Last Tuesday night, the volunteer P.C.R.R. crew threw a going away dinner party for Phil and Karell Reader last Tuesday night at Players in Atascadero. There were some 30 in attendance, including some friends from Hillcrest. Phil and Karell were honored by the San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum, the Santa Maria Valley Railroad, the Hillcrest Gang, and of course, the P.C.R.R. crew.
Phil Reader was instrumental in the development of the Pacific Coast Railroad in becoming what it is today. In four years, he took a roster of white elephant equipment that could barely get around a mile-and-a-half loop of track and oversaw its development into a functional railroad, instituting proper practices and an effective rule book/safety training program. He brought in Bill Farquhar and Jeff Badger, among others – even Kent Jefferies and Tom “Iron Bar” Shreve on occasion – to assist him, making for a combined 100+ years of experience among those individuals alone. Suffice to say, the overwhelming majority of improvements which have made the railroad what it is today are either directly or indirectly because of Phil Reader. The volunteer crew has been priveleged to share his knowledge and learn from his more than three decades experience with steam tourist railroads.
There is a lot of work left to be done, but hopefully those who follow will do so in his footsteps. An operation of PC’s caliber was lucky to be graced by Phil’s presence for as long as it was before he’d inevitably move on to bigger and better things. As the old heads would say, he’s a “boomer!”
Good luck, Phil — “Stay safe, have fun!”