Railtown 1897 ~ Saturday, June 11, 2011
I have had the good fortune to have an online friend turn into a real-life one, and one who has a tradition of having birthday parties at railway museums. This year's was at Railtown 1897, on the Sierra Railway, at Jamestown, CA.
Our train was pulled by Sierra Railway No. 3, recently restored, and the star of numerous movie appearances down the decades (people of my generation are most likely to remember Back to the Future Part III).
An interesting feature of this museum is that it is housed in a roundhouse and shop complex in continuous use by the Sierra Ry since it's founding. Shay No. 2 was poking it's nose at one of the doors.
Inside the roundhouse were a few piecces of famous (to railfans and modellers) pieces of equipment that I was familiar with from reading but had no idea still existed. This railbus was used on the Hetch Hetchy Ry, used to build the dam by the same name. This being a project of the City of San Francisco, the bus was built in the Municipal Railway's streetcar shops, and delivered to the SP for shipment to the mountains by simply driving it on streetcar tracks down to the station during the middle of the night!
A sketch of this bus has appeared at the top of the editorial page of the Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette for many years.
This combine probably looks familiar to anyone who's ever been a model train shop--it and a companion coach (which I don't know the fate of) are the prototypes of the MDC/Roundhouse 34' "Overton" cars.
These cars were specially built for a particularly twisty branch line, to Angels Camp, CA. Even in 1:1, that car is cute.
A group of antique gas engine restorers had some of there work on display, and one of them had brought this restored forest service truck,
which he happily let kids climb in to "drive", an oppportunity which Nathan did not pass up.
Railtown is on a list of state parks set to close later this year if California is not able to improve its finances. Hopefully it will not come to that, but if you'd like to visit, coming this summer would be prudent. And if you live here, let your representatives know that decimating our park system is not the way to solve our budget problems.
(By coincidence, a few days after I posted this, the July 2011 issue of Rail Model Craftsman arrived in my mailbox, with several articles about the Sierra at Jamestown).