The Ending of An Era
In the early hours of July 17, 1993, Southern Pacificís last sugar beet train from the Imperial Valley pulled into the station at Guadalupe, California. The nearby sugar mill would soon be shut down after nearly 100 years of operation and SPís sugar beet trains, with their familiar wooden gondolas, would no longer make the run from the southeast corner of the state to the central coast. Video Rails was on hand to record this historic moment, for they were capturing the entire operation prior to the end of an era.
Our journey begins in the lush farmlands of the Imperial Valley, 420 rail miles away from the Holly Sugar Mill at Betteravia. There youíll watch as sugar beets are harvested, transported to receiving stations, and then loaded into the wooden gondolas, with their friction bearing axles, that made SPís unit beet trains so unique. The loaded trains of up to 100 steel and wooden cars hauling 10,000 tons of sugar beets depart El Centro, heading toward Taylor Junction in L.A. and along the Coast Line to their destination in the Santa Maria Valley. Helper units are often added for the push over Beaumont Hill, as youíll see on several of the trains. At Taylor Junction, weíre invited into the cab of SD40 7349 on the point of a 3-unit lashup that includes two SD45s. The cab ride to Guadalupe features tunnels, cuts, and blue Pacific Ocean views as well as meets and passes with intermodal hotshots and Amtrak trains. At the interchange yard in Guadalupe, the Santa Maria Valley Railroadís new GP-9 arrives to transfer the gondolas to the Holly Sugar Mill. Then weíre treated to a complete tour of the refining process, from unloading to washing, pulping, purifying, drying, and bagging the granulated sugar.
Though the mill has since been partially demolished and SPís sugar beet trains are a thing of the past, you can still enjoy one of the most interesting railroading stories ever shown, now on DVD from Pentrex!
DVD Special Feature:
Chapter Menus provides instant access to program segments.
In Color with Stereo Sound and Narration
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