Thursday, September 23, 2010

PG&E No. 35 trolley car near White Rock Road

The Pacific Gas & Electric Trolley No. 35 picked up railroad workers near the White Rock Road grade crossing as it prepared to return to Hampton Station on Sunday, September 19, 2010. The El Dorado Western Railway came close to putting its Whiting Trackmobile to work on the Placerville Branch line. Around 2:30 p.m., an official from the Folsom Rail and Transportation Festival stopped by our booth to ask if the Trackmobile was available to recover the trolley as it had stalled on the tracks just north of White Rock Road.

We were told that the trolley's power supply had failed and the vehicle that was going to tow it back, a Regional Transit Unimog hi-rail truck, had jumped the rails. Event organizers thought that the Trackmobile was the ideal recovery vehicle. To effect the recovery, plan was for Keith Berry to drive it south on Old Placerville Road to the site, mount the rails between the Unimog and the trolley and tow it to a point where crews could repair the generator.

In the end, our services weren't needed. But it would've been a photographer's dream to see the El Dorado Western No. 601 Trackmobile towing the PG&E No. 35 back to the northern terminus.

Like EDWR's Trackmobile, the trolley was one of unique artifacts at the Folsom Railfest. It required an alternate source of electricity for the event since the Placerville Branch doesn't have overhead power lines. Normally, the trolley is more at home on the Regional Transit rail lines, where it draws electricity from overhead power line through the trolley pole.

Photographer Philip S. Rose provided some insight into the operation of the trolley in the Village Life newspaper: "To power the vintage rail conveyance, Railfest organizers rented the huge generator being towed behind. (Folsom, El Dorado & Sacramento Historical Railroad Association) member Bob Morrison built a rectifier to convert the AC to DC power for the old streetcar."

The trolley was used throughout the weekend event to give paid rides to the public. The PG&E No. 35 was built in 1913 by the American Car Co. PG&E ran it on its Sacramento City Lines until 1934, when it was retired.

"In 1999, Sacramento Regional Transit purchased a beautifully restored trolley (PG&E 35) from the California Trolley & Railroad Corporation in San Jose," according to the Railway Preservation Resources (RPR Consulting) website page for Sacramento. "The car had been completely rebuilt in the late1980s as part of group of seven immaculately restored trolleys for operation in San Jose. Car 35 is operated on special occasions over a portion of the Light Rail system in the downtown area."

An interesting fact about the trolley is that it carries two road numbers. When restored, the car operated as the San Jose Railroad No. 129. The No. 35 wasn't available and it was renumbered 129, the next available number for the railroad. When Regional Transit purchased the car, a representative told us that the purchase agreement required them maintain the car's No. 129 identity.

Conductor Eric Olds of Folsom, punches a passenger's ticket on an afternoon trolley run on Saturday. Eric is a member of the Folsom, El Dorado & Sacramento Historical Railroad Association. He frequently operates their Skagit No. 30 speeder as the motorman.

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