My Steam Stories

Newark Water Tower

Newark around 1959 showing water tower.

Newark Today

Newark March 26, 2009 (50 years later) with water tower footings still visible.

I grew up in Palo Alto, California. As a kid, we often went to Newark, California, for picnics. Newark was the SP junction on the East side of the Bay Area with the rail Dumbarton Bridge, which was in service at that time. My parents liked to watch trains, so we usually ate in the car, within view of the Southern Pacific tracks, and a train would usually go by while we were having lunch. We either parked near the Newark station, or we parked under a eucalyptus near a one-story tower farther away from the bay. The tower was next to an electrically controlled switch and had a stand for orders to be hooped off of. It must have controlled the track to the bridge.

One of my really early memories was walking underneath the water tower near the Newark station. That was probably 1958 or 1959 (I was born in 1955). We found a rubber ball underneath it, which we brought home. (It sat in the garage for years. It looked like an early Superball, but it was black rubber and not real bouncy.) They must have taken the tower out about 1959 or 1960.

Somewhere around 1959-1960 my parents took me over to a friend of their's house. He had a model railroad on cables with a motor so he could lower it down when he wanted to use it. He had locomotives that made smoke. I thought that was the neatest thing. When I was about 8, in 1963, I decided I wanted a model railroad, and started building an HO layout.

I asked my parents if I had ever seen a steam locomotive as a kid. They couldn't remember. I certainly don't have any definite memories. One thing I have noticed, though, is that a Southern Pacific style locomotive, sitting with it's headlight on, triggers some kind of reaction in me. I don't imagine it chuffing steam nor sitting dead, just sitting down the track with it's light on. I kind of imagine (or maybe remember) my mother saying "Hey look, there's an old steam engine!"

This slide of the Newark water tower sat in my parents' living-room desk for years. On Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008, I finally scanned it into the computer.This picture shows two interesting things to me. First, there is a water column showing just to the left of the station's freight platform step. After I got into railroading I wondered where the spout on the water tank was, and whether they took the engines over next to the tower. The picture shows where the spout was! Second, the angle looking down that track next to the water column is exactly the angle that I imagine seeing a steam locomotive sitting with its headlight on. If I ever saw a steam locomotive in service on the SP it was there.

(All these need to be expanded!)

Smoke on overpasses from steamers ~1959-1960s.

Piledriver- saw flames- Bayshore & Embarcadero Palo Alto, CA Construction to replace stoplight on Bayshore. My sister and I called it a "Chichalmer" from the noise it made. We could hear it at our house about 1/2 mile away. 1959

Collins Pine, Chester, CA boiler room ~1965

SP Wrecker crane wreck nr Dunsmuir, CA smoke coming from stack ~1965

Yreka Western, Yreka, CA standby steam locos ~1965 or 1967

NdeM Culiacan smoke from stack (photo) 1966

NdeM Mexico DF diesels towing cold 4-8-4 1966

NdeM Valle de Mexico roundhouse (photos) 4-8-4s 1968

NdeM San Lazaro narrow gauge 2-8-2 switching dual-gauge (photos) 1968

Baylands Interpretive Center piledriver Palo Alto, CA Saw it in the evening and it was warm to touch ~1970

Albany, OR water column? ~1975

Willamette Industries Albany, OR Kraft Mill recovery boiler ~1976

Hult Center piledriver Eugene, OR 1980

EWEB tour Eugene, OR 1980

Gettysburg RR, PA mixed train (photo) 1980

China helper engine in night, engine at Gt. Wall, Mudanjiang (photos) 1984

Petitjean sawmill Fall City, WA (CRT fired with green hemlock) 1985

China Harbin spectacular rail action (photos) 1987

Martin Timber Castor, LA turbine running edger and headrig saw, steam shotgun carriage, barker S/N 1, Corliss running the old planer 1986- 1987

Boise Cascade Kettle Falls steam shotgun carriage? ~1988

P&W Hillsboro and Tualatin with 4449 hauling freight (video) 1995

Hull Oaks Dawson, OR steam sawmill 1999

Covanta Brooks Waste to Energy tour, Brooks, OR (photos) 2004

TransAlta Centralia, WA power plant (pictures) 2004

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Copyright 2009 Charles Turner