Skip to main content

Burning the Midnight Oil

SCRM Builds New Track for Storage

Written by Rey Castillo, SCRM Motorman and maintenance volunteer.
Photo Credit Ryan Gallaher, SCRM Division Operations Manager


If there’s one thing this pandemic has blessed us with, it’s an enormous amount of free time. Under the recent COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the Riverside County Health Authorities, the Southern California Railroad Museum has been making significant headway on important museum projects. One of these recent projects is the installation of the new Storage Track No. 1 on the east side of Carbarn 7, at the very rear of the 100-acre property.

Twelve volunteers worked Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (July 24, 25, 26 2020) from 5PM to 12AM in an attempt to beat the harsh summer heat. Friday’s work was dedicated to laying out some of the railroad ties, which were spaced with 2x4s before the “West” rail (closest to the barn) was installed, plated, and spiked. Saturday was much the same, with the rest of the ties being laid and the “East” rail (farthest from Barn 7) installed before the night was over. To ensure that the soon-to-be-stored rolling stock rolled correctly, the last couple hours were dedicated to checking the gauge for consistency.

Sunday was the most challenging work session, as the line had to curve in order to meet the existing tracks at the entrance to Carbarn 7. Laying curved tracks is not easy, especially for sectioned rail like the SCRM uses; as displayed in our Grizzly Flats barn (Carbarn 6), track gangs used to use heavy vices to bend the rail before installation. The museum track crew instead elected to build the track straight, then nudge it curved as if it were model railroad “flex-track”, which seemed to do the trick. The final job of the night was replacing broken bolts at two of the rail joints. Work done across three days also involved the installation of two new switch tracks for the storage track access.

The work is still not done for the museum, though. There is still more track to be laid to connect Carbarn 7 with the mainline through our new 5-acre purchase to create a larger running route, and our supply of railroad ties is running low. Storage track No. 1 will continue being adjusted, fiddled, and tested before a single car rolls onto its fresh rails, and the museum still has other projects, both in heavy infrastructure and general railroad equipment maintenance. After all, the midnight oil may keep burning, but someone has to keep it fueled.

Special thanks to SCRM Division Ops Manager Ryan Gallaher for the photos and the report upon which this article is based. I’d also like to thank Hank Winn, John Mobley, David Byerly, Brice Brummett, Ryan Gallaher, Bryan McKenzie, Sam and Nick Battelo, Andrew Weldy, Chris Ransford, Carson King, and Fred Nicas for serving as the SCRM Volunteer track gang, and Danny Giles for organizing the material used in the project.

If you would like to donate to the SCRM to help fund our railroad tie purchases, or more information on how to join our gang of volunteers, please visit our website ( Questions about the track project and other operational inquiries can be directed to Ryan Gallaher’s email at

Leave a Reply