Friday, December 31, 2010

Welcome to 2011

Happy New Year from SD&AE

This was 2004 - What the heck happened?

Congressman Filner Drives the Gold Spike into the Jobs Train Line
Congressman Filner drives the ceremonial golden spike into the rail for the newly re-opened San Diego & Arizona Eastern Railroad
On May 15th, I welcomed community and business leaders to the Carrizo Gorge Railway grand opening ceremony for the first ride on the Jobs Train.  I have championed the re-opening of the San Diego-Arizona Railroad for more than a decade. 

The lack of a direct freight rail link to San Diego and its port has hampered the real growth potential of the Imperial Valley economy.  Re-opening the Jobs Train will make San Diego a true maritime center.  This direct link for Imperial Valley will provide new transportation alternatives to Valley growers and shippers--and add thousands of high-paying jobs to our area.

The goal of this project was to repair and re-open the San Diego & Arizona Eastern Railroad (SD&AE) so that the Port of San Diego for the first time could have direct rail connections to the entire U.S.  I have been fighting for this project for over ten years, and have secured $10 million for a SD&AE Railroad "intermodal yard."  This area would serve as a staging yard where cargo would be transferred between trucks and rail cars, and where trains would be assembled and disassembled.  In addition, I have included provisions in the recent Transportation Bill to make the train eligible for certain grants and low-interest loans.

Now that this line is open, the Port of San Diego will gain its own freight rail link to the Imperial Valley and onto the rest of the United States.  This project will transform the economy of our entire region, and I am thrilled that I was able to see this project through to fruition.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

If you haven't seen this, you should: San Diego Model Railroad Museum in Balboa Park

The San Diego & Arizona Eastern is the HO scale (1/87th actual size) layout of the San Diego Model Railroad Club. HO is the most popular scale in model railroading . The SD&AE models the prototype railroad of the same name connecting San Diego with El Cajon and El Centro. The San Diego - San Ysidro and San Diego - El Cajon portions are now part of the San Diego Trolley. This layout features an impressive 10 ft. high model of the Carriso Gorge (north of Jacumba in eastern San Diego County) and the Goat Canyon trestle. The actual trestle was the largest timber railroad trestle in the world at the time of its construction in 1932.

Because of the rough terrain, the SD&AE has been coined "The Impossible Railroad". The San Diego Model Railroad club meets every Friday evening. More at:

What a great picture - SP power near Plaster City on THE SD&AE

When The SD&AE ran out of here, it was a Union Station!

The Santa Fe Depot (as it was originally designated) officially opened on March 8, 1915, to accommodate visitors to the Panama-California Exposition. The depot was completed during a particularly optimistic period in the City's development, and represents the battle waged by the City of San Diego to become the West Coast terminus of the Santa Fe Railway system’s transcontinental railroad, a fight that was ultimately lost to the City of Los Angeles.
In its heyday, the facility not only handled Santa Fe traffic but also that of the San Diego and Arizona Railway (SD&A) and San Diego Electric Railway (SDERy). The designation was officially changed to San Diego Union Station in response to the SD&A's completion of its own transcontinental line in December 1919. The Santa Fe resumed solo operation of the station in January, 1951 when the San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway (successor to the SD&A) discontinued passenger service, the SDERy having ceased operation some two years prior.
The historic Santa Fe Depot is located in Centre City (downtown) San Diego and is still an active transportation center, providing services to Amtrak, the San Diego Coaster, the San Diego Trolley, and the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System bus system. It was the ninth-busiest station in the Amtrak system in FY 2007. (visit link)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Going to be a big weekend....

Palms, poles and sand
Home Depot time for a 36"x80" Masonite hollow core door. Price looks around 24.00, whether I like it or not and then 1-2" of extruded foam board. The we begin the wonderment of the Impossible Railroad challenge to build this layout on-line and document the daily progress on the proceedings. I intend to take very little creative freedom with the LDE concept of the track plan. No additional freelance adjustments or fantasy industries and sidings.

No structures will be used that aren't part of LDE planning and what exists on the site now.
  1. Arid, desert scenery with stray palms and power poles.
  2. Representation of Plaster City will be on a backdrop. 
  3. Only prototype track plan will be used.
  4. El Centro interchange and yard highlighted. 
In the change from SD&AE to SP to UP, most of the lay of the land is intact. Will not model SD&AE depot next to SP depot is one change at this point. S curve spur will serve packing and loading ramp at the end of the siding.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Everyone loves a goat!

According to the guide book, the structure is 200 feet high and 750 feet long. It is purported to be the longest curved trestle in the country (world?). Several attempts by vandals to burn it down have failed (obviously). Rumor has it the trestle has been used by Navy Seals for demolition training (sure hope they do a better job in time of war). While it isn't possible to pick out the damage from this vantage point, it is evident to anyone looking over the rail from on top. Nevertheless, the trestle seems to be very rigid... of course the real test would be when 100's of tons of rolling iron cross it at speed. From:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

While visions of the new SD&AE layout danced in his head....

Like Ralphie on Christmas Story wanted the Red Ryder BB Gun, I have fixated on building my new compact model railroad layout of The SD&AE in El Centro-Plaster City. If Santa is who I think he is, he will bringing me a hollow core luan door and foam. The rest is up to me. I am working the basic design on the LAYOUT DESIGN CONCEPT or LDE. Working from photos and articles of the area and only bringing to life the structures and scenery which will truly be representative of the area. This will be the forum I will be documenting the building process from purchase/construction to completion.

Video Fun on Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve

The San Diego Model Railroad Museum models parts of The SD&AE.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

SD&AE Readers make the call on which version I should build and document on the site

This is the first version
2nd version from Tom (LDE)
We have a third version for C-80 that extends the yeard
click to enlarge

Monday, December 20, 2010


Imagine 93 years of trains rolling through these gates. The US-Mexico border crossing on The San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railroad. The Border Patrol must have been driven crazy by this.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Check out David's new SD&AE plan (a variation of Tom's)

Monkey Face


These two photos show a view of an unusual jumble of rocks along the S.D.& A. first noticed by Mexican track workers about 1918. At the mouth of the cave is what is now called the "Monkey Face" (arrow #1) and is the first "head" of DOS Cabezas. The second "head", to the right of the cave and lower down, can best be seen from down the track a short distance when the shadows are right (arrow #2).
Gaylen Dyreng, veteran engineer on the S.D.& A.E., has passed this place thousands of times and pointed this spot out to the museum speeder riders last month, many of whom had heard the story but didn't know the location. The "DOS Cabezas" are about eight feet across and are near milepost #112 on the old S.D.& A. about two miles from the water tank and siding that bears the name.
These massive boulders, many more than 30 feet thick, are typical of the terrain that the S.D.& A. had to blast through on its way to earning the title of the "Impossible Railroad". With so many piles of tumbled rocks along seventy miles of mountain railroad, this spot is very difficult to find. Thanks to Gaylen for sharing this interesting bit of S.D.& A. legend and lore with us. (Photos by Larry Rose) Museum REPORT #202, Jan-Feb 1986, page 12

Saturday, December 18, 2010

All Aboard- 1950 Schedule - Chicago to San Diego - The Imperial

San Diego Section
363Continuing Train Number (San Diego & Arizona Eastern)362
5 45PDp2135Calexico, CACAr12 35P
6 00PAr2144El Centro, CACDp12 22P
6 05PDpAr12 20P
F 6 18P2152Seeley, CAF12 05P
F 6 44P2169Coyote Wells, CAF11 39A
8 11P2200Jacumba, CA10 22A
9 16P2226Campo, CA9 26A
9 43P2239Tecate, B. Cfa.8 58A
10 51P2276Tijuana, B. Cfa.7 40A
10 56P2276San Ysidro, CA7 35A
11 30PAr2292San Diego, CA (PT)C RDp7 05A

See the entire schedule and more info at: The Imperial

Washout of 1976

Hurricane Kathleen did a number on the SD&AE and the surrounding landscape. With twisted rails and a broken interstate. Check out this site: Washout story and pics

Grade crossing at Campo 1974

Thursday, December 16, 2010

La Mesa, CA on The SD&AE

Growing up in San Diego, I never spent much time in La Mesa or really El Cajon, everyone I knew lived on the North side of I-8. I love the fact that this was another stop on the old SD&AE and freight service continued to El Cajon. Now a stop on The San Diego Trolley, motor service on the line existed before. It was stopped in 1928.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

F-7 working Plaster City as a lease job to The UP in 2005 (From Trains Magazine Forum)

The SD&AE Coronado Branch


This branch was part of the San Diego & Arizona Eastern, which was a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific.
The city of Coronado was for many decades separated from San Diego by the San Diego Bay, though Coronado is connected to the mainland by a several-mile-long narrow strip of land called The Strand that extends south to Imperial Beach. The SDAE connected National City to Coronado with a U-shaped branch. The right leg started at National City, the base was Imperial Beach, and the left leg extended along The Strand and ended in Coronado. At some point, the Coronado end of the SDAE line was extended, via street running, to an adjacent Naval Base that is now referred to as NASNI (Naval Air Station—North Island).
In the late 1800s, the Del Coronado resort hotel was opened in Coronado; most of its guests in its first decades of operation arrived by train on the SDAE.
In the early 1970s, the towering San Diego-Coronado Bridge was built over the bay between Coronado and San Diego. This bridge likely contributed to the demise of the Imperial Beach-to-Coronado segment of the line, along with the general lack of carload shipments by the US Navy. There was a salt works business in Imperial Beach that remained a freight shipper until the 1980s or 1990s, but that too is also closed.
The northern connection of this branch with the rail network in National City was severed at some point and replaced with another connection further south in Chula Vista. This Chula Vista connection is unique because it includes a diamond and wye with a light rail line (freights used the line between midnight and 5am), and a wye tail track that extends down the middle of a street.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Greetings from The Lemon!

In downtown Lemon Grove on the El Cajon branch of The SD&AE lies Lemon Grove, California. Once dubbed "the sunniest place on earth". The branch rolls right downtown. I lived there in 75-76 when I first got married. The squeaky SW's would be pulling through from the yard in San Diego to El Cajon to serve various industries along the way. LG was an important citrus shipping mecca on the line. The whole area before development was rolling hills, full of citrus.

Monday, December 13, 2010

One of my weathering jobs on my last N scale layout. 

Now did they?

Did SP repaint some of the LA pool motive power used on The SD&AE with
PACIFIC font? I swear if I can remember back 45 years when I was 10
I would see those. I know they had SSW (COTTON BELT) power in lash
ups with SP engines.

I also found this cool PDF today: Cal Rail News

Sunday, December 12, 2010

BART cars built at Rohr in Chula Vista

In the 60's and 70's Rohr Aircraft in Chula Vista manufactured the BART or Bay Are Rapid Transit cars. Guess what line hauled the cars ti San Francisco? They we loaded on flat cars and shipped to San Francisco on the SP. They made their way to The San Diego Yard and interchanged with The ATSF at 12th St, The went to Los Angeles and interchanged again with The SP at Taylor Yard and then through the San Joaquin Valley or The Coast Line to The Bay Area. I remember in the late 60's seeing them on in San Diego on The SD&AE and in The San Joaquin Valley,

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I am looking specifically for...

SD&AE in the 70's and 80's...What industries were served from National City to Palm City?

Sunset in Campo

What a great picture of sunset from The Campo Depot and home to operations on the Pacific Southwest Railroad Museum.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hollow Core Door or smaller?

Tom and I have been discussing small layouts, he believes and I agree 2x4 might be too small to try to model anything other than a loop. The hollow core door concept 30x80" in N is becoming the new thing. I am a member of Railwire and their members have built some splendid HCD layouts. It's the 12 buck luan door with either 1 or 2" extruded foam insulation panels will fit the bill. Now I'm torn with The SD&AE in building Plaster City to El Centro or make it more representative of San Diego or The South Bay. What do you think?

When I was a kid....

I use to collect SP and ATSF timetables. I would just ask the yardmaster and they would hook a kid up. I once wondered into the (then) closed in 1970 ATSF depot in The Grand Canyon. I found all of these golden colored, small ATSF envelopes and paper. Wish I had some of the sheets of those today. I use to write the railroads and ask for calenders. I remember when I was a teenager and mad at my parents, I wrote the UP ask them if they had any jobs for a kid, so I could move out. I was 13 and they actually sent me a letter and application.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Impossible Railroad is coming to social media

We will continue to viral market our two pages, San Diego and Arizona Eastern and Scale West Rails. We are reaching out to the rail fan and model railroading community world wide. Facebook and Twitter are coming.

Talking with Tom on Trainboard

His scenery and 2x4 Jacumba section of The SD&AE is our logo picture. We have been talking about scenery. For areas like this, it's difficult because no matter how accomplished we are at scenery techniques, we have a tendency to over do it. With desert scenery, less is more. Tom says: "For scenery on your layout, you will want to use light green and yellow sparingly and lean more towards olive green, dead brown, and gray. If you can, go to the area and gather sand from coarse to a very fine grade (I used authentic Campo and Jacumba dirt on my layout). BTW New River Bridge is mostly a wooden trestle with a steel girder in the middle. It was entirely wooden until just recently. A present-day picture is here":

I have totes full of Woodland Scenics scenery material, instead of buying new bags of the product, I'm most likely going to paint what I use olive green, light green and dead brown and gray. Except in the areas where desert greenery thrives. I need to build this bridge and I know who I'm hittin' up:
n  scale model train hobby shop
JV Models N Scale Timber Trestle Bridge Kit
From Grand trunk wood trestle, this kit is designed to be your layout's focal point. Made from basswood and pine scale stripwood with templates, drawings, color photo and bridge ties. Up to 18" long and 16" high. Also includes N.B.W. castings.
Part # JV-1014
Oh and I have a can of sand from Coyote Wells.

The Impossible Railroad modeling and information page has viewers

Look to the right, over 1,000 page views. Thank you so much and let's spread the word about the 148 mile long railroad that won't give up no matter what!

US Gypsum Plant at Plaster City

While I prepare to model this large facility in selective compression on a hollow core door 30x80" layout, I am going to represent most of this sprawling complex on the backdrop from pictures I've taken and from a trip I plan to take this Winter to El Centro. This is going to be an undertaking, photographing the plant to come out the right size and scale on the backdrop.

It would be nearly impossible to build the factory from kits and even kit bashing and scratch building would be tougher. So I take the digital photo backdrop route.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ain't she a beauty 

We've had some inquiries

Nice to have folks with an interest in the SD&AE hook
up with us, We have some confusion with the correct
linkage over the past few years. Understanding was
SDIV worked San Diego to Mexico/Tecate. Carizzo
Gorge Railway linked Tecate to Plaster City. UP mans
Plaster City to El Centro. Still the main connection to
points East, but most likely bound towards classification
in West Colton UP Yard.

I would suggest getting more information from the links
on this homepage or use your search engine and look
for every nugget on The Impossible Railroad.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The shortline buzz...

The little ol' railroad that could, Impossible Railroad has a nice buzz on with prototype railfans and model railroaders. A unique line that seems to transcend time and keep going. Trainorder has postings and postings on the SD&AE. From the locals that hobbled out to El Cajon from downtown, through Lemon Grove hanging on the side of Chollas Mountain, to industries that were switched from those rockin' SW's.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A new plan...

A new track plan from Tom at Trainboard. This is a 30" by 80" HCD or Hollow Core Door plan of El Centro on the bottom and Plaster City and the US Gypsum plant.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Tecate, what more can we say?

The SD&AE serves the Tecate Brewing Company in
Tecate, BC, Mexico. You can take a tour from Campo

Across Carrizo Gorge

The Carizzo Gorge Railway (NOTE: Mission Impossible Theme for The Impossible Railroad)