Arnold “Pumps Up” Santa Margarita

…for votes. Oct. 9th brought a pretty neat excuse to fire up two locomotives on a Monday. Hint: In November, California voters will decide whether or not his opposition is a “girly-man.”

If you guessed Arnold Schwarzenegger, ja vol! For the second Republican fundraiser at the Santa Margarita Ranch, the Governator himself made his presence in the Asistencia for about an hour. Plans originally called for him to ride in on the train, possibly in the cab if he so chose, but at the last minute plans shifted to two after-dinner runs for the guests. There was some dissapointment, but with enough crew on hand, it was decided to make a “training day.” In the early afternoon, a freight was assembled with Harpur No. 1, two Rio Grande boxcars, and newly-acquired ex-International Railways of Central America caboose No. 303. After a complicated switching move, the freight was run around the Loop before Train 2, consisting of the four Disney coaches, pulled out of the hole for No. 1 to drop her train. With No. 1 in the clear, we then backed the four Disney cars into the siding and fouled the mainline to watch the moment of truth – whether or not Phil’s new coupling pocket on the No. 1 would line up with the Disney coaches! Luckily, it did, and the Harpur took two of the Disney cars up to the granary while Phil and I shut down the No. 2. By this time, it’s about 4:30 and guests are starting to arrive. I received some strange looks from these dapper folks as I walked back to the siding carrying a rear window off the No. 2’s cab, which I had removed earlier in the day to have some elbow room! (space is a commodity in that cab)

With the Harpur off a fire for a bit, the crew turned their attention towards the biggest decision of the evenining – rotisserie chicken, or tri-tip? Following our own refueling, we then headed back over to the Harpur, where Phil and Jeff’s morning project, the newly-mounted gauge lights, were turned on for the first time in the dark. Cool!

Time flew by and, soon enough, the man of the evening’s motorcade rolled through no more than 20′ away. Since the Governator wouldn’t be riding with us, we agreed we should at least make our presence known. What better way than to sound an SP 6-chime at close range? Jarret re-lit and, as the motorcade headed out an hour or so later, Jeff let ‘er rip as the Gov’s black SUV drove right past. He may have visited a dozen other cities that day, but after that, I’d be surprised if his stop in Santa Margarita didn’t stand out. At the very least, we know he heard us!

With steam in ‘er belly, we proceeded to make our two runs with the passenger train. Jeff hogged while I fired, my first time on the No. 1. Around 9:30, the Vulcan was fired up again to perform some switching. No. 1 was put on the point of the freight again and, in the spirit of fun, Jeff and Karl took it around for another, night run. The kerosene marker lamps were lit, and the sights, and sounds, were something to behold. We shut down the Vulcan around 10:45 and the 1’s crew didn’t tie up until after 11.

We didn’t meet the Governator, but maybe “[he’ll] be back.” (Well – probably not, but at least we all had a great time!)

E.J. KELLEY

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~ by pcrailroad on October 10, 2007.

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