Desert Running

I’m visiting the desert this week and it’s 102f in the shade.

I’m reminded of the days of summer travels with Dad and Mom and occasionally Brother Fred across California and Nevada and Utah.

The hot super dry air kicks my ass more now than then; I’m spoilt by ocean side living these last few seasons.

Yet the familiar sage, sand a Roadrunner that has been around the back yard throughout the day make me think of the long days on Hwy 50 “chasing” trains .

The road would humm under the G78-15 tires and the brick like aerodynamic shape of Harvey ( the truck ) made a jet like background noise.

There was usually a scanner blasting through an 8ohm dynamic single speaker facing the transmission hump and a Ford Factory speaker facing the windshield, searching for an AM signal that would drift in and out.

This image is from later years I suspect but it’s nostalgic as it is going to get on an iPhone.

UP 8444 leading an excursion .

Before and after Portland, Aug 1975

So lets see, 2019 – 1975 = 44 years !

Well I tried to get this lined up but Google Man will not walk down the track.

Still it makes sense to try the Before/After Slider Thing but you can see the spot here better on your own.

Maybe Google Man doesn’t want to crew with the track group spotted here in 2019.

MILW 5800 is a U36C according to the RR Archives and was scrapped in 1985

So let’s see 2019 – 1985 = 34 years !

August 1973 MILW 6002

Milwaukee Railroad engine number 6002
MILW 6002 GE U30B

Dad loved Washington and Oregon and the Milwaukee was there with his beloved SP&S.

This is August of 1973 and was probably a weekend between weeks that he had while working out of the Portland office.

See way before work at home and the internet, you actually had to leave your family behind and go to a different city to work when “Voluen-Told” to do so. Also that was how you proved your self & ascended in a company. Yep days gone by for sure.

Based on the RR Archive, this would have been five years into the upgrade from U28 to U30B.

I think that the Milwaukee is pretty special as well with their variety of equipment and their rural lines through the wilds of the high plains, into the northern midwest to the Lake Michigan. Some of my best childhood travels were along these lines and they are still discussed today on a Reddit thread occasionally..

Anyway here is to the simpler times and Kodachrome memories.

Portola Museum September 17th, 1996

Towards the end of his life, Dad was retired and restless. He spent a lot of time with my son and for that I am ever grateful.

Occasionally, he would feel well enough to take Mom and head to museums that he supported through donations, to “see where my money is going” and he’d smile.


This slide set is one photo with two approaches.

The first is only trimmed to avoid the second and Gimp did that for me – somehow. ( ) but I cannot outsmart the colour adjusting.

I like Gimp and appreciate it but the wife works for and it is more powerful in a lot of ways so buy it please :0) I want to retire someday.


The WP Museum at Portola, California <<< CLICK THIS LINK AND SUPPORT is family friendly, has hands on opportunities and is living history.

I really appreciate the composition here and although slightly trimmed at the right, the depth is fascinating, to me anyway. Actually it looks like an H.O. model.

Image of the original slide in the mount.
That’s the way it goes !

And then there is the reality of the image. Not the end of roll where you often see these sorts of things, but right in the middle.

But it was (is) a keeper and you may want to while away some time at their gallery : too.

Critter MAR 1991

photo of a white home made rail gasoline powered small vehicle with a trailer
Critter for Life

Here is a funny one. Seems to be home made or at least basic. The image is dark – sorry I am trying GIMP the freewear for images and its very different than Adobe Photoshop that is “too heavy” for the old lap top.

Anyway note the trailer and the fire extinguisher. No location noted

The Roundhouse & The Maverick

Photo a brick Southern Pacific Roundhouse showing a logo sign, bushes and windows.
The Roundhouse
Close up of the Ford Maverick in the larger image.
The Maverick

Sounds like an 90s’ Patrick Swayze squeal to “RoadHouse”, huh?

Not in this case though. This is March of 1971 and I think San Jose, California like a lot of this box of prints. In the previous post I mentioned that Dad bought a Maverick in Houston, Texas and there is is!

Dad flew to Texas for work one way with the intent to buy a car & rail fan on his way back I recall the excitement when Mom had to go get cash and put it in an envelope and pin it in my brother’s jacket and then took him to SFO for a one -way cash courier flight. Fred was a money mule ha ha.

Dad scored The Maverick and they traveled together for a week or two.

The Maverick was a trooper folks but Dad got took. The massive unibody area above the right rear wheel (see above) was actually a PILE of BONDO that cracked less than a year later. I recall that it almost looked like a map of the USA with each state re-sectioned – more like a map of all Counties. He was pretty disappointed if I recall.

“The Mav” or “Blue Thunder” was a 200 Cu IN straight 6 with a C3 automatic and 4 wheel drum brakes and it came with Air Conditioning. The AC was dealer add on for Texas and was removed pretty soon – Nor Cal needs no AC apparently. Dad, being a hill billy from Hillsborough, Ca., removed the R4 compressor and tossed it into teh ivy in the back yard. “Screw it, the next sap that owns this place can deal with it.” ( Yeah, I am that sap and I finally tossed it in about 2005 while on an ivy eradication program.

One Mav moment was chasing a triple header on the Sierra railroad (HEY LOOK A YOU TUBE LINK) that was a real wild ride for a 9 year old kid, Dad and brother.

Looking back I feel like Ralphie from A Christmas Story except it was a hot as balls foothills day

Dad driving, brother a little too young to drive, in the front passenger side of the split back vinyl bench seat. I am in the back “seat” such as it was. Pesky – always – in – the- way seat belts safely tucked out of the way for the life of the car.

The joy of alive steam and the thrill of the case.

Get the shot – run, get in !

Let’s go … gotta get ahead and park – oh look we are pacing !

Quick take the shot!!!!

GET IT ? GREAT let’s get ahead !

(Dad drove offensively – not defensively in these moments. As a child you adapt.)

HANG ON (screech off the asphalt to the gravel wide spot), dust and gravel fly.


( Like we were over Normandy in the 82nd Airborne June 5, 1944)

In position! on the photo line! ( no camera for me, I am just a kid ) and chuff chuff chuff here they come. Click and thumb – advance click, thumb advance the Mamayia {brother} and the Pentax {Dad} like these from Google Land .

Vintage Mamiya Camera
Vintage Pentax Camera

GET IN GO GO GO GO rrrrrrrr ( well fling of dirt and gravel anyway )

5 mph, 10 mph …. 20 mph,,, 30 mph and Dad hits the clutch to up shift…. slow motion as all hell carries out on the interior.

Se the C3 is an automatic and Dad was sued to driving teh truck that was a three on the tree so a 20 mph wind up was about the max to shift; in a chase 30.

I recall that my brother was on the dashboard sort of sideways with his head against the windshield.

Dad chested the steering wheel and expelled a Ssssshhhhhiiiiittttt really loud.

I recall mashing my face Jim Carey-like against the split back of the seats – right on teh split where the 1/4″ bead blue vinyl piping came together (my mouth tastes like vinyl as I write this).

Stuff flew everywhere – cameras and film bag and jackets. Floor mats too.

Dad didn’t allow food in cars and there were no water bottles or cell phones then of course.

It dawned on Dad ( he later admitted ) that as he reset into the upright position that he had been rammed from behind, no wait the transmission seized, no wait he hit something.

No wait he slammed the BRAKE (and he always had the best brakes for safety).

We lived – no damage at all and no one behind us to hit the Pinto style fuel filler so that was nice.

I suppose I’ll have to follow up with photos from this eventful chase and more about The Mav.

SP 3822 EMD SD9

Southern Pacific engine 3822 with one box car and a caboose.
SP 3822

The photo isn’t marked with date or location, just “Kodak Paper” on the back but I’d wager the 1970s near Roseville, Ca., based on the signal tower, teh landscape and the weight of the rails there.

My brother Fred IV was taking prints in black and white a lot then and he even developed his own film, though I cannot recall him printing but maybe he did have an enlarger in his dark room/closet.

The subject matter is so simple here a small move – a local perhaps with lots of textures on the left edge with louvers and doors, handrails and the typical fuel streak on the tank.

What stands out is the head lamp – high mounted and large… not a large as some I have seen though.

Close up photo of teh high mounted head lamp on SP engine 3822
Big High Lamp

The small point that I noticed when I lightened the image is the ever appreciated wave. I like to believe that workers had an appreciation for being appreciated by fans. That they understood the kid taking the photo was fascinated by the equipment and maybe even wanted to be them someday. Don’t tell me if its not true, you will ruin it. I can only relate when I was at the race track and kids would be taking photos and they would get some sort of acknowledgement from the workers there – drivers of course; but even worker bees.

Close up snip of the engineer waving to the photographer from the cab.
The Wave

Keep waiving to kids followers, we are all kids inside.