Date: 01/19/05
Nostalgic PLA Equipment Move Part 3 - Dawn of "The Move"
Author: espeeboy

On the morning of the PLA move, espeeboy and tracktime set off from Berzerkeley at around 6:45A. About 15 minutes later and after a quick Mickey D's pick-up (oh yeah, hash browns), we arrived at the old Oakland Army Base. There at Knight Yard, both black widow locomotives sat online with the train air pumped up. Lead unit SP5472 greeted us with a classic SP gesture with red MARS light aglow!  Museum equipment sat ready for the 40 mile move having been inspected and checked the many days, weeks and months before.

This was now my third visit to the scene of this parked equipment within a 12 hour period spanning back to late Friday afternoon. I think this was some kind of record for me in frequently visiting some RR equipment parked and idle, something sitting under gloomy skies and something with three entirely different light conditions. We were somewhat surprised to get there before most of the crew although a few early bird PLA members were stirring about. Actually, when we pulled up infamous railfan Evan Werkema was hurrying about shooting the train like crazy. Knowing this serious foamer, he probably arrived on the scene before anyone ;) Guess the crewmembers that did show up a little later were a bit smarter in maybe getting some more shut-eye. They knew it was gonna be a 12+ hour day out there.

On a side note seriously, there aren't a lot of events that can get me out of bed this early in the morning. I am one of those guys lucky enough to wake up at official office clock-in time (9am), show up 45 minutes to an hour late and not get in trouble (well most of the time). I think in last year alone, I experienced only enough pre-dawn awakenings to fill up the fingers on my right hand. Point is, you can bet espeeboy was jumping out of bed (even before the alarm clock went off) to get set for this day's special events! Felt almost like back when I was a young railfan waking up early to wake my dad up so we could get an early start on conquering Tehachapi for a day. You know the feeling, like Christmas morning - well almost?

It's not everyday you get to witness a museum train made of various 40 to 80 year old time equipment led by one schnazzy sharp Black Widow Cadillac. It ain't everyday you see UP agree to allow for this kind of move either! Most of us were expecting the worst weather-wise with a storm passing through. But rain or shine there was a good deciated group of railfans up and out there early that Saturday morning (Furtado-Man included!) to catch this special train. Probably a good showing because this was a movement of a lifetime.

May have said this already, but major props to the PLA crew, various volunteers and UP for allowing this move to go as planned. Not sure how it would have been if the slow Oakland Sub along BART had been used instead, but this day's events went off without any major glitches.

"Hello Dave, what are you doing Dave?"

Red MARS looking good!

Some crewmembers and PLA volunteers arrive with tools in hand.  Hmm, whose that guy to the left with the fishermen's hat on?

Engineer Lou (who wouldn't stay still) and crew climb aboard with their gear.  This time is just past 7 in the morning.

PLA crew covering their game plan to literally escape and jail break out of Knight Yard.


The sun is slowly coming out as the last air tests have been finalized.  Still the train has no outlet to escape the yard, yet.

Two UP carmen stop by and show some interest with a railfan after tagging some FREDs on some outbound UP trains in the Desert Yard.  (HPW note: The fellow in the black jacket is our PUC safety inspector.  Both the PUC and the FRA were in attendance during the move.)

PLA crew gets down and dirty on the very outside Desert Yard track to move over the points of one difficult and seldom used switch (note - no stand to be seen). Ironically, this is the very same manual switch that allowed the former OLMX4423 SD9 to come into the PLA/OTR grounds a year ago for repainting and cosmetic transformation into the SP5472!

I believe the guy to the left is the local UP "Big Boss" out of West Oakland. He was very polite and accommodating in overseeing everything.

Return To Menu