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. Join with me now for Part 2 of the Wasatch Willey’s Western Rail Tours Story.
Willey standing by his red pickup and cabin near the town of Weber, Utah less then a stones throw from the UP main line through the Wasatch Mountains.
Wasatch Willey’s Western Rail Tours Starts to Grow.
Several days after arriving back home in the Wasatch; Willey was awakened early one morning by his phone ringing. It was Bagdad Bob calling and asking Willey to come back as Wasatch Willey’s Western Rail Tours had several requests to operate special trains. “Willey, we need you to come back so we can run the train.” At first Willey asked Bob if he was joking. “No, we have several requests for charters in the works, please come back.” Willey agreed and within an hour was heading south back to Bagdad.
Upon arriving late that day Willey got the full story from Bob. Willey and Bob decided that first of all they needed a better location with a shop and more track to operate from. Bob suggested that the old Santa Fe Engine shop in Barstow might be worth looking into as it was now abandon and slated to be removed. There were also several storage tracks there where they could park the equipment when it was not in use. It was decided that the next day they would drive over to Barstow and take a look at it.
The following day Willey and Bob were headed for Barstow and on the way they picked up Siberia Sam. When they arrived in Barstow they found that the old shop building was closed, but most of the equipment was still inside as well as operational. The tracks outside were also still in place and it looked like it would make a good place to set up the rail tour operation from. After contacting a realtor, a deal was made to lease the facility for their operation.
The Santa Fe Railway has abandoned the Old Barstow Engine Shop and it is now waiting for Willey to move in.
When the city fathers of Barstow heard about this lease, they became quite concerned. They had no idea what a Railfan was and decided to notify the local Sheriff Charles asking him about what a Railfan was. The Sheriff also had no idea, but was sure that that it had to be some kind of illegal operation. “They must be selling dope or something” was his reply. “I’ll have my SWAT Team keep an eye on them and we will catch them red handed with the evidence.” “These guys won’t get away with anything in my county.”
Wow, what has Willey and his friends got themselves into? Where will they get the money to finance this undertaking? Can they do it? They would need help and lots of it.
That evening before Willey and Bob headed back to Bagdad, they replaced the sign on the shop building. Now the whole world would know that this was the new home for Wasatch Willey Western Rail Tours.
The first order of business facing Willey and his friends will be to move their train to Barstow from Bagdad and set up the facility at Barstow to support the operation. After returning to Bagdad, Willey checked the fuel tanks in the two engines and found both to be close to empty. Also they were really getting short on cash as Willey had spent his last 2 dollars for a hamburger at McDonalds in Barstow. Bob had even pulled the last of his mattress stash to get gas for the pickup to get back from Barstow. So Willey asked, do we have enough fuel to get the train to Barstow?
The Big Move.
After thinking about it long and hard, they decided to give it a try. Soon everything was loaded in the baggage car and the two Alco’s were fired up. As soon as permission was granted by the Chief Dispatcher Brady, the train pulled out on the main and was heading West for Barstow. A quick stop was made at Siberia to pick up Sam and then it was on to Klondike to pickup the Klondike twins, Kate and her twin sister, Duplakate. When they arrived Kate was ready to go, however Duplakate was still primping her hair. Willey gave several long blasts of the air horn, but Duplakate just took her sweet time. Finally everybody was on board and Willey got the train moving west up Ash Hill.
All went well; soon they were by Ludlow, Pisgah and Newbury. As they approached Daggett, the PB ran out of fuel and died. Then just west of the UP Junction at Daggett, the PA also ran out of fuel and the train rolled to a stop. Willey called the Dispatcher to report that the train was stopped and unable to proceed. I can not repeat what Dispatcher High Green had to say to Willey; let’s just say that he was unhappy to have his main blocked by Willey’s train. The Dispatcher even suggested that Willey should get out and push. Now with trains backing up behind Willey, the Dispatcher called the Barstow Switch crew to go out and pull the train into Barstow and get it off his main. Soon, the Barstow Switch had pulled Willies train into Barstow and then shoved it into one of the tracks Willey had leased by the engine shop.
After Wiley’s’ train died on the main just a couple miles short of Barstow, the Local Switch had to be sent out to pull the train into Barstow and clear the Main Line.
The Fuel Problem again.
With the move to Barstow behind them, the next order of business for our friends was to get some fuel for their train. Sadly Big Bertha had passed away and her gas was no longer available. It seems that shortly after a moderate supper of beans and jalapeño peppers she had several major expulsions. When the gas’s hit the wood stove she used to heat her shack, a major explosion occurred completely destroying the shack. Nothing was ever found of Big Bertha, however the area around Westfur had a strong smell of jalapeño peppers and beans for weeks. Willey exclaimed, “We need to find a new source of fuel”.
Willey exclaimed to Bob “I wish we had that kid, Zeb from Moose whatever it was in Alaska here to help us again.” “Yea” Bob exclaimed, “Why don’t you try to give him a call and see if he can come and help us.” “I don’t know his number” Willey exclaimed. Once again as luck would have it, about a week later Zeb shows up to help out. After spending a couple hours with Willey and Bob explaining their problem to Zeb, Zeb says that he has just the right solution to solve the problem. Zeb tells the boys to go around to all the local burger places and collect their used cooking oil.
Soon Willey and Bob were making the rounds of the many burger places in and around Barstow as well as along Old Route 66 collecting used cooking oil which everyone had just been dumping down the drain. Soon they had gallons and gallons of the stuff which was now raising the attention of the local sheriff and his cronies. These guys have to be up to some kind of no good.
While Willey and Bob were busy out collecting French fry oil, Zeb with Sam’s help had assembled a moonshine still out back of the old shop building. The sheriff had also taken note of all this and now had his SWAT Team was watching through binoculars at everything that was going on. As soon as the boys had the pickup full of French fry oil, they would dump it in the still, then go out to get some more. Soon the still was loaded and ready to fire off. WOOOOoooooosh as Zeb started the fire under the pot. Soon steam and smoke was coming out from all the cracks and Zebs diesel fuel started to drip out into the waiting bucket. Now was the time for the sheriff’s SWAT Team to move in to catch these guys with the goods.
With their guns pointing at our friends, “we got you guys red handed making French fry moonshine.” “Oh no sir” Zeb explained, “this is not to drink, this is fuel for our train.” “Yea, right, that’s a likely story.” “No sir, we are going to pore it right into the fuel tanks right over here.” The SWAT Team just laughs as Zeb takes buckets of the stuff and pours it into the PA’s fuel tank. Soon the tanks are full and Zeb tells Willey to “crank them up.” Willey climbs up into the cab of the 75 and hits the starter switch. “WWWWRRRRRoommpp, to amazement of the Sheriff, his Swat Team and even Willey the 75’s 244 engine came to life. “Well Aaaa I guess you guys are OK, but I still think that you are up to something shady” exclaimed the Sheriff as he turned and walked away. “I will be keeping an eye on you guys.” “French fry moonshine diesel fuel, no way.” “There’s just gotta be something illegal here.”
Over the next several weeks our friends were working hard to make more fuel and get their train once again ready to be operated on Rail Fan Trips. The Klondike twins were very busy getting the cars polished up ready for their run. Willey was able to get a contract with the CSWRR management to operate a Special Train on weekends, one round trip from Barstow to LAUPT and return to Barstow on Saturday and Sunday. Things were moving right along.
The first run was on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and they even had a Santa Claus on board to entertain the passengers. This was followed on Sunday with equal success. From the start, Wasatch Willey Western Rail Tours were sold out for every trip. The Rail Fans came from all over the US and many foreign countries to ride behind the classic Alco PA’s.
Wasatch Willey’s Western Rail Tours is passing through Arlington on one of its weekend Railfan trips. These trips have been sold out events.
More Help Comes from an Unexpected Source.
Soon several retired railroaders as well as railfans started to show up at the Barstow shop, volunteering there skills to keep the train operating. Being only a couple hour drive from the Los Angeles metropolitan area, it was an easy weekend drive to enjoy working on as well as watching trains. Most of the volunteers were staying at the Red Lantern Motel which was located only a couple hundred feet from the shop. Strangely, the Red Lantern was not accustom to guests staying more then a couple hours however that all changed. Soon the motel was full of railfans on weekends and the hourly patrons were forced to go else where. The local Sheriff continued to watch all this as he just knew that there was something illegal going on here. The Sheriff even had some of his deputies’ slip in with the activities as railfans.
It seems that Wasatch Willey Western Rail Tours is a booming success. By using the profits from the weekend trips, Willey was able to acquire another PA as well several more cars including a diner and several dome cars. Actually Willey received numerous offers for cars to build up their fleet. The activities at the old engine shop were booming and several picnic tables appeared in one of the empty stalls as well as smug pots to keep the winter chill out. Soon the local Colonel and McDonalds were making regular deliveries to the shop. All the while, the Sheriff just knew that there was something going on and he just had to find out what it is.
The Barstow Switch 2256 is shoving the third PA unit into Willey’s shop.
When the third PA arrived, Sam with the help of several volunteers took several weeks to pull the prime mover and give it a thorough inspection. Having all the proper equipment to work with including a 200 ton overhead crane was a big help. The prime mover was in real bad shape, a broken crank shaft, damaged cylinder liners and it was even missing the main generator and other parts. Once again Sam contacted Jesus’ (Hey-sus) down in Mexicali for help. Sam read off his list of the parts that he needed, and at first Jesus did not sound very encouraging, but said that he would see what he can find. Two days later Jesus called back and informed Sam that he had located everything that was needed with even a few extras. He would have them forwarded to Barstow as soon as they arrived in Mexicali.
The Barstow Switch is shoving the cars with the parts that Sam ordered from Jesus in Mexicali arrived to rebuild the third PA unit.
Meanwhile more cars were arriving one by one and soon most of the tracks were filled up. Klondike Kate and her twin sister, Duplakate were very busy cleaning them up and making them ready for service. Almost as soon as the first cars started to arrive, other volunteers started to arrive on weekends asking if they could help and were soon put to work. Most of the volunteers were put to work washing the outside of the cars and doing minor repairs. When it would depart for its weekend run, the train was in immaculate condition.
Over the next several months, more cars continue to arrive. The Klondike twins are kept very busy along with several volunteers cleaning them up, making needed repairs and ready for service.
Just when things seemed to be running smoothly.
It was now mid May, a beautiful spring day, the weather in the desert was starting to warm up and really get hot. Willey was sitting behind his desk in the office which he had built in back of the shop building. The phone rang and kind of woke him from a half state of day dreaming. It was the CEO of the CSWRR requesting him to attend a 10 AM meeting the following day in his San Bernardino office in the Depot. Willey agreed that he would and hung the phone up. OH MY Gosh was the CSWRR going to revoke his operating rights? OH my gosh, was this going to be the end of their operation?
Willey immediately contacted his lawyer, Mr. Shyster of the law firm of Hyster and Shyster to meet him at the meeting. Early the next morning Willey was in his old red pickup, heading south to San Bernardino. Arriving a little early, Willey stopped off at the Caboose lounge for a quick breakfast. Shortly before 10 AM Willey entered the depot, met Mr. Shyster and they went up to the CEO’s office. Willey was then introduced to Mr Cheatham from the firm of Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe and a representetive from the Downtown Las Vegas Casinos. After the introductions, Willey sat down across the table from the CEO and Mr. Shyster sat across the table from Mr. Cheatham. Willey was shaking in his boots; he just knew that this was the end.
The CEO immediately started the meeting off explaining that they had operated a train, the City of Las Vegas, also known as the Crap Shooter for the purpose of taking gamblers from Los Angles to the Downtown Casinos. Some how the power for this train had been switched from a passenger locomotive to an historic relic causing the ridership of the train to drastically change to a bunch of “Foamers” who had no interest in gambling and were only interested in looking at trains. These Foamers were for the most part filling up the train completely displacing the gambling, customers of the casinos. The train was currently a disaster to its backers who were subsidizing its operation.
What the CEO was proposing was that the railroad would sell the three coaches to Willey for $1 and that the Casinos that currently owned the E8, UP 926 along with the baggage coach for $1. Willey could not believe his ears and he quickly conferred with Mr. Shyster. Mr. Shyster recommended that a agreement be worked out by which the Casinos would continue to subsidize the operation. Willey also further stated that there could not be any deal unless the Baldwin AS-616 was included in the sale. The Casinos argued that they did not want to see that engine on the train and wish that it had never been used. Willey countered that he wanted the 1261 and would not operate the train to Las Vegas with that engine. Willey also stated that in the future the train would be known as the Lucky Gambler’s Express, but it could continue to have the nick name of the Crap Shooter. Everyone agreed, shook hands and the deal was made.
Wasatch Willey Western Rail Tours was now the owner and operator of the Crap Shooter. Willey thanked Mr. Shyster and Willey returned to Barstow to tell everyone about the good news.
The Lucky Gambler’s Express, (The Crap Shooter).
Early the next morning the 926 and baggage coach was setout at the Wasatch Willey Western Rail Tours shop and by mid afternoon the three coaches also arrived with the UP 1261. The train now consisted of E8, number 926, a baggage coach, two chair coaches and one dome coach. As Bob, Sam and the Klondike twins stood looking at the train, all they could say was wasn’t she beautiful.
Early the next morning, the Barstow Switch 2256 is shoving the Crap Shooter cars into Willey’s Engine Shop.
Later that afternoon the Barstow Switch arrives with the 926, E8 and Baggage car.
Just before evening, the AS-616 1261 Arrives under its Power.
The operation of two trains at the same time was something new to Willey and his friends. First of all Willey could not be the engineer on both trains at the same time, another engineer and conductor were needed fast. It just so happened that day the now laid off engineer and conductor from the old Crap Shooter came by looking for work. Willey gave the two an interview and as they knew the operation, Engineer Leroy and Conductor Ed were given a job. Willey did also stress that if either ever went close to any casinos, he would send them down the Mojave River in a leaky canoe with anvils tied around their necks. The two promised that they had learned their lessons.
Bright and early on the following Saturday, the Crap Shooter was backed into LAUPT awaiting the loading of passengers. Even with several commercials on local TV stations, the ridership of the first train was a little slow. Several of the casinos had provided free coupons which were passed out to all the patrons and they were asked to tell their friends that the new Lucky Gambler’s Express was a great way to go to Vegas. Over the next several weeks, the ridership grew and within a month the Crap Shooter was at 92% of capacity.
All went well with the Crap Shooter for the next several months, well until the Sheriff who just knew that there was something illegal going on. So one day the sheriff hatched a plain to catch these guys smuggling Las Vegas mobsters between Vegas and Los Angeles. As the west bound train was approaching Hodge, he had his SWAT team ready and waiting. Waving flares and with their red lights flashing they stopped the train, then swooped in and boarded the train like a band of pirates. The Sheriff started at one end and checked every passenger as they went along. When the Sheriff came to the ladies restroom, he ordered the occupant to come out with their hands up. The lady inside was in the middle of something and asked him to wait a minute until she was finished. Just knowing that this was where something illegal was, the sheriff ripped the door open. The lady occupant was mortified and began beating the sheriff with her purse yelling “pervert, pervert, pervert”. After checking all the passengers and finding nothing, the sheriff had to allow the train to proceed. “There’s just gotta be something illegal here, I can feel it.”
Through out the summer more equipment continued to arrive as well as more volunteers. As the number of volunteers continued to increase most stayed at the Red Lantern Motel, but many more were also cheap and choose to camp in tents and pickups alongside the shop building. With easy access to the facilities in the shop including showers, this was no real problem. In the evenings after all the days work had been completed, everyone watched video’s in the rear of the shop building. When not watching video’s the crews could sit and watch all the action outside out on the main as there was plenty of activity. On weekends, the local McDonalds was making several delivery trips a day, for them business was booming. The entire area around the shop had become a Railfan haven. All the while the Sheriff was keeping an eye on the goings on commenting “there’s just gotta be something illegal going on here”.
The Barstow Switch SF 2256 is shoving the F Units into Willey’s Shop.
As the Wasatch Willey’s Western Rail Tours continued to grow, Willey and Bob were having a hard time keeping up with managing the operation. They soon found it necessary to assign some of the train operations to some of the very qualified retired railroad volunteers. One of these assignments was given to a retired Los Angeles Division Superintendant Lee. With many years of engineer experience Lee was right at home at the throttle of the PA’s on the weekend Railfan Special.
Another volunteer, Steve was given the assignment as conductor on the Railfan Specials. Steve was a retired chief ticket agent from the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal who had many years experience as a conductor on the UP City Trains prior to becoming a Ticket Agent. To assist Steve, a now retired Corey was given the position as Brakeman. The Weekend Railfan Special continued to grow and Willey and his operation was becoming a legend in the Railfan circles.
Late one fall evening Willey was sitting in his office in back of the Engine Shop when Bob came in sat down. Bob’s face was sad looking and Willey knew that Bob had something real sad to tell him. Bob kind of looking at the floor informed Willey that he was going to leave the operation and move to Kentucky to live with his family. Bob went on to say that he really enjoyed the operation and that it had been fun, but his family wanted him to move with them. Sadly Willey accepted Bob’s decision to leave and wished him the best of luck. It was a sad parting of the long time friends.
So what is next for the Wasatch Willey’s Western Rail Tours?