A New Visitor to the Yard and The Mighty Glenbrook Roars Again! May 21, 2015 (Officially May 23, 2015)

23 May

A Western Tanager visited at the birdbath and then at the feeding area yesterday. He only stayed for short while and I haven’t seen him again, but that short visit was superb! He is such a beautiful bird. I hope he was scouting the area and will bring his wife next time. I was so excited to see him because I haven’t seen one for at least 30 years. I just had to share this with you.

A Western tanager, about the size of a blackbird

A Western tanager, about the size of a blackbird

Annie Oakes Lee, a fellow museum tour guide who also volunteers at the State Railroad Museum in Carson City, asked Jerri and me to join her at that museum this past Thursday. She was practicing how to take folks on the handcar and needed people to practice on. Apparently the brake is tricky and it’s easy to step on it too hard and pitch people off the car. So we went and had a blast. Annie was very proper in making us adhere to the rules and I got into trouble because I didn’t keep both feet on the car. She thought I was swinging my body but I was actually trying to get more leverage to push down on the bar. But she was right. I didn’t have both feet on the floor of the car. We got to take three or four rides and got excited about thinking we could race on one of those cars. That night, though, my forearms and upper shoulders were a bit tight. So maybe racing isn’t a good idea.

Cora, Jerri and Annie on the handcar

Cora, Jerri and Annie on the handcar (Don’t forget to click on the photo to enlarge it)

In addition to the excitement of the handcar, the Railroad Museum is about to officially unveil the restoration of the Glenbrook engine. As it happened, the Glenbrook was steamed up and sitting out of its barn (or whatever the official term is for where engines live). So we got a preview and will avoid the tumultuous crowds on the 23rd of May. A general history of the Glenbrook can be found at this link from the Reno Gazette Journal http://www.rgj.com/story/news/2014/11/19/years-glenbrook-locomotive-lives/19296427/ and also from the Las Vegas Review Journal http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/nevada/glenbrook-locomotive-soon-returning-active-duty

Jerri by the Glenbrook engine cab

Jerri by the Glenbrook engine cab

 A short summary of the articles is that the Glenbrook was built in 1875 and is a narrow gauge 2-6-0 Mogul. From 1875 to 1898, it hauled out lumber and cord wood from sawmills on the shores of Lake Tahoe to Spooner Summit, where the lumber was flumed down to Eagle Valley (Carson City area). From 1898 until retiring in 1923, the Glenbrook hauled thousands of tourists between Truckee and Tahoe City, CA. The Bliss family, the owners, eventually donated the Glenbrook to the state where it sat in front of the Nevada State Museum for many years. It was moved to the Railroad Museum in 1982 where restoration work began on it. Chris DeWitt, chief maintenance officer, and his crew worked for 33 years to get it to pristine condition and ready for its second debut. That’s dedication!

The Glenbrook is steamed up

The Glenbrook is steamed up

Ready to go

Ready to go

 Annie told us that it takes 3 to 4 hours to get the engine steamed up so that it can go. We were there at the right time and got to see it move, be turned around on the turntable and then run on another track for a bit longer distance for some official photographers. I’m not really a train aficionado but this was fun to see. The steam, the whistle and the soft choo choo noises as it sat idling were somehow a bit soothing. Mom used to talk about hearing steam engines in Santa Ana in the 1920s and she thought the noises were comforting. I could see/hear what she meant.

The turntable is operated by hand. The engine and wood car (I thought this car was called a coal car, but I don’t know what the official name is) park on the turntable and men physically push the turntable around so that the train can move to another track. We watched the men push the turntable and then the engine backed up onto another track. The turntable must be on pretty good ball bearings or something because that engine plus the loaded wood car (coal car) must weigh many tons.

Entering the turntable

Entering the turntable

Turning the Glenbrook onto the proper track

Turning the Glenbrook onto the proper track

While we were checking out the Glenbrook and admiring it, a trolley car was rolled out. I don’t know how old it is, but it looked pretty ancient to me. The able craftsmen at the Railroad Museum had restored it also. Annie told me it ran on diesel fuel. It took its turn on the turntable and you can see that it took only two guys to turn it so that it could get on its correct track.

Starting to turn the trolley

Starting to turn the trolley

A tour for about 50 school kids was scheduled for noon that day and they were going to take a ride on the trolley. Annie was also going to give them rides on the handcar.  These kids had walked from wherever their school was (due to buses costing too much for field trips) and then ate their lunch on the museum grounds. You can see in the pictures that the skies were threatening and we could hear thunder rumbling in the distance. Jerri and I left just when the kids were getting ready for their official tour. We weren’t more than 5 or 10 minutes down the road when the rain began to pour. I heard later from Annie that they were able to get most of the kids finished with their handcar rides before getting drenched. I don’t know how the rest of the tour went, but I felt sorry for them having to walk back to school in the rain.

I was very happy to get our special tour of the museum and appreciated Annie letting us “play” on the handcar. It was a special privilege to get to see the Glenbrook before the official public unveiling on the 23rd.  I look forward to hearing its whistle and the museum’s other steam engines’ noises in the future  as they take people on rides around the museum tracks.  Maybe we’ll get to take some rides on it when they get some cars to attach to it.

On a trial run

On a trial run

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Responses to “A New Visitor to the Yard and The Mighty Glenbrook Roars Again! May 21, 2015 (Officially May 23, 2015)”

  1. Connie Raub May 24, 2015 at 2:23 am #

    Oh Cora, The Glenbrook is BEAUTIFUL!!! They really did a great job restoring it! How fun to be able to pump a handcar. I always think of the cartoon characters madly trying to catch a train, or get away from one. Is that what you and Jerri looked like when you were driving it? You and Jerri look pretty good in the pictures! I’m glad to see that you are still having fun! I hope Jerri is feeling well.
    I love the Tanager! I usually get at least one visit per year at the feeder. There are probably more visits, since I’m not always looking out the window. If one had come by in the last few weeks he would be pretty wet from the rain.
    Thanks for the Buzzard notes!
    ~Connie

  2. Sandee Burbank Mann May 24, 2015 at 11:15 pm #

    Very interesting. You and Jerri seem to have lots of fun!

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