SUBSCRIBER & MEMBER LOGIN

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Showtime in Pasadena

“The bark of those locomotives . . . was a sound I have never forgotten’’

ZTWWI02_03
“Big, beautiful” Santa Fe 4-8-4 3779 talks it up through Pasadena’s Lamanda Park area with First No. 3, the California Limited for Los Angeles, in June 1945.
Stan Kistler
I lived in Pasadena, Calif., during the final days of steam on the Santa Fe. I particularly remember the 3776-class 4-8-4’s built by Baldwin in 1941. These were big, strong, fast, and very beautiful.

In those days, passenger trains used a single-track line from Los Angeles to Pasadena and on to San Bernardino. The Los Angeles-Pasadena section ran generally north on a ruling grade of 1 percent including the station area and a sharp curve.

Eastbound, at Pasadena those big engines would work steam right up until the mid-section of the train was abreast of the station building, then the engineer would use his air to stop the train gently against a partly open throttle. On starting, he’d open his throttle (experience told him how far) and then slowly release his air brakes, giving his train a smooth, no-jerk start.

The bark of those locomotives as they picked up the load and got into that sharp curve—still on the grade—was a sound I have never forgotten. As the curve ended, so did the grade, and then came a flatland run on good roadbed of 80 mph or better to San Bernardino and the foot of Cajon Pass.


First published in Winter 2002 Classic Trains magazine



Learn more about railroad history by signing up for the Classic Trains e-mail newsletter. It's a free monthly e-mail devoted to the golden years of railroading.

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Read and share your comments on this article
COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE

Want to leave a comment?

Only registered members of ClassicTrainsMag.com are allowed to leave comments. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.
0
Before Penn Central

Before Penn Central

Stories about the PRR, NYC, NH and PC.

FREE NEWSLETTER SIGN UP

Get the Classic Trains twice-monthly newsletter

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Classic Trains magazine. Please view our privacy policy