Sunday, August 21, 2011

Santa Fe, South Pasadena, Olga

Westbound toward Union Station, past "Olga" circa 1970.
View from alley that parallels Hawthorne.
 Can anyone ID the train?
My childhood friend Dave lived on Monterey Road between Orange Grove and Indiana Avenue. The Santa Fe line ran right behind his house. I remember a siding, a little shanty and a sign that said "Olga". All of the times I visited, over many years; I never tired of watching trains. Never. Though I'm not a hard core rail fan like some of my friends;  I'm still drawn to rail travel, depots and related history. The sounds and rhythm. Railroads are musical and poetic.

There were no fences; us kids were always fooling around on the tracks. No adult supervision. The east bounds would throttle down as they approached Indiana Avenue. That distinctive change of pitch was thrilling. Wish I had a recording of it. All those grade crossings. It must have been crazy from an engineer's perspective. 

Looking west toward Indiana Ave. Circa 1970
 "Olga" was on left easement between ally and tracks.
Train tracks unleashed a daredevil spirit. How many times could you hop over both sets of tracks with the train approaching?  You couldn't really get run over by a train.  Air horn, huge head lamp, creosote aroma mixed with lingering diesel, as the last car disappeared  just past Orange Grove Avenue, where the track curved sharply. Did the toilets really flush directly onto the tracks? What happened to the penny we put on the rail? The really bad boys placed much larger objects than pennies out there, but they never stopped the train.
View of "Olga" westbound from Gold Line train.
Sound barrier parallels alley.
What exactly was Olga; a telegraph shack, or shed for rail crews?  I never knew for sure -- or maybe I did and forgot. I wish I had taken a photo of it before it was torn down.

Seeing the passengers in the windows of the shiny silver Santa Fe coaches always made me wish I was on the train. The only time I ever traveled that stretch while it was still standard gauge was in the early 1970's. For a brief period there were some private rail excursions around the time Amtrak took over. I don't remember who sponsored them.  I remember one of the trips was called "Spring Time In Tehachapi" I've got some photos of those trips.  All this returned to my memory when I was taking the Gold Line into L.A. the other day.  Anybody out there remember this stuff?

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