Northern California Explorer
June 2-6, 2011

Don Winter


This trip is to ride the Central Coast Chapter's Northern California Explorer on the Inside Gateway to Klamath Falls, starting in the Bay Area. We take the San Joaquin to and from Emeryville to join this trip.

Thursday, June 2nd, 2012

We leave home early (for us) in the morning, and take the 8:45 am Ambus from Tehachapi to Bakersfield, in time to catch the 10:05 am San Joaquin north to Emeryville. The (guaranteed) connection is made with ease.


F59PH            2008
Coach              8017    Tuolumne River
Coach              8030    Noyo River
Diner                8808    xxxx Valley
Coach              8016    San Luis Rey River
Cab-car           6965     Point St. George          

Train 713, 6-2-2011



Bakersfield 10:05 am 10:05 am
Wasco 10:31 10:31
Corcoran 11:02 11:16
Hanford 11:26 11:33-36
Fresno 12:05 pm 12:10-14 pm
Madera 12:29 12:37-40
Mercd 1:08 1:06-12
Turlock-Denair 1:28 1:37
Modesto 1:42 1:49-51
Stockton 2:18 2:18-22
Antioch-Pittsburg 2:53 2:49-54
Martinez 3:19 3:14-19
Richmond 3:44 3:59-4:01
Emeryville 4:03 4:11

San Joaquin route description

Chris walks the train to get the consist, encountering Jed Hughes and Scott & Lesley (I don't know their last name). The latter two come to sit with us at our four-person table. The train stops for ten minutes at Angiola to meet Train 702, accounting for the loss of time between Wasco and Corcoran. Between Hanford and Modesto, the train meets eight eastbound BNSF freights, as well as Trains 712 and 714. We know there is a westbound intermodal hotshot right behind us, so this is a pretty intensive use of the passing facilities. I observe that BNSF is installing new signals (turned sideways as yet) from Fresno to Medesto.

The trains meets Train 716 as we cross the San Joaquin Delta, and is overtaken by Capitol Corridor Train 541 at Martinez. The signals are not working between Martinez (RV031) and RV027, which means we first sit for two minutes for Train 541 to get in the clear ahead of us, and then run at restricted speed for those four miles. WE meet an eastbound UP intermodal at RV030, and then meet Trains 534 before Richmond and 536 before Emeryville.

At Emeryville, we cross the tracks on the footbridge and walk the short distance to what is now the Hyatt Somerville Suites hotel, where we get a room on the top floor on the track side and I watch and photogrpah the trains for the next couple of hours. We eat in the hotel's bar/restaurant, where the service is slow.

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Train time isn't until 2 pm, so we eat the included breakfast, running into Mia Mather while doing so, and then I watch trains from the room until the noon checkout time. We then walk back to the Emeryville station, where we start to run into many people we know, including Greg Molloy, Joe Maloney, Bart Jennings, Bob & Diane Heavenrich, Chris Guenzler, Dave Arthur, Carol & Thom Sulanke, and a number of rare mileage folks whom we recognize but can't name. The luggage truck arrives about 1 pm, and Chris hand them our two bags. Waiting outside, we see Robert Stanley, David & Ginny Bousquet, from LA, and John Wilson and his wife Mary (who has a different last name), from Livermore. Chris and Debby Skow are soon handing out lanyards to identify people in the cars for which they have sold the tickets, including the class we are riding in, and we get ours..

The train pulls in from the West Oakland Yard, and I manage to get most of the consist as it apses, while Chris, as usual, works her way through the scrum at the boarding door to get us highly desirable seats in our dome of chouice in Silver Lariat. Mia is sitting across from us, and is soon joined by John ("long john") Moorhouse, a volunteer at the Feather River Railroad Museum,.who is an interesting but overly loud companion.


P42                88
P42                90
Private      800045    Caritas
Coach        82620
Coach        82560
Coach        82540
Cafe           58107
Coach        82530
Coach        82710
Full Dome   10031    Ocean View
Full Dome       511    Nenana
Full Dome 800862     Super Dome
Dome       800190    Silver Lariat
Dome       800392    Plaza Santa Fe
Dome       800604    Silver Splendor
Business    800233    Santa Fe 33

Train 944, 6-3-2011




2:00 pm

1:45-2:08 pm

Richmond 2:15 2:19-21
Martinez 2:45 2:48-54
Davis 3:30 3:54-59
Sacramento 3:55
Oroville 6:00 6:20

Coast Starlight route description

BNSF Inside Gateway route description

From 2:59 to 3:14 pm, we wait on the approach to the bridge over the Carquinez Strait for an oil tanker to pass below the raised span. Amtrak Train 541 is disabled east of Suisun, and we pass it with care. Chris and I get tablemates at Davis, where the train meets Train 543, and Mia gets another one at Sacramento. Train 5, California Zephyr, waits for us to clear Haggin. On the former Western Pacific, we meet a westboind manifest at Mowkes, and another at Oroville Yard, where we sit for eight minutes while the operating crew, tour crew, and UP Dispatcher agree on exactly where the train will unload, and where it will be parked for the night.

The train makes two spots at the former WP depot, and our rear cars are the second spot. Many of the passengers are going into the depot (now a restaurant) for a barbecue, while others (including us) are heading directly for the buses. Tom Glover points us to the correct bus for the Holiday Inn Express, where Mia, Greg and Bart are also going. After check-in, Chris and I head across the street to a family restaurant which is overwhelmed by two dozen or so people arriving at once, at the time the staff were expecting things to start winding down. They run out of baked pototos (part of the days special), and have a terrible time fixing a pot of decaf. coffee! However, the food is good and we're in bed in a reasonable time.

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Silver Lariat is not serving breakfast this morning, so we get up and eat the included breakfast at the hotel before boarding a bus (in the rain) to get back to the boarding point, where we wait (in the rain) for the train to arrive. Chris scrambles up ahead to get us our seats, in the same place as yesterday, but with different seatmates. Today's tablemates are from Red Bluff (and Portola), joining the excursion here and leaving in Chico. The husband, Ken, has been both a highway engineer with Caltrans and a water engineer with the state water project. he has also been a volunteer at the Feather River Railroad Museum, so has many stories to swap with "long John". Ken's father had been a Southern Pacific locomotive engineer, back in steam days, and was the first person to take a train through the Tehachapis after the 1952 earthquake, so he has much of interest to impart.

Train 946, 6-4-2011




9:00 am

9:00 am

Keddie Wye

Klamath Falls 7:00 pm 8:15 pm

The rain will continue all day, but is light enough for the view in Feather River Canyon to be spectacular. However, we cannot see either Lassen Peak or Mt. Shasta from the train today. We're served a cooked lunch at our seats, after departing from Keddie Wye. Along the way, north of Keddie Wye, we lose 16, 39 and 13 minutes meeting two different southbound BNSF manifests, at Moccasin and  Westwood, and simply throwing a handthrow switch at Hall's Flat. At State Line, the Amtrak crew expires on the hours-of-service law, and the BNSF pilot crew takes over (with permission of both railroads). The train crawls through the BNSF yard at Klamath Falls, where it meets a southbound BNSF unit grain train from Vancouver, BC, to Guernsey, CA.

Chirs and I are almost the last peole on the first bus to our hotel, where check-in is handled very well, and almost everyone immediately heads for the adjacent Sizzler. The folks there had been about to break down the salad bar when forty people walk in, and they stay open late to accommodate us all.

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

The start is earlier today, as the train must clear the Klamath Falls platform before Amtrak Train 14, the northbound Coast Starlight arrives, just after 8 am. We don't take the included hotel breakfast, since we're going to be fed breakfast on the train, but the first bus fills up and leaves before we get out there. Nonetheless, we're on the platform at the station, in the morning sunshine, when the train backs in (it has reversed overnight), and get our usual seats. Our tablemate today is a woman with whom we has been on the trip to the Copper Canyon, back in November, 2004. She lives in Chico, and is one of the folks who had joined the excursion in Oroville.

Train 947, 6-5-2011



Klamath Falls

8:00 am

8:01 am


Chico 2:00 pm 2:05-19 pm
Sacramento 4:30 3:55-4:22
Davis 5:00 4:36-41

Martinez 5:35 5:25-29
Richmond 6:05 6:00-02
Emeryville 6:20 6:12

We can see Mt. Shasta (75 miles away) almost immediately after departure from Klamath Falls. It takes the crew nine minutes to throw a handthrow switch at South Klamath Falls. We stop at Worden for four minutes, to meet Train 14. Breakfast is served along here. The train also meets train MRVHK (a Roseville to Hinkle manifest) at Azalea-Mott, alongside Mt. Shasta, after we have had 150 minutes of viewing the mountain from various angles from our dome vantage point. The train then drops down into the Sacramento River Canyon, which is somewhat less sunny. Lake Shasta is completely full, with the water lapping against facilities that once were high and dry. South of Redding, out in the broad Sacramento River Valley, the sun starts to heat up the dome, and the air-conditioning has to be adjusted to compensate. However, clouds prevent us from seeing Lassen. We're served lunch out in the broad valley, finishing up just before the Chico stop.

At Berg, we meet a northbound Z-train, just before turning from the former SP to the former WP for the run into Sacramento. At Davis, our tablemates from Friday have a miscommunication, and she gets off with both suitcases while he stays on looking for them. A special stop is made at Suisun to let him off. After Martinez, the trains stops for two minutes for an eastbound freight to clear.

At Emeryville, I take a couple of photos of the train, and we walk over to the same hotel as Thursday night. We eat dinner in the bar/restaurant, and have an interesting chat there with Jed Hughes, before going to bed.

Monday, June 6th, 2010

There is no longer a bus to Tehachapi connecting with Train 714, so we have to get up early to take Train 712. We have the included breakfast and then walk over to the Emeryville station, where Chris checks two pieces of luggage to Bakersfield. The train is a few minutes late arriving from Oakland Jack London Square.


Cab-car        8302    Mt. Shasta
Cab-car        8309    Mt. San Gorgonia
Cafe             8803    San Gabriel Valley
Coach          6460    Morsey? Beach
Coach          8202    San Diego Bay
P42                   88

Train 712, 6-6-2011




7:40 am

7:47-52 am

Richmond 7:49 8:01-03
Martinez 8:19 8:28-37
Anticoh-Pittsburg 8:39 8:56-9:00
Stockton 9:17 9:34-43
Modesto 9:45 10:12-15
Turlock-Denair 9:58 10:28-30
Merced 10:31 10:52-11:12
Madera 10:59 11:38-40
Fresno 11:35 12:22-28 pm
Hanford 12:09 pm 12:59-1:03
Corcoran 12:25 1:18-20
WAsco 12:56 1:52
Bakersfield 1:41 2:15

The train meets Train 525 at Berkeley, Train 11 at Richmond, Train 527 at Pinole, Train 529 at Martinez, a BNSF local with oil tanks at Pittsburg and Train 711 at Bixler. The crew keeps telling us the train will be full, and sure enough, at Stockton, it gets very close to full, with only a very few empty seats on the upper level of each car. The train meets six BNSF westbounds and overtakes one BNSF eastbound along the way to Bakersfield, passes an SJVR train with CEFX 3029 waiting to come out at Hammond, and meets Train 713 at Figarden (16 minute delay), and Train 715 as Wasco. At Merced, where the locomotive crew changes (to permit single-manning), there is trouble with the doors not closing, and someone has to go to the (unmanned) locomotive to reset a switch. We seem to lose time at every stop, leading Trudy (gcb), the Dispatcher, to get quite perturbed with our progress south of Fluhr.

At Bakersfield, Chris gives the baggage claims to the bus driver, and eventually the luggage is transferred to our bus. The bus gets us to Tehachapi around 3:30 pm, where we put the bags in our parked car and drive home.