Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A busy season so far

Yes, we are alive out here At Joshua Tree. Things do and can get in the way and there has been plenty of that around here. October we had the opener and most of the things that used to be a big problem never grow into them as local Resident John Griffin keeps a handle on the weeds and washouts as they happen over the Summer.
November was the Rudy Run and we had quite a few people and trains running over the weekend and a few days before too. Work was started on the second track into the station. The switch and thirty feet of track have been in the ground and waiting for many a year, it was time to alleviate that bottle neck and finish it off. The eager crew put in 160 feet of track panels that Paul Westover had been making in his spare time around his home.
And over the Thanksgiving Weekend the switch was built to tie it into the number one station track. A re-working of the upper switch to this affair makes the new approach to the station up around the curve with a left hand approach, an opportunity to go either side of the station when the freight siding in put in later. The trains leaving the station are on the left track going up and can work their way to the upper switch without fouling the mainline till then. Allowing trains to better see traffic coming down the grade from Horseshoe.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Quick Trip Out, January 21,2017

With an unfinished and important project, something that really should not go unattended for yet another month. A quick 'speed run' was put together to finish the securing of the car barn against further vermin. Allan, Greg and I got to ride in Matt's new truck for the trip out.
As with all quick one morning trips, a stop at Joshua Tree's Country Kitchen for a good meal is on the docket. Upon first entering one can detect a change in the d├ęcor. The hostess was not the same as it has been for the last 25 plus years, different hanging upon the wall, etc, lead one to notice the subtle change. It was true, the Cambodian Lady who had ran this little corner of Joshua Tree for oh so many years, had indeed retired in September and the new owner was keeping the same recipes and the same cook too. The meal was the same great, filling, tasty treat to the gullet it had always been. Enjoy your retirement.
After breakfast we headed up the Boulevard to the railroad, as we turned up Willow we could see a big vehicle turning unto the road ahead. A flatbed tow truck with but what could it be? An icon of the neighborhood was perched upon the bed of the truck. For those that peeked into the yards of the neighbors as one slowly ambled up the dirt road, going slow enough as to not upset the contents of the vehicle you are driving. One saw many things from a time long past. The neon signs that glowed at night from the neighbor to the West of the road about the first knob. In the day time you could make out a few relics of the highway that graced a flat spot or two about his property. One was a 1942-1947 Ford truck that was the frame for an early RV. As an owner of a 47 Ford 1ton it always caught my eye for rust and relics. And here it was leaving the area. We had to pull over as for it to pass so here was my last and final chance to see it up close. Out the truck I was as the others only shook their heads in my antics. A quick talk to the driver and to the new owner in the older Chevy Suburban that followed the Ford. It was going to Palm Springs to be refurbished and hopefully restored to operable. It's original motor had long ago been replaced by a bigger motor years before it had been banished to the yard of nonoperation. Good luck in your endeavors, hope to see it sometime on my travels.
Finally we made it to the tracks and the reason for the trip.  Traps were set last Sunday and the caught rodents were 'relocated' to outside of the car barn.
The removal of the stored cars was first in the list of things to do as we needed to be able to get to the eaves from the inside to put up the wire mesh, so aptly named Vermin Wire. Once the rolling stock was clear of the barn a thorough inspection noted, no more critters.

Measurements and installation of the wire mesh was conducted , one opening at a time. Care to be completely closing of the area as a rodent only need get their head into the space and their whole body will follow. Measure, cut, fold, trim, staple, next.....John Griffin was out and took a few pictures as well as did Allan Ratliff of the project.
Soon enough we had the wire installed, put all the rolling stock back in, visited a bit and off down the road. A quick little project. 400 miles on the new truck, five people, 36 man hours, one rodent secure building, keep the doors shut.

A Great January Weekend, Mid Winter Run, 13-16, 2017

The weatherman from Cupertino said it would rain all Friday Afternoon. Allan went out early Thursday and was enjoying the rain, it rained 13 hours, an even soaking rain that the desert needed. The only runoff had been from the hard packed roads. Areas have been getting little tufts of green starting to sprout up on clear warmer days. The desert is coming back from a drought, soaking up as much as it can, not letting much run away.
 Shelli and I left the big city around 2 and it started sprinkling about UCR and it was intermittents all the way to Beaumont when I had to go to slow on the wipers. The Morongo's and the Great Spirit hadn't made a deal to where the clouds disappeared at the Casino like usual. It just rained a little heavier and it rained as we came up the grades into Yucca Valley. A store stop for the essentials and up to the tracks. As we hit the dirt road, the rain ceased, there would be but a few sprinkles from then on. What a great beginning to an enjoyable weekend. You missed it.
 The fire barrel got a work out as Colette Gordon, Greg and Becky Ratliff, Allan and Shelli and I made for a great turnout. The Tolan Family, Kevin, Lori Jeff, Tiphani and Sully, rolled in Saturday morning for a day of adventure, they were not disappointed.
 Saturday was a good day to enjoy the day. The morning saw the last of the clouds vanish as they do out there. As I was just about fired up Jeff came down to the steaming bays and I handed of the operation of the 4-4-0 to him for the day. It was nice to see it from a different perspective, alongside track instead of on it. I know he had a good time as well. We did spend some time in the car barn investigating the vermin problem, we rolled the rolling stock out of the way and made sure we could see into the corners and cracks to find the nest. We discovered the entries and made arrangements for a quick turn around the next weekend to finish and secure the car barn from future infestations. We had a problem with rodents in the Tedder shed and did not want this to become another problem like that had become before we got the upper hand. Jerry McPheeters ran the Motor car around as did Greg on #7, Allan's GE made it's first run since last Spring and it didn't take long to get the bugs ran out of it. John Griffin had been busy during the off days and the switches and roadbed were superb.
In the afternoon the adventurous made a trek up the high line to do a little survey work. An eye opening afternoon with all the numbers openly displayed for what would be needed for a grade to where we would like to be. Jeff' and Tiphani's schooling is paying off for the railroad.
 Saturday night Steak Night was a well attended event as a culmination of a great day at the railroad.
Sunday morning dawned much warmer than Saturday. Back to the steaming bays to fire up the American, this day I would be running. It warmed up to t-shirt weather quickly and as per some unwritten plan, it is always nicest on the day you have to leave. A small group but we got a few things accomplished that needed to be done. Allan spent Monday and cleaned up the rodent issues at the patio area. It is looking nice. As the only dry spot around the wrong folks were trying to move in.
Coming up next month in February is the Standard Gauge Meet, the 17-19 of the month. It is also President Weekend so those might have an extra day on Monday if the employer so states. Plan on making it a weekend, now is the time out in the High Desert, things are going to green up early this year as they are trying to now. So you then. A link to some picture from the weekend here at: Hope you enjoy them. See you next time.

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Years Weekend at Joshua Tree, December 30, 2016-January 2, 2017

With the old year winding down and anticipation for the new one. It was time to head out for some decompression therapy. It looked like it was going to be a small and close group out for the weekend and it was. John Griffin was cleaning up in anticipation of the crowd when Colette Gordon showed up followed closely by Allan Ratliff. Greg and Becky were a close third having traveled the furthest as they left Ventura in the morning. Shelli and I got in after dark but in time for a change in plans and Steak Night was moved to Friday. The weather wasn't too cold and the fire felt pretty good.
  Saturday it was cloudy but the Sun shone through most of the day and operating trains was quite enjoyable.
Greg was running JT&S #7 and a string of flats, The Tolan Family rolled out for the weekend and brought along Rusty the Davenport #50, Jerry McPheeters put in time on the Edwards Motor Bus and I put a few buckets of coal across the grates on the 4-4-0. We had visitors up from Chula Vista; David Dull and Ron Atkinson brought up a pickup truck load of firewood, a quick unload and they were free to visit and look around the rest of the day. John Griffin even made it out Saturday for a rare weekend appearance. John has been doing grading down on the Thompson end of the railroad, making our dirt pile just east of the station grow smaller and smaller.
  Saturday night being New Years Eve we had appetizers for an ongoing dinner instead of one sitting. All was doing good and we were many courses into the dinning experience when the clouds decided to grace us with rainfall. It came down pretty steady for a hour or so, maybe half an inch or so. I took my usual early night, and the revelers didn't make that much noise when the ball dropped.
 Sunday dawned a pretty nice morning and soon it was up and running around the railroad. we had four trains running during the morning till it was time to start packing it up for those that needed to head homeward on Sunday afternoon.
  The recent rains and the amount we received Saturday night are a welcome sight. The water table surely needs it and this Springs Wildflowers should be a sight to see.  It still is early in the rainfall season, the washes have not ran up there yet. It wouldn't take too much more of a good cloudburst in the right places to make that happen. It has happened in other places throughout the High Desert, we'll just wait our turn.
  We didn't get much work done as there wasn't any attendance. Some weekends are just best to be run weekends and that is what happened. You are always welcome to bring the equipment to run and we just might find a bucket or two for you to haul someplace.
The pictures from this weekend are on a different sharing system, my beloved Picasa was gobbled up by Google a few years ago and is now completely taken over by Google. I'll get used to it. Somehow when they say it is easier they didn't mean by the end user. I need to go through and change the links to any pictures in previous posts so they can still be seen. Hope you find them okay, and if you don't leave me a message and I'll figure it out.
The links for this weekends pictures should be:

We will be out in two weeks for the Mid Winter Weekend, see you there.

Dona Lynn Ratliff

On December 27, 2016 Dona Lynn Ratliff passed on from this life. Allan and Lynn were a fixture at Joshua Tree and Southern Railroad & Museum from the very start of the 7 1/2" railroad at Joshua Tree. In 1980 there was not a lot of railroad when they first saw it. From the old unloading area up to a switch and back down to just past the upper railroad crossing. Allan bought in, as one had to do to be a full member in the old Joel Tedder days,  paying up past years dues, to be on equal footing. True it wasn't as much back then as it would be to do now after almost forty years.                                     
The early days was full of characters up in Joshua Tree and Allan and Lynn along with the rest of the family of Brian, Judy and Greg found a place that was very dear to them. Allan served on the board of directors for a time. The board of Directors was really a paper tiger back then in the days when Joel was alive, we used to call it Joel Tedder and Slaves for JT & S, it was Joel's way or the Highway, but things got done and they wouldn't be what they are today without those early day's of a somewhat benevolent dictator in charge.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Lynn liked the time when it was quiet out at the railroad, the few days before and after the event weekends. She could put out seed for the birds and small animals, the Jays knew the trailer by sight and even this weekend were clamoring around as Allan was setting it up waiting for a handout of peanuts to hide somewhere among the sand and Joshua Trees. The small birds always got a loaf or two of bread over the time Lynn was there to feed on, quarrel over and all the other things birds do. When it was quiet around camp Lynn would enjoy the squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits that came in closer to feed on the bounty. In the morning and evening the water bowl attracted animals of all sizes for a drink. In the warmer months at night one could hear the Toads croaking away the warm evenings. Lynn loved the smaller creatures of the world, if one did not know what variety a bird was, a bird spotters guide was surely in the trailer for reference, as well as plant guides for the flora, there was even reference for the other fauna of the North American landscape. All her knowledge of flora and fauna trickled down to us kids, we all picked up some of it, but not like Mom knew it.            
Lynn's statement to Allan when in 1972 they discovered Live Steam in a newspaper article about the railroad club in Riverside just a small drive from the Corona home; that 'this could be a hobby the whole family could enjoy" fostered a hobby to this day holds the whole family together, at least the boys.                                                                                                                                                      
Allan and Lynn were married 57 years as of this past October, raised four children; Carol Lynn, Brian Allan, Judy Ann and Gregory Todd.  There are seven grand children and many great grandchildren. Allan and Lynn called Corona their home for 47 years, the same house, a great and memorable way to raise a family. They loved to travel and when raising the family always made time for a family vacation and many weekend camping trips a year. After the children grew up and they had more free time vacations or trips after retirement grew longer as the places they wanted to see were further away. Traveling to other Live Steam facilities was on the list of activities as well. Visiting tracks in Texas yearly as well as in California and Oregon. Lynn asked that there be no service, as she wishes there will not be one. But, she didn't say we couldn't get together and enjoy the camaraderie and reminisce about times and travels and people and places seen. So when we meet we will do that.                                                                                   
Dona Lynn Ratliff  10/10/1937-12/27/2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Could it happen again?

Twelve years ago this weekend we had a pleasant Thanksgiving surprise. Could it happen again?
The Station in a coating of snow

Clearing the Station Tracks

Greg clearing the High Line

Now Dad could get around in the Plymouth

The snowplow fits all the Pomona South Riverside & Elsinore engines.
Only one way to find out. See you there.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Rudy Run, November 2016

Usually, the weather breaks between the Opener and the Rudy Run. T-shirt weather the first weekend , and where did I leave my jacket weather the next. Not so, this past weekend out here at the tracks. Friday's temperature was down right toasty and Saturday was just a bit cooler. It made for some real enjoyable times for the annual Rudy Run.
The people and trains started to come in early, Thursday, the crew from Salinas showed up. The Burns and RGS 41 with their trailer full of train. And from the other direction Steve Nelson and his bevy of rolling stock and C-21 loaded in his trailer. By the time Friday afternoon had rolled around when we showed up; The Thompsons were in with C&S 13 and the Swain's had The Fitchburg, the Davenport and the peddle things out and about. Friday rolled around to Saturday.
Another beautiful day and it was not lost on activity either. My 4-4-0 polished a rail or two. Jerry McPheeters ran the Edwards Passenger Motor and Matt Z. with JT&S 7 ran and ran to add to the list. The Maywald's were out for the weekend sans engine but not without enjoying the time anyway. Mike Thompson had a few long time friends out for the enjoyment, as usual for me, I forgot their names right after introductions. The Stites' were out albeit briefly to the tracks, always good to see Gary and Margaret. His Caboose project is quite a sight to see. Allan Ratliff was out for a visit in the morning Saturday, it sure is different not having him and Lynn first in and last out around here. Plenty of other folks out for a day to see things and people.
A good time all day and into the afternoon with plenty of action to keep one entertained. With the time change the week before instead of this weekend, it was all too soon before it became Steak Night. I counted over twenty five around at one time while grilling steaks, it looked like everybody was having fun.
Sunday was a little light on operations as the Annual Meeting keeps everyone occupied for most of the morning. But it picked up a bit before everybody started to pack it up for another time. All in all a great weekend with outstanding cooperation from the weather and plenty of railroading fun. See you Thanksgiving Weekend for the Turkey Run.