Earl Knob wrote about this charter:
This was a photo charter for a British railfan group , probably David Rogers. He and another Brit would trade off each year bringing a group over for a few days of merriment. One time they all chased the train up the hill. They had arranged for everyone to rent their own car down in ABQ. They all had Chevy Cavaliers. Somewhere is a pic of the motorcade charging up highway 17. About 20 little Chevys making warp speed to the next photo spot. Most even were driving the correct side of the road.
Wed, Oct. 8, 1997
Extra 489 East
489 - fireman Stebbins.
12 cars - 205 tons
It started out as a miserable day, cold, wind, snowing. 489's sanders plugged up about 1/2 way up the hill. Even with a light train 489 struggled mightily to keep her feet down, slipping and clawing for every foot. Stebbins kept saying we ought to double the hill. I said some sort of macho-engineer thing like "we're still moving. I am going to get this thing to the top if I have to carry it on my own back....." 489 was the best of the bunch and seldom let me down, and she lived up to her reputation that day. I managed to find a magic place with the throttle and Johnson bar where 489 would soldier on until she lost her feet. With the throttle closed partway down, the slipping drivers would reduce the pressure between the boiler and cylinders until she would stop spinning by herself. She would catch her feet and dig in. With the drivers moving slowly, the steam pressure in the dry pipe would rise up and put more power to the pistons, and 489 would continue on at a steady walk until she stubbed her toe and spun out again, only to recover on her own. She did this for 3 or 4 miles. I never had to adjust the throttle, although I was on me feet with a two-hand death grip on it waiting for the massive slip that would likely put us into a stall. But 489 never gave up, and either did I. To this day I think 489 wanted to get to Cumbres as bad as I did. I recall we were at least an hour late at Cumbres.
At Cumbres, we added 10 more cars and headed east.
My notes get foggy here. I think the original intent was to run to Toltec. 463 was out ahead of us. She was to turn at Osier and back to Toltec and meet us there. With the lateness of the train and crappy weather, we decided to shorten the run to Osier and back. In my timebook, the day was noted as "CH - TO OS", indicating we changed the mission on the fly somewhere. A few hours later, the skies cleared and we had a beautiful run home in the sun with 463 on the point. We pulled the cinder bonnets off both engines and came home sans screens. There are some pics of the return out there.
So the return trip was simply noted as:
Extra 463-489 West
489 - Stebbins
463 helper (no engineer noted - it was probably Tom Atkinson)
Tied up 715pm
12 hours on duty.
It turned out to be the last time I ran 489 that season. I left for Texas the next spring and never ran the Queen again. I did run her some when I came back and worked for RRGRPC in 2000-1, but she was ragged and tired by then and nowhere near the mill she was before, it made me rather sad. 489 went down for her 1472 at then end of 2001.
So, Curt's pic is doubly significant for me as pic of me running the best K36 there ever was or will be, for the last time.
and.... 489 had that big beautiful Powell 3-chime whistle off the Rayonier 120 back then.
It never got any better than that.