SHORT LINE ENTERPRISES
Short Line Enterprises was founded as a partnership by Logan S. (Stan) Garner and William A. (Bill) Oden when they purchased a small, 1891 H. K. Porter steam locomotive and ¼ mile of track from Chadwell O’Connor on March 5, 1967. In a very generous gesture, Chad encouraged these two friends to keep the engine on his ranch in Alta Loma, California. The ¼ mile of track on Chad’s ranch was connected to the upper end of the Santa Fe’s Cucamonga-Foothill Spur which Chad leased from the Santa Fe.
Between 1967 and 1972 the company bought, sold and traded forty-nine locomotives, passenger cars and freight cars, mostly of 19th Century origin. The majority of the equipment was acquired from the Property Departments of three major movie studios: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount Pictures and Twentieth Century-Fox.
Two more friends, Ronald G. Steiner and Robert D Verkuyl became part of Short Line when they purchased former Virginia & Truckee Railroad caboose coach #8, the Julia Bulette at the MGM auction in June of 1970. The experience gained from restoring several pieces of the collection to operating condition focused the company on its long term path; providing movie trains for the film industry, developing and operating excursion trains and museum quality restoration.
The Alta Loma location was convenient for the partners, but was clearly not suitable for long-term development. Beginning in late 1972, Short Line and Robert C. Gray began considering the feasibility of Short Line supplying the equipment for Bob’s Virginia & Truckee Railroad Project. The prospect of a complex business venture encouraged the partners to incorporate as Short Line Enterprises, Inc., a California corporation in April of 1973.
SHORT LINE ENTERPRISES, INC.
Preparation for the V&T project required the Company to accelerate the restoration of locomotive #8 (a Cooke L&M Co. 4-4-0 built in 1888), conversion of two flat cars to excursion cars, completion of V&T caboose coach #8 restoration and restoration of V&T miners caboose #10. During the course of this activity the Company purchased an operable 1922 Edwards Model 10 railbus which also needed restoration.
After a lot of planning, discussion and negotiation, agreement was finally reached with Bob Gray and his newly reconstituted Virginia & Truckee Railroad. Short Line’s restored locomotive #8 would become V&T #28. Restored and rebuilt 40′ flat car #01412 became V&T flat/excursion car #358. Restored and rebuilt 34′ flat car #78094 became V&T flat/excursion car #360. Original, 1873, V&T miners caboose #10 was restored to its turn-of-the-century configuration and appearance. Ex-Tucson, Cornelia and Gila Bend railbus #401 was restored and became V&T #50, Washoe Zephyr. The excursion cars and #50 moved to Virginia City, Nevada in late 1975. Locomotive #8 and caboose #10 moved in May of 1976. Operations commenced the last weekend of June, 1976. Bill Oden moved to Virginia City to operate and maintain the equipment. V&T caboose coach #8 Julia Bulette was supposed to move to Virginia City,it never made it.
June 1974 brought Short Line into the movie business in a serious way. David Wolper was doing a centennial mini series based on Sandburg’s book about Abraham Lincoln. They needed a period train that could depict Lincoln’s inauguration train of 1861. Locomotive #8, caboose coach #8 and flat/excursion car #358 were essentially complete and ready to go. The Company rushed to finish these three pieces then make needed repairs on V&T Baggage #21 and V&T Coach #3. Filming was successfully completed on June 21, and 28, 1974.
By 1975, the company’s collection had stabilized at three 19th Century steam locomotives, one 1920’s railbus, one gas-mechanical switching locomotive and fourteen passenger and freight cars. Selected pieces of which were restored to an appropriate historical configuration and a safe, reliable operating condition. This work established the company’s founders as recognized experts in the restoration of 19th Century railroad equipment. Short Line’s experience in buying, selling and evaluating railroad equipment for restoration also led to its emergence as one of the foremost appraisers in the country of locomotives, rolling stock and other railroad-related items.
In mid 1976 the Santa Fe gave short notice that the Cucamonga Foothill spur had officially been abandoned and the property was being sold. The company had to move. The obvious choice was to take the rest of the equipment to Virginia City. However, strong personalities were involved on both sides and there was a lot of friction between the railroad and Short Line. The next choice was the 50-mile-long Sierra Railroad at Jamestown, California.
Short Line had established a business relationship with the Sierra in 1972 and beginning in 1975 Stan Garner became the southern California film liaison for the railroad. They were definitely interested in having more equipment available for their movie operations and offered Short Line a place to call home. The collection was moved in June of 1976. This move not only provided a good location for film work and equipment maintenance, it afforded the Company an opportunity to operate a number of special excursions.
After the end of the 1976 operating season, Short Line and the Virginia & Truckee Railroad were unable to reach an agreement for the continued use of its equipment. Also, Bill Oden had been offered a position as part of the restoration team at the newly created California State Railroad Museum is Sacramento. The equipment in Virginia City was moved to the Sierra Railroad at Jamestown in the spring of 1977. Locomotive #8 was brought into compliance with Federal Railroad Administration regulations in 1977-78 and the Company’s first Sierra RR excursion was operated in November of that year.
Short Line kept its collection on the Sierra Railroad until 1987 where it continued in film and excursion service until sold to the Nevada State Museum.
In early 1977, Ron Steiner joined Bill Oden California Department of Parks and Recreation to supervise restoration of its extensive collection of historic railroad equipment for the California State Railroad Museum, which was under construction in Sacramento. Their work established new standards for restoration excellence and accuracy. That year the Sierra Railroad contracted with Short Line to handle car cleaning and roundhouse tours associated with Railtown 1897. Bob Verkuyl moved to Jamestown as Short Line’s manager for the Sierra project. Stan Garner remained in southern California as Film Liaison, but frequently traveled back and forth to Jamestown to work on equipment and coordinate film projects and excursions.
As the work in Sacramento was winding down, Short Line was retained as the prime contractor for the Nevada State Museum on comparable restoration projects in Carson City. This series of projects ran from 1979 to 1988 and resulted in the restoration of three ex-Virginia & Truckee Railroad steam locomotives.
No. 25, Baldwin 1905, restored to c.1935 appearance and operating condition, No. 18 Dayton, Central Pacific 1873, restored to its 1882 post wreck rebuilt appearance, but non operating condition. No 22 Inyo, Baldwin 1875 to c. 1892 appearance and operating condition. and seven 19th Century ex-Virginia & Truckee Railroad passenger and freight cars. Caboose Coach #9, Kimball 1873, restored to its as delivered appearance and operating condition. Box Car # 1013 The company also constructed a working wooden turntable, using original Southern Pacific Railroad erection drawings, and initiated regularly-scheduled steam train operations on the museum grounds.
The company was approached in 1980 by the location manager for Newhall Land & Farming Company’s Film Location Unit to see if it would be interested in setting up a movie train operation
Only a few pieces of its collection of historic equipment came to the property; the rest continued to be used in films on the Sierra Railroad. The new location became known as the Newhall Ranch Movie Train and was an immediate success. The company also continued its railroad-related research, consulting, appraisal and restoration activities.
The fall of 1987 saw Short Line Enterprises, Inc. enter into an agreement with the Nevada State Museum to sell locomotive #8, all of the V&T cars in the Company’s collection and a few other selected pieces to the Museum. This left only the Newhall Ranch Movie Train equipment, locomotive #1 and three freight cars in the collection. With the sale of more than 90% of the Company’s historic collection Fifty percent of the existing shareholders elected not to continue in the business. The Company completed a voluntary twelve month plan of liquidation in December 1988.
James F. Clark, Jr. and Logan S. Garner acquired the remainder of the assets as part of the liquidation and sought an additional investor to become the general partner in a new venture.
SHORT LINE ENTERPRISES, LTD.
In 1988 Short Line Enterprises/Ltd., a California limited partnership, was founded by SLE, Inc., a California corporation, to acquire and continue the movie train operation and other ctivities established by Short Line Enterprises, Inc. Between 1985 and 1990 the Newhall Ranch Movie Train was used in over seventy features, television series, commercials and music videos. No Hollywood railroad location had ever amassed that number of credits in so short a time. The track lease was canceled in 1990 when Newhall Land decided to develop the surrounding area in a way that was incompatible with the movie operation. A search began for a suitable new location. After exploring all potential sites in Los Angeles,
Short Line initiated discussions with the S.P. to obtain an operating lease and contacted the cities of Fillmore and Santa Paula to determine their reaction to the idea of having this type of operation in their communities. While both cities gave positive responses, the City of Fillmore showed great enthusiasm
The City of Fillmore Redevelopment Agency purchased the thirteen-acre station parcel in its downtown area from the S.P. in late 1990. Building on the opportunity presented by Short Line’s involvement,
During the period between July 1990, when the equipment left Newhall Ranch, and December 1992, Short Line did a limited number of films on both the private spur and the city-owned track in
The City of Fillmore and Short Line Enterprises executed a two year operating lease with the S. P. effective December 31, 1992, whereby the city held the primary lease and Short Line sub leased from the city. The two year time period was established because the S.P. had started negotiations with the Ventura County Transportation Commission for the sale of the entire line to VCTC and it was expected the sale would be completed before the lease expired.. The lease provided for a month-to-month continuation should the sale not be completed within the two year time period.
Short Line Enterprises, doing business as the Fillmore & Western Railway, operated movie trains and special excursions from its rail yard in downtown Fillmore. The collection of company-owned or leased equipment grew to include two steam locomotives, three diesels, sixteen passenger cars and seventeen freight cars. This enabled the company to assemble any type of train from the turn-of-the-century
The VCTC purchased of the entire 29-mile Santa Paula Branch from the S.P. (intended to preserve it as a future transportation corridor) and the City of Fillmore Redevelopment Agency’s plan to turn its quaint downtown area into a major railroad-theme visitor attraction, offered a number of exciting business possibilities for the future. To facilitate its growth, Short Line Enterprises/Ltd., transferred the limited partnership interests to the corporate general partner, SLE, Inc. and renamed the company Short Line Enterprises, Inc., a California corporation. This change was effective December 31, 1994.
SHORT LINE ENTERPRISES, INC.
During 1995 Short Line expanded from limited specialty and movie operations to regularly scheduled passenger excursions and dinner train operations. The 1996 schedule featured excursions every Sunday beginning in February, Murder Mystery and Hollywood Express dinner theater trains were inaugurated on Saturday nights during the spring and fall and Saturday night Bar-B-Que trains during the summer. Movie business continued to be a revenue mainstay. The end of 1996 saw a major change in the company. Mr. David Wilkinson purchased the Fillmore and Western with the new company to handle the movie business, certain operating requirements and as a general consultant.
After the sale, three of the four Shareholders in Short Line Enterprises, Inc elected to redeem their stock for cash. Logan S. Garner became the sole shareholder of Short Line Enterprises, Inc. The terms of the sale required the Company give up the Short Line Enterprises name. After considering several alternatives, including a return to SLE, Inc., the name was changed to The Train Source, Inc. on December 1, 1997.
During the final stages of the sale the Company became involved in a project to operate a special train for a rock band using private cars operating on Amtrak routes. This was a new direction, offering opportunities not previously available. As part of this project, the Company was working with Mark L. Dees, a good friend and private car owner who kept a baggage/lounge car at the railroad in Fillmore. Mark was killed in a tragic accident in December of 1996. Mr. Garner continued to work with the Dees estate until the project was cancelled. Based on further interest in this type of project the Company went ahead and bought former Canadian Pacific Baggage Express car #4210, PPCX 800320 Pony Express, from the Dees Estate on June 22, 1997.
THE TRAIN SOURCE, INC.
An October 1997 Amtrak inspection revealed several previously undetected problems with the Pony Express and Amtrak required the car undergo a complete 40 year Inspection before it would be allowed to operate. This extensive inspection/rebuild was started in October of 1997. Progress was rapid at first but intervening film and consulting projects, such as the design and rebuilding of commuter coaches into elegant dining cars for the Sierra Railroads’ dinner train operation. delayed final completion until August 20, 2001. Mr. Garner left the Fillmore & Western Railway at the end of March, 2000 to focus on Private Car operations and Feature Film. Production.
In 2004 Mr. Garner was elected to be a Director of the American Association of Railroad Car Owners, Inc. (AAPRCO).
The Pony Express was kept in the “Garden” at Los Angeles Union Station. from August, 2002 until June, 2007 when Amtrak raised parking rates to a level that was no longer economical to pay. During its five years in the Garden it saw regular use for special events, special trains, charters, birthday
The Pony was moved back to Los Angeles on August of 2008 to be part of AAPRCO’s annual convention train. Mr. Garner was co-Chairman for the convention. The special train traveled from Los Angeles to San Diego with former Santa Fe steam locomotive No. 3751 on the point.. On return to Los Angeles the 3751 was taken off near the Amtrak yard and the train continued to San Pedro and was parked near the waterfront and the convention hotel. Following the convention the Pony was moved to Winslow, Arizona, close to Mr. Garner’s new home in Payson, Arizona.
After a few more years of charter service the Pony Express was sold in July of 2016 thus ending nearly 50 years of railroad equipment ownership by Mr. Garner.
He has just completed a years’ long project to write and publish The Short Line Enterprises Story, a two volume set documenting the company’s history with narrative and photographs.
Rev April 11, 2018
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