Wasatch Willey’s Western Rail Tours train is in charter service on the Consolidated South Western Railroad (CSWRR). Here we see the train passing through Keenbrook on its way to San Bernardino. Join with me now to enjoy this totally fictitious story of a imaginary railroad adventure which is based on real locations. All locations except for Weber are located on the Santa Fe lines between Needles and Los Angeles. Weber is located in Northern Utah on the UP. None of the names used have any connection to real people and were chosen for there entertaining character.
How it all started.
Wasatch Willey is a friendly old cuss and railfan, who just sits on his front porch thinking about the good old days while taking pictures and watching the trains roll by. Willey lives near the town of Weber, Utah less then a stones throw from the UP main line through the Wasatch Mountains. Willey remembers when the well polished varnish of such trains as the City Streamliners, Super Chief and Broadway Limited was the “way to travel”. Ah, if we could just bring those good old days back.
Late last fall, Willey decided that he wanted to visit with his old friend and railfan buddy, Bagdad Bob. Bob lives in California, several hundred miles to the south, overlooking the Santa Fe Needles Subdivision, at Bagdad, California. Bagdad had without a doubt seen better days as today there is nothing left except a railroad sign reading Bagdad, Bobs house and a short spur where several old passenger cars were parked. It was Bob’s great uncle who many years in the past secretly hauled many old tires up into the dormant Amboy Volcano Crater, then one day lit them on fire. The smoke created quite a local stir.
Willey having traveled for several days in his old red pickup truck and stopping only to take pictures of trains was glad to finally get to Bob’s place. Bob’s house was real easy to find as it was track side with a great view of the railroad and the only house for miles around.
The meeting of the two old railfan buddies was a very joyous occasion and there was a lot of reminiscing to do. For the next several days they simply enjoyed talking about the past, taking pictures and watching the trains roll by, one about every 15 minutes. On about the fourth day, or was it the fifth, oh well, the talk finally got around to the passenger cars parked on the Bagdad siding.
Willey asked, “Hey Bob, what’s the deal on the 3 cars parked down there?” Bob answered, “well they are mine, I picked-em up several years ago when the Santa Fe was selling them off real cheap.” “I always wanted to have a train of my own, but haven’t been able to find an engine to pull it.” Willey’s response was only “Hummmm”
For the next several days the train traffic was very heavy and there was no discussion about the cars until one day Willey asked, “Hey Bob what would you say if we found an engine to pull the cars. What would you say if we got into the tourist business”. “Ah, Willey, where are you going to find an engine to pull the cars?” Willey’s answer was, “let’s see what we can find.”
Early the next morning, Bob and Willey piled into Willey’s red pickup and drove over to have a talk with Amboy Al. Al suggested that they contact Jesus’ (Hey-sus) down in Mexicali, who recycles old locomotives.
Just two months later, the Cadiz Turn slowed to a stop and set out a PA and PB locomotive painted in the red and silver war bonnet paint scheme. The Locomotives came complete with dingle-dangle balls in the windows.
Early the next morning the old railfans drove the 7 miles over to Siberia to visit Sam. Once again it took several days for the three to catch up on all the events of the past few years. Then finally, Willey asked Sam, “Hey Sam, we have a couple of old Alco PA’s which we would like to use to pull our tourist train. The problem is that the prime movers are shot.” “Yea, I saw them go by here a couple days ago DIC (Dead In Consist) and was wondering where they were going.” “I almost chased them, but figured they were heading for Saint Louis or Chicago.” “Well, let me come over and take a look.”
Several days later Sam drove over to Bagdad and spent several hours crawling around the old engines. “Well, the prime movers are shot and need to be rebuilt. The rest of the engines are not in too bad a shape, you just need to rebuild the 244’s.” “So, Sam, what can we do? Where can we get the parts to rebuild an Alco 244?” “Let me work on it.”
Three weeks to the day later, the Cadiz Local once again slowed to a stop and a flat car with two large crates was setout.
The passenger cars consisted of two chair and one observation car, and all were in need of a major clean-up. For this task, our three railfan buddies contacted Klondike Kate and her twin sister, Duplakate.
Within days, the railfan train was ready for a road test. Sam fired up the two PA’s and checked out everything. “Hey Willey, are we ready to give it a road test?” “Yeh, go for it.” “OK.” “Dispatcher, this is Ol’ 75. We need permission to enter the North Main at Bagdad and go East to Amboy for a road test.” “This is Chief Dispatcher High Green. You are who and what do you want???” “Ya, this is Ol’ 75 and we need to go to Amboy for a road test.” “Man, I don’t know who you are or what you are, but I have no 75 on my roster. Go away and don’t bother me. Dispatcher out.” “OK guys, so what do we do now?” “Shut them down Bob, and let me see what I can do.”
Late that night, Willey was over in Amboy and on the phone discussing the problem with several of his old railfan friends trying to work out a solution. Early the next morning, several High Rail trucks pulled up next to the train and within minutes, an inspection crew was climbing all over the cars and engines like fleas on a dog. An hour later, all the papers were signed off and Chief Dispatcher High Green had been informed that the train, with engine 75 was ready for service.
The next day, Sam returned and for the next several months the three old railfans worked on the two engines. First one, then the other returned to life. The black smoke and rumph-rumph-rumph of an Alco was a sight and sound to behold. A sight, sound and smell that would warm the heart of any old railfan.
A pilot engineer was provided, permission to enter the Main was once again requested and within minutes Willey opened the throttle to ease the train out on the Main.
The Fuel Problem.
Early the next morning, Bob and Willey were checking out the Alco’s. Bob checked the fuel tanks then yelled up to Willey in the cab “Hey Willey, both fuel tanks are just about empty.” Willey said “Bob, give Hog Halverson a call and order up more fuel.” Bob’s reply was “Willey, we are almost broke and we don’t have any cash to pay for any fuel.” Actually, they were already in debt up to their ears.
For the next several days Willey and Bob just sat on the porch and once again watched the train’s wiz past. Traffic was real busy and our friends were once again occupied with their train watching. Then one afternoon, the Cadiz Local once again slowed to a stop and setout a tank car. When asked what was wrong with the car, the crew answered that it was some terrible smelling gas and they just had to set it out. Wow, it did stink. Bob and Willey could hardly wait to get away from the tank car and back up to Bobs house.
Early the next morning, there was a knock on Bob’s door and there stood some kid who was in his early 20’s. Bob asked “can I help you, what do you want?” The kid replied “Hi, my name is Zeb and I am heading back to Mooselip up in Alaska, and I have been to college learning to be a chemist.” “I was wondering what was in the tank car, could it be Westfir natural gas from Big Bertha up in Oregon?” Willey replied “I don’t know, check the lading” “And what if it is?” The kid replied “Oh, that stuff when mixed with old crankcase oil and old tires, then heated to 329.5 degrees F, and distilled will produce some of the finest diesel fuel you can find.” “It would be a real find if you had some of that gas.” Willey asked “how do you know that?” The kid replied “I just learned about all that in college.” “I studied chemistry so I could help my Pops with his still up in Mooselip Alaska.
Train crews had problems keeping the tank car loaded with Big Bertha’s Natural Gas from Westfir Ore. on the track. Not only did it want to float away, it also had a horrible smell.
The next morning, Willey got everyone out picking up old tires along Interstate 40 and loading up on old oil from where ever they could find any. Within a week or so, our friends had collected more old tires and old oil to make up the first batch of fuel. But, they needed a moonshine still to make it all work. Zeb asked Bob, “Where can we find a still?” Bob replied, “well, we can try the old shiner over in Newberry Springs and see if we can borrow his.” So they piled into Willey’s pickup once more and went over to Newberry Springs. As the shiner was kind of hidden to avoid unexpected visits from the revenuer’s, it took our friends some time to find the still. After finding the still, it took a lot of convincing to borrow it, but finally the shiner gave in when promised a cab ride on the train. The next day all was ready, the still was fired up and the “raw materials” were loaded in. The still gurgled and gurgled for several hours, then when the natural gas was introduced, a yellowish liquid started dripping out. By the end of the day, our friends had some of the most potent diesel fuel ever produced. The locomotive fuel tanks were once again filled to capacity and Willey’s train was once again ready for service.
Willey wasted no time putting the Special Train on the road. Just a week or so later, Willey heard that the Consolidated South Western Railroad which operated the line from Barstow to LA was having a two day Open House. After a demonstration run or two, the Special was ready to give today’s Railfans a sample of riding and seeing the sight’s and sounds of Passenger trains from just a few decades in the past.
Willey’s first Charter, the Consolidated South Western Railroad’s 2005 Open House.
The day after Willey notified the Consolidated South Western Railroad, he received a telegram that a CSWRR Official would be visiting Bagdad to check out Willey’s train. Later that day, the Cadiz Turn stopped and set out a very short Business Car called the Alaska. A rather pudgy gentleman stepped out on the back platform and invited Willey and Bob to come in for a conference. Inside the car, the gentleman introduced himself as the Prez and asked if Willey and Bob would operate a charter for the CSWRR Open House. Within minutes, an agreement was reached; the men shook hands and signed the necessary contracts. Shortly there after, on its return, the Cadiz Turn picked up the Business Car and departed west.
That evening, Willey called a meeting of the group which included Bob, Sam, Al, Kate and her twin sister Duplakate. Willey said that “we need to have a cooperation”. Bob replied, “Oh no, you mean, corporation.” Willey replied, “no, I mean cooperation, we need to cooperate”. Under the terms of the cooperation, Willey was to be the Engineer, Bob the Conductor, Kate and Duplakate would be the hostesses and Al would operate the snack bar. All agreed, shook hands and the cooperation was formed.
The following morning, Willey and Bob called the Dispatcher and shortly thereafter were headed west to Barstow. Upon arriving at Barstow, their Special Train was routed to the CSWRR’s engine facility where Willey and Bob were to be certified, Willey as an Engineer and Bob as a Conductor. Road Forman of Engines Casey Jones, asked Willey to show how to blow the horn. After Willey pulled the rope and the horn sounded with a loud blast, Willey received his certification. Bob was then asked to give the all-aboard. At first, he did not put enough emphasis on the board, but after a little practice, he had it, all-a-BOARD. Bob was then certified.
Next, the Chief Mechanical Officer Buster Knuckle informed them that the mechanical certification would require a road trip and that part of the inspection crew was in San Bernardino. Willey replied “let’s get going” and within minutes the Special was heading west for San Bernardino. With Willey at the throttle, the two PA’s had no problem handling the three cars over the pass and at speeds attained only by the passenger trains of the past. At San Bernardino, the Special was turned at West Yard Tower for the return trip. Willey was informed that he was to pick up a “Party Car” with “Company Inspectors” at the Depot for the return trip to Barstow. The car was loaded with about 50 “Inspectors” and shortly there after the Special was heading up the pass. As on the west bound trip, the PA’s had no problem east bound with the steeper grades. Upon arrival in Barstow, all the equipment was certified and ready for the CSWRR’s Open House which would start the next day.
The Party Car with the “Inspection Crew” is waiting at the depot to be picked up for the return trip to Barstow. In the center of the picture we see the statue honoring the Prez.
Having turned the Special and picked up the Party Car, Willey gets a High Ball from the tower and notches the throttle out. The two Alco 244 prime movers gave the special 4000 horse power and with Zeb’s special fuel, there was none of the typical Alco black smoke.
Early the next morning, at precisely 10 AM, the Special departed Barstow with a full load of passengers and the Party Car. As on the previous trip, the train worked flawlessly, however about a mile east of Cajon Station, Willey encountered something he did not expect. “Bang” a torpedo shook the entire engine, Willey shut the engines down, acknowledged with a blast on the horn and applied the brakes. Easing the Special into Cajon Station, Willey found the “Short Business Car” that had visited him at Bagdad only a few days earlier. This time, the Prez was standing by the car which was parked in the middle of the track, demanding that his car be added to the rear end of the Special. After conferring with the Dispatcher who advised Willey that he had better comply, the car was picked up and the special departed Cajon Station.
The Prez is flagging the special to have his Business Car; the Alaska picked up on the rear of the Special.
The Special is under the lime conveyer departing Cajon Station with the Business Car Alaska on the rear.
Throughout the day, The Wasatch Willey’s Western Rail Tours Special put on a spectacular show. Every trip was filled to capacity while the highways were nearly gridlocked with picture takers and onlookers. Shown above, the Special is crossing the SP main line at Colton while in the foreground we see one of Arnold’s world famous drive-ins.
Train riders were treated to many of the local attractions along the right of way. Shown above, the Special is passing the last surviving Parent Navel Orange tree.
Over the two days of the CSWRR Open House numerous trips were made between Hobart and Barstow. Shown above we see the 75 easing its train down grade through Devore. In the background we see cattle grazing and through the trees we see sunbathers by the pool at the Nature Lovers Resort.
Visitor’s young and old had the opportunity to run one of the many trains, including Willey’s train which performed flawlessly throughout the Open House. By Sunday evening, all the crews were tired and the Willey’s Special was parked in the Barstow yard.
The following Monday morning, Willey thanked the crew and with Willey at the throttle, Bob as conductor, the train headed east for Bagdad. Taking the north track at Ash Hill, the train stopped at Klondike to let the twins off, then made a stop at Siberia to let Sam off before returning to Bagdad. The train was parked in the siding, everything was shut down. Willey and Bob trudged up to Bob’s place for some much needed rest. It had been a long and exciting weekend. After a couple days, Willey informed Bob that fall was coming on and it was time for him to head back home to the Wasatch.
Early the next morning Willey loaded up his red pickup and headed east on old Route 66, then after taking a bunch of pictures at Needles headed north on 95 to home. After many stops along the way to take train pictures, Willey arrived back in Webber where he stopped to pickup some grub supplies. Soon he was back home and after evicting a couple of squirrels he settled back into his cabin.
So what is next for the Wasatch Willey’s Western Rail Tours?
Cameras were clicking as the Alco’s belched their black smoke; the Special was heading east toward Amboy at track speed. This road test proved that “Wasatch Willey’s Western Rail Tours” train was ready for service.
Willey and Bob were elated beyond words. “We’ve got not one, but two engines to pull our train.” Unfortunately, their joy was short lived when they found that the Alco 244 prime movers in both engines would not start and were in bad shape. What to do?
The two old railfans sat in front of Bob’s house for the next several days taking some pictures and watching the trains roll by. Then Bob had a great idea, “Let’s go talk with Old Sam over in Siberia. He used ta work on train engines all the time and kept them running.” “Sam, you mean old Sam who we used to railfan with on Cajon now lives over in Siberia.” “Oh Yeh, now we call him Siberia Sam.”