Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Photo Essay: Last Chance Weekend Scenic Excursion, Fillmore to Santa Paula

I'd only just heard of the Fillmore & Western Railway's historic train rides and rail museum a couple of months ago, when I'd come across some local tourism guide at the Cowboy Festival at Melody Ranch.

As I do, I added it to my map, and made a mental note to go check it out, maybe for their Halloween or Christmas holiday train.

But when the news came out last week that Fillmore & Western were being evicted from the tracks that they lease from the Ventura County Transportation Commission, I knew I wasn't going to be able to wait that long. After their sold-out fireworks train for the 4th of July, Saturday's weekend scenic excursion might be their last.

It's not a done deal per se: "We're going to fight this," they declared. "This battle is personal."

But just in case, I got my first and maybe only train ride in, and can now share it with those who never got to go.

In the meantime, you can sign the petition to allow them to stay where they are by clicking here.



I arrived early enough to check out the restored 1887 Southern Pacific Railroad depot...



...where both passengers and freight once made their way to either San Francisco or Los Angeles.



There are a number of historic trains, cabooses, and steam engines that are parked – many in working order – at the Fillmore & Western Railway, that will have to be relocated or scrapped upon eviction.



When they take a train out, it's made up of a jumble of pieces from different train lines and different eras, all mixed up depending on where they're going and how many passengers they'll have.



Since they anticipated this as their last excursion, they gave us a long train, but it wasn't full.



I had enough time upon boarding to walk all the way to the back of the train, to the open air car...



...though the individual coaches...



...the dining cars...



...(which still serve food)...



...all the way up to the front private car, where the commissioner or other officials would have their meetings, as they did the day of our excursion.



After all, there was a lot to talk about.



I settled in a seat in the Rancho Sespe car...



...with seats that reclined...




...as the conductor punched our tickets.



Facing north, I watched the agricultural lands of the Heritage Valley slide by...



...the orange groves bearing fruit..



...and the nurseries scenting the air.



As we follow the mountains of the Los Padres National Forest, heading west,...



...a cowboy comes to visit, surveying our jewelry and any other items worth pilfering.



Having traveled only 15 mph since leaving Fillmore, we arrive in Santa Paula after an hour or so...



...giving us a chance to explore another historic town of the Heritage Valley...



...built along the railroad line.

Stay tuned for dispatches from Santa Paula, and the return train ride back to Fillmore.

Sign the petition to keep Fillmore & Western Railway in Fillmore here.

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Photo Essay: MTA Vintage Subway Train Ride for the Holidays
Operation Exploration