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1927 Baldwin 0-4-2Doesn't Everyone Collect Trains?

Raise your hand if your uncle owned his own personal steam engines. Uh huh, I thought not. Not to say my family is weird, but at my grandfather's place of business, his sons built a half loop of track around the building. It ran along the front, around the back of the building, and then inside through an overhead loading door. Suffice it to say real estate was A LOT cheaper then. My uncle has since passed away, so some of the details presented here may be a little speculative on my part. He also delighted in playing "I've got a secret" games. Who knows if the stories he did tell me were true.

The photo on the right is my uncle's 1927 Baldwin in revenue service on a logging railraod in Japan. They were about to cease steam operations, so he bought one of the engines and had it shipped to California, completing a journey from the US to Japan and back.

Orange Empire Railway Museum

This is an early 20th century single truck electric street car. My uncle once told me, on a trip to Kyoto, he came in contact with the mayor, and mentioned he would love to buy one of the city's old street cars. Some time later, a letter arrived notifying him his street car was on its way. Sounds a little crazy to me. You can ride it today at the Orange Empire Railway Museum.

Interior of Kyoto Street Car

The interior of the car really does look as though it was plucked off the line in Japan one afternoon, and landed in Los Angeles the next. My aunt recently gave me my uncle's own stereo photos. Included are pictures of the car being loaded on a truck, and then offloaded at the museum. When I was little, I used to crawl around on this thing in the warehouse. Restoration work was accomplished at the Orange Empire Railway Museum.

1927 Baldwin 0-4-2 "Dagny"

Now here's something you don't see every day, my uncle's 1927 Baldwin 0-4-2 being lifted onto a truck. In December 1998, after 30 plus years in Goleta, "Dagny" is on her way to a new home at the San Luis Obispo Railway Museum.

Baldwin Steam Engine

Every once in a while they would pull Dagney out of the warehouse and steam her back and forth. I've met quite a few folks who have vague memories of a railroad spur running through Old Town. What they remember is seeing Dagney moving back and forth in front of our building. In case you're wondering, yes, it's Dagney as in Dagney Taggart. Like I said, my uncle was an odd duck.

Glenbrook Vintage Railway Ja Class 1250

NZR Ja 1250 in service at the Glenbrook Vintage Railway, March 2008. The last J class engines were withdrawn from service in 1971. This example, manufactured at the NZR's Hillside shops, and restored by the GVR, regularly operates during the summer months. "Diana," named for my aunt, Is a beautiful machine and is still certified for mainline service.

NZR Ja 1250 4-8-2

Steam engines are a treasure trove of opportunity for the stereo photographer. There's so much detail, and dripping water and wafting steam add action to the scene. I was just about to head in for some close ups when one of the docents grabbed me and said to hurry up and get in the cab for the next run. Okay, I can do that. When we got back a film crew were there wanting to interview my aunt. That wasn't going to happen, so I wound up having to entertain the film crew and never got another chance to shoot the engine. No worries, it just gives me an excuse to visit again next time I'm in New Zealand.

NZR Ja Class 1250

New Zealand Railway Ja Class 1250

Keeping the big 4-8-2 fed and watered is a hot and thankless job. Watching the fireman's workload at low speeds with only a handful of cars, one wonders what it must have been like shoveling coal for hours on end while pulling heavy loads. Shooting stereos with slow film in low light, while attempting to stay out of the way was a bit of a task. I wish I had my other camera with its 24mm wide angle on this trip. You couldn't get far enough back to get it all in.