Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pride of the Nevada Northern - Dirt!

No, I'm not talking about the stuff you walk on or curse for having to constantly keep out of your vehicle.  I am talking about the "unofficial" official mascot of the Nevada Northern Railway Museum.  For a few years now, the shop cat known as Dirt has wandered through the shops greeting visitors and shop crew alike.  Unlike some of the shop cats that have wandered these hallowed grounds in the past, Dirt is very personable and loves attention from whomever will give it to him.


I went down to the shops on October 15, 2017 to check on the status of the rebuild of engine 93 (more on that at another time).  While talking with the shop crew about the current progress, Dirt came out for a visit.  This wasn't my first encounter with him, and I know it certainly won't be my last.  You touch him once, you are a friend for life!


- Matt Liverani


This is how I was greeted by Dirt on my shop visit today.

Dirt strikes a pose!

After I had spent a few minutes petting Dirt, he let me
know he wasn't quite done with me

Now the right side...

Under the chin, and done...

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Stadler Rail Breaks Ground for Factory in Utah

A Stadler FLIRT is on display with a red carpet, on the mainline of the Salt Lake Garfield & Western railway.

Stadler Rail is a Swiss manufacturing firm, which has been looking to expand into the U.S. rail market. Two years ago the firm began leasing space in the Utah Transit Authority's Warm Springs shops to begin assembly of Stadler FLIRT; units which would be used in Texas on the currently under construction TexRail project. Meanwhile Stadler began looking for permanent locations to house a factory. In the past few days the first FLIRT to have been assembled in Salt Lake City rolled out of Warm Springs; with part of it shipped to Atlanta to be displayed as part of a convention. 

On October 12, I noticed on my way into Salt Lake City the other half of the FLIRT unit was resting on a siding of the Salt Lake Garfield and Western line. It was being cleaned by a work crew there, and I drove up nearby to look at the new unit. I was intrigued to see the new commuter rail unit on the SLGW, it looked at home on the line which is one of the last remnants of Utah's long gone electric-interurban rail system. What I wasn't aware of at the time, is that within 24 hours Stadler was going to be staking out a new home on the SLGW line...



A few shots showing the Stadler FLIRT unit on the SLGW on October 12th. It was coupled to a few flat cars via an adapter coupler unit. A small work crew was using a high pressure hose to wash the unit, making it look shiny and clean. This model of the FLIRT is actually diesel powered, allowing it to travel on lines that lack electric wiring.

So when I returned to Salt Lake City the next day (October 13, 2017) I was a bit intrigued to see that the TexRail unit had been moved a few blocks west on the SLGW line, with a parking lot of cars surrounding it. A big white tent rose nearby, with people in formal attire milling around it. Fortunately, I was wearing business casual already for my work shift later in the day so I wouldn't quite stick out like a sore thumb among all the people in suits ... so I decided it wouldn't be to hard to drop into this press event and ask if I could get a close look at the locomotive. I pulled up into a temporary parking stall. Near it was a few stalls which were reserved for dignitaries, with one near where I parked labeled for the Salt Lake Major. I asked around and once I heard from Stadler employees they'd be fine with me walking up to the locomotive, I eagerly walked my way to the shiny new FLIRT.

I joked to myself I was the first "foamer" to be going inside one of these new FLIRT units so I snapped a lot of detail shots as I walked around and inside it. I figured those in Texas in Ft. Worth and Dallas will want a good look at what they will soon be able to ride around their town!


 A close up view of one of the train set's trucks.

Both sides carry the TexRail logo, one side has the American flag and the other has the flag of the Lone Star state.

The passenger interior, the train set is able to be walked through from one end to another. The blue seats looked crisp and new, a far cry from how they will probably look after years of commuter service are put on this train set.

There is a hallway which leads from the passenger cabin to the cab for the operator. I wondered if these cabinets contained the diesel engine and other electronics needed to operate the train, although I couldn't see how to open them to get a peak inside them.



A few shots of the various operator's controls.

Station map for the TexRail system.


Since one half of the train set was sent on display back east, it gave an opportunity to observe the trucks up close without a train above it.

A nice look at an adapter coupler attached to the LRV allowing it to connect with freight rail couplers.

I had actually arrived at what I believe was the tail end of the event, as the crowds were dying down and most of the dignitaries had seemed to have left. As such I wasn't really sure what the event was for other than to show off the new unit which was built in Warm Springs. The ceremonial shovels and hard hats on the site though indicated it was a ground breaking ceremony; and the news broke later in the day that Stadler had announced its permanent U.S. based factory was going to be here in Salt Lake City alongside the storied SLGW railway! The new factory is going to bring 1000 jobs to Utah, as the Swiss trains will be built here to satisfy the "Made in America" requirements most commuter rails have. Other than the TexRail contract, Stadler has future contracts with Caltrain coming up which will help keep their new SLC factory busy. 


The Stadler factory site is also near underdevelopment facilities for Amazon and UPS, making the SLGW's connection to the west end of the city even more important. I am glad to have literally stumbled into this advent by circumstance, and excited to see how Stadler's presence in the Beehive state will affect the storied SLGW line.  Above all I can't wait until someday I am railfanning out of state and run across a Stadler unit and seeing it with pride knowing it was "Made in Utah."

-Jacob Lyman

Sources:
Railway Age: Stadler US settling in Salt Lake City
Salt Lake Tribune: Stadler breaks ground on railcar manufacturing plant expected to employ 1,000 in west Salt Lake City

Monday, September 25, 2017

Utah's Early Steam Legacy in Preservation


June 26, 2013; UP 618 on display/in-storage prior to the start of the current restoration effort.

Recently I have been thinking a lot about how silent Utah's steam locomotives have been this year. We started off the year with a spectacular showing from UP 844 traveling the former Oregon Shortline Route, then across the Overland out of the state. However since then steam has been notably absent from Utah this year. The two standard gauge steamers at Promontory Summit in the Golden Spike Historic Site remain in operational condition, yet haven't been able to stretch their legs this year due to the need for track repairs at the site. At Heber, UP 618 ticks away slowly in its restoration. In much the same way a child feels the approach to Christmas every year is long and arduous, so to does the local railfan community feel about UP 618... every delay feels like an eternity has been added onto the restoration time; despite the likelihood 618 could return to steam within the next year or two.

However, history often puts things into perspective. In the 1960's there was several years were steam was completely silent in Utah other than the occasional visits from then numbered UP 8444. Yet those years of silence would define the efforts of rail preservation in Utah for years to come.

The decline of steam in Utah was shockingly fast, despite the state's bountiful coal production. The three westernmost mainlines through the state, the Western Pacific, the Southern Pacific, and Union Pacific's former Los Angeles & Salt Lake Route lines; dieselized in rapid succession. The high deserts of Utah, Nevada, and eastern California are among the driest places in the world. All three of the after-mentioned railroads ran through the desolate desert scenery, where water for steam locomotives was a premium commodity. Diesels were embraced with open arms by railroad managers, happy to finally rid their lines of the water guzzling steam engines. Some steam held on in the desert lines with one dispatcher claiming to have sent an 800-series UP Northern through Provo in 1957; and of course steam engines such as UP 618 still reserved for local duties until 1958, yet for all intents and purposes steam was all but dead on the Utah portions of the LASL, SP, and WP by the early 50's (Signor, p. 165)


July, 2017; Tintic Junction roundhouse abandoned foundation. The advent of diesel locomotives on the former Los Angeles & Salt Lake Route lines ushered in changes in how local branchlines were operated in Utah. The three stall engine house which once housed a fleet of unique Union Pacific Shay locomotives, was unneeded after new diesel era regulations put into place by 1949 allowed the Tintic branchlines to be switched by road crews (Signor, p.170). EMD SW1's and other earlier diesel switchers replaced the Shays, and eventually the branchlines they served vanished themselves. 

The railroad mainlines on the eastern end of Utah were a bit slower in taking on diesel engines, but not by much. The Utah Railway despite being a coal hauler, happily dumped their steam engines in favor of a fresh fleet of ALCO diesels with their first diesels coming online in 1952; and steam coming to an end on their line by '57. The DRGW had beat them to retiring their mainline steamers a year earlier, with steam gone from their Utah Division by 1954 (although their narrow gauge steam equipment further east in Colorado/New Mexico would survive for many more years forming the groundwork for the narrow gauge tourist railroads over there). The UP retained their steam engines in areas with more abundant water sources such as the former Oregon Shortline and the original Transcontinental Route longer than it had on the LA&SL, but when the era of UP steam finally wrapped up in the fall rushes of the late 50's; the grand finale of Big Boys pounding the rails was taking place in Wyoming on Sherman Hill, not in Utah were diesels had taken over traffic. The UP diesel facility built in Salt Lake City in that era, affirmed UP's commitment to the new method of motive power.

UP's steam swansong in Utah took place on small branchlines and heavily trafficked industrial areas. UP 618 itself is a representation of this twilight era; first working the OSL era branchlines in Logan, Utah; then ending up in the Provo Roundhouse to haul freight into the Geneva Steel plant. By 1958 though, the 618's mainline life came to an end, and it was stuffed onto display at the State Fairgrounds in Salt Lake City.

The last operating steam engine in regular revenue freight service was the Tooele Valley Railway #11. It seems there was no reason for it to last as long as it did other than its parent railroad being extremely frugal in its acquisition of new locomotives. A diesel locomotive was demonstrated on the line around 1948, a Baldwin DRS-6-4-1500 demonstrator #1501. But after its brief testing in Tooele was done, it was Kennecott who purchased it for use in their mine on the other side of the Oquirrh Range, with Tooele remaining under steam for another six years. In 1955 when the Tooele Valley finally went to purchase their first diesel, it was an EMD SW1200 which came to the shortline. The SW1200 bumped all the remaining steam of the shortline roster except for #11 within a year of arrival. The reason #11 survived past its fellow steamers? It had been shopped recently and the shortline needed a backup engine for the days the diesel was in the shop itself... So #11 stayed active, if only as a spare locomotive.

About twice every year the SW1200 in Tooele was coupled onto a local train and taken into Salt Lake City for an inspection at the Union Pacific shops. During the brief time it was out of town, steam would again run on the Tooele Valley as #11 tended to the line's needs much the same way it and its sister engines had done for over 40 years before the diesel. However when the diesel returned from its regular inspections, #11 returned to its stable; only fired up in extreme cases on the shortline with occasional heavy traffic or when the diesel misbehaved mechanically. Deferred repairs on #11 meant that Utah steam was dying, slowly; as the Tooele Valley ran the steamer into its twilight years. Finally in 1962 the fires in #11 were dropped after the engine struggled up the line in a ceremonial final run. Within a few years, the engine was sitting in a park surrounded by a small chain link fence, a hand-me-down SW900 having taken its place on the Tooele Valley.


June 2, 1979. A photo showing the state Tooele Valley #11 was in post retirement from 1964 to 1982. The location is the city park next to the city pool and across the road from the high school. In 1982, the engine was moved to its current location in the Tooele Valley Railway Museum. Norm Metcalf photo (Matt Liverani collection). Used with permission.

From 1962, until the beginning of the Golden Spike Historical Site and the Wasatch Mountain Railway (Heber Creeper); steam was as absent in Utah as it is now. Again the drought of steam locomotives was briefly punctured by Union Pacific's steam program; with UP #844/8444 making a few trips into Utah during the formative years of the UP steam group. On one instance, the FEF-3 in May 1961 after having finished an excursion trip, was called to provide helper service to a train departing Ogden and heading up Weber Canyon. 844 rode the train as a helper to Wahsatch. Railfan Gordon Glattenberg who witnessed the sight of 844 providing helper service was amazed at the lack of a crowd it had drawn, "I had not seen another railfan! In fact, no one else had even glanced at the train!"(Crossroads of the West, p.16). It is commonly believed that this was the last steam helper move between Ogden and Green River.

It was the beginning of steam preservation at Heber and Promontory which once again brought steam locomotives back to Utah on a regular basis.

The Heber operations can trace their origins a group of Utah railfans who owned the Rayonier 110 a logging 2-6-6-2T from Washington State, and were looking for a place to restore and run it. Their attention was drawn to the Heber Branch of the DRGW, and they began an effort to acquire the line to start a tourist railroad. After a legal battle for ownership of the line concluded, a group of railfans, Heber businessmen, and the NRHS had secured the preservation of the line from Bridal Veil Falls to Heber City by 1970. During the process of securing the line, the Heber group had to find a more suitable steam engine than the 110, one which could be restored to operation easily and could operate their expected trains.


March, 2016. To paraphrase a line written by Mark Bassett the director of the Nevada Northern Railway and his wife Joan, in regards to the engines at their railroad, "There is no reason for these pieces of equipment to have survived to the present day other than serendipitous luck."* The same could be said of many old locomotives across the country, Tooele Valley Railway #11 included. Avoiding Heber's attempt to acquire it in the 1960's meant the spotlight was instead granted to UP 618 saving that engine of a possible demise. By escaping further attempts to obtain the engine for Heber throughout the 1970's; #11 ultimately had the chance to return to display next to the Tooele Valley's depot and company HQ which was converted into a local museum. Furthermore, by remaining in Tooele it escaped the tumultuous scattering of the Heber Creeper steam collection during the liquidation of the collection during the 1990's. Sure the weather and elements have played their toll on #11 as the early Heber volunteers warned, but perhaps luck is still in the engines future. It should be worth mentioning Nevada Northern #97 a sister engine to TOV #11, did not share the same luck of some of its other NN brethren or its relative in Tooele; likely having been scrapped to feed the smelting/milling operations in McGill.

Not surprisingly, the Heber group went after the most recently retired steamer in the state, Tooele Valley #11. #11 had only spent five years on display in a public park when the Wasatch Mountain Railway group approached the city about obtaining the engine. To paraphrase the way my late grandfather described it, "the Mayor (of Tooele) was ready to sell it, with equipment ready to move it; but then the people in town found out about it and kicked up quite the fuss."** Although the Heber group reminded the people of Tooele that steam engines displayed in parks outdoors were often subject to deterioration due to the elements, the town was vehement that they believed #11 belonged in its hometown and not in Heber. Considering many in town owed their jobs to the smelter at the end of the Tooele Valley line, and with friends and family members having worked on the shortline railroad; it is no surprise they fiercely defended #11 staying in its hometown. Having been completely rejected by Tooele, the Wasatch Mountain Railway shifted its attention to other steam engines in the state.


June 26, 2013; UP 618 watches on as people mill around the coaches for the diesel powered train to Vivian Park which had departed Heber earlier that day. Before the fire in 618 was dropped in 2010 it went on a steam photo freight where Trains editor Jim Wrinn described, "To see the engine... and its immaculate paint job, you wouldn't think that it is ready for (restoration) work, but to listen to the running gear slap, you know it is one tired engine." Speaking of luck as mentioned in the previous caption, UP 618 not only escaped an untimely disposal at the fairgrounds thanks to the efforts of the early volunteers at Heber, but also was the only steam engine from the original Heber Creeper-era of the line to remain on the property after the other steam engines were liquidated and sold off. 

Meanwhile at the Utah State Fairground, the fairgrounds management was looking to get rid of UP 618. Some rumors suggest that they considered that if they wouldn't be able to find a new home for the engine, that they would instead dig a trench next to its display stand and use a bulldozer to shove the engine into a shallow grave! The NRHS and Wasatch Mountain Railway about a year after their rejection in Tooele; had made plans to rescue the UP 618 and make it the flagship locomotive of the new tourist line in Heber. Union Pacific helped bring 618 out of the fairpark and back to the rails; and by November 1970 the engine was in the SLG&W yards. By December the locomotive was back in its old stomping grounds in Provo. After 12 years of retirement, the Heber crew (by modern standards a rather unorthodox, risky, and now likely illegal move) straight away steamed up the UP 618 on the DRGW Heber Branch on December 5th, and by December 7th the engine was pulling a train of preserved equipment up the branch.  DRGW MOW workers began work on pulling up the rails behind the steamer on the 5th, isolating Heber from the national rail system (EDIT: Although some rails were removed in 1970, the DRGW had them replaced and interchanged with Heber one last time in 1971 before abandoning the line completely). Fortunately the 618 didn't blow up on its inaugural run. Even more amazing it made its first tourist run a month later on January 9, 1971. With a crowd waiting to board the train including the state governor, the train derailed on a frozen crossing in Provo Canyon. "The governor instead became witness to the inaugural rerailing." (Crossroads of the West, p. 80) 618 was sidelined again in 1976, returning again in 1986-1990, and then making its longest running excursion career from 1995-2009 with a steam special in 2010 before the current restoration work on the engine began around 2013-2014.

While many other steam engines would eventually join UP 618 at Heber (and an equal amount having left due to bankruptcy and reorganization which affected the railroad in the 80's-early 90's); the Rayonier 110 which was the incentive to start the tourist line at Heber, sat on the deadline now seen as "unfit" for restoration. After the bankruptcies forced the 110 out of Heber and to the railroad Museum in Boulder City, Nevada; it was bought by the Black Hills Central Railroad which runs in the tourist heavy country around Mt. Rushmore. The locomotive which was seen as "unfit" for restoration, now runs regular tourist trains as the only articulated logging steam locomotive still in operation in the United States. The beautiful restoration work done by the Black Hills on the 110 has not gone unnoticed, and the articulated engine graced the cover of the 2015 edition of Trains Magazine's guidebook to tourist and historic railroads.


September, 2015. Markings on the firebox of the UP 119 replica in service at Promontory Summit, used in modern day ultrasound methods of safety checking steam locomotives.

Across the state, at Promontory Summit in 1969; railroad enthusiasts and the National Park Service prepared a special celebration for the 100 year anniversary of the joining of the Transcontinental Railroad. For the occasion two static ex-Virginia and Truckee locomotives used in Hollywood films were acquired the Inyo and the Dalton; which were both dressed up in faux-decorations to make them appear like the long gone UP 119 and CPPR 60 "Jupiter" locomotives. As display pieces the two engines were toured around the country on flatcars during 1969. Then the two engines were displayed in Promontory as part of the new historic site. I could find no evidence suggesting the engines were operational during their time in Utah.

The need for operating replicas at the historic site spurred the National Parks Service to commission the construction of two new steam locomotives to replace the two aging V&T engines. The NPS began looking towards Hollywood for talent who could produce two authentic replicas. The group selected to assemble the two locomotives was the O'Connor Engineering firm. Chad O'Connor the founder of the firm was a mechanical engineer by trade, train enthusiast by hobby in southern California whose homemade camera tripod system he used for railfanning was discovered by fellow railfan and Hollywood legend Walt Disney. Walt encountered Chad trackside while railfanning Southern Pacific's Daylight streamlined train (Broggie, p.149-150). With Walt requesting Chad's camera mounting system for use in his films, O'Connor Engineering was soon founded to build and distribute Chad's "railfan's camera mount" to the filmmaking industry. 



September, 2015. CPRR #60 Jupiter replica in steam at Promontory Summit during one of the National Historic Site's regular steam demonstrations. Originally painted red under direction of Ward Kimball, further historical research has lead the site to switch the colors to a more accurate blue primary color.


In the mid 1970's O'Connor's love for trains lead to his firm receiving the contract to recreate the two historic Golden Spike locomotives. Without any original blueprints the firm had to use old photos and engineering guides to recreate the engines to the best of their ability. As O'Connor Engineering finished up their work on the two new locomotives, the Inyo and Dayton were repatriated to the Nevada State Railroad Museum collection in 1978. On May 10, 1979 the two new engines were commissioned on the 110th anniversary of the Golden Spike. Their stunning red paint was a choice of Ward Kimball, a Disney animator and famous railroad preservationist. Ward also contributed to the paintings on various parts of the locomotives. For nearly 40 years these two engines have operated without much pause in the State of Utah, with the NPS using the off-season winter months to maintain and shop the locomotives; this year's break being one of the few noticeable absences ever in the sites history.



September, 2015. The UP 119 replica with its clean lines runs light around the Golden Spike Historic Site on a demonstration run. This coal burning engine was based on the Rogers built original. Both of the replicas were originally made to burn fuel oils, but later converted to their original fuels (coal and wood).

In conclusion, it should be noted that much of Utah's modern day steam preservation is the result of a single generation many years ago, who answered the lack of steam locomotives in the state with their own efforts to restore and preserve what they had available. The fact UP 119, CPPR 60, and UP 618 are still the stars of Utah's steam railroading scene is a testament to that legacy. While we all have missed this year the sound of their whistles blowing through the air, as their stacks chuff along the clanking of their running gear; we are waiting anxiously for their return.

-Jacob Lyman



Notes:
Currently Operational Steam Engines in the State of Utah:
UP 119 replica, CPPR 60 "Jupiter" replica (both stored operational, awaiting track repairs at site).

Current Steam Engine restoration projects in the State of Utah:
UP 618 (Heber), Great Western 75 (Heber), DRGW 223 (R&LHS Golden Spike Chapter).

Static Steam Engine Displays in Utah
Tooele Valley Railway #11 (Tooele), Columbia Steel #300 (ongoing cosmetic restoration, Heber), UP 833 (Ogden), UP 4436 (Ogden).

It is worth mentioning that Steam Locomotive Information also includes the two steam locomotives used at the Lagoon amusement park and the static locomotive there. Since those three locomotives are 24" Gauge, I don't personally consider them among the "steam engines in the state" because to include them also would require the admission of all the hobbyist locomotives in similar and smaller gauges used in backyard railroads to the list too. I really don't want to track down every backyard live steamer in the state and try and list it here. While we definitely admire the backyard hobby people who run their own steamers, their work would be better admired another time.

*The direct quotation of Mark and J. Joan Bassett is as follows, "The surviving locomotives and ore, freight, and passenger cars all share one trait - serendipitous luck. There is no reason why they should have survived, but they did." (Images of Rail: Nevada Northern Railway, p.118)

**My grandfather was prone to telling most of his stories with a strong opinion and a bit of exaggeration; so I haven't seen any other source other than his word suggesting Heber had actually brought moving equipment to Tooele to move #11 right away. However I haven't seen anything to disprove the notion either. My grandfather thanks to his job at Anaconda/ARCO in the 1980's had inside connections with old friends who relayed interesting behind the scenes stuff to him. For example one of the claims my grandfather made shortly before his death was that from his friends still in the mining industry; he had heard Kennecott/Rio Tinto's new Molybdenum mill at their smelter site was built and had yet to have been really used due to the market price of "Molly" falling shortly after completion. That and the landslide which hampered production at Bingham meant the new mill was sitting empty and unused. I took his word with a grain of salt, but sure enough in the summer of 2017 I drove past the Molybdenum mill and realized it was being demolished! Just as my grandfather had said, it was a wasted investment which wasn't used, and he died before he could see Kennecott biting the bullet and demolishing the failed $270 million dollar project. As such, I take a good portion of the claims he made as highly valid unless proven otherwise.

It is worth mentioning I have only been around UP 618 once when it was operating, as a young kid in the summer of 1997! It has been a long time indeed since I have last seen it.


Sources:
The Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad Company: Union Pacific's Historic Salt Lake Route (First edition); John R. Signor.

Walt Disney's Railroad Story; Michael Broggie.

Crossroads of the West: A Photographic Look at Fifty Years of Railroading in Utah; Blair Kooistra, James Belmont, Dave Gayer.

UtahRails.net
Heber Valley Historic Equipment
Tooele Valley Ry. Locomotives

National Park Service History on the Jupiter and UP 119 locomotives: https://www.nps.gov/gosp/learn/historyculture/upload/jupiter%202-2.pdf

Trains Magazine newswire article on UP 618's freight charter run in 2010:
http://cs.trains.com/trn/b/staff/archive/2010/02/18/union-pacific-2-8-0-no-618-makes-a-rare-appearance.aspx

UP 618 preparation for first steam up after retirement, December 1970:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10205676020445062&set=gm.767369343364272&type=3&theater&ifg=1

O'Connor Engineering Website with video film about the construction of the Golden Spike engines:
http://www.ocon.com/inside-oconnor/the-oconnor-story/


UP 618 builder's plate.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Ghosts of Arizona Route 66 and the Santa Fe Transcon - Part 3

We are near the end of my travels on the Mother Road for now, but rest assured, I am not finished.  There is so much more to explore and experience and as time and money permit, I will be picking up where I left off.  With that said, in this post, I will briefly touch on the third piece of the Route 66 experience.


This trip started a little differently than the last two in that instead of working east from our previous end point, we started on the eastern end of the leg and worked west.  We drove to Williams, AZ and stayed our first night in the Canyon Motel and RV Park in an authentic Santa Fe caboose.  The caboose was set up to sleep 6, but accommodations were tight for sure, but at least the beds were comfortable.
Our motel room for our first night stay in Williams, AZ.
Room one.  Room two is underneath the cupola and has a queen bunk bed.
My dad, my aunt, and my son hanging out on the platform of the caboose.  There
is a wood deck the length of the car along the back side, part of which can
be seen here.
Day two began with breakfast at a lovely restaurant in downtown Williams, followed by a trip to the old Santa Fe depot.  The depot was transferred to the Grand Canyon Railway when the line was reopened to the South Rim and has been beautifully restored.  We had plenty of time to explore the depot before our train departed for the canyon.  The grounds are well kept and look much the same as they did in Santa Fe days.
Williams Depot
Saginaw and Manistee Lumber Company Shay displayed out in front of the
Williams Depot.
View of the west end of the depot.  The passenger car parked to the left is
painted for the famous Polar Express.
Outdoor waiting area at the center of the depot building itself.
One of a few unique benches around the grounds.
Grand Canyon Railway #539 on display at the Williams Depot.

The train ride to the South Rim was certainly well worth the price of admission.  Our car was clean and comfortable and our car attendant was friendly as can be.
Doug, our car attendant.
The train strolled at a leisurely pace for the two hour ride to the canyon, taking us through some very striking scenery that displayed the stark contrast that is Arizona.  We started in the tall pine forests that surround Williams which quickly gave way to groves of much smaller pinion pines.  Soon we were in sagebrush territory that characterizes the open expanses of the high desert only to return to the pine forests that surround Grand Canyon National Park.
The tall ponderosa pines surrounding Williams, AZ.
A view of our trains power as it rounds a curve one of the pinion pine forests
along the line.
Along the line there are a couple of ruins of old Santa Fe section houses.  The Grand Canyon Railway made them uninhabitable when they took over the line to avoid having to pay property taxes on the buildings.  Vandals have taken their toll on the ruins that remained.
One of a couple of old Santa Fe section houses that were still standing along
the line.  The railroad made them uninhabitable, but left the walls to preserve
a small piece of the lines Santa Fe heritage.
Near the end of the line, I saw more relics from the Santa Fe days of the line, such as this low wooden bridge over a dry stream bed.
Small wooden bridge set on concrete piers and abutments over an intermittent
stream.  There were many of these bridges constructed on the northern end of
the line to combat the flooding that happens in Northern Arizona's monsoon
season.
Once at the canyon, we got off the train and immediately boarded a bus and headed for one of the lodges for a tasty buffet lunch.  We then got back on the bus for our tour of the canyon.  Our tour guide was a friendly gentleman by the name of Benjamin and kept the tour lively and entertaining.  The views of the canyon were breathtaking and awe-inspiring.
A quick photo from the bus of the steam locomotive that powered our train to
the South Rim.
 
 
The obligatory family photo with the canyon in the background.




We returned to the depot, which is the only log cabin depot in the country still in use as a depot, and waited to board our train back to Williams.
The former Santa Fe depot at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  It was built
around 1906 and serves passengers and tourist to the canyon to this very day.

The 1926 power plant built by the Santa Fe Railway to supply power to the park
and Grand Canyon Village.  It is no longer in use as a power plant, but retains
much of the original equipment inside.  It ceased operation in 1954 and the
smoke stack was demolished soon after.  Today, it houses storage and some
offices.
On the trip back, our train was 'robbed' by a rather comical pair of dunces.  The lawman chasing them didn't seem too worried as the would be crooks didn't realize that the would soon run out of train...lol!
Robbery in progress!
Help!  Somebody please help!

Our train for the return trip was powered by an ex-Amtrak FF40PH and a
historic Montreal Locomotive Works FPA-4.
The rest of the trip into Williams was uneventful, but the clouds that dominated much of the day finally started to clear.  We found our way to one of the local restaurants for a delicious dinner.  Afterwards, we checked into our motel and strolled through downtown Williams taking in the nightlife before we turned in for the night.
The El Rancho is the quintessential 1950s motel.
After a good night's rest, we checked out and headed west on what remained of Route 66 through Williams.  There were several old alignments of the highway west of town, but none are readily drivable as they all pass through National Forest land.  The portion that follows the current route of and subsequently replaced by Interstate 40, however, can still be driven.  Most of it was buried under portions of freeway, but there are stretches that were not used in the freeway construction and became frontage roads.  We drove to Ash Fork, Arizona where a portion of the old road survives as the main streets in town.  Here the road splits and the westbound lanes become Lewis Avenue and the eastbound lanes take the form of Park Avenue.  Something I discovered in my research of Route 66 is that the road actually had two alignments at the west end of town, which for such a small community is rather unusual.  The older alignment turned south at Pine Avenue and continued onto what are now the westbound lanes of Interstate 40.  The newer alignment continued west into a sweeping curve to the south and rejoined the previous alignment further west of town.  Continuing west, the original 1926 alignment turns to the southwest and drops down a hill before crossing Partridge Creek on a beautiful concrete bridge.
The 1926 Partridge Creek Bridge is still in use, but this portion of old Route
66 is now a local road to access a home on the hill at the other end of the
bridge.
Since the only access to this part of the road is from the west, we turned around and returned to the Crookton exit.  This exit is the eastern end of the longest contiguous stretch of remaining Route 66 in the country.  Instead of getting on the interstate to return to Kingman, we stayed on Route 66 to share the experience with my aunt, who joined us for this trip to see the Grand Canyon.  Next stop on our way home was Seligman, which is where we ended in part 2 of this blog.  Of course, no visit to Seligman is complete without a stop at the Snow Cap Drive In.  After we ordered, we went out to the patio to find out table and were pleasantly surprised to find some live entertainment.  After discovering that one of the entertainers was Angel Delgadillo, one of the founders of the Arizona Route 66 Foundation, I just had to meet the guy.  I got him to sign a dollar bill that I had in my pocket and had my dad take a picture of me with him.
Angel Delgadillo, famously known as one of the two men
that got the Route 66 preservation movement started, is
pictured here in the center with his nephew, Paul Alvarado
on the left.
Since we were now retracing our steps from our previous trip, we knew that a top at the Hackberry General store was in order to see if we could find our dollar bill.  We did, and it was nice to see a number of others have been added since then.
Our dollar bill from the previous trip has been joined by a number of other
bills from around the country and the world.
We continued on our way and made Kingman in no time at all, where we had planned to spend the night before returning home.  We checked into the El Trovatore, another classic Route 66 motel that has quite the history.  One thing I like about this motel is that you don't have to leave the property to watch trains.  The canyon behind the motel just so happens to have the Transcon running through it.
This was the door to our room.
This was painted on the building towards the back of the property.  I love the
eagle above it as well.  To the left of the eagle is a large tower that has the name
of the motel spelled out in neon lights.  The pink Route 66 shield is a modern
addition.
The mentioned in the previous photo at night.

BNSF intermodal train hot-footing it to the port of Long Beach.  This train
happened to have some NS power, including the Barcode Unit (#1111).
After we got checked in, we went to dinner at Dambar Steakhouse.  If you are ever in Kingman, this restaurant is a must.  The food is great and the prices are reasonable.  In addition, the staff are very friendly.


Of course, being in Kingman, I had to stop by the restored Santa Fe depot as well as pay a visit to the locomotive across from the Power House Museum.
Kingman Depot.
This was on the fence that Kingman installed during the restoration of the old
Santa Fe depot.  It is refreshing to see Kingman recognizing the historical
significance of the depot and the railroad.
and its history.
Santa Fe 3759.
Santa Fe 999520
This concludes my story about the ghosts of Route 66 and the Santa Fe Transcon.  I hope that you enjoyed the trip as much as I did writing about it and encourage you to make a similar trip of your own.  It is an experience that you will cherish while creating memories to last a lifetime.

- Matt Liverani