Santa Fe 3759 Final Run Over Cajon Pass

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Santa Fe’s “final run” of steam power over Cajon Pass took place in 1955 when 3759 was brought out of storage for a special excursion dubbed “Farewell to Steam”.

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Santa Fe’s “final run” of steam power over Cajon Pass took place on February 6, 1955 when locomotive No. 3759 was brought out of storage at the request of the Railway Club of Southern California for a special excursion dubbed “Farewell to Steam”. This historic event was captured on film by noted railfan photographer J. Allen Hawkins, and his colorful images vividly convey the excitement and the drama of that final day in the life of the Santa Fe steam era. Come back to 1955 and big steam over Cajon with engine ATSF 3759.

The powerful Northern-type locomotive pulled its special train out of Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal for the climb over Cajon Pass to Barstow, returning to Los Angeles later that same day. Along the way it stopped at favorite railfan spots for photography run-bys, giving you the opportunity to experience the excursion from trackside, inside the cab of the locomotive, even from the roofs of the cab and the tender. Clear skies and magnificent Cajon scenery added their special touches to the great steam action you’ll see here. It’s a fascinating trip back in time, bringing back to life the glory days of Santa Fe steam!

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1 review for Santa Fe 3759 Final Run Over Cajon Pass

  1. rickyfreni

    In these soon to be 65 year old films on a 28 year old videotape, it starts with a short memoir of J. Allen Hawkins (September 17, 1916-June 13, 1986(the same day the Olsen twins are born)). Now on with the show! After the opening titles, there is an animated map of the line from LA to Barstow, which is a distance of 150 miles. Next a bird’s eye view of LAUPT is shown, as well as scenes from the ground. Next 3759 is being prepared for the all day special, with only 8 coaches. As the clock stroke 7:25 in the morning, 3759 leaves the station, then passing mission tower, and rolls down the line to San Bernardino. The price of the excursion back then was only 7 one dollar bills total. Compare to other double and triple digit prices of the modern times. Boy were things very cheap back in those decades! As 3759 leaves LAUPT, note that one of the coaches is wearing the farewell to steam (1884-1955) banner. Onboard the train, a couple of the streamlined red and silver f unit consists are waiting for 3759 to pass by. In the cab, foreman Arthur Murdoch reads the train orders. Operating at the controls is engineer Howard Bryant, and fireman Clyde Kyer. Another look at the map is shown. The line from LA to San Bernardino, is at a steep grade of .85%, and it is at 1076 ft. Back in the coach, 3759 ran along the West Bank of the Los Angeles river, then it goes over the bridge, and whistles through the crossing between Mt. Washington, and Montesido heights. The look from the observation car is shown. 2 trackside shots show 3759 going across one of The trestle bridges into Pasadena. Arriving at Pasadena, 3759 whistles by the photographers and other onlookers. The engine makes a passenger stop. And with another load of passengers onboard, 3759 leaves Pasadena for the run to San Bernardino before the big climb. Most of the crossings from LA to Barstow, have old fashioned wig wags. East of Pasadena, there is some fast pacing going on. Somewhere between Pasadena and San Bernardino, 3759 rolls by the crossing. This clip was also shown in steam to the Grand Canyon from 2002. Back onboard, the train rolls through the flatlands, then from the ground, 3759 passes by some interesting orchards, and commercial nurseries. Azusa station is passed by with a built in semaphore signal. At Glendora, the line turns south reaching Route 66 to Pomona. Pomona flies by and a quick flash of the depot is shown, followed by the pacific electric streetcars and switch tower at Claremont. Moments later, 3759 whistles by the station at Kaiser. At realto, the special must wait for the super chief which is running an hour late. In no time at all, 3759 arrives at San Bernardino for a water stop, and to pick up more passengers. While approaching the platforms, a streamlined F3 warbonet passes by. After recoupling the coaches while running light to take water, 3759 leaves San Bernardino for the big climb to Barstow. Another look in the cab is shown. According to the map, the tracks from San Bernardino to the Summit of Cajon Pass, is only 34.6 miles. The entire train must climb at a steep 3% grade. The climb begins with more pacing going on, then comes Mr. Hawkins filming the engine from the top of the tender, and back to pacing again. Next 3759 passes by Devore. Afterwards, more scenes from the top of the tender is shown. The special crosses cajon creek. Approaching keenbroke, the original water tower is seen on the far left side of the screen. Next it makes a meet with a westbound freight led by blue and yellow F units. From the ground At blue cut, 3759 makes the 2.2% grade. Back on the tender, the engine is still working hard, and still whistling as always. Next another westbound blue and yellow f unit powered freight waits on a siding as not only 3759 passes by, but also makes a whistle to horn call. One of the most photographed locations on the cajon pass line, is at the 10% Sullivan’s curve. Along the way, 3759 whistles by the automobiles and onlookers at the highway 138 crossing. Back on the ground, 3759 crosses cajon creek again. During the photo runby at Alray, the locomotive passes by an eastbound freight with a caboose. When the freight stops, 3759 makes a second runby, this time its from the ground. While crossing the bridge over old Route 66, the northern makes a nasty wheelslip. With everyone back onboard, 3759 makes another runby at a different location. Before entering tunnel 1, the special passes by the tell-tale pole, and does it again at the second tunnel. The San Gabriel mountains are covered in snow as 3759 approaches the summit of the pass for yet another photo runby. With everyone back on board, the special makes the curved cut. From the top of the tender at the top of the pass, 3759 passes by the 4 track siding, a station, and a funeral car, not to mention a lone tank car. According to the animated map, it’ll take 56 miles from cajon summit to Barstow. The downhill grade is at 1.6%. Picking up speed on its way to Barstow, the engine crosses the Mojave river as it approaches The Mojave desert, while passing by a westbound freight. As the clock stroke 12:30, 3759 is approaching its final destination, Barstow California. Here passengers can have a bite at the Harvey house, while the special must be turned on the wye to head for home. In the wye, a Fairbanks Morse diesel switcher number 2349 must tow the entire train back to Barstow. Back at the depot, 3759 takes on water from a fire hose. A siding with diesels are shown. And with everyone back on board, it’s time to go home, as the clock stroke 2:00. Leaving Barstow, 3759 passes by some streamlined F units, and the yard with a control tower. On the return trip the crew has changed: Roy buckles takes the controls, while Bob Anderson is the fireman. Seen from the observation car, the entire tracks seems away to infinity, even if the steam journey approaches the end. Back in the cab, Mr. Buckles Completes the adjustments. Outside, 3759 picks up the pace at Helendale on its way to Victorville. The eastbound Grand Canyon limited passes by. Afterwards a freight with a quartet of zebra striped GP7s heads for Barstow. At Oro grande, 3759 makes a stop at a siding to let the mail train pass by. The station with the semaphore signals at oro Grande are interesting to look at. Once the mail train pulled by the red and silver warbonet F units passes by, the eastbound El Capitan races by. Note the dome car in the middle of the train. Once the signal turned green, 3759 is back on the mainline again. In the rear shot, the cement plant is seen in the background. In the cab, Bob is cleaning out the firebox. Once the firebox is cleaned, Roy brings the entire train back to track speed. Sometimes there will be plenty of photo runbys on the return trip. For example: 3759 crosses the bridge and discharges passengers at the lower narrows. There are also plenty of passengers from the observation car enjoying the runby. Once underway, the entire runby is almost perfect, due to one of the tell tale poles nearly blocking the parts of the locomotive. With everyone back on board, 3759 approaches Victorville. From the top of the tender, the locomotive climbs the 1.6% grade east of summit. The sun is starting to go down, as 3759 is still rolling through the Mojave desert. While the sun goes down, the arrival at San Bernardino would be at 4:15, and Pasadena at 5:45, before dropping its fires At LAUPT as the clock stroke 15 minutes after 6:00. Thankfully 3759 is still on display at Kingman Arizona. At least sister Engine 3751 is still operational, somewhat, due to Amtrak’s worst president Dick Anderson creating the no steam giants allowed policy along with 611, 765, 261, 4449, 4501, 630, and 2926. All in all, Jim Knight did an outstanding job narrating this 55 minute video.

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