Wednesday, March 10, 2021

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 15) - Passenger Ops & ETT Research Notes

I've been tinkering with a 'crazy idea' of passenger operations on my Jawbone Branch layout.  This has led to digging more into the research of the Employe Time Tables (ETT) for the Mojave Subdivision Owenyo "Jawbone" Branch history.  So on with the question....

Passenger Operations?

Little Lake with the arriving passenger train lead by SP 1433, circa pre-1938 - - susan_stanton03 (Cropped)

Will I get to have passenger operations on my layout?  Well, it certainly would add a dash of style and color.  I've always planned to model the occasional passenger excursion trains which ran in the 1948-1956 era, but let's take a closer look at what options I have for the earlier passenger and mixed schedules.

Time Tables - Mojave Sub-Division

I'm still doing more researching on the earlier pre-1938 era operations from which time the above photo of the SP 1433 dates from.  Wooden coaches and the 1433 was renumbered as the Second 1500 in 1938, so that gives an idea of when passenger-only consists were run.

San Joaquin #158 1938-02 Owenyo Branch - SheldonPerry collection

Moving forward in time to 1938, the SP shows four scheduled trains on the Jawbone.  Nos. 802/803 were the "Searles Turn" working from Mojave to Searles to interchange with the Trona Rwy.  Nos.788/789 are shown as Mixed trains to Owenyo with flag stops as needed along the run. Running times are 6:30 eastward and 7:15 westward.

Notice that the Searles train (Nos. 802/803) is out and back to Mojave before the train from Owenyo arrives (No.789) and then departs again (as No. 788).  I find this interesting, as it basically shows that the local crew was resting each day in Oewnyo, except on Sunday when the schedule does not run.  

1941 Owenyo Branch Employe Timetable, note the telegraph codes! - SheldonPerry collection

The 1941 ETT is the last one showing Nos.788/789 as mixed trains.  My guess at this point is that they were kept until the end of the war.  Then the new ETT for 1946 changed the passenger operations to reflect the post-war operations moving forward.

From the previous conversations I've had with knowledgeable folks on the Jawbone operations and reading Vincent Cipolla's article in SP Trainline on Mojave, the Owenyo job usually went on at Mojave in the evening 6-7pm, and went off duty in Owenyo the following morning.  Returning to duty after 8 hours and arriving back at Mojave the 3rd morning around 7-8am.  It would seem that after the war with the discontinuance of the scheduled operations on the Jawbone the crews were consolidated back to Mojave.

Sept 1950 ETT - SheldonPerry collection

By 1950 all scheduled trains have been removed from the Time Table.  Three water tanks are active at this date.  Linnie and Bartlett are both showing as additional stations.  Interesting that Little Lake shows as 30 car siding, and Owenyo shows as a 40 car siding.  I'll be modeling Owenyo as only around 26 cars long.  Little Lake will probably be around 20 cars, with my train lengths this should still work out.

April 1952 ETT - SheldonPerry collection

By April 1952, the water tank at Diaz (MP 512.8) has been removed from the ETT.  Leaving the water tank at Haiwee (MP 484.1), Letlier (MP 450.0), and Cantil (MP 402.5).  However a new tank at Owenyo (MP 523.0) is now active supplying the far end of the branch.

April 1953 ETT - SheldonPerry collection

September 1953 ETT - SheldonPerry collection

April 1954 ETT - SheldonPerry collection

By April 1954 the water tank at Letlier (MP 450.0) is now gone, leaving only the tanks at Cantil (MP 402.5), Haiwee (MP 484.1), and Owenyo (MP 523.0).

List of Water Tanks & Histories

MP 402.5 Cantil (from construction until well after 1954)
MP 450.0 (Water Tank only) Letlier (Removed by April 1954)
MP 484.1 Haiwee (from construction until well after 1954)
MP 514.3 Diaz (Water Tank only) - (from construction until April 1952)
MP 523.0 Owenyo (New water tank in April 1952 - could this be the Diaz tank moved?)

The changes to the watering options are interesting.  I am still trying to nail down if the tank at Owenyo was fed by moving water tank cars from Diaz and the other water tanks to cover Owenyo's needs, or if there was a well at Owenyo.  I rather doubt the Owenyo tank was supplied by a local well.

Most of the photos of the excursions after 1952 show there are water cars for each engine, not always coupled to the engine (canteen service).  Also there always appears to be a water car at the tank(s) at Owenyo, suggesting they are being actively used.

There's the photo on Page 24, SP Trainline issue 135, showing SP 5300 switching Owenyo, possibly departing, in early 1953 with a SPMW water car right behind the diesel!  Certainly not needing the water for the RSD-5 on the Jawbone, but the SPNG was still running steam, so was this water for the village of Owenyo or the SPNG engines?  Was the SP 5300 taking the water car west to refill at Haiwee?

Sometimes there's always more questions than you can answer!

Modeling a Consist for Nos. 788/789 Mixed, circa 1941

Of interest on my modeled part of the Jawbone in the 1941 ETT for the Mojave Sub's Owenyo Branch showing schedules for No.788 and No.789 mixed trains.  This mixed train I believe are the ones photographed at Owenyo during the daytime layover during that era.

SP 2578 No 788 - Owenyo 1940 - Phil Serpico - southern_pacific015_sml

Obviously by time of the 'Mixed' operating on the Jawbone, the train consisted of whatever freight needed to move plus two passenger cars tacked on instead of a caboose.  Notice the two passenger cars at the end of No.788's consist of 11 cars in 1940, above.

Owenyo with the RPO & coach laying over looking north - - ebay35_owenyo_sml

In this view the engine in the distance, probably a C-class.  Many single-sheathed boxcars, with a T&NO boxcar and an SP B-50-12 class closest to the road crossing through the platforms. Note the engine-service fuel oil tanks next to the C-class.  The ETT shows that Owenyo and Mojave have oil, which is run with a steam powered pump.

RPO-Baggage Car

SP 5187
SP 5187, a 60-BP-30-1 RPO-Baggage kitbashed from MDC-Roundhouse parts

There are some modeling options for 60-BP-30-1 available in brass, I have an old MDC kitbash that I've tinkered on and off with for the last 20-25 years.  This is about how it looks currently.  I left it with the RPO door being raised and adjusting the paint and decalling.  One of the 4'10" baggage doors needed replacing as I previously had used the double door 7ft option, which is incorrect for the 60-BP-30-1, so I fixed that.

Currently, the changes I need to do to finish it include upgrading the trucks to Walthers 8ft Pullman type, installing diaphragms, and underbody work.  I'll probably also install an OwlMtModels 30ft RPO interior.  I'm not sure I want to repaint the letterboard yet again to decal as SP Lines.

Ken Kidder?!
Ken Kidder brass 60-BP-30-1

A friend several years ago traded me a 60-BP-30-1 from Ken Kidder.  The model is arronously painted for the 69-BP-30-series cars used on the Golden State.  The model will have to be repainted.  While the window and door arrangement is more accurate, the roof profile is very flat, and about 6" too low!  The roof is a major pain to correct on these cars.

The Ken Kidder car above of course will need the trucks changed out to Walthers 4-wheel Pullman 8ft models.

SP 1190 - Ken Kidder's low roof shown next to correct height SP 6102.

Generally in the past, I've decalled Ken Kidder cars to be riders and other cars which usually will not be seen with full-contour roof cars.


SP 2178
SP 2178, a typical 60-C-9/10 class all-steel coach, as produced by Soho.

One option for my coach is a late-series Soho 60-C-9/10 class car like the SP 2178, shown above.  Most of the Soho 60-C's that I've done which have plated over transom windows are in SP with post-1946 lettering.

SP 1005
SP 1005 Chair Car

Another option is the transom-windowed Soho 60-C-series cars, such as SP 1005 above, but the SP 1005 was not a chair car until later WWII era, when it was returned to passenger service from use as a caboose.

SP 1190
SP 1190 - Ken Kidder coach

Another option is a Ken Kidder model, also with the low-roof like SP 1190, shown above.  The 1190 is possibly a better option as it is already painted in the SPL scheme for 1941 operations before the June 1946 change which dropped the "LINES" from the letterboard.

In Closing

Could I run a passenger train like the "Shasta" to Owenyo?

Well, while I haven't made any choices in this post that are carved in stone, there certainly are some interesting questions and options that are open to my operational planning.  At the end of the day, judicious use of Model Railroading, Rule 3: "This is my railroad, and I'll do what I want." can be very liberating.  The research of 'history' allows a much easier way to import a sense of reality than 'inventing' everything myself.  However, if I want to run a 'regular' passenger train after 1946, because of "Reasons", then I can.  (BTW, for reference, Rule 1: Model Railroading is FUN.  Rule 2: If in doubt, refer to Rule 1.)

Could I have a consist like the one above running to Owenyo, but maybe with a T-class?

Would it be too wild to say that the high-class customers at Little Lake would charter a couple of Pullmans to bring customers from LA?  Maybe.  A 4-8-2 will certainly be too big for my 26" radius wye at Owenyo, plus historically only an Mk-2/4 and occasionally an Mk-6 could go that far out on the branch.

Mk-6, SP 3266, leads an excursion past Olancha with excursion 1952 - Phil Serpico - - southern_pacific012_t

Then of course there are the actual excursions that were run!  As they say, "At least I have options."  

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Jawbone Branch Index Page - List of all my SP Jawbone Branch modeling posts.

The "Shasta" - Revised Pike-Size Passenger Train - My first consist blog post, on the Shasta - A back-water passenger train readily modelable with a baggage car, chair car, cafe-lounge, and Pullman which will fit most layouts!


  1. Another very informative article. Since I model SP in the '20's and '30's I find these articles helpful.

  2. Jason, keep in mind that Lone Pine, the Alabama Hills and numerous other locations near the branch were used extensively for movie productions. When movie stars, extras, production crews and equipment needed to be hauled in, they would be wise to utilize the railroad. Here's a scene from the Gene Autry film, "Boots and Saddles" shot at Lone Pine depot:

    So, have some fun and run some frequent movie trains with first class accommodations for the stars and big whigs!

    1. An Excellent Point! I'm sure I'll use that, but it probably goes in the 'Special' category, as it wasn't a scheduled thing. Although, perhaps it was semi-scheduled series of Extra trains to provide the movie crew and actors a way to 'get home' when needed. Given that it was about 12-14 hour trips to go from Owenyo down to LAUPT, you might not want to have your whole crew and production staff 'taking off for the weekend' as leaving Friday at 6PM, would get you to LA at about 8AM Saturday and you'd have to leave LA by about 4PM Sunday to get to Owenyo by 6AM Monday, and then however long to actually get back on the set location.


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