the stars with Mrs. Likens taken at the ranch during the filming. It appears in Mr. Witney's book, Trigger Remembered. When I received my copy of the video I was able to identify both the motorcar and the trailer coach using information from Dr. John McCall's book, The Doodlebugs. Mail/baggage motorcar M.155, and trailer coach/smoker/baggage car #2682 were assigned to the Arkansas City Shawnee Lindsay route from 1934 through at least 1947. The car passed through Pauls Valley on this route. It is only about 9 miles north of Davis. I borrowed Jim Vicars' Santa Fe depot books but was unsuccessful in identifying the station. It is possible that a second unit crew was sent to Pauls Valley to make this 5 second shot, which included only "Gabby" Hayes and Dale Evans.
We contacted long-time Republic Pictures Corporation employee Mr. Ernie Kirkpatric at their Image Edit subsidiary to see if by chance there was some unused footage in the film vaults, but space limitations prevent their retaining such materials.
You may recall that in April 1993 I saw a real motorcar in service, the Sperry Rail Detector Car #134. We had no luck at finding out anything about the history of the car at the time. During our special operations for the 1995 Los Angeles Live Steamers spring meet, one of our cab visitors in the Charley Atkins was Mr. Kevin Lee (Foster City, CA), from the San Francisco Live Steamers group. He is a former Sperry employee, and has collected a number of articles about their operations. He kindly made copies of his file for us, and we now know that Sperry #134 is a former Seaboard AirLines car #2022, built in 1925 by the St. Louis Car Co. and EMC, and acquired by Sperry in April 1945. According to a 1979 roster, Sperry then had 21 ex-motorcars active on its roster. I have seen the car several times during the rebuilding of the Santa Fe line between Los Angeles and Fullerton, as part of the MetroLink upgrade. Our sincere thanks to Mr. Lee for making his collection available to us.
Finally, in an attempt to broaden our search for M.177 survivors, I have submitted a paid advertisement to The Genealogical Helper, a magazine of 200,000 circulation throughout the U.S. It reaches people who are researching their family heritage. The ad will appear in the September/October issue, and I hope it will reach descendants or relatives of those people who may now be out of the areas in which M.177 operated.
This time, I must first start with a small matter of setting the record straight. In my last report, I told you that M.177's Winton engine cylinder heads had been rebuilt by Joe Siemons. This was not strictly the truth and appears in print solely as a result of my own ignorance.
While Joe was instrumental in having the heads rebuilt, the work was actually performed by Target Diesel of Santa Fe Springs. This was only made possible by a generous cash donation by Associate Chuck Wilkie. My sincere apologies to Chuck for not mentioning this important donation. Also thanks to Joe for the part he has played in the continuing safe storage of the heads.
This quarter, in addition to the major emphasis on the motorcar exterior, a lot of work was also done to the interior. The smoking compartment ceiling has been removed and measured for the fabrication of new metal ceiling panels. I was originally planning to leave the hard-board panels in place because their condition was not too bad, but I was persuaded that it would not be worth doing, as the nonsmoking ceiling turned out so well.
The ceiling in the smoking compartment restroom, or "saloon," as Gordon Bachlund likes to call it (are you surprised?), was taken down as was the water cooler partition so they may be sandblasted. Also, the stripping of the walls is complete. New brass hinges are currently being drilled, countersunk, and installed for the vestibule doors. Roof vents were installed and the body sealing was completed. Lots of thanks to our loyal troops: Kevin Tam, Alan Weeks, Thomas Seal, Scott Muir, Doug Stevens, Darren Shiflett, Dale Brown, Steve DeVorkin, Danny Price, and Chell Hurdle.
We now have a firm quote from Globe Bearing for the rebuilding of the Winton engine. That figure is $58,000. We have already paid $21,500, and we will be forwarding another $20,000 with our acceptance of the terms. Tom Johnson of Globe has agreed to credit us an additional five percent on that payment if made before the end of December, 1995. This will bring the balance due to just $15,500, meaning that roughly three-quarters of the total will have been paid. Tom is also offering us a sliding incentive scale for the balance. He has indicated that Globe will carry the job through to completion, so that we can have the engine back as soon as possible, even as our additional fundraising efforts go forward. This plan should also leave sufficient funds to push forward with our immediate plans for painting the carbody and continuing on the interior.
I'd like to invite any of you with the interest to come on down any Saturday and help with the M.177. Feel free to call me about it evenings at (714) 680-8948. As you might have guessed, monetary donations are also quite welcome (and they're tax deductible!).
Since things in PR have been moving at something of a snail's pace for some time, it is with great pleasure that I introduce a plan to farm out much of what used to fall on the manager. As manager I find this quite refreshing and wish to express some gratitude to our chairman, Gordon Bachlund, for helping push this issue in the right direction.
The great thing about this is that several people have recently changed their respective job situations and are able to contribute to the efforts at the park more so than before. For example, Steve DeVorkin has agreed to take over press releases. This is long in coming, as his job at Cal Trans gives him much better contacts than I could ever hope to get. Look for more people to join the PR fold as fall sets in.
The Clean Up Continues - During the quarter we applied a herbicide to the weeds, an insecticide to the grounds (especially the eating area), and more herbicide to the weeds that grew healthier on their first dose. Great strides were made at continued clean up, precipitated by a leaking 4" water main the repair of which equired equipment and storage containers to be moved. Yes, one container did tip over thanks to overzealous help from City personnel, but its contents were not harmed, only jumbled. The old airplane circle (bone yard, if you prefer) is now about 40 percent cleared of both stuff and weeds, and we hope to report it fully cleared by next issue. The writer is grateful to Thomas Seal, Scott Muir, Doug Stephens, Darren Shiflett, Jeff Pippenger, Adam Seal, Danny Price, Greg Ramsey, Tom Graham, Ed Sikora, and new Associate Jeff Boehm for help on this important project. By the way, three dumpster loads of compacted rubbish were removed!
Cabeese - Randy Matus procured some required replacement brake valves from Pacific Rail Industries, and these await installation. The usual clean up and switching for operations and for the July 20 Griffith Park Resource Board Summer Barbecue was accomplished by the writer, Jim Vicars, Brian Moore, and Doug Stephens.
Buildings and Equipment - Darren Shiflett completed painting of the M/W Department's tool storage container. The usual summer infestation of ants in the Shop Building is being dealt with chemically, and plans are underway to reconfigure the furniture owing to a significant donation by Chris Masur of a set of original employees' lockers from the now-defunct AT&SF San Bernardino Shops. Many thanks to Bob Bennett for working with Chris on this.
Steam - There was no steam loco work during the quarter.
The Weather - The Los Angeles area, like much of the nation, has been beset by extraordinarily high temperatures this summer. We were actually obliged to annul work on Saturday, July 29, because of the heat! I take this opportunity to thank the volunteers in all departments who have continued to toil at the Travel Town Museum in spite of the heat, eschewing more pleasant Saturday diversions like visiting the beach or some air-conditioned gin mill, and I would beg your indulgence if I again ask anyone with a refrigerated bottled water dispenser available for donation to contact me. Thanks!
As I'm sure you've read elsewhere in this issue, it's been a long hot summer out at the Park, and since the saying goes, "only mad dogs and Englishman go out in the midday sun," this All-American Diesel Shop has been taking it easy this quarter. But we haven't stopped altogether. We've completed the #1 engine compartment, including sandblasting, painting, and reinstalling the #1 sandboxes which, along with new sand delivery hoses, finally gives Charley operating sanders on all four wheels. The #1 radiator was steam cleaned externally, chemically flushed internally, leak tested, and determined to be satisfactory without disassembly. It was then sandblasted externally, primered, and given two lovely coats of "Ferguson gray." Gordon drilled and tapped the radiators upper expansion tank in preparation for the installation of a sight glass to match #2's radiator.
More of the "missing" trim pieces from Charley's cab have been located and finished, and Kevin Tam and Dale Brown continue with their reinstallation. A few more are waiting for the varnish to dry and will probably be installed as soon as Dale finishes playing with his new camera.
The Baldwin and Charley still need some more steam cleaning, but of the three attempts, two were complete failures and one was a partial day at best due to broken steam cleaners. Wanamaker claims they spend more time in the shop than rented out. The next attempt will have to wait for cooler weather.
The new auxiliary/exciter generator salvaged from the CWR #55 in Fort Bragg is being serviced. The auxiliary end commutator bars have been undercut by Bruce Henrie. Undercutting commutator bars involves removing some of the insulation material between the copper where the brushes ride so that as the copper wears down, the brushes never ride up on the insulation which would cause arcing. The whole unit has been set up on a table for further cleaning and service. It too will have to wait for steam cleaning and cooler weather.
The batteries of both locomotives continue to be serviced by our faithful "waterboy" Jim Vicars, and Gordon arranged with Linda for the refueling of both engines and cabooses. Jim did the necessary early morning hostling to accommodate the City fuel truck which dispensed 310 gallons of number 2 diesel to Charley, 956 gallons to the CWR 56, and about 20 gallons to each caboose. Many thanks to the Linda and the City for this full-service fill-up.
Staffing the diesel shop this quarter in addition to the above include Bob Bennett, Chell Hurdle, Scott Muir, Yvonne and Gregory Ramsey II, Thomas Seal, Brian Moore, and Danny Price.
As always, I can be reached at home at (805) 483-1552, work at (805) 982-9720 or via the Internet.
Well, it's been a long, hot summer. We haven't done a whole lot of work on our Maintenance of Way vehicles. It's been kind of hot and attendance has not been a real hot subject and money for parts has come to an end. We have started to work on the front end of the dump truck but it is still on the blocks we left it on. Instead I have spent most of my time on our new grade crossing at the pedestrian crossing. A lot of hard work, physical and mental. A big thanks to Ed and Joe. If any of you know of anyone who may have or know where we can get our hands on parts or an entire 1952 International dump truck, please let me know. Please keep your eyes on the look out -- we need the parts badly!
We seem to have quite literally run "out of gas" as Tom's article usually starts. After much searching, and some soul searching, we may have to finally give the twenty-one gun salute to the Blue dump truck. It seems that there isn't a pair of drums anywhere in the country nor much of the other brake hardware. It saddens me to see things come to such a grinding halt, especially since I donated money specifically to that project, but if the thing won't stop, it's useless. There is simply too much at stake here at Travel Town to risk running over a visitor because we can't find the parts to fix the brakes. There are plans, however, to make pieces of it live on, specifically the bed and hydraulic hardware which could be fitted to the white Dodge. We should know more about this in the next few weeks. So thanks, Tom and Darren, for all your efforts during this quarter. I'm sure there will be good news for the fall.
The CS&CV signal guys have been hard at work again on the crossing gate. They got the gate arm lights to work properly and Jeff installed a new bell which sounds less wimpy (and more historic) than the previous unit. Unfortunately the clicker relay gave up the ghost early, but Ed found and procured a new one made of industrial strength materials (I'm sure the advertiser is claiming to have used Kevlar or something as it is so in vogue these days) which is sure to outlive the last one. Many ding dings should go to Jim Fontenot, Tom Graham, Bruce Henrie, Greg Ramsey, Ed Sikora, and Kevin Tam.
I must admit that any delay in the progress of track is entirely my fault as I was absent many days; however, there was some work done on the stub switch and some clean-up projects for which we shall bestow many hot and sweaty kudos to Dale Brown, Ed Sikora, Pat Reilly, and Dave Swanson.
Training continues, as we work to qualify Mike Flaherty and Brian Moore as brakemen, and Alan Weeks as engineer. My thanks to Gordon Bachlund, Jim Hoffmann, and Jim Vicars for their assistance with instruction.
Congratulations are due to Brian Moore and Ted McConville for passing their rules tests. Good job, Brian and Ted!
We operated for the public on June 3rd and 4th, and August 5th and 6th. June 3rd was also the date of our annual meeting. All days were adequately staffed, but more volunteers for the Operating Department are always needed.
|Saturday, June 3||730||$ 285.55|
|Sunday, June 4||1,081||286.65|
|Saturday, August 5||695||207.86|
|Sunday, August 6||611||253.36|
|Total to date:||43,942||$16,512.58|
Operating Days: 67
Currently we are moving an average of 655 passengers who donate an average of $246.45 per day, using two cabooses with a combined seating capacity of 26 passengers. Thank you to everyone who helped make these figures a reality. Those with recorded time on the CS&CV are Gordon Bachlund, Dale Brown, Steve DeVorkin, Jack Finn, Mike Flaherty, Jim Hoffmann, Chell Hurdle, Jeremy Langill, Brian Moore, Scott Muir, Danny Price, Bonnar Quint, Greg and Yvonne Ramsey, Adam and Thomas Seal, Doug Stevens, Will Sundquist, Kevin Tam, Jim Vicars, and Alan Weeks. Thank you All!
One of our associates, Paul Nelson, writes: Looks like the SCSRA is really going places with the M.177. I get the impression that Management has recognized the need for dedicated time on the M.177 -- a point I heartily agree with. Feel free to pass this letter on to Management so they know I support the effort.
Thanks, Paul, for the encouragement. Just so you and others know, we are still pressing for the Train Shed to become a reality. Greg Gneier and Gordon Bachlund were interviewed by the _Daily News_ just a few days ago in another attempt to let the public know that monies were allocated for that needed structure that have since disappeared. Any letters that any and all can send to the mayor's office here in Los Angeles can still make a difference and get us our Train Shed. Here's hoping! Ed.
A California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation, Incorporated January 4, 1984
IRS Tax Exemption No. 95-3947766
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Questions and comments to Sue Kientz, SCSRA Publications Manager