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Railroaders' Nostalgia > SP to Tracy and a Hi-rail Return


Date: 09/18/20 14:12
SP to Tracy and a Hi-rail Return
Author: Westbound

Southern Pacific's Operating and Mechanical departments combined forces to prepare a first class passenger train for entertaining shippers in 1989. The train consisted of some of the best equipment of the SP's remaining fleet and those lettered “Rio Grande” privately owned by SP Rail Corp Chairman, P. F. Anschutz. Although 4-8-4 #4449 was available for use, SP chose to power this train with two large road diesels since the emphasis was to be on service not on the popular steam locomotive. 

Western Division Supt Harry C. Ballance invited me to ride the sparkling clean train from its preparation point in the Oakland passenger yard to Tracy, CA, where the car order would be switched before it rolled south to serve lunch to its first guests at Fresno. On May 9, our train departed at 4 AM and rolled over some fairly rough mainline after entering the Mococo Line just beyond Martinez, once the route of the San Joaquin Daylight. To my surprise one of the on board service employees served the three of us in a business car coffee and donuts, then went back to bed. We arrived at sun-up to cloudy skies where we were met by Road Foreman of Engines Brad Wilson and Division Engineer R. V. Hernandez, with the Division's hi-rail for our return to Oakland to inspect the same tracks but in daylight. The hi-rail trip was uneventful until the surprise ending when I was selected to buy breakfast for all. But that's why expense accounts were invented. 

First photo below shows setting-on the Chevrolet hi-rail near Banta, CA from where we would head back west for Tracy. Brad Wilson makes adjustments to the front wheels with Harry, at right, and Dr. Calvin Benton, SP's medical consultant, at left. Second picture shows us ready to board at Banta. Third photo shows the interior of one of the train's lounge cars, the “Utah” (I think). 








Date: 09/18/20 15:08
Re: SP to Tracy and a Hi-rail Return
Author: BarstowRiff

Very interesting. Banta is not a place most people have heard of - my mother-in-law (now deceased) was born there in 1925.



Date: 09/18/20 15:18
Re: SP to Tracy and a Hi-rail Return
Author: Matt_Gidley

Nice! Would this be one of the specials they powered with the new-ish B39-8's?  I've seen pics of them running specials in this timeframe....



Date: 09/18/20 15:22
Re: SP to Tracy and a Hi-rail Return
Author: cozephyr

Yes, the lounge car is the Utah.  Interior inspired by the Orient Express with Phil Anschutz finishing touches.



Date: 09/18/20 17:49
Re: SP to Tracy and a Hi-rail Return
Author: AndyBrown

Good story and photos.  Nice inside look (not just the business car).

Andy



Date: 09/18/20 23:34
Re: SP to Tracy and a Hi-rail Return
Author: Westbound

I did not note the locomotive numbers at the time and am not highly knowledgeable about diesels. Both engines were SP 6 axle units, similar in style and appearance to the SD40T-2 series which is also classified as EF630. 

Matt_Gidley Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Nice! Would this be one of the specials they
> powered with the new-ish B39-8's?  I've seen pics
> of them running specials in this timeframe....



Date: 09/20/20 14:51
Re: SP to Tracy and a Hi-rail Return
Author: Westbound

As we entered Tracy that morning, I snapped this photo of our head end. Those locomotives may have been changed out at Tracy, but when they left Oakland I am pretty certain they were tunnel motors, same class I mentioned earlier.




Date: 09/20/20 19:00
Re: SP to Tracy and a Hi-rail Return
Author: WAF

 Perhaps they wyed the train to get the Sunset on the rear. Odd all this wasn't done in Oakland. Makes me wonder if this wasn't a 4449 trip



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/20/20 19:02 by WAF.



Date: 09/20/20 19:05
Re: SP to Tracy and a Hi-rail Return
Author: WAF

Why would you have a medical consultant on a hy rail trip?



Date: 09/21/20 11:00
Re: SP to Tracy and a Hi-rail Return
Author: Westbound

In the 1970's Southern Pacific began using a consultant physician and nurse at the division level to assist injured employees. Thus they became acquainted with railroad management. In the case of Dr. Benton, he was a trauma surgeon employed by a hospital but his side job was working at SP, primarily as an advisor. His work there began to turn him into a bit of a railfan. His invitation by the Supt. to ride this special movement and the hi-rail return was for both educational and recreational purposes. I remember that when I began my career on the SP I was told that any time I was offered a hi-rail trip to always accept. I rode a total of 6 trips which were all very interesting.

WAF Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Why would you have a medical consultant on a hy
> rail trip?



Date: 09/22/20 14:29
Re: SP to Tracy and a Hi-rail Return
Author: DFWJIM

Why were two of the men wearing ties, white shirts and slacks while out in the field? Seems like a casual look would be much more comfortable.



Date: 09/22/20 14:59
Re: SP to Tracy and a Hi-rail Return
Author: PHall

DFWJIM Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Why were two of the men wearing ties, white shirts
> and slacks while out in the field? Seems like a
> casual look would be much more comfortable.

Management back then had a dress code and woe unto anyone who violated it.



Date: 09/22/20 15:30
Re: SP to Tracy and a Hi-rail Return
Author: Jimbo

PHall Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> DFWJIM Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Why were two of the men wearing ties, white
> shirts
> > and slacks while out in the field? Seems like a
> > casual look would be much more comfortable.
>
> Management back then had a dress code and woe unto
> anyone who violated it.

Yes, and 20-25 years earlier, a hat (NOT a cap) would have been required too.

Thanks for the journey back in time.



Date: 09/22/20 16:12
Re: SP to Tracy and a Hi-rail Return
Author: WAF

It certainly was with DJR until he retired in 1972. BFB phased it out and the style in general was disappearing from Men's office dress



Date: 09/23/20 07:09
Re: SP to Tracy and a Hi-rail Return
Author: RRTom

I started with Amtrak engineering management in 1991 and ties were still part of the dress code if you worked in the office.  When office guys visited the field they kept their ties on.



Date: 09/27/20 13:33
Re: SP to Tracy and a Hi-rail Return
Author: sp3204

I have been waiting for someone to chime in on Brad Wilson's nick name of "Golden Wrist".

New both of these characters fairly well. My Roadforeman in Roseville over lunch I found out

volunteered 4 of us to work in Oakland when they were very short. I did seven weeks in 1990

or '91 on the Oakland engineers extra board... Thanks Ray.
 



Date: 09/27/20 20:05
Re: SP to Tracy and a Hi-rail Return
Author: ExSPCondr

"No Neck" hasn't been mentioned?
G



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