March 25, 2008

Altamont's Summit Garage

“This place is worth saving,” says Linda Krhut, owner of the Creative Cave in California’s Altamont Pass.

She’s standing at the shady doorway of the old Summit Garage in Altamont Pass, elevation 741 feet, just a stone’s throw from the abandoned Southern Pacific mainline to Oakland. Beside the empty grade is the former Western Pacific between Oakland and Stockton, now home to ACE commuter trains and Union Pacific freights.

A chance side trip on Altamont Pass Road led me to the Summit Garage, recently dedicated with a “Historic Lincoln Highway” sign. I met Linda while hurrying to get my Ranger out of the path of an oncoming trash truck, who had waited not-so patiently while I blissfully (some would say cluelessly) snapped pictures. Once the refuse truck had moved on, Linda and I struck up a conversation and she invited me in for a quick tour of the garage. Now called the Creative Cave, the place will soon open as an antiques shop. Linda, who’s lived here for three years, will also sell her stained glass and jewelry creations; a few Harleys and old Fords will round out the historic setting . . . although Linda’s old Chrysler (which still runs) does a good job of infusing the garage with proper charm.

Not a train rolled by during my visit, but this was clearly the highlight of my drive to Winterail in Stockton. The train gods rewarded me later with a sunny view of another vintage machine – 1963-built GP30u No. 2442, still proudly wearing AT&SF blue and yellow.

Be sure to visit the Summit Garage when you get a chance . . . I know I’ll be back.

Another classic in Stockton