Pentrex – Santa Fe 3759 – Video DVD
Seymour F. Johnson Enterprises – Farewell to Steam! – Audio LP
This is the story of the final run of Santa Fe Railway steam locomotive #3759 in 1955. A 4-8-4 Northern built by Baldwin in 1928, this oil-burning behemoth was saved from the scrapper’s torch and placed on display in Kingman, Arizona where it resides today.
Today’s movie review was inspired by an LP from my father’s record collection — which I literally wore out playing, as a youngster. Loved that record. It wasn’t until later in life that I discovered a great deal of color film footage had been taken of the fan trip and put out on DVD by Pentrex. I had to get a copy.
The harder part was getting a good audio CD to replace the original LP. Apparently, there are two versions out there. The first was the original 1955 sounds put out by Mr. Johnson (see above). The second, more common, was a 1958 remixed album which had the reverb turned up to 11. Awful recording. As someone said, “It sounds like the listener was at the bottom of a steel drum”.
Anyways, Trolley Dodger to the rescue! Offered for sale on his website (see link at the bottom of this review) is an audio CD of the ORIGINAL mono non-reverbed LP. Fantastic sound quality and frequently playing as I drive along in my truck. ;p
For this video review, I created over 200 screen captures, but I’ll try to whittle that down to 65 or less, as #3759 makes it way from Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (LAUPT) to Barstow and back. Let’s watch big steam in action over Cajon Pass! In color!
Climbing towards Summit, the Farewell to Steam special passes a beautiful set of A-B-B-A F units on a downhill freight. With the San Gabriel mountains in the background, AT&SF #3759 blasts through a cut during a photo runby.
Our first clear view of the train is just after pulling out of LAUPT. One of the coaches is labeled, “FAREWELL TO STEAM 1884 – 1955”. There’s a full crowd on the rear platform of AT&SF cafe-observation car #1509. The special passes the inbound El Capitan train #21.
Arriving in Pasadena, AT&SF #3759 looks great in the early morning light, surrounded by her fans.
Departing Pasadena, 3759 is followed by the unique “Horse Express” baggage car – normally used to transport racehorses to the Santa Anita track — now toting railfans. Phew. The smell of horseflesh FILLS the air!
One guy tried to pace the special as it was doing 75 mph+ east of Pasadena. A more prudent type settled for a going-away vista through the palm trees.
Buildings that aren’t there anymore: Depot at Azusa; Depot at Pomona; Claremont tower crossing with Pacific Electric; Depot at Kaiser.
At San Bernardino, AT&SF #3759 cuts off the train and runs light to take on more water. Cool San Berdoo depot alongside 3759 — which as of 2022 is still in use! Pulling out of town with an impressive string of cars following.
On the flats east of San Bernardino, there’s quite a caravan of cars pacing 3759. At Devore, it’s standing room only on the rear of ATSF #1509. How about that bell!
Climbing the Cajon Pass grade, we see the railfan responsible for all the treacherous “top-of-the-tender” footage. One “J. Allen Hawkins” was just crazy enough to risk life and limb for posterity. The Pentrex DVD is dedicated to him.
Runbys? We got runbys. And an absolute certainty of any fan trip, (see last picture), there’s always one dick who stands up right in the middle of your perfectly-composed shot.
At Summit depot, check out those boonie cars! From the station, early 1950’s Plymouth; 1953-54 Oldsmobile; 52-53 Studebaker. THANKS MARK! The other curiosity at Summit in 1955 was the electric railway car “Descanso” moved uphill from the station and used by visiting railfans as an overnight cabin. The car has a um, rather morbid past, so check out the above link.
Screaming downhill, (with copious amounts of brake shoe smoke), comes the special, around a curve and through the twin bridges near Victorville.
Final stop eastbound is at Barstow where the entire train is wyed for proper direction back to Los Angeles. Santa Fe #2349, an Alco S-2 switcher built September 1945 does the honors.
Overhead view of 3759, a couple switchers and some passenger F’s as the train is serviced. The drumhead on the rear observation car reads:
(small Santa Fe logo)
Departing Barstow, ATSF #3759 and train are soon smoking it up through the desert sage. In short order, they meet Train #123-23 “The Grand Canyon” and a trio of GP7s on a freight.
At Oro Grande, the special takes siding to allow a mail train to overtake them westbound.
After some servicing, our excursion is underway again and soon meets eastbound Train #20 “The Chief”.
The final runby of the day is at the Victorville bridges. The rear observation platform is still packed, as the train heads towards Cajon Pass and Los Angeles after sunset.
If you’d like a copy of Farewell to Steam!, Trolley Dodger has it for sale. Once at the link, you’ll have to scroll down a ways to see it. Lots of other cool railroad sound recordings available, so check it out!
If you’d like a copy of Santa Fe 3759, DVD’s are available at:
If you have ANY information about this movie you’d like to share, please contact me at: Lindsay.Korst@gmail.com, or leave a comment. Thanks and enjoy the blog!