George AFB, CA, rail link may reopen

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George AFB, CA, rail link may reopen

Postby RailVet » Tue Mar 28, 2006 3:25 pm

George AFB, a fighter base north of the Los Angeles area in Victorville, CA, closed in December 1992 during the post-Cold War drawdown and became the Southern California Logistics Airport. A recent news story announced that BNSF plans to construct a third rail line through Cajon Pass and reportedly this line "will benefit the expansion of SCLA, which will have a rail spur linking the airport with the BNSF main line." The base's rail spur was washed out by floodwaters about 25 years ago and never rebuilt. At the time the base had its own switcher, but internal base railway service was on the decline throughout the military.
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Postby Phil Hom » Tue Mar 28, 2006 9:19 pm

Now really!
When I was at GAFB from 1977 and 1978 the tracks were washed out already. The heavy equipment section of the 35th Transportation Squadron ran that GE center Cab. I manage to talk the civilian in charge to take me out to the wash out area so I can check it out. We only went far as the wash out area. Tracks were floating in the air with the ballast washed away.

I recommended to the base newspaper to do an article on the railroad. They did so in conjunction with the trucking of the locomotive to the active ATSF mainline for a trip to Hill AFB and the retirement of the civilian. They did that after I PCS.

Chard Walker told me he remembered boxcars of 2X4 heading up to the base as the housing area was under construction (after the Korean War).
Phil Hom
 

Rail line wash-out

Postby RailVet » Thu Mar 30, 2006 11:20 am

Right you are on the date! I checked page 5 of Vol 5, No 2, The Short Line #26 (March -April 1977) which read:

"3/13/77: At George AFB is USAF 1689 (31821, 12/53), 80T GE. The railroad crew told me they were unable to run due to a washout suffered 6-8 weeks ago. So far there are no plans to repair the line. George is located in Southern California, west of Victorville. Thomas E. Hirsch, Upland, CA"

I saw USAF 1689 at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, in 1991, one of three GE 80-tons there. (The others were 1600, 1601, and 1691.) After rail service ended on base I saw a picture of it in Railpace magazine. It was acquired by the Western Ohio Railway Authority to operate over a line between Saint Marys and Minster, OH. As far as I know, it's still there.
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New spur not yet built

Postby RailVet » Fri Sep 15, 2006 9:21 am

I visited the former George AFB on 12 Sep and located the old right-of-way off base. There are no signs of any new spur construction, and driving around the base there's no indication of what, if any, freight the spur would carry. While there is air freight service at the ex-base, what is carried on planes typically wouldn't travel by rail. Most of the flight line area has been converted to commercial use, as has some of the main base area. Much of the latter, however, lies unused and abandoned, with thick dead grass growing in patches in the rock and sand. Base housing a real mess, with tall trees having dried out and fallen over in numerous locations because no one is there to water them anymore. Anyone who had ever been stationed there prior to the base's closure might be shocked at its condition now.

Interesting side note - some scenes of the movie "Jarhead" were filmed there. Some might recall the scene at what was supposed to be Camp Pendleton in which the film's star is directed to play reville with just his lips. In the background there was a tall water tower with a Tactical Air Command insignia on it - a dead giveaway that this was not truly a Marine base. You'll easily find that location if you visit the base. Had the camera done a 360 of the scene, it would have revealed a great deal of the neglect and deterioration now present at the former base.
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Postby armyalco » Wed Dec 13, 2006 11:47 pm

As to what frieght will be hauled, there are plans to build a large Auto unloading area up there and BNSF is still looking to build a much larger TOFC & COFC loading area with Victorville having been mentioned.
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George AFB

Postby RailVet » Thu Dec 14, 2006 10:41 am

I'm heading out that way again in mid-January and will take another look for any new developments.
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Update new rail line to ex-George AFB

Postby RailVet » Sun Feb 11, 2007 6:40 pm

Victorville, Calif., BNSF Railway to Explore Building Intermodal Facility
January 30, 2007
By Eugene Gilligan, Senior Editor

City officials from Victorville, Calif., and BNSF Railway Co. have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore developing an intermodal logistics facility there.

The two entities will explore building the facility at the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorvile, located in Southern California's High Desert region east of Los Angeles.

The new intermodal facility is seen as a key piece in the development of the 3,500-acre Southern California Rail Complex at the airport. Plans for that site includes development of 20 million square feet of manufacturing and distribution uses. The airport is the former George Air Force Base, which closed in 1992. Estimated job losses from the base closing have ranged from 5,000 to 8,000.

The intermodal yard could mean an additional 15,000 to 20,000 new jobs for the High Desert area, said Bob Hunter, member of the City Council of Victorville. He notes that Rubbermaid is now building a 400,000 square foot distribution center that can be expanded to 1 million square feet and the area's retail inventory is growing.

The first rail spur should be completed in about two-and-a-half years, Hunter said, but warehouse development should begin before it is completed.

Land trading has increased, and prices have escalated, in the High Desert area, said Mark Zorn, principal at GVA Daum Commercial Real Estate. The addition of a logistics center at the Southern California Logistics Airport should add a "new facet" to the area's industrial market, Zorn said. Industrial absorption should occur first in the southern area of the Inland Empire, in cities such as Perris, Moreno Valley, and Redlands, Zorn said. But those looking for build-to-suit options should find ample opportunities in the High Desert, Zorn said, since land is still less expensive than the Inland Empire. Access to rail at the Southern California Logistics Airport should also be a selling point, he said.
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Re: George AFB, CA, rail link may reopen

Postby RailVet » Sun Nov 27, 2011 2:08 pm

Here's an update on plans to build a spur into the former George AFB:

http://www.logisticsairport.com/page.aspx?pgid=6

Additionally, Google Earth photos dated 1/31/09 show the initial construction of the new right-of-way to the former base. It doesn't follow the former (and winding) route, which is partially built over by a prison complex south of the base, but instead appears to follow a much more direct route. I may be heading that way in a couple of months and will check on the progress then.
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Re: George AFB, CA, rail link may reopen

Postby RailVet » Sat Jan 28, 2012 10:39 am

I visited the former George AFB a couple of days ago but unfortunately there appears to be no progress on the new rail spur going toward the ex-base. The beginnings of a graded new right-of-way, visible in Google Earth, remains just that, and no tracks have been laid upon it yet. As for the base itself, more and more of it is disappearing as former Air Force buildings are torn down to make way for new civilian commercial structures.
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