Thursday, December 20, 2012

In Memoriam: James Higman

The South Coast Railroad Museum lost a longtime friend on Dec. 19, 2012 with the passing of James Higman.

Jim was perhaps best known around the museum for the  tabletop display of miniature stationary steam engines and 
steam-driven tools and devices that he helped organize for museum events, including a long string of Depot Days, starting in 1983, and later for Steaming Summer and Railroad Days.

Higman shares the steam display
with event-goers in 1990.
He contributed to the museum in many other ways, including as a financial donor to many Spring Fundraisers and Year-End Appeals. Jim loaned the museum his brass steam-locomotive bell for sharing during the Goleta Valley Days parade and several Depot Day events. Jim also donated the original knuckle couplers and ball-bearing trucks that were installed on the first four Goleta Short Line passenger cars.

Jim was also one of the men responsible for building the museum handcar, completed in 1989. He turned and cut the massive 72-tooth bull gear, which came from a 220 lb. slab of solid steel. Jim also collaborated with Gene Allen in creating the companion 10-tooth pinion gear.

Jim became a museum member in 1982. He and wife, Sue, became Life members in 1990, the same year that Jim became a member of the Board of Trustees.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Historic Super Chief Lounge, Acoma, Being Readied For Return To Service

Southwestern motif is evident from this
historical photo of Acoma car interior.
On Dec. 11, 2012, Museum Director Gary Coombs had the opportunity to visit the historic railcar, Acoma, as it was being readied for a return to active service. A larger number of photos, including the color images below, were taken on that occasion. Many others can be viewed here.

The museum has chartered Acoma for a Jan. 19, 2013 scenic daytrip up the Pacific Coast to San Luis Obispo. The trip is open to the public. Before Jan. 19, tickets may be purchased HERE.

Acoma has an
impressive pedigree. The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad started upgrading its premier train, the Super Chief, “The Train Of The Stars,” to new lightweight “streamliner” cars in 1937. It began with just one train set, consisting of eight stainless-steel cars manufactured by the Budd Co. Acoma was one of those first eight cars. The new streamlined Super Chief traveled between Los Angeles and Chicago, making one round trip a week. The Super Chief was pulled by diesel locomotives sporting the now-famous “warbonnet” paint 
Writing desk is one of Acoma's
many surviving appointments.
scheme. Each car, including Acoma, featured an interior uniquely decorated with a Southwest motif.

Today, Acoma is the only car from this first stainless-steel Super Chief train set that remains in active service. Only two of Acoma's sister cars survive: the dining car, Cochiti, which is showcased at the California State Railroad Museum, and the observation car, Navajo, proudly displayed at the Colorado Railroad Museum.