Celebrate Spring Aboard Railtown 1897’s Wildflower Train Behind the Famous Sierra No. 3!

Tickets on Sale Now for Two Saturdays Only:  April 12 &19

Wildflowers at Railtown

JAMESTOWN, Calif. – With spring in full bloom, Railtown 1897 State Historic Park (SHP) is proud to provide guests with a unique opportunity to experience spring wildflowers from aboard a train pulled by the “Movie Star Locomotive” Sierra No. 3!  While the Park is open daily, special Wildflower Train Rides are available on two Saturday afternoons — April 12 & 19 — and depart from the Railtown 1897 Depot promptly at 4:30 p.m.  Prior to boarding the train, passengers will have the opportunity to learn about the wildflowers of California’s Sierra Nevada foothills.  In addition, the Tuolumne County Master Gardeners will have a display at the Park on these special days with information about gardening with native plants.

Railtown 1897’s popular Wildflower Trains feature Interpretive Park Rangers from the nearby Bureau of Reclamation’s New Melones Lake, answering questions and pointing out flower groupings along the way.  Wildflower Trains take guests on a six-mile, one-hour roundtrip ride through the scenic, rolling landscapes of California’s Gold Country.  Along the way, trains encounter meadows and rolling hills, with such local flora as “meadowfoam,” “goldfields” and other colorful flowers typically in bloom.   Train capacity is limited, and advance reservations are suggested.  With some open air seating available, wildflower train tickets are available online now at www.railtown1897.org  and cost $24 for adults, $10 for youth ages 6-17 and children five and under ride free.

Wildflowers at Railtown Roundhouse

Railtown 1897’s regular excursion trains are operating on these two Saturdays as well with departures on-the-hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Tickets for steam train excursion rides are $15 for adults, $8 for youths ages 6-17 and kids five and under are free.  All train ride tickets include Park admission and are now available for advance purchase at www.railtown1897.org as well as at the ticket window beginning at 10 a.m. on the day of the ride (based on availability).

Train Rides Begin This Weekend- April 5 & 6- and County Residents Ride FREE!

With Train Rides Behind the Historic Sierra No. 3
All Weekend, Railtown 1897 Steam Train Operating Season Begins on Saturday, April 5  
Calaveras, Mariposa and Tuolumne County Residents Visit & Ride FREE All Opening Weekend!  

Photo by Dave Henry

Photo by Dave Henry

JAMESTOWN, Calif. – Beginning in April, Railtown 1897 State Historic Park (SHP) in Jamestown will resume offering popular steam-powered excursion train rides on weekends from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  While the Park is open daily, on weekends beginning April 5-6, guests will enjoy a memorable six-mile, 45-minute round trip ride along the rails of the famous “Movie Railroad.”  And to kick off the new season, excursion train rides on opening weekend will be offered behind the “Movie Star Locomotive” Sierra No. 3. And, during opening weekend only, residents of Calaveras, Mariposa and Tuolumne counties can visit the Park and ride for free with proof of residency.  Especially given California State Parks is celebrating its 150 year anniversary this year, visitors from near and far are encouraged to visit Railtown 1897 SHP to step aboard a historic train ride that passes through California’s scenic Gold Country and enjoy the unique offerings provided by the State Park.

To kick off the first day of operations on Saturday, April 5, the public is invited to attend the “Early Bird” program that starts at 7 a.m. in the historic Roundhouse to watch as the crew lights the fire and prepares the locomotive for the day.  The locomotive is started with the tossing of a burning rag into the firebox, then the crew works to fuel, lubricate and water the engine as the boiler is slowly brought up to temperature.  Knowledgeable guides will be on hand in the Roundhouse to narrate every step of the process.  Then, interested spectators can follow it out into the yard and watch the turntable in operation as the crew moves the locomotive into place at the Depot.  After Sierra No. 3 makes its spectacular season debut, the Great Mother Lode Brass and Reed Band will provide live music beginning at 10 a.m. Then in the afternoon, behind-the-scenes tours of work being done on Sierra No. 28 will be available from 2 to 4 p.m. on Opening Day.

Photo by Craig Peterson

Photo by Craig Peterson

Throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday, many other special activities will be offered as well, including live music by local favorite The Brothers Strong & Co on Sunday, April 6, as well as tours of the Roundhouse and demonstrations of the historic belt-driven machine shop both days.

Capacity is limited for tickets for the steam train excursion rides so visitors are encouraged to arrive early.  All tickets include Park admission and are available online at www.railtown1897.org or in person on a first-come, first-served basis at the ticket window beginning at 10 a.m. on the days the trains are running.  Excursion train ride tickets are $15 for adults, $8 for youths ages 6-17 and kids five and under are free.

After opening weekend, Railtown 1897 SHP plans to offer steam-powered excursion train rides behind Sierra No. 3 on Saturdays and vintage diesel locomotives on Sundays through the 2014 operating season.  Additionally, diesel train rides will be offered on Wednesdays throughout the summer season (July 9 through August 27). Because the schedule is subject to change with expanded service on holiday weekends, etc., visitors are encouraged to call 209-984-3953 or visit http://www.railtown1897.org for updated information.

A Photographic History of Car No. 6

Sierra Coaches No. 5 & 6 with Angels train at Jamestown. Both the No. 5 & 6 are original to the Sierra Railway. They were custom built by W.L. Holman & Co. in 1902. Both were designed with a short chassis down to be better able to handle the steep switchbacks down to the Stanislaus River canyon (where New Melones Reservoir now sits), and back up the other side on the way to Angels Camp.

Sierra Coaches No. 5 & 6 with Angels train at Jamestown. The No. 5 & 6 are original to the Sierra Railway. Both were custom built by W.L. Holman & Co. in San Francisco, 1902, and were designed with a short chassis to be better able to handle the steep switchbacks down to the Stanislaus River canyon (where New Melones Reservoir now sits), and back up the other side on the way to Angels Camp.

Sierra No. 5 & 6 at Jamestown. No. 6 is a full passenger coach, while No. 5 is a combine car - a combination of coach and baggage/mail car. No. 6 was used on the Hetch Hetchy Railroad circa 1936 and is part of the original Railway & Locomotive Historical Society collected curated by the California State Railroad Museum.

Sierra No. 5 & 6 at Jamestown. No. 6 is a full passenger coach, while No. 5 is a combine car – a combination of coach and baggage/mail car. No. 6 was used on the Hetch Hetchy Railroad circa 1936 and is part of the original Railway & Locomotive Historical Society collected curated by the California State Railroad Museum.

1905. The Sierra No. 5 & 6 were involved in a crash on the switchbacks while descending the Stanislaus River canyon. Two people were killed in the crash, and both cars required extensive repairs.

Crash on the Stanislaus switchbacks, 1905. The Sierra No. 5 & 6 were involved in a crash on the switchbacks while descending the Stanislaus River canyon. The brakes were not working properly due to slippery tracks. The conductor was calling for all passengers to jump from the train. Two people would not jump and were killed in the crash, and both cars required extensive repairs.

Placard in Coach No. 6, "Rebuilt at Jamestown, 1912." This was following the crash of 1905.

Placard in Coach No. 6, “Rebuilt at Jamestown, 1912.” This was following the crash of 1905.

The interior of Coach No. 6 as it still looks today, beautifully and simply detailed.

The interior of Coach No. 6 nearly as it still looks today, beautifully and simply detailed.

Car No 6, all dressed up for a 1975 Little House on the Prairie appearance

The Sierra No. 3 locomotive wasn’t the only tv and movie star! Car No. 6 has had appearances as well, here all dressed up for a 1975 Little House on the Prairie appearance

This weekend for Roundhouse Day, Coach No. 6 will be pulled out of the Roundhouse for you to walk through and see up close and personal. We'll also have a special behind-the-scenes Shop Tour led by lead engineer George Sapp at 10am, and other special demonstrations on the forge and in the belt shop all day. Don't miss it!

Roundhouse Day this Saturday, February 15! Coach No. 6 will be pulled out of the Roundhouse for you to walk through and see, up close and personal. We’ll also have a special behind-the-scenes Shop Tour led by lead engineer George Sapp at 10am, and other special demonstrations on the forge and in the belt shop all day. Don’t miss it! [Photo by Michael Sharps]

Railtown 1897 Offers Behind-the-Scenes Peek at Work Underway During Special “Roundhouse Day”

JAMESTOWN, Calif. – Before the historic locomotives start rolling along for a new season of train rides this spring, Railtown 1897 State Historic Park (SHP) is offering a special “behind-the-scenes” view of important maintenance, cleaning and preparatory work underway inside and outside the Roundhouse and Shops on Saturday, February 15, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

View of the Roundhouse and turntable. Photo by Michael Sharps

View of the Roundhouse and turntable. Photo by Michael Sharps

As part of this special event that showcases the inner workings of what keeps the historic locomotives and cars in operation at the Park, visitors will have the opportunity to watch the annual maintenance and cleaning of the Hetch Hetchy motor car and the Angels Camp “shorty” car No. 6.  Railtown 1897 SHP guests can also see the historic belt-driven machine shop up in full operation and filled with activity plus participate in hourly tours.  And, as a special highlight, Railroad Restoration Lead Worker George Sapp will present a compelling slide show highlighting the current Sierra No. 28 project, provide an in-depth walking tour of work being done on the project and be available to answer questions from Park guests.

Volunteer John Stier pilots the No. 19 "Hetch Hetchy Car."

Volunteer John Stier in the No. 19 “Hetch Hetchy Car,” just one well-preserved rare piece of history visitors can get an up-close and personal look at during Roundhouse Day

Widely known as “The Movie Railroad” due to the hundreds of films and movies that have been shot on-location at the historic site, Railtown 1897 SHP is home to the Historic Jamestown Shops and Roundhouse of the Sierra Railway. This one-of-a-kind attraction combines industrial heritage and railroad history with the lore of Hollywood’s film industry. The Railtown 1897 Interpretive Center, the authentic roundhouse and shops, and the Depot Store (a railroad specialty gift shop) are among the Park’s unique year-round offerings.

Railtown 1897 SHP admission costs are as follows:  $5 for adults, $3 for youths ages 6-17 and free for children five and under.  For more information about Railtown 1897 SHP, call 209-984-3953 or visit www.railtown1897.org.

Sierra No. 28 Repair Project: Removal of Corroded Staybolts, Firebox Maintenance and Testing

The No. 28 Repair Project continues to move forward. Largely, staff and volunteers have been working to remove corroded staybolts in order to replace them. Dye penetrent testing of the tube sheets is also being done, which helps to visually assess damage to the tube sheets.

Project staff member Norman Comer uses a torch to burn out a corroded staybolt where it meets the boiler.

Project staff member Norman Comer uses a torch to burn out a corroded staybolt where it meets the boiler.

Interior of the firebox. The holes on the top right are a result of removed staybolts.

Interior of the firebox. The holes on the top right are from where stay bolts were removed.

Staybolts that have been removed due to excess corrosion.

Stay bolts that have been removed for replacement, due to thinning.

Project Volunteer David Ethier recently conducted a dye penetrant test on the front tube sheet. Here, he applies red dye to a tube sheet.

Project Volunteer David Ethier recently conducted a dye penetrant test on the front tube sheet. Here, he first applies a specially formulated red dye.

Ethier allowed the dye to sit on the tube sheet for 30 minutes before using a specialized cleaning product to thoroughly remove it from the surface.

Ethier allowed the dye to sit on the tube sheet for 30 minutes before thoroughly removing it from the surface. The dye will be left behind in cracks, pits, and other porous spots only.

Next Ethier sprays on a developer, which appears white when applied, but develops the red dye left behind in cracks and pits, making them easy to spot visually.

Next Ethier sprays on a developer, which appears white when applied, but develops the red dye left behind in cracks and pits, making them easy to spot visually.

Here you can easily see a small crack in the tube sheet, highlighted by the red dye.

Here you can easily see a small crack in the tube sheet, highlighted by the red dye. Cracked areas will be repaired by grooving out the damaged material and welding in new.

Railtown 1897 Seeks Interested Volunteers & Hosts Special Open House in February

Volunteer Open House on February 8; Applications due February 12 

JAMESTOWN, Calif. – Fascinated by trains? Love working as part of a team? Enjoy meeting with people from near and far? Railtown 1897 State Historic Park (SHP) is now accepting applications for people interested in volunteering to help communicate the fascinating railroading history of the “Movie Railroad” in the beautiful Sierra foothills.  Interested volunteers are encouraged to attend a Volunteer Open House on Saturday, February 8, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Volunteer applications must be submitted by Wednesday, February 12, and a thorough volunteer training program will begin on Saturday, February 15.  Community members are encouraged to join this worthwhile program that offers an opportunity to support the local state historic park while learning more about California’s rich history, meeting new people and developing friendships with those who share similar interests.

While no previous experience with trains or public service is required, recruitment is currently underway for Car Host and Tour Guide volunteer positions in 2014.   At the Open House, prospective volunteers will have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with Park staff and talk with current volunteers to learn about the various positions that are available.  Informal tours of the operation will be conducted, and snacks will be served.

weekender volunteer ad

Railtown 1897 SHP is known for its century-old steam maintenance shops and train rides, including popular rides behind the famous Sierra No. 3 (also known as the “Movie Star Locomotive”). In addition to weekend excursion steam trains, Railtown 1897 SHP offers daily tours, roving interpreters, and many special events.

Benefits for volunteering at Railtown 1897 SHP include membership in the California State Railroad Museum Foundation, free admission to and train rides at Railtown 1897 SHP and at the California State Railroad Museum, a variety of social activities, interesting training opportunities and guest speakers, discounts at the Depot Store, and participation in an annual volunteer recognition dinner. Interested volunteers can download a volunteer application at www.railtown1897.org or call 209-984-4408 for more information.

2nd Annual Christmas Train – Thank You Tuolumne County for Your Continued Support of Railtown 1897 State Historic Park

no 3 to sonora- tc thank you

On Friday,  December 13th, for one night only, The Sonora and Twain Harte Rotary Clubs and the Kiwanis Club of Sonora in cooperation with Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, the Sierra Northern Railway, the California State Railroad Museum Foundation, J.S. West, and Sierra Pacific Industries will bring “movie star” Railtown’s Engine #3 to Sonora to say “Thank You!” to the community for helping “Keep Railtown Rolling” and to show off the recent restoration of this historic locomotive.

Santa will be on aboard for the children, local choirs will carol, and warm beverages will be provided!

The event will be held in front of the Tuolumne General Hospital (Hospital and Washington Streets) from 5 to 8 pm

The Sierra No. 3 visits Sonora

For the second time in 20 years, the Sierra No. 3 returns to Sonora in a special appearance on Friday December 13th from 5 until 8PM, at S. Washington Street and Hospital Road.  Visitors will have the opportunity to climb aboard and visit with Santa while the train is in Sonora.  Hot Chocolate, carolers and lots of holiday lights will be part of the free event. Parking is available in the Tuolumne General Parking lot.

 Thank You Tuolumne County

The Sonora and Twain Harte Rotary Clubs have joined together for this unique event as a way to thank the people of Tuolumne County for stepping up to help ‘Keep Railtown Rolling’.  The last operating weekend for train rides at Railtown will be December 14th & 15th, and will be pulled by the Sierra No. 3, with Santa on Board!