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May 1978 - Page 6


California's last four F-units are all back at work!

the breeze, and lighted twin numberboards

I t is 3:00 PM on a cool day in the middle of A pril. The Coast Hills which make up Altamont Pass are vivid green, a sight occurring only two or three'months of the year. A heavy damp mist hangs i n the California air, through which a green light is visible. Specifically, the light is the westbound approach signal protecting Western P acific's Altamont siding. Down the track in the opposite direction, a headlight b ounces off the rails and gradually gets closer. Soon, a bright, orange nose contrasts sharply with the pale gray mist and a colorful square herald spells out "Feather River R oute" identifying this as a Western P acific Railroad F-unit. Two white flags blow freely in

paint scheme, the 913 was beginning yet an other chapter in the life of the last four cab units In the state of California, a chapter which really started back in 1 977 as the daily routine for these locomotives described in the October, 1 976 issue a change it was. The year 1976 was a good one overall for the Western Pacific and business was up to a point where the F's operated nearly all of the time. The railroad had extra trains to run, and there was to be no storage of the units this time, as in previous years when business was slow. When winter rolls around it usually meant snowplow assignments for the locomotives, as their p umpkin-shaped noses make them ideal to lead trains through the heavy snows that cover the railroad in the mountain districts. The drought in the summer of 1 976, however, as is well of P A ClFlC NEWS began to change. And what

proclaim the arrival of the 9 l 3-A. The train is WP's San Jose Turn, the date is A pri124, 1978! F or the first time since July of 1977, the Western P acific has four operating covered wagons at w ork. The date marks the first run for the 913 in over nine months, and both white flags and historic numberboards are present to commemorate the occasion. H ome for only a month and a half from repairs at the B oise, facility of M orrison- K n udsen, the n umber 9 1:i (ex-913-A, nee 9 20-A) is vivid in a shiny coat of silver and orange paint, specially applied to serve as a reminder of the old Western P acific tradition and the era of the Silver Lady


three sister F-units (the 917, ex9 l 7-D; 9 1 8, the 918-0; and 9 2 1 , ex-9 2 l -D) all painted in the contemporary "new image" green and orange

The ;.{:alifornia Zephyr.

A ccompanied by

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