It was my good fortune to be a participant of a 1965 railfan excursion trip up the AT&SF Fallbrook branch line. Today the line is long gone and all that remains are our photographs. The Fallbrook branch was originally a segment of the California Southern Railroad route from the Pacific coast to Perris and beyond. This route was completed about 1885. The route was built close to the riverbed to avoid excessive and costly gradients, as was the custom then. What the builders did not know was the river’s history of periodic large floods. Within a few years, after several wash-out and re-build cycles, the wash-out prone segment in the middle was abandoned, leaving the two end stubs as the Fallbrook and Hemet branches. The Fallbrook branch has been abandoned, but the Hemet branch still sees BNSF traffic, including the occasional passenger train operated by the ORANGE EMPIRE RAILROAD MUSEUM, located at PERRIS, CALIFORNIA.
Our excursion train traveled to the end of the branch at Fallbrook and there we left the train to explore the depot area. It was then I obtained the photograph above. This photograph was taken to document an interesting discovery I made upon examination of the rails of the track. To most people, including most railfans, rail is just rail; seen one rail and you have seen enough for a while. Not so for me, however. To see why, look at the rail in the lower left corner. What you see is the name of the company that manufactured the rail and the year it did so. I call these the marks of history and I look for them wherever I travel. I photograph the more interesting ones . This one is very much that – interesting.
A brief look around indicated this particular manufacturer – Krupp – was well represented at this site. With the name Krupp, the 1881 date, and a little prior knowledge, I concluded the line was laid with “Made in Germany” rail and was the original rail by reason of the date on the rail. Well! It is interesting to me! I could go on and tell you why these “facts” and the questions that follow are of interest to me, but my aim is not so much a history lesson as it is to sensitize you to the historical significance of small details, such as rail rolling marks. Go look for yourself. Don’t be concerned about the strange looks you get when searching for unusual markings; I never am due to my being a “foamer” of long standing.
Click on any photograph below to see examples of different rolling marks.