An AZ & CA Legend Lives
by Gordon Wilson
There is an old adage, which goes, “truth is strange than fiction.” There is also another axiom, which indicates that nature or the real world can, will and does imitate art.
In 1997, shortly after the TCA convention in Phoenix was concluded, both of those statements came to fruition. Ivan English was in charge of developing all of the Desert Division Convention Car offerings that year. In conjunction with K-Line, a set was conceived in the livery of the Arizona and California Railroad, whose home office is in Parker, Arizona. Parker is a border town with California and is situated right on the Colorado River in western Arizona along Route 95.
The Desert Division, through Ivan, sought permission from the AZ and CA RR to use their very colorful paint scheme on the proposed K-Line set and Convention Car offerings.Their colors are a bright Yellow, a rich, but not super dark Green and a tan/sand color, all of them similar to the basic colors of the Sonoran and Mohave Deserts. The railroad agreed to allow us this request. We in turn, to show our appreciation, provided the railroad with a number of sets of these trains.
The set, as you may remember consisted of a Switcher Locomotive, a gondola car with crates, a boxcar, a crane car, and a boom car/caboose. At the banquet, a reverse color boxcar was also provided, in somewhat limited quantities. The Crane Car and Boom Car were offered as Convention Car pieces, designed to enhance the K-Line 3 piece set, which debuted the January prior to the June1997 TCA National Convention held in downtown Phoenix.
Several weeks after the sets had been delivered to the railroad in Parker, AZ, Ivan received a most unusual request. It seems as though the Arizona and California had an ugly, black Bucyrus-Erie Crane car as a part of their equipment. What their request was to Ivan and the Desert Division turned out to be the whole permission process in reverse or better put, “the real world imitating “ART.”
They were so impressed with the way K-LINE had decorated the Crane Car, made for this O-27 Convention Set, that they were seeking permission (from us) to paint their Crane much the same as the one that we sold as a Convention Car. Needless to say, it didn’t take the Desert Division too long to say a very positive and distinct “YES.”
On the way home from the recent TCA convention, Gordon & Christie Wilson took a detour off of Interstate 10 and visited Parker, AZ. The purpose was to check out the railroad equipment there. Sure enough, there sat the Bucyrus – Erie Crane car, in the hot, mid-day Arizona sun. It was no longer the ugly black of nearly every other one we see, but was festooned in the wonderful Yellow, Sand, and Green of the Arizona and California Railroad.
Yes indeed, truly, sometimes “truth is stranger than fiction.”
Check out this photo taken by Christie on July 6, 2003.
This was such a really nice looking K-Line set, that very rarely does one ever see it advertised for sale in the after market. It has turned into a real “keeper” and “gem” from that great 1997 Convention.
Those of you who have one – savor it!