I've always loved trains. During the winter of 1960, my folks stopped in Independence CA (in the Eastern Sierras on US 395) to take my picture in front of the then recently-retired 1911 Baldwin-built narrow gauge locomotive #18. Known as the "Slim Princess," #18 along with her sister #9, (now in the Laws, CA, museum) were the last operable Southern Pacific narrow gauge steam locomotives. My dad took this picture with his old Polaroid camera in 20 degree weather. But there I am (about 6 yrs. of age), getting my photo taken and freezing my rear-end off.
My wife and I have made countless trips to the Eastern Sierras through the years, and my two sons always had to stop and look at #18. Those of you who frequent the Eastern Sierras will know exactly where and what I mean. When he was a toddler, my oldest son (now almost 26) wanted his picture taken in the same spot where my parents took a picture of me. We obliged. This picture was taken about 1990.
My reason for posting these photos is let those of you who love US 395 (and its beauty and history) know that #18 may actually live again. A group of railfans (from throughout the West) along with local historians (of the Eastern Sierras and the Owens Valley) are in the process of restoring #18, and may actually have it running again in a few years.
Here's the link to the website of the Carson and Colorado Railway (Click Here). The folks doing the restoration are making remarkable progress. Next time you head from So Cal to Mammoth, Tahoe, or Reno, you won't see #18 in its familiar park setting in Independence (much of it is being rebuilt off the highway). But perhaps one day in the not too distant future you just might able to watch it run between Bishop and Laws under full steam.
And, Lord willing, one day I'll post a picture of me with my grandkids in front of a fully restored #18, as we are about to go for a ride.