Outworn Steamer Shuts Down S.P. Line for 21 Hours
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The Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise | Thursday, November 1, 1956.
An antique 4-6-2 Pacific-type steam passenger engine, being hauled, dead and cold down, to the Los Angeles railroad boneyard, had its revenge Saturday morning at 12:15 a.m.
On a sharp curve a half-mile above Ravenna, in Soledad Canyon, the leading "pony" truck of the engine rode over the rails and down on to the ties. The wheel flanges of the engine had just about worn down to nothing.
Twenty-two freight cars of Section 2, Freight Train No. 806, followed the dead engine off the high iron, and scattered in various positions of derailment along the right-of-way.
The valley line of the Southern Pacific was blocked and trainless for 21 hours thereafter.
The old engine remained upright, even though derailed, and was re-railed and wheeled down to a Ravenna siding soon after daylight.
One big wrecking crane moved down from Bakersfield. Another similar giant moved up from Los Angeles. A regiment of S.P. section hands went furiously to work as the torn section of the line was cleared of tumbled box cars.
Long after dark Saturday the new rails were spiked into place. The highball [was] given for the resumption of traffic at 9 p.m.
No estimate of damage was obtainable. None of the derailed freight cars was smashed, although several were dented and twisted.
The engine responsible for the trouble was eighth in the string immediately behind the diesel engine of No. 806. Ralph Townsend was engineer of the train and Earl Owen, conductor.
The line clearing operations of the wreck crews attracted a big crowd of spectators on the Soledad Canyon highway, which runs close along the railroad at the scene of the derailment.
News story courtesy of Tricia Lemon Putnam.