Friday, October 16, 2015

SPH&TS meet 2015

The 35th annual meeting of the Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society was held during October 7–11, 2015, in Sacramento, California. Co-chairs of the meeting, Mark Brown and Scott Inman, took full advantage of the proximity of the world-class California State Railroad Museum (CSRM), and Thursday afternoon and evening of the convention found almost all of us at the museum. There were also the usual attractions at the conference hotel, particularly a clinic program. (I presented a talk on SP cabooses from 1871 to 1980, at the request of the program organizers.)
     A highlight for many was the time at CSRM, especially a chance to have a guided tour through the SP Sacramento Shops buildings. It’s remarkable to stand on the east side of the Erecting Shop, the part built in 1869, and realize what an enormous number of SP locomotives has passed through that building in its history, from diamond-stack wood burners, through cab-forwards and F-units, to the most modern SD40 rebuilds. Today CSRM has both work equipment and stored artifacts in the building, such as the handsome locomotive shown below, and not too far into the future, this will become one of the Museum’s own buildings.

     Also seen around the Shops area are some pieces of equipment stored outside, such as this 120-ton crane, and beyond it, the original SP experimental double-stack container car. That’s the I-5 freeway bridge in the background.

     In the evening, former Southern Pacific President Mike Mohan spoke to the attendees, seated in the museum’s roundhouse, with the dramatic backdrop of SP Pacific 2467. In this photo, convention co-chair Scott Inman (yellow shirt) is at the podium to introduce Mr. Mohan.

     Back at the hotel, we had a full schedule of events. The model contest and display, along with the photo contest, was very strong this year, with numerous entries of very high quality. I entered a freight train, and as it happened, it was voted the First Place entry in this category. In the photo below, it’s the second one from the front, pulled by a steam locomotive.

This is a 15-car train with a range of both SP and non-SP cars in it. One of the attendees in the room asked if I would show the cars in the train in a blog post, and I will consider doing so, when I can get all the cars photographed.
     An always-busy part of these meeting is the vendor room at the hotel, where a wide range of sellers of both prototype and model materials have items for sale. Here is just an overall view of the room on one of the afternoons.

     I always enjoy the SPH&TS annual meets, because of course the subject matter is dear to my heart, but I would rank this one as one of the very best I can remember.
Tony Thompson


  1. Congrats, Tony. What's the first tank car in your freight train? It seems fairly large.

  2. Yes, it IS large. It's a 12,500-gallon SP tank car, a standard size for SP but rare for other owners in my 1953 era. It's converted from an Athearn tank. For too long, modelers have tended to see the familiar Athearn car as a "normal" tank car, but that's changing as the far more typical 8000 and 10,000-gallon cars become familiar models too.
    Tony Thompson

  3. I hear from others that this year's convention was outstanding as well. I can't wait to be able to attend another in the future. It is always great to connect with fellow SP fans.