In the Spring of 2016, the Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture (BBCRC) welcomed home an 1888 Southern Pacific Pullman business car, the "Shasta" to its collection through a donation from the California State Railroad Museum (CSRM). SP #109 was built as a coach car for the Northern Railway and then was converted into a business car in the early 1900s. It was then based in Dunsmuir for several decades before being converted to a Maintenance Of Way bunkhouse car during the Great Depression.
In 1957, SP #109 was finally retired and stored until 1977, when the CSRM acquired the car. SP #109 then spent over 20 years outside the shop in Sacramento, until moving inside the Erecting Shop in 2000. The car ultimately needed to be moved or scrapped after spending nearly 50 years out of commission. It was already being prepped for the scrap yard when it was rescued in the eleventh hour and brought to the BBCRC through a collaborative effort involving the Pacific Coast Chapter of the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, the Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society, and concerned individuals.
Before the car could be brought to the BBCRC, we had to prepare the site. Vern Swenson Excavating did the levelling and brought us ballast. Union Pacific donated 90 lb rail and tie plates and BBCRC volunteers then spent a day laying track and shoveling in tons of ballast.
We also benefited from the assistance of Benson Roofing in Dunsmuir in temporarily taking down one of our searchlight signals to make way for the move. Carlton Crane of Burney assisted with the actual unloading and placement of the car. Due to the length of SP 109 this required a crane at each end which added to the complexity and expense of the move.
After its arrival, our all-volunteer crew went to work again, gutting the car and removing the lead based paint. Unfortunately, the tongue and groove siding on the car, and some interior walls, had already been removed before #109's arrival. The partial dismantling was a small set-back for our restoration plans, making the project ultimately more expensive and challenging.
Lead abatement during the deconstruction of the car was also of great concern, so during this process we worked to ensure that our volunteers were safe and that all the paint chips were properly disposed of. The windows were also removed in order to scrape off the lead paint and determine which frames could be salvaged and which would have to be replaced. Luckily many of the etched top-windows remained intact, which we can then use to recreate the ones that did not survive.
After gutting the car, the crew went to work replacing the roof. We tore down the old sheathing, revealing a rotted skeleton. We then created a template with one of the intact rafters using discounted materials from Fort Jones Lumber, a local company, and re-created the rafters which would ultimately hold up the new roof.
During 2016, BBCRC also acquired a storage trailer which now sits across from SP #109 and houses many of the salvaged windows, materials, and other important pieces to the restoration.
After the roof structure was repaired, our priority was to protect the car for the upcoming winter. In the fall of 2016, we covered the car using Tyvec to prevent further deterioration during what would become the wettest winter on record in over 100 years in California. This material successfully sealed in the new roof structure and the remaining fragile woodwork throughout the car.
As we move into 2017, the BBCRC plans on continuing to preserve the exterior of the car before moving on to the interior. We will be putting the final touches on the roof, restoring the windows, exterior doors, and siding. We hope to have a "carpenter in residence" for an extended period this summer who can help lead the restoration efforts.
- Organizations $3,800 (Railway and Locomotive Historical Society — Pacific Coast Chapter)
- Fundraisers $805 (Asheville, North Carolina Merle Haggard group)
- Individuals $7100
- Total Revenues: $11,705
- Site Preparation: $2,013
- Crane/unloading $5,000
- Initial Restoration
(materials, tools, etc) $1,987
- Total BBCRC Expenditures $9,000
- Remaining fund balance — SP109 temporarily restricted:Â $2,705
NOTE:Â These figures do not include an additional $6,000 spent by the RLHS-PCC for the transportation of SP 109 from Sacramento to Black Butte. Including this amount, total project expenditures for 2016 were $15,000. In addition to these financial figures the project benefited from in-kind contributions from the California State RR Museum for preparatory and loading costs and from hundreds of hours of donated labor by BBCRC volunteers.
Starting off in 2017 we still have a fund balance of $2,705. We anticipate needing additional funds by the middle of this year and envision needing a total budget of $7,500 for calendar year 2017. Our target for 2017 fundraising is $5,000 (however additional funds could certainly be put to good use as well).