Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving Weekend amongst the Joshua Trees.

Thanksgiving at Joshua Tree can be a weather crap shoot. Bet on cold, or colder. But the days can be nice too. Wednesday was COLD, Thursday was chilly with frost on things in the morning and was okay till about 3:00, then it cooled off again. Friday we wore the fire barrel out putting fuel into it. Even had a snow flurry or two, flakes that is. Saturday was great and we thawed out. Sunday was a bit warmer.
Attendance was decent for the holiday that it was. We didn't expect many and we weren't disappointed. George Lavacot rolled in Friday and spent the day with us. A pleasant surprise as he does live in Oregon. It was even a bit chilly for him too. Leone and Larry Fisher came out Saturday and spent the day, He took a couple of neat videos of their trip up the high line on Allan Ratliff's train. Allan's caboose, West Side Lumber #4, is star of the show in the first one as they back up the grade, enjoy them for their unique perspective and view.

  Bill Shepherd and Mary re-arrived and Bill is busy already on a few projects about the place. We had two trains running at times, The GE 47 tonner and JTSRR #7 ran a bit.
We moved rocks out of a campsite down to John Griffins wall project and even took rock down from the rock breaking project at the end of track down to the wall project on the Station curve.
 We'll be out again after Christmas to enjoy the New Year. The trestle portion of the high line should get a kick start then, looking forward to it, see you there.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

2015 Rudy Run at Joshua Tree

Veterans Day weekend is our annual Fall Meet, or as it has been for a number of years now in honor of Rudy Van Wingen, the Rudy Run. There was a picture that surfaced showing Rudy's C&S #10 with a couple of cars behind, on the section of the upper loop where the old unloading track switch is. The unloading track was also the steaming bay as seen in the picture the paraphernalia around the area. November 1981 is the date on the old slide. A young Greg Ratliff as engineer and Allan Ratliff riding shotgun. This was the weekend that the Big Rock in Big Rock was blasted and the track only at the time reached to either end of the boulder as it impeded progress. Our first Fall Meet at Joshua Tree.
  Fast forward a few years and down to the current site of the steaming bays and the view changes quite a bit. Over the years the Meet has grown and this year was no exception.
Over twenty pieces of motive power and 60 plus cars & cabooses on the line. Things started happening Wednesday this year and went on in some manner till Tuesday making the meet or for some the trip to Joshua Tree a week long affair these days.
 The weather was cool Wednesday and Thursday, warming quite nicely for Friday and Saturday. The breeze kicked in Saturday night and Sunday it calmed down to acceptable for the most part. The Sun played peekaboo in the afternoon and deteriorated to a rain by nightfall Sunday. Running the full gamut of conditions as the high desert can do. Non running visitors were light on Saturday and upon returning home to the Southland one learned the weather down below was not as nice as up in the desert.
 Ray and Becky Bjerrum brought out the South Park 2-8-0 for its first trip down here. It is a beautiful sight to see and Ray said it ran great up the hill as well as control down the hill when they ran up the high line over the weekend. RGS 41 made it down from Salinas and the whole Burns Family with it. Ron and Peter flew down and enjoyed the quick trip, letting Anthony do the driving as he brought down C&S 10 from Portola Valley along with a trailer full of rolling stock. Good to see 10 back on her old home rails. Maywald's had RGS 20 running, Mike Thompson spent the weekend with the Mich-Cal Shay pulling the family. The Barters met in the middle, John showing off his new 2-8-0 which still is sans tender, but it interchanges with the ten wheeler tender easily. Both engines did run at different times. Steve Nelson and his C-21 with a string of cars made it from Tucson. Eber West has his West Valley Consolidation to round out the 2-8-0 list of all sizes. Erin Swain rolled out his 2-6-0 J.W. Sessums a Mogul that has been slowly transforming into a really nice looking engine, he's hoping to get the tender finished soon. The Davenport list is long, JT&S #7 under the eye of Matt Z. ran all over the place and often. John Barter had his 50 too. Burns had their Construction motor going, Art Barter ran his Pacific Electric Juice Jack with cars that he and his new bride picked up in Washington on their Honeymoon, congrats on both. Stites and Allan Ratliff covered GE with both their 47tonners. The list goes on and like said before, over twenty engines. Quite a growth from the old days.....

A few more pictures got added to the picasa site. for a few pictures of the weekend, Thanks Anthony, Erin, Matt, John and Allan for their pictures

Next time out is Thanksgiving Weekend for the Turkey Run. If you get the chance, come on out.


Monday, November 2, 2015

2015 Opener Weekend October 31, November 1

After a Summer off and away from the railroad, the vacation is over. A weekend to make sure everything is operable and ready for visitors in two weeks. That is what this last weekend used to be. With our faithful and ever-present Summer crew the weeds that would be six foot tall in the middle of the track never get a chance to grow that high. The rodent burrows never hollow out the embankments and need refilling to be able to get a train over the line. The switches all are blown out and work as they should. And the grading project up on the hill has progressed miraculously over the months that us lowlanders have been away.  
 So the Opener weekend is a chance to catch up on the progress and run a train or two around for the weekend. and we did just that. I got a message that John Griffin sent me that Bill Shepherd was back in town. Bill will be in town for a short while and it afforded him a chance to bring his iron teepee with him. A good place to sleep is always in order. Saturday when I met up with him he had a good start on where he had finished up last Spring; the last of the rock work before we get into the trestle district on the High Line.  John Griffin has done and has almost completely made the Gibraltar Boulders disappear from their locations of in the way on the High Line as well. Another good seventy five feet of grade is ready for track to be laid on our march up the hill. John's tenacity for boulder busting has to be commended. He tried a few new tricks this Summer that he said improved his ability to get things accomplished.
 Greg and Becky rolled into camp mid afternoon and Colette was right there with them. Matt made his trek up from Chula Vista. A train could be seen crossing the grade crossing as Shelli and I rolled in about 9:00 Friday night to round out the arrivals. A warm night and the new fire stack wasn't getting much of a break in burn on the no rust coating they come with. Jerry McPheeters picked up a new stack from our steel guy, Vagabond, as the old one didn't survive a Spring Unwanted Rapid Air Movement. The Picnic Shelter fire barrel is back in operation if and when it gets chilly.
 The #7 came home to stay after Matt with some help from Greg pretty much completed the transformation of her into a really nice and useful piece of equipment. She was run at three different railroads to test her ability and utility over the past season. Quite a transformation since October, 2012 when Matt and Greg started the project.
 Art Barter rolled in on Saturday morning with his new engine and spent the weekend too. Saturday we had three trains operating mid day and all went smoothly. The weather cooperated all weekend, and it was just like baby bears porridge, just right.
Saturday being Halloween the ladies had a pumpkin carving contest and the jack o lanterns were very interesting and varied in sizes and decoration. A fun time was had by all who attended and we are looking forward to the Rudy Run in two weeks. Hope to see you there, any questions you can certainly contact the 7 1/2" Project Supervisor at