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 Post subject: Swanton Pacific Railroad Destroyed?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2020 6:50 pm 

Joined: Sun Mar 05, 2017 3:05 pm
Posts: 66
Rumor out of California is that the Swanton Pacific miniature railroad has taken significant damage from the wildfires. Word is the engine house and car barn were completely destroyed. Does anyone have any further info?


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 Post subject: Re: Swanton Pacific Railroad Destroyed?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2020 7:19 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:51 pm
Posts: 1911
Location: Southern California
The location of the Swanton Pacific is within the overall boundaries of the the "CZU Lightning Complex fires" A "lightning complex" is a group of fires caused by lightning and being fought as a unified group.

More information about the fires can be found at these sites.
https://www.google.com/maps/@37.1191653,-122.3643712,11.75z/data=!4m3!15m2!1m1!1s%2Fg%2F11kn8bpg_6
https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/

The Facebook page for Swanton Pacific Railroad has not been updated since December of 2018.

_________________
Brian Norden


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 Post subject: Re: Swanton Pacific Railroad Destroyed?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2020 10:27 pm 

Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2007 2:54 am
Posts: 922
Location: Califoothills / Midwest Prairies / PNW
I hope to hear more details soon. This could be quite tragic, but indeed reports of many structures burned on Swanton Rd. are out there, plus this notice that everyone from the Cal Poly Swanton Pacific ranch had escaped:
https://keyt.com/news/fire/2020/08/20/lightning-fire-sweeps-through-cal-polys-swanton-pacific-ranch/


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 Post subject: Re: Swanton Pacific Railroad Destroyed?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2020 1:25 am 

Joined: Thu May 09, 2019 10:06 pm
Posts: 5
Location: Irvine, CA
Here's an assessment from Mike Massee on TO's steam forum:

Quote:
The 19" gauge Swanton Pacific Railroad near Santa Cruz, CA. has been decimated by the CZU complex fire. Photos are starting to come in and a list of buildings surviving and not surviving has been compiled by CalPoly university and ranch staff.

Structures destroyed include the round house, car barn, Al Smith House, Al's training room, little creek complex, mobile, red house and george's. A very terrible loss.

Structures surviving include the machine shop (with the diesel inside), long barn, green house, bunk house, woods unit barn, cabin and water treament shed.

Out of the three operable pacifics from the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition, the 1912 is currently at Wasach Railroad Contractors in Cheyenne, WO for boiler work and so is saved. The rest and the 1500 switcher were in the engine house. The extent of the damage to the rest of the equipment in the engine house remains to be seen. It would depend on the intensity of the fire.

Some drawings and patterns were saved during evacuation, and CSRM has the originals to my understanding.

The private Glenwood, South Park & Pacific railroad in Glenwood is also threatened, although nearly all of the equipment has long since been moved to Hillcrest in Reedley, CA. but there is still a lot of history there for those familiar with the Holmes Brothers.


From another thread, Roaring Camp may also be at risk, having pulled their locomotives out of the shops and taken any valuable parts off site, however the fire is currently being held near Empire Grade Road above Felton, however it's worth noting the situation is highly volatile due to red-flag conditions across California.

Per NWCG's MODIS / VIIRS satellite data, the entire site was hit by a downhill run about 20 hours ago at time of this update (approx 0300). As of 6.5 hours ago (approx 1630 hours), it also looks like the furthest southeast flank of the complex had also hopped Empire Grade near Bull Creek.


Last edited by Sparky418 on Fri Aug 21, 2020 12:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Swanton Pacific Railroad Destroyed?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2020 12:48 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 9898
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
Confirmation at this FB post:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1216120 ... 243029874/

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Swanton Pacific Railroad Destroyed?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2020 3:46 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:00 pm
Posts: 71
Well, that's a thoroughly depressing way to scratch an item off your "Bucket List" !


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 Post subject: Re: Swanton Pacific Railroad Destroyed?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2020 9:31 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:33 am
Posts: 128
From the Roaring Camp Railroads on their Facebook page:

Quote:
Hello Everyone,
We wanted to give our fans as much of an update as possible.

We are still standing! Our staff has secured the area and taken everything of importance. The trains have been moved to the safest area possible. We have created a defensible space and are still here protecting our equipment and buildings.

Our heart goes out to Swanton Pacific RR, our neighboring railroad that was lost in the CZU Lightning Complex Fire near Davenport.


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 Post subject: Re: Swanton Pacific Railroad Destroyed?
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2020 8:32 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:38 am
Posts: 970
Location: Philadelphia
How terrible, I've been interested in the story of the Overfair Railway ever since I first read Little Railways of the World by Frederic Shaw. I've heard one of their engines was offsite for a contract rebuilding. Hopefully this is not the last chapter and the SP can rebuild.

Joshua


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 Post subject: Re: Swanton Pacific Railroad Destroyed?
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2020 11:40 am 

Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:33 am
Posts: 128
Joshua K. Blay wrote:
How terrible, I've been interested in the story of the Overfair Railway ever since I first read Little Railways of the World by Frederic Shaw. I've heard one of their engines was offsite for a contract rebuilding. Hopefully this is not the last chapter and the SP can rebuild.

Joshua


Yes, one of the engines was in Cheyenne, Wyoming at the Wasatch Rail Contractors shop.


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 Post subject: Re: Swanton Pacific Railroad Destroyed?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2020 3:55 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2004 3:04 pm
Posts: 140
Location: San Jose, CA
Per a lengthy discussion last night with one of the principal volunteers at Swanton, no assessment of the damage has been done. A big unknown remains the status of their car barn/shop. Neither university nor railroad representatives have been allowed access to the property...something that it hoped for later this week. Until then, the damage assessment has been speculative based upon the same images that have been broadly dispersed on social media.

With a wind direction change and speed increase this morning and another dry lightening storm expected tonight, the situation in the Santa Cruz Mountains remains fluid.


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 Post subject: Re: Swanton Pacific Railroad Destroyed?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2020 12:30 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2703
Still waiting to hear further updates but things certainly don't look good. Locomotives can withstand pretty serious heat, but it looks like a lot of repairs would be needed even if they can be salvaged.

I am wondering about the apparent lack of fire protection. A well established operation that's been around for years in an area that's known for wildfires. Why weren't the buildings protected, or were they and there was a lack of water or some other issue?

Obviously they would have thought of it and given it consideration. So I'm curious as to what choices were made and why. Not to criticize them, but to learn what happened for other operations. Was it simply too expensive? Impractical? System failure? Not enough water available?

I was pleased to see that one of the first things the East Broad Top group did was start on a fire protection project. I'd be interested to hear more about that one as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Swanton Pacific Railroad Destroyed?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2020 1:40 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:55 pm
Posts: 798
Location: Warren, PA
One of the odder things about California (as observed by a Pennsylvanian) that I've seen evolve over the last decade is the full-blown legitimization of the marijuana growing business out there from hiding it to making it into a real industry.
In Humboldt county, what had been one of the largest redwood mills of all time - the Pacific Lumber mill at Scotia (which was humming back in 2001) is now chock-a-block with every imaginable kind of water reservoir, piping, irrigation system etc., for growers. Truck-sized tanks. And that's no little space, that's a big building.
So tanking up water for whatever reason has turned into a California thing, I'd think that having a big reservoir of water for fire protection would use the same technology.
The company is "Aqua Dam" https://www.aquadam.net/
And that's what happened to the bigger redwood mill in Scotia.
When I drove by it the last time I literally did a Steve Martin sketch... What the ###@! is THAT? It's clearly visible in Google Earth.


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 Post subject: Re: Swanton Pacific Railroad Destroyed?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2020 2:19 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:33 am
Posts: 128
This hasn't been added yet so I will link it here, Cal Poly plans to rebuild the ranch and is setting up funding programs for both the ranch and the railroad. No assessments have been made yet as to if the engines caught in the fire are restorable or not yet though:

http://calpoly.imodules.com/controls/em ... KxNq3CVz6I


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 Post subject: Re: Swanton Pacific Railroad Destroyed?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:46 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2703
Randy Gustafson wrote:
I'd think that having a big reservoir of water for fire protection would use the same technology.


I would too, lots of methods, from digging a pond to having a well or having a large tank. But this is Cal Poly, not some backyard railroad built by one guy on a tight budget. I'm trying to not kick them while they're down, and it's obvious they would have at least considered it. So, instead of saying "Gee, it would have been easy!", I'm trying not make any assumptions and instead ask for info on why they made the choices they did. Was it simply a matter of budget, or are there other factors at play here?


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 Post subject: Re: Swanton Pacific Railroad Destroyed?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2020 7:38 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:59 pm
Posts: 609
Bobharbison wrote:
But this is Cal Poly, not some backyard railroad built by one guy on a tight budget. I'm trying to not kick them while they're down, and it's obvious they would have at least considered it.

Cal Poly did not design or build the Swanton Pacific. It was "built by one guy" (Al Smith, the head of Orchard Supply Hardware) with volunteer help on his ranch. The property, including the railroad, was left to Cal Poly by Mr. Smith in 1993.

https://sprr.calpoly.edu/making-swanton-pacific-railroad


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