Excursion Trip Report:
PRS EXCURSION 547 REVISITS SP's COAST LINE
by MARTI ANN DRAPER, EXCURSION DIRECTOR
On Saturday, March 29, 2014, 51 PRS members and their guests took a step back in time to see where and how the Southern Pacific placed depot buildings along
their coast line between Los Angeles and Ellwood. A feature of the trip was visiting the combination standard number 22 depot which was built in 1901 to serve
Goleta and which has been moved to the South Coast Railroad Museum to be lovingly maintained by their volunteers. At one time, the SP had over 100 depots built
to this design, several of which were on the Coast Line. On this trip, we personally witnessed three which still survive.
The first leg of the trip was on Amtrak Surfliner 763. The crew had roped off a section of the cab car, which was in the rear, for our group to use. This provided us the
opportunity to use the car's PA system to point out depot sites and historic routings along the way. We had truly chosen a perfect day as we skirted the Pacific in
clear view of the Channel Islands. Amtrak treated our group to apple juice and coffee to wash down our breakfast Danish rolls, There was an interruption when out
train went into emergency. Happily, our engineer, Jim Standifer, had been able to avoid the train coming in contact with a trespasser by quickly making that
emergency application. (Sadly, the next day, the same crew encountered a different trespasser who was intent on taking his own life, and that trip ended abruptly)
Our train terminated at the Amtrak Goleta station, where Amtrak has its Goleta Maintenance Facility. This location, which was then called "La Patera," is over a
mile north of the place where the 1901 depot was constructed. The trains that terminate there go through an automated train wash. Several of our members were
able to photograph the crew in the process of washing the train.
We were met by driver, Barry, with our chartered bus from Santa Barbara Airbus. We went straight to the 1901 Goleta station building which is now north and east
of the Amtrak facility in a county park at 300 N. Los Cameros Road. The staff was just arriving when we got there, and we were free to stroll around the grounds
while they opened the depot and the store, and got their 71/2 inch gauge train ready to receive passengers.
The depot interior has been completely refurbished to look as it might have during its early days as an active SP office. We were shown the agent's office, the
operators bay and telegraph key, and the freight rooni and scales. Those who chose a train ride ran on loops through the poppies and got a fresh spring vista of the
building. In addition to the miniature train, the depot grounds included a section of full-sized track with a bay window caboose sitting on it. Most of us took a self-
guided tour through the caboose, which has the distinction that it has not been modernized, vandalized, or turned into birthday party car.
After seeing a real SP standard depot up close and personal, we re-boarded our bus and went to lunch in Santa Barbara at a mall on North State Street. After lunch,
we went to view the former SP station in Santa Barbara, built in 1905 and now serving 12 Amtrak trains a day. As a special treat for our group, the City of Santa
Barbara opened up the former SP business car 142, the Santa Barbara, for us to explore. The car sits beside the to be only the second rail history group given a
chance to see inside the car since it was placed at Santa Barbara for display.
Train 1790 was right on time and bore a special treat; private cars Overland Trail, Silver Splendor and Acorna on the head end, right behind the south locomotive.
Although several of our members got off at Oxnard, Simi Valley, and Chatsworth, the majority of members stayed on to Los Angeles to complete out -Escape on the
I work on this line two days every week and have studied books and maps to try and figure out where the SP had buildings back in the days when the SP was the
"biggest thing- in most of the communities through which it passed. However, although I am in Goleta while my train gets washed, it is too far to go to the
depot during my layover. I was thrilled to be able to go there with a full allotment of my PRS friends. Thanks to all of you for coming along! Thanks also to our
Amtrak crews on both trains, who extended their hospitality to us; Train Attendant George, who arranged to get us drinks ; to Bruce and Phyllis at the South
Coast Railway Museum, who gave their time to show us their wonderful depot; to Carol of Amtrak and Victor and Rebecca of Santa Barbara for arranging for our visit
in the business car, and to James for letting us in; to Will Walters, for helping us marshall the troops and get them fed; but most of all, to Andy Novak, who helped
to plan the trip, did all the arrangements for the bays, spent long hours preparing the informative 14-page photo/timetable/map brochure, and then acted as a leader
throughout. Don't let Andy have all this fun by himself! Remember, we are always hoping to hear from any of you who want to join in the "behind the scenes"
logistics of putting on an excursion.