THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride is coming to Railtown 1897 State Historic Park! The popular train ride, based on the book and movie – The Polar Express – has made its way to Tuolumne County. Now children of all ages will be able to relive the magical journey of THE POLAR EXPRESS on an hour-long train ride to the North Pole. Guests enjoy hot chocolate and cookies as they ride along with some of the story’s characters such as the Conductor and Hobo. Upon arriving at the “North Pole”, the jolly old elf, Santa himself, will come on board to give each passenger a silver sleigh bell, the “first gift of Christmas”.
Traditionally, tickets for this exciting family holiday event sell out very quickly. Members of Railtown 1897 State Historic Park will have the opportunity to purchase a limited number of tickets in advance of the general public. There are several categories of membership to suit every household – from $35 – $250, as well as business memberships. New members must join by September 5 to participate, and current members must be active through October 31, 2014 in order to participate in the Member Advance Ticket Sales. Trains departing Railtown 1897 are scheduled for 4:00 pm, 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm; Fridays through Sundays December 5-7; 12-14; 19-21. (Railtown 1897 State Historic Park will not be offering train rides on Thanksgiving weekend, 2014, as Polar Express is replacing those train rides).
Tickets are: Coach – $40/person; First Class – $55/person. Children under 2 years of age are free and must be seated on an adult’s lap during the ride. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on October 9, 2014 and will be available for purchase online only at http://www.railtown1897.org. Prior to the general public sales date members of Railtown 1897 State Historic Park will be eligible to participate in Member Advance Ticket Sales. For more information about tickets or membership, please visit www.railtown1897.org.
THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride is a fundraiser for the California State Railroad Museum Foundation, which supports Railtown 1897 State Historic Park.
The accessibility of the shop operation is a unique feature of Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. Most of the maintenance, repair, and train operations are on full view in the roundhouse. When a malfunction occurs, it can be an opportunity to demonstrate these activities. Working with historic equipment gives us lots of opportunities to demonstrate! Today, for example, it was a malfunctioning gauge that was giving us some grief. During hostling, the crew noticed that the gauge was reading 25 lbs, even when the air reservoirs were empty. Some troubleshooting led to the diagnosis of a misbehaving gauge.
While most of the crew transitioned to a back-up diesel to keep the trains on schedule, David Ethier and Dave Tadlock worked to coordinate the repair. All of this work was done on public display, with a stream of visitors touring the roundhouse and the cab of the locomotive.
Step 1: Remove the Air Brake Gauge from the cab (hot!)
Step 2: recalibrate the gauge on the dead weight tester
Duplex air brake gauge- indicates two separate functions. The red hand indicates main reservoir pressure and the black hand indicates equalizing reservoir pressure. The sticker denotes the date of calibration.
Step 3: Reinstall the gauge and give it a whirl!
Final Step: Switch crews between locomotives
And the trains go on.
So, sometimes it’s the little things, but they provide an opportunity to share some of the details of running an historic railroad. And if you were a visitor today, you were able to enjoy seeing two different locomotives in action, maintenance activities in the roundhouse, and tours of the cab of a steam locomotive while the repairs were occurring, all without missing a scheduled train. Almost makes you hope we’ll break something when you visit, doesn’t it?
For a complete discussion of how Westinghouse air brakes work we suggest this article.
Taking on water at the historic water tank
Railtown 1897 State Historic Park is proud to offer a special “Crew for a Day” program perfect for those interested in a unique, hands-on experience. The exciting new offering helps to raise much-needed funds for the Park, and makes a memorable gift.
As honorary Railtown 1897 SHP crew members, “Crew for a Day” participants learn about historic steam engines in an up-close and personal style, engage in hands-on locomotive start-up procedures — that include lighting the locomotive with a burning rag, lubricating, fueling, and taking on water at the historic water tank — and have the opportunity to watch the operation of the historic Sierra No. 3 steam locomotive from the engine cab. The fun-filled experience ends with participants joining the fire crew and tailing the steam engine in a vintage track car. All “Crew for a Day” participants receive a special “Crew for a Day” certificate and have their photograph taken with the members of the Railtown 1897 SHP crew.
The day-long VIP program is available to adults ages 18 and older and can accommodate up to two guests at one time. The cost to participate in the unique “Crew for a Day” program at Railtown 1897 SHP costs $500 for one person or $750 for two individuals.
More information about the new “Crew for a Day” program offered by Railtown 1897 SHP is available at www.railtown1897.org/crew-for-a-day or by calling 209-984-8703.
End your shift with a run with the fire patrol in one of our historic ‘speeder’ cars.
The Sierra No. 3 being prepared for 4th of July weekend
The Sierra Railroad passing through on the main line, hauling empty lumber cars to the mill in Standard.
Park volunteers making lunch for other volunteers.
Railroad Restoration Lead Worker George and Senior Maintenance Aide Phil getting some office work done
Maintenance Aide Ray murdering weeds in the pond
Volunteer Laverne collecting sign in sheets to record volunteer hours
Volunteer David working on valve repairs for the No. 3
Volunteer Tim leading a tour of the historic machine shop for park visitors.
Volunteer Coordinator Dave! Doing what he does best.
Park Maintenance Aide Scott working on boiler repairs on the No. 28.
Volunteer Leroy working on repairs to the first-class car ceiling.
Volunteers Bill & Bob decorating for the 4th.
Volunteer Al cleaning out the cars for the weekend
Volunteer Jeannie- car cleaning! One of the most important (and under-recognized) jobs at the park.
Volunteer Hal and Park Maintenance Worker Rob- working on a broken water pipe.
Just another Thursday at Railtown.
Tickets on Sale Now for Spirited Annual Event
The Wailin Woodys will perform June 7 at 6pm
JAMESTOWN, Calif. – Railtown 1897 State Historic Park (SHP) is proud to present an entertaining, upbeat and festive “Singing Rails” music festival on Saturday, June 7, 2014, that reflects America’s longstanding love affair with trains and the railroad through the magic of music. This is the 5th “Singing Rails” festival that includes an amateur music contest leading up to a special live musical performance by The Wailin’ Woodys – featuring the music of Woody Guthrie.
The family-friendly music festival will take place outdoors on the sprawling Roundhouse lawn starting with the entertaining music contest that starts at noon. Contestants will compete in two categories – Vocal and Instrumental – and will be judged by a panel of three. Each contestant will perform two songs, one of which must be train-related. Awards will be announced at 5 p.m. when cash prizes of $100 will be awarded to the top contestant in each category. The contest entry fee is $15 – and includes a ticket to the evening event and a train ride. Interested contestants are encouraged to pre-register online at www.railtown1897.org and limited space is available to participate. Then at 5 p.m., interested Park visitors can compete in a free — and always amusing — competition for the best vocally-generated train sound. Free to participate and no advance registration required, a special “Boxcar Willie Award” and $50 prize will be awarded to the winner based on audience response.
Contestants can win $100 in either the vocal or instrumental categories of the Railroad Music Competition
After the spirited contest, the live music really kicks into high gear when The Wailin’ Woodys perform live from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets to the music festival cost $5 per person or are free to same-day train ride ticket holders. Train ride tickets cost $15 for adults, $8 for youths ages 6 to 17 and are free for children ages 5 and under. While refreshments and food will be available for purchase at the “Singing Rails” event, guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets and picnic items. Advance train ride and “Singing Rails” tickets are available now online at www.railtown1897.org and more information about the event or Railtown 1897 SHP is available by calling 209-984-3953.
Photo by Michael Sharps
JAMESTOWN, Calif. – Railtown 1897 State Historic Park (SHP) plans to treat moms extra special this Mother’s Day — on Sunday, May 11 — by pulling out the famous “Movie Star Locomotive” Sierra No. 3 for weekend excursion train rides and also giving away complimentary commemorative Belgian chocolate bars to all mothers who take a train ride (while supplies last). For those wanting to treat mom extra special on Mother’s Day, there will be a first-class train ride available as well.
With beautiful wildflowers still in bloom on Mother’s Day, Railtown 1897’s excursion trains will depart on-the-hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The six-mile, 45-minute roundtrip ride takes passengers through the rolling Gold Country foothills, passing through meadows and along grassy hillsides covered with ancient oak trees. Families are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on-site on the sprawling Roundhouse lawn. In addition, the Railtown 1897 SHP Depot Store, Interpretive Center and grounds are open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and guided Roundhouse tours are available, too.
Tickets for steam train excursion rides are $15 for adults, $8 for youths ages 6-17 and kids five and under are free. For those desiring a first-class experience, tickets are $24 for adults, $10 for youths ages 6-17 and kids five and under area are free (with free upgrades to Railtown 1897 SHP members depending on space availability). 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).
Special Activities Include Steam-Powered Excursion Train Rides Behind Sierra No. 3 and Caboose No. 7, Historic Locomotives on Display, Historic Speeder Car Rides, Behind-the-Scenes Shop Tours and More!
Plus a Special Opening Reception for the Second Annual “In Train View” Photo Exhibition Featuring Rail-Related Works by the Sonora Photo Club!
JAMESTOWN, Calif. – California State Parks and Railtown 1897 State Historic Park (SHP) will proudly participate in the seventh annual National Train Day on Saturday, May 10, 2014. Designed to celebrate American railroading, trains and train travel in cities all across the country, the event offers a variety of special activities at Railtown 1897 SHP that remains as the only intact steam-era roundhouse and shop facility in California, and one of just two in the U.S.
Celebrate National Train Day with a visit to historic Railtown 1897
On National Train Day, visitors to Railtown 1897 SHP will enjoy steam-powered excursion train rides behind the “Movie Star Locomotive” Sierra No. 3 and aboard the famous Caboose No. 7. To the delight of visitors, behind-the-scenes tours of the historic Roundhouse and Shops will also be available. A number of historic locomotives, equipment and vehicles will also be on special display, historic track “speeder” car rides will offered from noon to 3 p.m. and Amtrak goodie bags will be available while supplies last. Also, the historic the blacksmith forge will be open and operating — which was once used to produce hardware and some parts for locomotives and cars.
Railtown 1897 also invites park visitiors to a special kick-off reception for the second annual “In Train View” photo exhibition with works by the Sonora Photo Club. Visitors can join the photographers for an opening reception at 11 a.m.Once debuted, the exhibit will then be on display at Railtown 1897 SHP through Labor Day weekend. The rail-related photographs will also be offered for sale, with proceeds to benefit the Park. The photo exhibit is presented by the Sonora Photo Club, founded in 2005 in the California Gold Country town of Sonora, to promote the art of photography.
Photo by Dave Henry
Except for steam-powered excursion train rides, all National Train Day activities are free to the public with paid Park admission. Railtown 1897 SHP admission costs are as follows: $5 for adults, $3 for youths ages 6-17 and free for children five and under. All train ride tickets are available for advance purchase online as well as at the ticket window beginning at 10 a.m. the day of the train ride (based on availability). Capacity is limited for tickets for the steam-powered excursion train rides so visitors are encouraged to arrive early. Excursion train rides are available hourly from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and tickets aboard “Movie Train Consist” (enclosed suburban car and caboose)” are $15 for adults, $8 for youths ages 6-17 and kids five and under are free. Train ride tickets are available online at www.railtown1897.org and more information about Railtown 1897 SHP is by calling 209-984-3953. More information about National Train Day is available by visiting www.nationaldaytrain.com.