San Joaquin Short Line

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The SJSL represents a branch line set in the southern San Joaquin Valley during World War II.  It closely parallels both Southern Pacific and Santa Fe operations in that area.

It’s founding occurred during the branch line boom of the early-1900s.  City Fathers saw such “vast potential” in their area that they decided to build a railroad.  As happened with most of them, funds ran out before completion, and the hoped-for traffic didn’t materialize.  So, the line was sold at a Sheriff’s Auction.  The Santa Fe and Southern Pacific bought it and built it out.

Not that long after completion, traffic began to materialize.  The primary outbound traffic is fruits and vegetables, both fresh and canned. A quarry generates traffic for off-line customers and for the Friant Dam project located at the end of the line.  Until the project is completed, the SJSL receives cut lumber and box shook from a lumber mill not far into the mountains.

Reefer operations are primary.  Each different crop that is loaded at the 8 packing houses follows actual car handling procedures.  More, traffic follows seasonal patters, with packing houses shut down during off seasons. Both Santa Fe and Pacific Fruit Express reefers are used thanks to a wartime decree that disallowed exclusive use of reefers to any one railroad (this is actual).

Line schematic:

Valley Springs  ►►  Aurora ►► Bend  ►►  Cojones  ►►  Damascus Jct.

The following trains run six days per week:

3rd Street Switch – runs without stopping to Cojones and serves the 5 plants located on 3rd Street in Cojones. 

Cojones Local – runs to Cojones and switches all other industries.  It also picks up lumber and box shook cars and sets out local deliveries. 

Aurora & Bend (A-B) Local – switches all industries in these two towns. 

Cojones Reefers – runs twice daily to serve packing houses in Cojones.

Aurora Reefers - runs twice daily to serve packing houses in Aurora.

Dam Train – runs from Damascus Junction to Valley Springs and return.  It handles all sand and gravel cars as well as supplies and equipment for the Friant Dam project.

#s 2 and 1 – a local passenger run from Cojones to Valley Springs and return.

Superintendent Bill Jolitz
Division or Location: Southern San Joaquin Valley of California
Interchange Railroads: Santa Fe, Southern Pacific
Size of Railroad: 16 x 25 ft
Scale: HO
Era: 1943
Control System: Lenz DCC
Scale Clock Speed: 4:1
Length of Session: 3 actual hours
Number of Crew: 3-4
Train Control: Hybrid: smoke orders and verbal authority
Are Radios Required: No
Listed Jobs: 3 - 4 Road Conductor-Engineers
Accessibility: Stairs
Distance from hotel: 10 miles
Estimated travel time from hotel: 20 minutes
Web Site: {None...yet}
Pets: 2 Cats

Layout photos coming soon!


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