Saturday, April 6, 2013


View From the Cab of Amtrak Number 12 at Ilmon, CA

A minor claim to glory that I can take, is that I was the fireman on The Coast Amtrak, Train Number 12, on its only venture over Tehachapi Pass. The coast main line was washed out, and the train was detoured via the Santa Fe valley route to Bakersfield. The train was delivered to the SP at Kern Junction where the SP crew took over from the AT&SF. I was called out as an extra board fireman to work with Engineer Hull. As I recall, we took the train to Union Station.

There was a lot of excitement for railfans since this was the first passenger train to go over this route since trains number 51 and 52 were terminated several years prior. We were chased by several carloads of happy fans, and were ambushed by a small crowd at the famous loop (Walong).

It was especially fun because we had ample power to go the speed limit of 25mph all the way up the hill. Normally, with freight trains, we would drag up the hill at speeds around 15mph, and we were often "put in the hole", but not so on a first-class train.

View from the Cab of Railfans at Walong, c.1977