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More Than 80 Years Ago, California Had Steam High-Speed Rail
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By Bill McEwen, News Director
Published 2 years ago on
January 30, 2022

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More than 80 years ago, California got a glimpse of high-speed rail with Santa Fe steam engine No. 3751.

Built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in Pennsylvania for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, the locomotive cost $99,712.77.

Santa Fe 3751 served the railroad for many years on its passenger lines throughout the west and midwest. In 1936, it was converted from burning coal to oil.

Top Speed of 103 MPH

Incredibly, it was clocked at a speed of 103 mph in 1941.

Just before it was retired by the Santa Fe in 1953, No. 3751 serviced the Del Mar Race Track runs and routes between Los Angeles and San Diego.

No, 3751 got new life on mainline excursions after the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society acquired and restored it in the mid-1980s.

For example, it ran Santa Fe’s route between Los Angeles and Chicago.

Below is a video of No. 3751 passing cars on Interstate 10 during a trip between Los Angeles and San Bernardino in 2014.

Watch: Santa Fe 3751 in Action

No. 3751’s Latest Rebuild

The historical society’s rebuild of the iconic engine passed an important milestone last August when 230 pounds of steam pressure filled the boiler for the first time since 2017.

“This achievement culminates nearly three and a half years of hard work by our dedicated, all volunteer steam crew, who could not have brought us to this day without the backing of our SBRHS Supporters,” the society wrote on its website. “To our supporters – this day is YOUR day as much as it is our day, and we thank you for allowing this to be possible!”

Though pandemic restrictions have slowed 3751’s return to mainline excursions, the society says it hopes to announce new trips as soon as spring.

 

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Bill McEwen,
News Director
Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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