Friday, November 30, 2012

Starting Train Season in the High Desert

Yes, we are back at the tracks after the summer off. A few good trips to cooler climate over August kept us busy. Great railroads both, the Bittercreek and Western and the Portola Valley and Alpine. We made it out for the opener the weekend before Halloween. Bill Shepherd was already out, or should I say down from the north. He had worked on the 15 inch roundhouse, the campground water system pressure regulator and sectional shut off for the area, worked on the wall between the 7 1/2 inch engine house and the turntable, and moved the big boulder out of the way on the switchback tail; enabling the siding to be long enough for any train to pass on the switchback. Before we returned in two weeks he had moved all stored fill dirt back up the grade and started the rock retaining wall for the switchback tail track. He admitted to at least 100 loads up the grade. Whatever the count, a lot of work Bill. Thank You from all of us. That goes for all you do at the Railroad and Museum. The Rudy run was well attended by both the Narrow Gauge and the Standard Gauge folks. With over ten different engines and trains running throughout the weekend. The Barter Boys met in the middle again and ran pretty much all weekend, both the Ten Wheeler and the Shay. The GE's were present, both Allan Ratliff's and Gary Stites. Gary even ran his one day, it was a little cool over the weekend. Tolans brought out a bunch too, including Sumpter Valley #101, which the rest of the world knows as D&RGW #50. Paul Lavacot brought out Goose #6, The Thompsons were out in force and brought along C&S #13. Matt Z brought out the Juice Jack of his and ran it around. The Burns brought down RGS #41 down from Salinas, bringing along the JT caboose for all to see the continuing reworking and detailing of the museum car. I hope I didn't forget any, we all had a good time. The annual meeting produced the usual outcome. But the crowning part of the weekend had to be up on the mesa. The 15inch finished their unloading area and it unloaded four, yep I didn't stutter, four locomotives for the festivities. They need some track now. Brendon and Robert built quite a lift. Congratsulations guys job well done. Thanksgiving week the weather was very agreable, T-shirt weather in late November. Thursday not much happened other then deep frying three turkeys this year as the Burns family was in attendence too. Dinner was at 3:00 to facilitate the sun being invited to the gathering too. A feast was spread and no one left the table wanting for something more to eat. #41 was fired up most of the day and after dinner till after dark we enjoyed the temperarate temperature. Friday the dirt started flying. With the help of Brendons Bobcat and the need to move some dirt out of the area they were working above a pile was created at the old lift area. Transloading into five gallon buckets and the Yankee Girl Dumpcar; somehow affectionatly renamed over the weekend as the 'Little Girl', many a load preceeded up the high line to fill in behind that wall Bill Shepherd had made. The GE ran 15 buckets up by flat car and 41 pushed up 'Little Girl' and a flat car of buckets. Each roundtrip equaled 30 buckets up the hill. By Friday afternoon 20 feet of track had been extended and the final count on Saturday was 50 feet of new trackage. Quite a few visitors throughout the weekend stopped by, a few from RLS and even a stragler from BCWRR stopped in and were promptly shown how the bucket brigade worked. Fun was had by all and the fruits of our labor showed. Work is progressing well and with a new source of fill dirt when we need it the upper switchback should be to the end of grade real soon. Continuing fill work on the tailtrack can proceed as and when we have the trains. And the rumor of work on the Engine House is true. We should have the front face in place by March and Bill can proceed with the wood work then. I'll put a link to photos and a movie down here at the bottom and a promise to be a little more expediant on posting for the new year. See you at the tracks, Brian
Joshua Tree, Thanksgiving Run 11-22-2012