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BEHIND THE SCENES The Grand “Announcement, folks!


We’ll be stopping in about five minutes for a photo runby!” The passengers in my car, dome coach Silver Splendor, jerk to attention, ready to act on the in- structions about to be issued. We’re aboard the Grand Canyon Limited, an ambitious six day steam excursion sponsored by the Central Coast Rail- way Club, Trains and Travel Interna- tional, and the San Bernardino Rail- road Historical Society, operators of Santa Fe 3751. The Grand Canyon Limited operated


May 14-19, 2012, between Los Angeles and the rim of the Grand Canyon using BNSF Railway and the Arizona & Eastern to reach Williams. I was one of 21 car hosts on the trip, working the train four of the five days it was on the road. As a car host I was privy to much behind the scenes details. Thus I pre- sent to you a narrative of this historic trip, from the inside out.


Prelude Arrangements were made prior to


the trip to borrow the auxiliary water tender owned by the SP 4449 organiza- tion in Portland, Oregon. This key piece of equipment was needed to allow 3751 to make minimal water stops during some very long days. Carrying extra water was estimated to save about two hours off each day’s trip. In Portland,


26 AUGUST 2012 • RAILFAN.COM The Grand Canyon Limited consist-


ed of 14 privately owned passenger cars and a single Amtrak Horizon Fleet cafe car. Power for the special was Amtrak Phase II heritage P42 No. 66 and P40 No. 809; and of course, Santa Fe 3751, the star of the show. Departure on Track 12 from Los An- geles Union Passenger Terminal was


the tender was inspected by the neces- sary railroads and arrangements made to ship it to Los Angeles. A week before the trip a conductor on


the BNSF freight transporting the ten- der “bad ordered” the car’s coupler and set it out at Sakima, about five miles out of Vancouver, Wash. Without going into details, suffice it to say the auxil- iary water tender never made it south. This single event would impact schedule keeping for the entire trip, forcing 3751 to double the needed wa- ter stops and pushing our timekeeping out the window. Fortunately, the BNSF management team in Los Ange- les understood what happened and ap- proved our extra stops.


Day 1: Los Angeles, California, to Parker, Arizona, via BNSF to Cadiz, California, then on the Arizona & California to Park- er, Arizona. Distance: 337 Miles.


on time at 9:00 a.m. Our advertised time into Parker was 8:30 p.m. but no one onboard expected to keep that schedule. Once underway the 3751 ran like the well-oiled machine she is. After making a brief stop at San Bernardino for wa- ter, we began our assault on Cajon Pass. The run up the west slope was both dramatic and uneventful. For pas- sengers, the real entertainment was watching the railfan circus outside, jockeying for position to shoot then scrambling to hopscotch the train for their next effort. I must admit at times I suffered from a bit of trackside envy! Barstow was a much needed water


stop. In addition to watering the en- gine, we loaded additional passengers and our “dinner” lunches for the ex- tended trip to Parker. Watering took about 45 minutes. Once out of Barstow we crossed the


vast and quite toasty Mojave Desert on BNSF Railway’s busy Transcon main line. Passengers were entertained by the horde of cars chasing our train on parallel National Trails Highway, also known as Route 66. Railfans in the know were quick to note — and take advantage of — the irony of shooting Amtrak No. 66 along Route 66. Photog- raphers and videographers alike scrambled to all the usual spots along the famous highway: Amboy, Bagdad, Siberia, and Ash Hill. Finally, Extra 3751 East arrived at Cadiz at 4:15 p.m. where we pulled in-


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