Goleta Valley Railroad

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The Goleta Valley Railroad was the first railroad built by Seymour F. Johnson. It was located on the property of his home in Santa Barbara, California.

The track was later moved west of Santa Barbara to become the Goleta Valley Western Railroad.

Goleta Valley Railroad meanders around Johnson's home, complete with trestles, bridges and engine house

Harry Dixon wrote in The Miniature Locomotive, November-December 1954

Seymour F. Johnson, president of the Goleta Valley Line at Santa Barbara, California, has sent news that he expects to have his 1-1/2 inch scale road completed, along with signals and controlled switches, before the summer of 1955. Fellows, this is going to be some railroad, and I will give you more news and views, when completed.

Location

From edhat.com:

Some of the real old-timers may remember Johnson had first set up his trains by More Mesa when he lived at the west edge of Hope Ranch.
Seymour Johnson's property/train wasn't in Montecito. It was off Toro Canyon Road. Montecito ends on Ladera Lane, property on the left is Montecito, on right just Santa Barbara County.
Hidden Oaks Golf Club off Puente, off Hollister, used to be his property.


August 1956 Meet

The North American Live Steamer, Volume 1 Number 7, 1956

Story and Photos by Harry L. Dixon

The Goleta Valley Railroad Club was host to some 150 live steamers and friends to celebrate the first anniversary of the club's track at the home of Seymour F. Johnson, Santa Barbara, California.

Sunday, August 19, 1956 was a great day for live steam at this track. The pictures will give you some idea of the most wonderful garden railroad in the Pacific region, if not the entire country. At the present time there is 2500 fee of trackage of which there is 1440 feet for continuous operation. The balance is made up in a passing track, a wye for switching and passenger loading facilities as well as round house track for storing the engines and riding cars. The trestles and bridges are all made to scale and excellent detail throughout. The big trestle is 300 feet long and as you can see at a thrilling height, while at another section of the line there is a 50 foot trestle a little closer to the ground but designed and built to a 3% grade. This railroad is like a huge figure eight and winds through the lemon grove and under magnificent live oaks in addition to passing thru Mrs. Johnson's beautiful rose garden with the Santa Barbara mountains as a fitting background.

Ten stations are whistled up on the trip around, beside going over a bascule bridge, which opens electrically to allow you to pass through after coming off the long trestle.

There were six engines operating most of the time throughout the day, all of which performed in an excellent manner. It was an exceptional experience to see them working. Seymour Johnson was driving his Northern 4-8-4. This engine with tender weights 2000 pounds.

Ray Gifford's workmanship was shown in his 10 wheeler. Robin Smith had his 3 truck Shay fired up and pulled some heavy loads. Bob Harpur operated Little Engines C.P. Huntington with scale box car attached for riding. Dwight Durkee Jr. was able to give his 4-4-0 early American an excellent tryout with very satisfactory results, and member Doc Newton ran his diesel electric with speed and comfort to his passengers.

A very unique operating schedule was used a number of times during the day, with the use of the passing track. An East bound train could start out while a West bound train was loading passengers. After East bound made the circuit, West bound could start out over the big trestle and eventually meet the East bound train at the passing track with no delays. Each making the circuit in approximately 2-1/2 minutes. This operation required three switch men and a bridge tender.

It is planned for the coming year to add to the facilities another 1100 fee of track which will pass through a 200 foot tunnel to a 40 car parking lot.

There you will find a station house and spur tracks for unloading and loading locomotives for such gala events as this.

The Goleta Valley Railroad Club has only seven members but they are a going concern with a great amount of enthusiasm, headed up by Seymour himself. You have to be interested in 1-1/2 inch scale and 7-1/2 inch gauge to be eligible.

August 1957 Meet

The North American Live Steamer, Volume 1 Number 10, October 1956

The Goleta Valley Railroad Club wishes to extend an invitation to all live steamers to attend the Golden SPike Annual Meet to be held at the home of Seymour F. Johnson at 4748 Vieja Drive, Santa Barbara, California.

The meet will take place Firday, Saturday and SUnday, August 2, 3 and 4, 1957. Those of you who have locomotives for 7-1/2 inch gauge are especially invited to bring them along. To make it more attractive to those coming from long distances, the Goleta Valley Railroad will make the track and equipment available from the Saturday preceding the run through the Sunday a week following the run. This will give those who wish a chance to enjoy runs by themselves before and after the meet.

We have all the necessary loading facilities, steaming tracks, turntables, water and air, electricity and storage space. You will enjoy the run over the 3,350 feet of track, trestles, cuts, tunnel etc., and will find it takes from five to eight minutes to make the complete circuit!!

Last year we had six engines operating during the meet and this year we anticipate many more.

Santa Barbara is a resort town in summer and perhaps you will want to spend some time here. If you will let the writer know in sufficient time he will help to arrange motel or hotel space for you. There are many nice motels but reservations should be in early.

Address any queries to the Golet Valley Railroad Club at the following address.

Seymour F. Johnson
4748 Vieja Drive
Santa Barbara, California

Track Description

Seymour F. Johnson

The North American Live Steamer, Volume 1 Number 10, October 1956

I thought it was about time I wrote you some information on the Goleta Valley Railroad and the Goleta Valley Railroad Club. You published in your Volume I, No. 7, a very good article about the meet held here last August. Harry Dixon did a fine job of his reporting of that event. However, perhaps you would like a complete description of the G. V. R. R.

First let me say that we, The Goleta Valley Railroad Club are looking forward to a very eventful Golden Spike Annual Meet next August 2, 3 and 4 (1957), Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We will hold the run Saturday and Sunday. We will hold the run Saturday and Sunday with Friday set aside for those who wish to bring engines and test them on the track ahead of time. We are in the process of constructing and will have completed long before then all possible accommodations for handling engines of any weight up to 3,000 pounds. Any one having an engine of 7-1/2 inch gauge is invited to bring it to this run. Also, anyone coming from quite a distance and desiring to run for a longer time may come earlier and stay over several days if he wishes. If we know in advance we will handle motel or hotel reservations. Santa Barbara is a resort town in the summer and it is best to get reservations to be sure of accommodations.

The Goleta Valley Railroad Club is rather unique in railroad clubs. We are small but active. We are in a small city and cannot grow too big. At present we have about then members and we have a turnout of about 60% for track work days. There are three classes of membership consisting of: Associate members who need own no equipment but merely have a sincere interest in miniature railroading; Regular members who have started the construction of a locomotive; and Senior members who own and operate locomotives. At meetings the associates have one vote, the regulars have two votes and the seniors three votes. In this way we increase the control of the club for those operating equipment and the non-owners have less control of the activities. We think this is as it should be. The club owns no track, but to foster the interests in miniature railroading the writer has made his track available for all club operations. This track is for 1-1/2 inch scale and is 7-1/2 inch gauge. Therefore, all members must have 7-1/2 inch gaige locomotives and we are a club of one gauge. However, we do not insist on live steam but operate as a miniature outdoor railroad. Our present facilities consist of one steam locomotive and two electric locomotives with diesel type bodies. One gasoline locomotive being constructed and one steam locomotive under construction. On our meet days we do not just run around and around the track, rather we operate on schedules with dispatcher and crew picking up passengers at one station and disembarking them at another.

I am enclosing a print of the layout of the railroad and some pictures. The following are facts and statistics of the G. V. R. R.:

The present trackage consists of 2,500 feet beginning at Lemon Grove and including all that part west thereof. Seven switches, two wooden bridges, one steel bridge, one fifty foot trestle on a 2% grade, one 300 foot trestle on a 1-1/4 % grade and 73 foot radius circle, one siding or passing track 150 feet long, three steaming tracks complete with water, compressed air and electricity totaling 90 feet, one 15 foot turntable.

The turntable needs a little explanation. It serves several purposes. It is electrically controlled from a control console. In its normal closed position it acts as a bridge from the yards to the circular trestle over the lower track. It opens to allow trains to pass on the lower track. It swings to any one of the steaming tracks or completely around to act as a turntable. it also swings to a loading ramp where station wagons or trucks may be backed and engines or cars unload therefrom without lifting.

There is an engine house with two through tracks and two spurs all used for storage purposes when not in operation. There is a water tank holding 115 gallons of distilled water and a 55 gallon fuel tank both at a convenient location for filling tenders.

The stations are shown on the layout and need no explanation. All trackage is capable of handling trains at full speeds up to at least 90 scale miles per hour. The track is ballasted throughout except on the trestles and where it passes through driveways where it is cemented in.

The Club is presently building the Goleta Station House which will be the main loading point. We are extending the track another 800 feet from Lemon Grove to Goleta and installing three station tracks and another turntable. This track will run through the 186 foot tunnel already completed. A parking area has been made which will handle about 50 cars. We will have this additional trackage ready to run by May, 1957. We have also installed a dispatcher's tower on top of the engine shed and we expect to install dial telephones at strategic places and at the dispatcher's tower. This will give the dispatcher complete control of the system.

Block signals and CTC circuits will be installed in the near future but probably not by this August. We will also put in a stream which wander around the straight trestle in the Ferndale area.

References