35 Years A History of the Pacific Coast Chapter 1937-1972 Soft Cover

35 Years A History of the Pacific Coast Chapter 1937-1972 Soft Cover

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35 Years A History of the Pacific Coast Chapter 1937-1972 Soft Cover
 
35 Years A History of the Pacific Coast Chapter Railway & Locomotive Historical Society Soft Cover 1972 64 pages
The Pacific Coast was settled in an era that saw the iron highway achieve its highest level of development. The steam locomotive, from the wood-burning engine, with its balloon stack, to the sleek, modern super-heated oil burning giants which have now faded into oblivion, perhaps has played the most important part in the settlement and construction of the West. To gather all the data available on Western railroads has been the task of the Pacific Coast Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society. Started by a small group of seven enthusiastic railroad historians thirty-five years ago, the Chapter has become the leading organization of its kind in the Far West. With almost 500 members, the membership is spread from Canada to Mexico and from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts.
One of the outstanding achievements of the Chapter is the preservation of historical railroad equipment. Some of the items include three Virginia & Truckee Railroad locomotives, two narrow gauge trains and the historic locomotive C. P. Huntington along with the leased Governor Stanford from Stanford University. Also in the roster of equipment are several other locomotives that were out-shopped around the turn of the century, four San Francisco cable cars, one steam dummy and several open-platform coaches. In recent years three of the older type diesel locomotives have been added to the collection. The Chapter also lists four pieces of operating passenger equipment: an observation lounge, chair car and two coaches. These cars have been completely renovated to depict the way they looked when they were first purchased. They are kept in tip-top mechanical condition as they are used extensively for our excursions and historical events.
The program of restoration began in earnest seven years ago. Up to that time, very little effort had been made to restore the historical rolling stock to its original appearance. The ancient locomotives and cars were located in various railroad yards around the San Francisco Bay area, and many of them were beginning to have the appearance of "junk" because of lack of attention and vandalism. If ever the Chapter was going to "sell" the equipment to city or state agencies, it had to be made presentable. A number of members were willing, but the work would need the professional touch, so a campaign was instituted to contact railroads to see if they would take on the task of restoration. At each door of the railroad empire, the answer was the same, "We would like to help, but . . . ." While we ran out of luck with the railroads, we were able to obtain the interest of a small group of craftsmen who worked for Bethlehem Shipyard, San Francisco. We gave them a try - to see what could be done with our "basket case," the old Virginia & Truckee locomotive Empire, a Baldwin product built in 1873. In moving the engine and tender from the Western Pacific roundhouse in Oakland by truck to Bethlehem, San Francisco, the ancient engine literally fell to pieces. What was left of the little old "tea kettle" was stripped down; what could be kept was repaired, but it was evident that a new cab would have to be built, a new cow-catcher, new stack and headlight would have to be installed, and the flooring renewed on the tender. Most of the boiler fittings, long gone, would have to be obtained elsewhere or machined new. It was a big job. It took almost a year, but the result was as if out of a story book - it was a finished product of sparkling beauty. To date, Bethlehem has reconstructed 14 pieces of equipment which has come to a figure of over $100,000.00. The supervision of the rejuvenating tasks has been under the guidance of Chapter Chairman Fred A. Stindt, who has managed to obtain drawings, photos and all things necessary to assist Bethlehem in the refurbishing work. The majority of Chairman Stindt's noon hours has been with Bethlehem personnel going into the next restoration phase.
The glittering appearance of the revitalized equipment soon caught the eye of Mr. William Penn Mott, Jr., Director of California's vast parks and recreation systems. There would be space in the Old Sacramento project for a transportation museum that would easily house the 40 pieces the Chapter had acquired since 1937. The Old Sacramento area is located in California's capitol along the river front and at exactly the same location where the first railroad was built in the state in 1855. Historically, what better place could there be? The riverboat, stagecoach, pony express, telegraph, and railroad were vitally involved in the making of Sacramento during the 1850's and 1860's, so the State of California, recognizing the historic significance of the area, has designated nine acres as the Old Sacramento State Historic Park. Actually, four buildings will house the railroad collection: (1) Arcade Station of the Central Pacific Railroad, ( 2 ) Central Pacific Freight Depot, ( 3 ) Sacramento Valley Railroad Freight Depot and ( 4 ) the 450 feet long, 150 feet wide Exhibit Building. The first three buildings will be constructed in an area formerly occupied by the sheds of Southern Pacific's Motor Transit. This has been purchased by the state and monies are available to remove unwanted trackage, realign what's left and landscape the area. To date, almost $2,000,000 has been expended for the restoration of various historic buildings.
The Chapter actively participates in meetings with state agencies and local area committees on Old Sacramento projects. As this story goes to press, the State of California has allotted $340,000.00 for architect's drawings of railroad museum buildings. It is the intent that each piece of equipment will be displayed in a diorama effect. For example, a locomotive, such as one from the Virginia & Truckee Railroad, will be in a setting in the Nevada Comstock area. To see the various items fall into place makes participation in this historical project one of adventure and excitement.
To accomplish restoration on the scale that we have undertaken in the past seven years has meant the acquisition of funds in large quantities. There have been donations, selling of books, postcards, railroad memorabilia of all kinds, but the one item that has kept our finances in high gear has been the profits made from excursions. The Chapter has operated over 200 trips since the day it received its charter from the parent society on July 8, 1937.

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