In conjunction with the UP Historical Society meeting in Ontario, CA, Union Pacific is running an excursion train from the Ontario Metrolink Station, on the UP Los Angeles Subdivision, to Barstow and return, crossing Cajon Pass on the Santa Fe trackage rights. Pacific Railroad Society has arranged for seats on this train, and we’ve elected to ride in a vista dome. We (Chris, son Henry, and me) drive from Sierra Madre to the Ontario station early Saturday morning, and wait with the assembled crowd as the first Challenger 4-6-6-4 in LA since 1947, UP 3985, pulls her train comprising the UP excursion passenger car fleet into the station. Our seats turn out to be in Dome-Observation car City of San Francisco, located at the rear of the train. We manage to get seats together at a table on the left side of the train, although Chris spends much of the time sitting with the two guys across the aisle (one of whom turns out to work for Xerox in El Segundo). Dale Green is also on this train, but since he doesn't have dome tickets, he won't come up to say hello!
At West Riverside Junction, we find the signal is red and have to flag it (stop and proceed) on the Santa Fe dispatcher’s instructions. We have to repeat this process at several signals on the way to San Bernardino, where the train makes a water stop.
We have to repeat the “stop and proceed” process at several signals on the climb to Cajon Summit, as well, causing us to fall well behind schedule. (It turns out that some renegade railfans are causing the signals to show red, so that they can ‘get a better look at the train’.) All the way across the pass, Henry is bouncing around from our table to the front of the dome, and to the other side of the car, taking as many photographs as he can. At summit, Santa Fe runs a hotshot intermodal train, led by C40-8W 972 and three sisters, past us by bringing it up the steeper track 2. At Barstow, the train pulls onto the west leg of the wye and stops there for watering and servicing of the locomotive. Once serviced, the train pulls through the wye and backs into Barstow, where the temperature is in the upper 90s, all the way past the yard, then stops and restarts heading back to Ontario. On the way back, we have no more signal trouble, and thus manage to get in a photo runby just east of Cajon Summit. We get back to Ontario as darkness is starting to fall.