Every May for the last number of years has brought on Fullerton Railroad Days. This free event takes place in the parking lot at the former Santa Fe Railroad Depot in Fullerton California one weekend out of the month.
This year was particularly special again at Santa Fe Northern #3751 was on hot display. Hot display meant that the locomotive was brought in under steam on Thursday and left the depot under its own power Sunday evening.
While anticipating when the locomotive would make the move from downtown Los Angeles to Fullerton, my co-worker, Craig, again used his connections to find out that the locomotive would leave Los Angeles sometime after 7:00pm Thursday evening, April 30th. So another co-worker, Dave, talked me into going downtown to watch it leave through BNSF’s Hobart Yard and then try and catch it through Norwalk, CA. The key was hoping that BNSF could fit the move into traffic right around 7:00pm. All we knew was it would move sometime after 7:00pm.
Luckily Dave has a good scanner and after we watched the BNSF GEVO couple to the locomotive we moved out and waiting at the diamonds at Hobart Tower, on the west end of Hobart Yard. Not long after, BNSF #8357 keyed the radio to leave Amtrak’s coach yard with ATSF #3751 in tow. The reason the locomotive was pulled to Fullerton was so that BNSF did not have to spend more time tying up the main taking the train down towards Anaheim to turn the locomotive on the wye. This way, the locomotive was facing the direction they wanted to display the locomotive and would allow it to power itself back to LA on Sunday.
Interesting note is BNSF #8357 was going backwards as well since it would be on display at Railroad Days also. So since the GEVO was running in reverse, and there are no ditch lights on the rear pilot of the locomotive, the move was limited to 30 mph.
The fun part of the night (for me) was when we were able to pace the locomotive along 26th Street, which parallels Hobart Yard. There were 3 vehicles pacing this magnificent engine, and Dave and I were one of them. So I like to say I was one of the first to see 3751 for the weekend. Below’s a video of the pace and of the locomotive leaving Fullerton.
After we ran out of road to pace 3751 along Hobart Yard, Dave and I decided to forgo Norwalk and just wait at Fullerton Depot for the locomotive. As most know, I have helped Wally at the Adam’s steam show a couple years, so I know what coal smoke smells like while in a steam application. When 3751 rolled into Fullerton, the feel and smell and character of this locomotive is totally different, since it burns oil, to what I have ever witnessed before. It is quite an experience to say the least.
Hopefully, since the locomotive has been fired and fueled once already this year, I will be able to chase this great locomotive at least one more time this year.