Trains & Travel

P.O.Box 312

Portola CA 96122

chris@traintrips.biz (Rail Tour Manager)

1-800-359-4870 (USA)

1-800-752-1836 (Canada)

1-800-266-8751 (Fax)

1-530-836-1944

north America - united states

 

Pacific Northwest Express

To The NRHS Convention

JULY 2-3-4, 2005

 

TOUR REPORT AND PHOTO PAGE

 

Tour Reports Tour Reports Tour Reports

 

 

Tour Reports

 

 

Tour Reports Tour Reports Tour Reports

 

 

First we want to thank all of you for coming with us on this fantastic railroad adventure to Portland, Oregon. We also thank the many folks that have written, e mailed, faxed and called us to tell us how much they enjoyed this excursion. As of August 2 we have now received over 75 comments telling us how much you enjoyed this excursion. Thank you so much for your wonderful comments. We have printed a few of them below.

 

INTERESTING FACTS AND STATISTICS

 

*PRICE TAG AS OF JULY 29........................................................ $657,892.00 (And growing)
*PASSENGER COUNT................................................................. 322
*TOTAL CAPACITY.................................................................... 455
*ON BOARD STAFF................................................................... 38
*DONATED TO PORTOLA RR MUSEUM......................................... $10,000 (Use of WP 2001)
*NRHS COMMISSION PAYMENT................................................... $15,590
*HOTELS USED JULY 2 & 3........................................................ 57
*GRAFFITI ATTACKS................................................................. 3
*MECHANICAL PROBLEMS.......................................................... 3
*TOP RUNNING SPEED............................................................... 80MPH
*TOTAL ENGINES USED............................................................. 14 (Including deadheading)
*TOTAL PASSENGER CARS........................................................ 14
*SP 3105................................................................................. BAGGAGE-CREW
*MONTANA............................................................................... OPEN OBSERVATION BUSINESS
*KITCHI GAMMI CLUB................................................................ LOUNGE-SLEEPER
*MOUNT VERNON...................................................................... LOUNGE-SLEEPER
*SILVER RAPIDS....................................................................... sleeper
*OVERLAND TRAIL.................................................................... lounge
*ARIZONA................................................................................ coach
*ST. PAUL PASS....................................................................... coach
*SUPER DOME.......................................................................... dome
*WISCONSIN VALLEY................................................................ lounge
*PONY EXPRESS....................................................................... baggage
*COLONIAL CRAFTS.................................................................. lounge-sleeper
*SILVER LARIAT....................................................................... dome-coach
*CEDAR RAPIDS....................................................................... SKY TOP OBSERVATION

*PRICE TAG AS OF JULY 29.$657,892.00 (And growing)

*PASSENGER COUNT322

*TOTAL CAPACITY.455

*ON BOARD STAFF38

*DONATED TO PORTOLA RR MUSEUM$10,000 (Use of WP 2001)

*NRHS COMMISSION PAYMENT$15,590

*HOTELS USED JULY 2 & 3.57

*GRAFFITI ATTACKS.3

*MECHANICAL PROBLEMS3

*TOP RUNNING SPEED80MPH

*TOTAL ENGINES USED14 (Including deadheading)

*TOTAL PASSENGER CARS14

*SP 3105.BAGGAGE-CREW

*MONTANAOPEN OBSERVATION BUSINESS

*KITCHI GAMMI CLUBLOUNGE-SLEEPER

*MOUNT VERNONLOUNGE-SLEEPER

*SILVER RAPIDSSLEEPER

*OVERLAND TRAIL.lounge

*ARIZONA...coach

*ST. PAUL PASScoach

*SUPER DOMEdome

*WISCONSIN VALLEYlounge

*PONY EXPRESS.baggage

*COLONIAL CRAFTSlounge-sleeper

*SILVER LARIATdome-coach

*CEDAR RAPIDS.SKY TOP OBSERVATION

 

 

Letter from the NRHS President, who was on the train:

 

"I REALLY ENJOYED THE INBOUND SPECIAL TO THE NRHS CONVENTION. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR EFFOTS"

 

GREGORY MOLLOY

PRESIDENT

NATIONAL RAILWAY HISTORICAL SOCIETY

 

 

BELOW ARE SOME OF THE LETTERS WE HAVE BEEN RECEIVING

 

 

August 2, 2005

 

To: All of the TUT staff

 

My family and I rode your Pacific Northwest Express from Emeryville to Portland to attend the NRHS convention and we just wanted to tell you how much we all enjoyed the trip. It was a fantastic experience and we are ready to do it again. What a wonderful way to arrive in Portland for the NRHS convention. You guys are wonderful.

 

Tim B Denver, Co

 

 

 

August 16, 2005

 

Hello Chris & TUT staff:

 

My hat to off to you for pulling off one of the best passenger train excursions I have been on for many years. I enjoyed every minute of the three day excursion and enjoyed the NRHS Convention in Portland. Wow, between TUT and the NRHS you guys pulled off a once in a lifetime event. I am ready to do it again.

 

Tom F St. Louis, MO

 

 

 

Dear Chris :

 

It has been a couple of weeks since I traveled aboard a very enjoyable "Pacific Northwest Express" to Portland and the NRHS Convention. Having participated in many of your trips over the years, I was excited about the original plan but as things changed (through no fault of yours) so did the opportunities. For each change, you came up with a positive alternative. I salute your flexibility and ingenuity in coming up with a VERY enjoyable trip. I got my money's worth with this trip and it was the perfect start to what turned out to be a GREAT convention!!!

 

Joe H

 

On behalf of Steve and myself (The 2 brits in the Mt. Vernon) I would just like to say many things fort the rail tours. We both enjoyed ourselves greatly. It was my first time aboard a TUT rail tour, and despite a few hiccups I would definitely book another trip with you!

 

JH UK

 

 

 

The NRHS train to Portland was fabulous. The scenery was spectacular. I loved the ride in the Super Liner Dome and being able to walk through all of the other cars. There's nothing better than being able to look out an open vestibule door. I hope you will do another tour like this.

 

Patrick S

 

 

 

I rode your excursion train to Portland in July and all I can say is "WOW, what a wonderful experience. I am ready to take your next trip. Thank you so much for putting all of this together.

 

Mike S

 

 

 

My wife and I rode the Pacific Northwest Express to Portland in the Super Dome car and enjoyed the trip thoroughly. The accommodation were comfortable, the other passengers agreeable and John Kirchner took good care of the car.

 

John D

 

 

 

Over the years I have been onboard a number of rail fan excursions and I want to say the Pacific Northwest Express was by far the best ever.

 

Mel P

 

 

 

I would like to thank you for a very enjoyable trip. You are to be commended for keeping the whole thing glued together, given the environment of change and uncertainty that you encountered.

 

Carl G

 

 

 

WE HOPE YOU ENJOY THE PHOTOS

 

We want to give special thanks to the following photographers who have allowed us to

use their photos to make up this special page.

 

1. Alex Ramos

2. Ryan Wilkerson of "Shastarails.com"

3. Chris Guenzle

4. Rich Martin

5. John West

6. Chris Skow

7. Phil Gosney

 

 

JULY 2, 2005 DAY

 

EMERYVILLE TO McCLOUD

 

Tour Reports

Early morning our train sits on the ready track in the new Amtrak yard in Oakland

 

Tour Reports

Pulling into the loading area at Emeryville

 

Tour Reports

Loading at Emeryville

 

Tour Reports

>Our favorite rail fan engineer, Phil Gosney is in charge and ready to take our train out of Emeryville.

 

Tour Reports

Loading at Emeryville

 

Tour Reports Tour Reports Tour Reports

Running along the San Francisco Bay

 

Tour Reports

Running through Crockette

 

Tour Reports

Departing Martinez

 

TRAINS UNLIMITED, TOURS PACIFIC NORTHWEST EXPRESS

 

TO THE NRHS CONVENTION JULY 2-4, 2005

By Chris Guenzler

From Trainweb.com

 

In October of 2004 Trains Unlimited announced the Trains Unlimited Special Convention Train, PACIFIC NORTHWEST EXPRESS, from Sacramento to Portland via the rare mileage Feather River Canyon and Inside Gateway route on July 2-3-4,2005. I decided to get onboard this trip as it would give me my missing mileage from Chemult north to Wishram. In the following months major changes to this trip first starting with the BNSF not letting the train go north of Bend due to freight train interference. The trip was changed to run on the Amtrak route Chemult to Eugene, the former Southern Pacific Coos Bay Branch and then the Amtrak route to Portland. At least we would still have the Feather River and the south end of the very scenic Highline.

 

During the 2nd week of May Amtrak informed Trains Unlimited that they were short on power and that we would have to supply our engines in order to run our charters. Engines were located that were acceptable for our trip's need. We would be using some historic engines but we would need a couple of engines that are equipment with the HEP (Head End Power) in order to run the trains electrical system such as lights and A/C.

 

The next major set back came during the 4th week of May when the Union Pacific contacted Amtrak management and informed them that they were reversing their approval to run our train through the Feather River Canyon via Keddie because of operating problems and said the train now must be run via former SP Shasta Route.

 

A new option became available by running the train to McCloud over the McCloud Railroad and running several spectacular photo run-bys on the unique Signal Butte Switchback. Other additions include a McCloud workshop tour and photo Session, a McCloud steam pulled photo freight, and the McCloud Dinner Train. Since I had never photographed the McCloud 2-8-2 18 this was an incredible addition to my trip.

 

The next day we would now run to Beck doing photo runbys on the Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad. Add to that, the all daylight running, unique historic engines and the unique private passenger cars we would be using all this made for an exciting trip.

 

The next challenge to this trip was that Amtrak and the freight railroads face an extreme crew shortage for the balance of 2005. Amtrak has no money to hire new crews. Some train crews came forward and said they would run our train and even work on their off days to get qualified to run on certain freight only lines. One train crew from Oregon inform us they were on vacation for most of July and were willing to work during their vacation to help run our charter train. A very big thank you to these Amtrak crews that are willing to work our train in order to make it happen.

 

Trains Unlimited had to deal with 57 different hotels for this trip. Remember we were suppose to overnight in the Greenville and Bend with hotels in some of the surrounding towns. When the BNSF pulled the plug on the run north of Chemult, all the Bend hotels had to be cancelled and new hotels had to be found in Eugene. Then in the last week of May when the Union Pacific said no to the Feather River the hotels in the Greenville area all had to be cancelled and new hotels had to be found in the Mt Shasta area and around Florence.

 

NOTE: TIT LOST $12,000 IN NON REFUNDABLE HOTEL DEPOSITS WHEN ALL ROOMS IN THE GREENVILLE AND LAKE ALMANOR AREAS WERE CANCELLED.

 

Remember this last change with less than a month before the trip meant that Trains Unlimited was now trying to find some 250 hotel rooms over the very busy 4th of July weekend. Two weeks before the trip Chris Skow had visited each of the hotel owners and went over the list of passengers staying there. With all that done, we were ready to take this most special and unique trip of 2005.

 

The Consist

 

SP 6304 F7A painted in full SP Black Widow power{ex Via 6304}, Amtrak P42DCs 142 and 136, SP 3105 ex SP Sunset Limited baggage car, Montana Open observation, Kitchi Gammi Club ex Pullman Company Lounge-Sleeper, Mount Vernon ex UP Lounge-Sleeper, Silver Rapids ex PRR CZ Sleeper, Arizona ex PRR coach, St. Paul ex PRR coach, Pony Express ex CP baggage car with bar-lounge & open doors, Overland Trail ex SP Lounge Car, Wisconsin Valley ex MILW Club Lounge Car, Super Dome ex Milwaukee Hiawatha Dome, Colonial Crafts ex PRR sleeper-lounge-buffet, Silver Lariat ex CB&Q CZ Vista Dome-Coach, and the Cedar Rapids ex MILW Hiawatha Sky Top Observation.

 

Day One Emeryville to McCloud July 2nd, 2005 A large group waited up on the Emeryville pedestrian bridge to wait for our train to pull into the Amtrak station. I met people for all over the country here plus a few foreign guests taking the trip which would be the norm for this trip.

 

A UP freight pulled into Emeryville and behind him into our view came our Trains Unlimited Special led by the Southern Pacific 6304. The passengers all boarded and checked luggage was placed into the baggage car for our trip to Portland. There was really a neat buzz among the passengers about what a great trip this would be. At 7:15 AM the SP 6304 whistled off and we were rolling. I was sitting at my table in the Wisconsin Valley where I would be writing this story from mainly. The train headed north through Berkeley then by Richmond with the Bay Area Rapid Transit District Shops. From here I rode in the Pony Express which will suit my picture taking needs well and to enjoy the morning ride.

 

At the California State Railroad Museum the Granite Rock 0-6-0T #10 gave us a whistling chorus welcoming our Trains Unlimited Trip to California's Capitol City of Sacramento. We stopped at the Amtrak Station to pick up more passengers who would join us here. Our train left Sacramento at 9:15 M to head east to Haggin to switch onto the old Western Pacific, former route of the legendary California Zephyr.

 

 

Tour Reports

Crossing over the Causeway between Davis and Sacramento

 

Tour Reports

Departing the Sacramento area has the heat waves dance off of the railroad.

 

Tour Reports

North of Sacramento

 

Tour Reports

Engineers view as the TUT special enters the siding at Pleasant Grove to meet the Coast Starlight.

 

At Pleasant Grove we pulled into the siding behind a freight to let a very late Coast Starlight head south past us. Once the stack train had cleared we followed it to Mounkes where it went into the siding. We crossed the Bear River to enter into Marysville. At Binney Jct we curved to begin our run north up the former Southern Pacific Shasta Route. We next crossed the Feather River.The Sutter Buttes stood out in the west as our train started traveling north up the longest section of tangent track in the state of California. We made a left turn to cross the Sacramento River then turned north at Tehama where the California Northern West Valley Line that runs to Davis takes off. This was the pre Sacramento stop route of the Coast Starlight.

 

Mt Shasta was off in the north ahead of our train. We would get much closer to this great mountain in a few hours. Our train run through Gerber and on through Red Bluff. From here our route took us into the foothills.Our special next crossed the impressive Redding Trestle across the Sacramento River. This is the start of the line relocation due to the building of Shasta Dam and Lake in the 1940's that took the railroad away from the Sacramento River and on a new line with ten tunnels and three major bridges. Our train climbed along the Sacramento River into the upper reaches of the Sacramento River Canyon and Good views of Mt Shasta abounded as we neared Mount Shasta City.

 

 

Tour Reports

Our train runs over the impressive Redding Trestle across the Sacramento River and starts the climb into the mountains.

 

Tour Reports Tour Reports Tour Reports

 

Tour Reports Tour Reports Tour Reports

 

Tour Reports Tour Reports Tour Reports

Running around Cantara Loop between Dunsmuir and Mt. Shasta.

 

Tour Reports Tour Reports Tour Reports

Arriving at Mt. Shasta and our train gets Mooned by two boys.

 

ARRIVING AT MOUNT SHASTA AND ENTERING

 

ONTO THE McCLOUD RAILROAD

 

Here our Trains Unlimited Special was split into two section. The First Section would be first 9 cars and pulled over the 4.4 % grade over the hill to McCloud by the WP 2001 and SP 6403. It would be displaying Green Flags. The Amtrak units would spend the night in Mount Shasta City. The Second Section of the last five cars including myself was pulled by McCloud SD-38 37. After the First Section left it would be our turn to be coupled up to that SD-38 and head for McCloud displaying Red Flags. Mount Shasta stood out in front as we started up the 4.4 % grade.

 

 

Tour Reports Tour Reports Tour Reports

 

Tour Reports

 

Tour Reports Tour Reports Tour Reports

 

Our Second Section came to a stop at MP 14 to put out several small track side fires. Once they had been put out the fire we started up the grade and about half a mile later the McCloud 37 engine shut down. The crew tried to restart it but it wouldn't stay on. If started then stopped. Then the train started to slowly roll back down the 4.45 grade. We had moved only a few feet when Steve Sandberg, MR Milwaukee Road 261, came to the rear of the 37 and turned the brake wheel. He then went though the train putting on all the car's hand brakes. He returned to the engine and where he and the Amtrak Road Foremen studied the problem. Next Steve took a broom and stuck the handle into the engine in order to keep the engine's dampers open. They restarted the engine and with the broom handle being held by Steve it stayed on. Steve would now have to hold the broom handle to keep the dampers open for the rest of the climb to the summit at Pierce. Steve sure did a great job keeping us going. All of our passengers want to take this opportunity to thank Steve Sandberg for not only this but everything he did to make this trip a great success.

 

 

Tour Reports Tour Reports Tour Reports

 

Tour Reports

 

Tour Reports

 

Tour Reports

The First section flying green flags and pulled by the WP 2001 heads for McCloud and the second section pulled by MCC 37 follows 10 minutes behind.

 

THREE TRAINS AT THE SIGNAL BUTTE SWITCHBACK

 

McCloud RR crew statement:

"Wow, this is the first time I have seen three trains at Signal Butte Switchback"

 

PACIFIC NORTHWEST EXPRESS FIRST SECTION

PACIFIC NORTHWEST EXPRESS SECOND SECTION

SHASTA SUNSET DINNER TRAIN

 

Once we reached the Summit at Pierce, the engineer switched on the Dynamic Braking System and the engine then ran fine and Steve's duties were done. We ran to the Signal Butte Switchback. When we reached the Signal Butte Switchback we found all of the First Section passengers off of their train taking pictures of our train. The plan was to off load our passengers here so we could also photograph the McCloud Dinner Train arriving but because of our problems coming over the hill from Mount Shasta City we were over an hour late getting here. We asked our car attendant about getting off but he knew nothing. He sounded like Sergeant Schultz on Hogan Heros. We asked him to find out if we could get off or not. We never saw him again the rest of the trip until be detrained in McCloud.

 

The train pulled all the way down the switchback to near the First Section. We all still stayed on. After a few minutes, we backed passed all the photographers and back up the line towards Mount Shasta City to let off our passengers going on the McCloud Dinner Train.

 

As we neared the switch, the Dinner Train came up the hill from McCloud. I took this picture but suddenly realized the lighting was pretty poor and I felt getting off would have been a waste of film and time. After dropping off our passengers for the Dinner Train we pulled by the photographers again to clear track space for the Dinner Train to come up so they could go to Mount Shasta City. This way lack of communication could have been avoided if all onboard crew members had walkie talkies so they could reach the people who make the trip decisions. With any large group, good communications are a must for a successful trip.

 

NOTE: THE McCLOUD RAILWAY MANAGEMENT AND CREWS WERE MAKING THE LAST MINUTE DECISIONS AT THIS POINT BECAUSE THEY DID NOT WANT TO DELAY THE 6PM DEPARTURE OF THE DINNER TRAIN THAT ALSO HAD REGULAR PASSENGERS ONBOARD. THE DECISION WAS MADE TO HAVE THE DINNER TRAIN DEPART McCLOUD AND MEET THE TWO TUT SECTIONS AT THE BLACK BUTTE SWITCHBACK. AFTER MAKING ROOM FOR THE DINNER TRAIN TO GET BY THE TWO PASSENGER TRAINS THOSE TUT FOLKS HOLDING DINNER TRAIN TICKETS WERE THEN ALLOWED TO DETRAIN AND GET ON THE DINNER TRAIN. McCLOUD MANAGEMENT DID NOT WANT ANY OF THE TUT PASSENGERS FROM THE 2ND SECTION GETTING OFF AT THE SWITCHBACK WHICH WOULD IN TURN DELAY THE DINNER TRAIN EVEN LONGER. SEVERAL OF THE McCLOUD CREW MEMBERS HAD SAID THEY COULD NOT RECALL WHEN THREE TRAINS ALL MET AT THE SWITCHBACKS. IN ORDER TO MAKE ALL OF THIS HAPPEN THE RAILROAD HAD TO CALL SOME CREWS OUT OF RETIREMENT TO HELP RUN THE TRAINS. EVEN THE McCLOUD PRESIDENT AND OWNER, JEFF FORBIS, WAS ACTING AS CONDUCTOR FOR THE 2ND SECTION.

 

The McCloud 37 did get us back to flat ground at McCloud and backed us in to a track by the engine house ending a fantastic day of train riding on this Trains Unlimited Tours trip. I got off for a good picture of our Second Section and the McCloud 37.

 

Once we all detrained off of our Second Section next to the McCloud Shops we all boarded two buses that would take us to site of the former McCloud River Railroad Depot that had burned to the ground since my last visit. This is where the First Section pulled into. Here we got off the bus to find our bus to our hotel for the night. I found my bus and once our driver turned on the bus air conditioning it cooled down. Chris Skow then gave us our choice of pickup of 5:00 AM to come back to McCloud to board the train there or 7:45 AM to be taken to the grade crossing outside of Mount Shasta City to board the train. With all of us now with that information, our bus driver took us back over the hill to Mount Shasta City to the Mt Air Motel for the night. Once I had checked in, I found a store for some snacks for my breakfast in the morning before I called it a night after a fantastic day of train riding on our Trains Unlimited Trip.

 

There were problems with the Mt Shasta overnight. The bus driver taking passengers to the Strawberry Court was not given good directions to get to that hotel which took a long time for the passengers staying there to get there. The passengers taken to the Motel 6 in Weed, California had to pay for their own rooms due to a major mix up by that hotel. Trains Unlimited will cover their expense if passengers would send them their hotel receipts.

 

 

Tour Reports

 

Tour Reports

 

Tour Reports

 

DAY ONE COMES TO A CLOSE AT McCLOUD

 

WITH A LOAD OF VERY HAPPY PASSENGERS

 

 

CONTINUE TO PAGE TWO - PACIFIC NORTHWEST EXPRESS TO THE NRHS CONVENTION 2005