Have you ever heard of Saydatoh?


Not too suprising; neither had I.

My name is Cregory Carr.

If you have a little time on your hands I'll tell you about my tale of Saydatoh.

Where do you begin a story? The beginning? I can't say I know when the story of Saydatoh began. I guess I should start from the point where the tale of Saydatoh intersects with me. That would be a few years back in 2005 when my wife Mary and I moved to the community of Red Springs, Texas. As we settled into our new home, we decided to display my dad's old toy train in the elevated pass through between the kitchen and living room.

Dad's old toy train

I have always enjoyed watching trains go by, but never really knew too much about them. However, looking at that old Marx toy train with a Santa Fe red and silver diesel engine touched off a spark of curiosity that would grow into a facination with streamlined passenger trains of The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.

During the days of classic train travel, it was common to not only give names to passenger trains, but to the individual cars as well. Early in the life of Santa Fe's luxury streamliner, The Super Chief, one of these cars bore the name "Saydatoh", "Saydatch" or "Saydotah". That car is long gone and it seems the name has been mispelled in some books here and there. To find the correct spelling, one would need to look at photos, car construction records or other documents with the correct spelling. Not readily having access to these, I figured the next best thing would be to search for other occurences of these names in historical records.

I had learned that the Santa Fe gave names to some of their passenger cars from the Native American culture of the southwest. So, I figured the correct name for the car should be found in history somewhere and started searching for the names on the internet. Saydatoh was the only one I actually found any credible info for, but very little was known about it. I went on about my business, but every once in awhile I'd think about it and search the internet again. I eventually learned of a place called Saydatoh somewhere in Sandoval County New Mexico. It had a Post Office from 1918 to 1922, but I could not locate it on any maps nor find any geographical data for it anywhere. Later I found it mentioned in an old archaeological bulletin and a text description of its approximate location, but again no map or other info of note.

A few weeks ago I searched again and found a link to this:

Harold L. Ickes, Secretary
W. C. Mendenhall, Director
Bulletin 860 C

(Here in Texas we call that a mouhtful!)
It was part of a three document set and one of the documents had a map with Saydatoh on it!
Map of Saydatoh

I'm certain that this place provided the name for that Santa Fe Railway passenger car. Not only that, but I could now point to an actual place that once existed, show it's location and give a small bit of information about it as corroborating evidence. The strange thing is that it no longer mattered. Somewhere along the way, the search for the location of Saydatoh became the objective and establishing it as the correct spelling of the name of the passenger car was no longer an issue.

Having found Saydatoh, you might expect this to be the end. Ah my friend, there is more of this tale yet to tell. My fascination with Santa Fe passenger trains has turned me into a collector of various ephemera associated with the subject. I recently purchased a 1937 Santa Fe Railway timetable pamphlet online through ebay. When it arrived, I inspected it to make certian it was in the condition described.

1937 Santa Fe Timetable

During this inspection, I found some writing in pencil at the top of a page with schedules for Barstow and San Francisco.

Schedules for Barstow and San Francisco

Here is a closer look at the writing.

Close up of writing

Now for anyone else this would probably have turned out different. When I first saw this text, I had no clue what it said. The letters just did not readily present to me. What my eye did catch though was the lettering on the right. It looked to me like "ClC", my initials. "Well that's weird", I thought. People often ask me how I find the things I find on the internet. Welcome to my world. The gears start to hum and I think, "Ok, I'll play along with this little cosmic game. Let's see what we have..." So there's the number 2 above and with a circle including "Barstow" and some text with my initials jumping out at me. So I went to Google and typed, "ClC 2 Barstow" and began browsing the search results. Well wouldn't you? Oh. (shrug)

Google obliged by returning plenty of entries, each containing in some form or fashion the text I had typed. As I scanned the entries looking for anything that might beckon for a response from me, I came across an entry titled "The Call". It was a pdf document that turned out to be a monthly newsletter at the website of Elfinwild Presbyterian Church - Glenshaw Pennsylvania. "OK! I'll answer 'The Call' ", I laughed to myself! and downloaded the pdf and began searching it for the text items of my search..

Google search result - The Call

Google linked to this document because inside was a calendar entry: CLC #2 . It seems that besides Cregory Lynn Carr, CLC also stands for a course at the church: Christian Leadership Concepts. Google got Barstow from a notice in the pdf about a member of the church named Marty Barstow. Ok. I see why Google returned this document as a search result, but what does it have to do with me answering "TheCall"? Surely there must be something inside for me other than just the text Google keyed on.

The Call newsletter header and index

Oh! Here we go... What's that on page 13? Communion on the moon?!?!? This I gotta read!

Communion on the Moon

Discovering that story alone made this little adventure well worth the trip. Someday I may include it here, but for now I will simply point you to the Call Newsletter page of the Elfinwild Presbyterian Church's website where you can download the September Call 2011 newsletter and read it for yourself. You may also like to visit the "Communion on the Moon" page of the author's website, Eric Metaxas .com. He also has the full text of Buzz Aldrin's article from the October 1970 issue of Guideposts magazine.

Now for most normal people that would be the end of this little tale. (Actually normal people don't get this far!) However, after reading that, my curiosity was still peaked, so I visited the Elfinwild Presbyterian Church website. Having never visited a Presbyterian church myself and not being sure what distinguishes a Presbyterian from any other type of church, I typed into Google, "What is a Presbyterian?".

Google search result - Presbyterian

This led me to the Wikipedia entry for "Presbyterianism" which, like most encyclopedia entries, was informative but not real exciting. However, near the end of the wikipedia entry in the "See also" section were the following entries:

"GHOST RANCH" ?!?!?!? And you probably thought this was a simple tale. LOL!

No way I could stop now! I clicked on the "Ghost Ranch" link and discovered that Ghost Ranch is a retreat and education center, run by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and is located in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. It has it's own interesting history and I would encourage you to research it yourself or visit the Ghost Ranch website. But, remember where this tale began? Ghost Ranch is about 67 miles as the crow flies from Saydatoh!


One more item of note...
Within USGS Bulletin 860-C where it describes the geography of the area of interest is this little bit of info:

Springs and seeps are not numerous but occur where water-bearing sandstones crop out above impervious shales in geologically favorable places. Saydatoh ("water under the rock"), Ojo Encina, Ojo Aguila, and several springs in a canyon trenching Mesa Piedra Lumbre, are springs of this type that provide a good flow of excellent water. With the exception of the springs cited, all of which occur at the base of the Ojo Alamo sandstone, and Raton Spring, the springs in the area are small, and their water is likely to be more or less alkaline.

Saydatoh, "water under the rock" ...

Google map of Saydatoh
View Saydatoh in a larger map

More to come? I suspect my tale of Saydatoh is a journey not yet finished.

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