Monday, November 15, 2010

Wednesday Crew Works Wonders

Ed Leska, Tony Ramirez, John Green
and Doug Winter
With rare exception, Wednesday mornings at the railroad museum are a time when a group of men gathers there to tackle projects and problems in need of attention.

The group's primary focus has always been the Goleta Short Line miniature railroad. In fact, the group can be traced back to 2006, when Gene Allen began organizing volunteer  work parties to tackle the daunting task of expanding the miniature railroad from a six-minute, one-third-mile-long ride to a nine-minute, half-mile ride.

The head of the all-volunteer group is Ed Leska, who has been a museum member since 1993. Leska was one of the men recruited by Allen to help with the Goleta Short Line expansion, and Allen later tapped Leska to take over as the group's leader.

Ed Leska, Gene Allen and William Simpson
take a break during Goleta Short Line expansion.
In 2007, with this large project finally behind them, the group turned to other tasks, especially the maintenance of the enlarged railroad right-of-way and the miniature-train equipment, including a major rebuilding of the turntable. Eventually, Wednesday became the usual work day and the group's membership solidified, as Leska, John Green, Tony Ramirez, and Doug Winter became the team's regulars.

John Green welds supporting wire mesh
for the Visitor Center's overhead train.
Eventually, the group – whose background and training included carpentry, engineering, electrical and more – came to be called upon to perform other general maintenance, repair and construction projects around the museum. One major effort took place in 2008, when the Daylight passenger-train was added to the suspended railroad in the museum's Visitor Center.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Museum Charters “Silver Splendor” Vista-Dome Car For Feb. 19 Excursion

Ed Leska was amazed at the stunning coastline
views from Silver Splendor's dome.
Santa Barbara South Coast residents have a unique opportunity to ride a classic Vista Dome car on Feb. 19, 2011, when the museum has chartered the historic Silver Splendor railcar for a one-day roundtrip along the Pacific Coast to San Luis Obispo.

Vista Dome cars are famous for their graceful glass-enclosed rooftop observation rooms, which provide unparalleled views in all directions. Museum volunteer Ed Leska, who knows something about vintage-rail travel, explains: “Riding in the dome gives you the very best views of the coast and valleys!  You can see the ocean and the mountains, look forward and back without moving from your seat!”

Silver Splendor today
The museum group is limited to 48 passengers, so that everyone will be guaranteed seating in the 24-seat dome for one-half of the trip. Those making early reservations have first choice of riding in the dome either during the north- or southbound leg of the trip.

Passengers may board in either Santa Barbara or Goleta. Travel times are as follows: Depart Santa Barbara (SB) at 10:15 a.m. (Goleta 10:27). Arrive San Luis Obispo (SLO) at 12:45 p.m. Depart SLO at 2:00 p.m. Arrive SB at 4:31 p.m. (Goleta 4:16).

Tickets for the Feb. 19 Silver Splendor excursion are only $75 for museum members; $79 for the general public. Soft drinks and light snacks are included. To make your reservations, call the museum any weekday afternoon at 805/964-3540.

The car's original name was Silver Buckle.
Built by the Budd Co. in 1956 as Chicago, Burlington & Quincy No. 4735, this stainless steel car raced between Chicago and Denver on a daily basis until 1980, the last nine years under Amtrak ownership. Originally named Silver Buckle, she was part of the last two complete conventional train sets to be ordered new in the pre-Amtrak era, traveling more than 4.5 million miles.

To learn more about Silver Splendor, please visit:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hidden Oaks Golf Course Hosts Museum Benefit

Doug Winter finishes off the 9th hole,
while Museum Director Gary Coombs waits.
The Hidden Oaks Golf Course hosted a special benefit day on Saturday, Aug. 21. The museum received 20% of all course revenues generated that day. Among the event’s participants were a number of museum notables, including Marc Bradley, Doug Winter and Director Gary Coombs.

Hidden Oaks Golf Course is a 9-hole, par 27 layout, located at 4760 Calle Camarada in Santa Barbara. Coincidentally, many years ago the property was the first home of the Goleta Valley Railroad Club.

Marc Bradley (right) and Dan Spiegle relax at the
Clubhouse after completing their round.

The museum is indebted to its good friends at the Hidden Oaks course for their cooperation and support in making this memorable fundraising event possible.
Hidden Oaks Manager/Pro Dave DeHeras
prepared this table display for the event.

Friday, October 22, 2010

New Intern Helps With Rides & SWAP

Yegal Khouban is a Fall 2010 intern at the railroad museum. “Iggy” is a U.C.S.B. student, majoring in anthropology. He has been helping supervise our weekend SWAP workers and is also staffing the Goleta Short Line trains.
Yegal completed his engineer training on Oct. 22. On that busy free-ride day, his trains carried a total of 44 passengers.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A.J. Medina Applies His Skills

Armando (“A.J.”) Medina has become one of the museum's most hard-working and dedicated volunteers. For over a year, he has been donating countless hours to a major project — repainting the exterior of Goleta Depot. He is nearly finished with the first floor and hopes to continue in early 2011 with the second story.

Recently retired, A.J. worked as a residential building painter at U.C., Santa Barbara for more than 25 years.

A.J. removes old peeling paint.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mike Helps Museum Look Good

Painting tables
Mike Sobota is one of the City of Goleta employees that lend the museum a helping hand, assisting our volunteers and staff in keeping the grounds looking their best. Mike is the City's Lead Maintenance Worker.

We greatly appreciate the support that the museum receives from Mike and other City workers.

Adding Safety Striping At The Entrance RR Crossing

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ride The “Overland Trail” Rail Car

The railroad museum is excited to offer affordable one-day round-trip excursions from Santa Barbara aboard the vintage railroad car, "Overland Trail."
Your hosts, Bill and Debbie Hatrick

Enjoy spectacular views from the comfort of one of the West Coast's premiere privately-owned rail cars as your train travels along the Pacific shoreline. Points of interest along the route include the Santa Barbara Channel Islands, Point Conception, Vandenberg AFB, the wine country of southern San Luis Obispo County, and much more.

For more information, visit the museum's Overland Trail web page.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Where Are All The Men?

Ann, Thea and Raphaella
Today, the museum had an all-female staffing crew for only the second time in its history. Raphaella Banholzer-Donati served as Goleta Short Line engineer, joined by Ann Winter as conductor. In the Trackside Shop, Thea Cremers handled clerking duties.

It was back on Aug. 22 that the train ride and shop were covered for the first time by a team of three or more that didn't include any men. On that day, Ayse Taimuty took care of the museum store and Visitor Center, while Raphaella and Ann again kept the train-ride running.

New Engineer-In-Training

Dane Mulligan
Museum Intern Dane Mulligan hauled his first passengers as a Goleta Short Line engineer on Saturday, Oct. 2. Dane is an anthropology major at U.C. Santa Barbara.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Station Agent Takes Wing!

This Scrub-Jay has become a regular attraction around the boarding station for the Goleta Short Line miniature-train. Begging for attention ... and for food ... are favorite pastimes. Photo by Conductor Ann Winter.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bunnies Are Frequent Depot Visitors

This little cottontail rabbit was captured digitally while hiding on the museum grounds on the morning of Sept. 30, 2010 by Director Gary Coombs.

Museum Guides Take Part In Central Coast RR Festival

Volunteer guides from the South Coast Railroad Museum will be a part of the Central Coast Railroad Festival, which takes place Oct. 7-11, in San Luis Obispo and neighboring communities. The SCRM volunteers, who are part of the National Park Service's Trails & Rails Program, will be presenting interpretive programs between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo aboard Amtrak's Coast Starlight trains on Oct. 7-10.

The program presentations will focus on local history, points of interest, local sights, and the natural history of the area. Among the topics: the Santa Barbara Channel, Point Conception, flora and fauna, Vandenberg AFB, and the 1901 completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad's Coast Route joining San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wild Life At RR Museum! Hop Aboard.

Our museum visitors include bobcats, coyotes, rabbits, ground squirrels, owls, great blue heron, weasels, red-tailed hawks, and many other species, including the common egret shown at right (apparently trying to board Caboose No. 4023!) [Photo by Ann Winter, 9/25/2010].

 Botanical life on the museum grounds is also abundant. Visit to see a website page devoted to the trees, shrubs, and other plants that we share with our guests. (At left: African Iris, Dietes Vegeta)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rides on Bob Mahan's Speeder

Rides on Bob Mahan's inspection car ("speeder") will be a part of the 28th annual Depot Day celebration on Sunday, Sept. 26. The car formerly was used on the Ventura County Railway.