The Road To Sacramento
The 1999 NRHS Convention
Photography by Ken Rattenne, Alex Mayes & Elrond Lawrence
Orignally appeared in the Ferroequinologist
Web version edited by Ken Rattenne
The Convention

The 1999 Convention is now part of history and it can be said that while there were several challenges (moslty due to late trains) overall, the convention was a success.

While much goes on behind the scenes to organize and execute a national convention, once opening day arrives Central Coast Railway Club depends heavily on members time and enthusiasm. When operating multiple excursions two key positions are filled with volunteers: Excursion Managers and Car Hosts.

Excursion Managers:  Excursion trips large and small need a small army of volunteers to plan, manage and operate successfully. Excursion Managers included Cathy Bauer for the Mount Shasta Scenic trip, Bob Bunch for the Franklin Canyon Special to Richmond, Errol Spangler for the City of Tehama to Tehama, Dennis Hanley for the West Coast to Oakland, Tom Glover on the Yolo Short Line, Bob Harper on the Feather River Express to Keddie and Jim Maurer the San Francisco Historic Trolley trip.

Car Hosts: Over 100 people were needed to staff the car and bus host positions for the various excursions. Unfortunately the list is too long to include here. However, the success in the operation of these trips is due to this group of volunteers. In addition to car hosts in each car, the staff included food carriers, bus hosts, snack and beverage sales, concession sales, front and rear train managers, baggage car hosts, photo line supervisors and safety managers. Errol Spangler was responsible for filling all these positions. Denis and Patty Murchison were managers of food service and Martin Rice was manager of cell phones and two-way radios. 
The Trips:

As with any undertaking of this magnitude, a few problems developed. The most serious was a delay in timely processing of ticket order requests. This was caused by the large volume of ticket orders which taxed the limited time of the small group of volunteers who undertook this important (and big)  job. Late in the game a telephone mailbox system was set up to attempt to handle the many inquiries received. A small group of volunteers worked long hours to answer questions and resolve disputes.

The Good News

The 1999 convention received high kudos  on many of the activities and events scheduled for the week. The June 23 trip to the Western Railway Museum was enjoyed by all due to the museum cranking up almost every operable streetcar and interurban on the property for the enjoyment of conventioneers, who took good advantage of the restored equipment which was rolled out for riding and photographs. In addition, almost every mile of the museum's trackage was covered, including motor car trips over a short portion which had not not yet electrified. The barbecue lunch provided at the museum was also well received.

Also praised were trips on the Yolo Short Line featuring diesel and ex-SP 0-6-0 No. 1233 on a photo freight. Many photo run-bys were staged on all sponsored trips.

The Not So Good News

Delays to several excursion trains were beyond the convention's control, particularly the Tehama and Keddie trips. The delay to the Tehama trip was caused by the railroad (UP) failing to call a pilot crew for the train's run up UP's East Valley main line. This train was further delayed by heat restrictions in effect (the temperatures were well over 100 degrees) and speed was restricted to 50 miles per hour maximum as we headed to Tehama.

The Franklin Canyon excursion to Richmond was delayed by dispatching problems, resulting in a long wait to access the BNSF in Stockton, plus numerous delays enroute to Richmond. The West Coast trip to Oakland via Altamont Pass was delayed 40 minutes departing Sacramento account of the late arrival of the Amtrak-supplied equipment. This caused passengers to miss the ferry connection to San Francisco by 15 minutes.

After the failure of a boiler tube on UP Northern 844 while on display at Railfair 99 in Sacramento, caused Steam Manager Steve Lee to cancel the use and operation of Challenger 3985 as the locomotive used tubes from the same manufacturer and batch as the failed ones in 844.  This meant there would be no steam on the trip through the Feather River Canyon to Keddie. The lack of steam on the Keddie trip was a huge disappointment but was unavoidable. The boiler tube failure of UP 844 

The first rule in UPís rule book says when in doubt, the safe course must be followed. Riders were very disappointed but understood the situation and instead concentrated on enjoying the scenery. However, this trip too was delayed on the return trip when the single GE C40-8 diesel locomotive pulling the train hit rocks piled onto the tracks by vandals just south of Oroville. The resulting impact punctured the fuel tank on  No. 9326. Quick action by the UP dispatcher resulted in a replacement locomotive from a nearby freight waiting in Oroville Yard being substituted for the damaged 9326.

The lack of double-headed steam on the Mount Shasta Scenic Special was another disappointment but the McCloud Riverís 2-6-2 No. 25 saved the day by putting on an incredible show with multiple photo run-bys in spectacular scenery. Attendees on this trip considered it to be one of the best if not the best trip of the convention.


Additional compliments were received concerning the Joint Annual Banquet, which featured guest speaker Jim Larson, recently retired Vice President-Operations of Amtrak. Many people enjoyed the seating arrangements, the good food and the decorations.

The selection of seminars proved to be an overwhelming success, with Chris Skow's Western Pacific Railroad: The Final Years playing to a capacity crowd that spilled into the hallway. Unfortunately, several of the seminar rooms were unable to accommodate everyone who wished to attend. 

McCloud River 25  in June 1999 (Alex Mayes Photo)
A pair of Key System electric articulateds roam the tracks of the Western Railway Museum in Rio Vista. (Ken Rattenne Photo)
UP Northern 844 steams at the Sacramento Depot with The City Of Tehama on its drawbar.  (Elrond Lawrence  Photo)
The City Of Tehama with UP 844 sits in the siding at Chico, awaiting the passage of yet another freight on the long road back to Sacramento. (Ken Rattenne Photo)
UP 9326 on the Keddie Wye bridge. In spite of the many delays, excursionists managed to enjoy themselves. (Alex Mayes Photo)
Former Santa Fe Northern 3751 blasts through Modesto at track speed while returning home to San Bernadino from Railfair 1999. (Ken Rattenne Photo)