One of the fun things about working in a young park (just 28 years old), like ours is that sometimes we get visitors who worked here before it was a park. In fact, some of the crew who worked here in the diesel era of the Sierra Railroad, and today’s Sierra Northern Railroad, are still around and stop by often just to see what is happening.
Today we had a real treat when former Sierra Engineer Joe Francis stopped by. Joe lives in Idaho these days, but he grew up around the shops in Jamestown. In 1946 when Duel in the Sun was being filmed, he was hired on to help with the filming, and the railroad kept him on afterwards. He worked here for over 34 years, and fired for the likes of Mose Baker, Jim Baker, and worked with Master Mechanic Bill Tremewan. Jim stood by the No. 3 today, and you could just see the memories flooding back. He shared some tales of firing on the 18, 22, 34 and other locomotives, and told us about removing the cistern of the No. 3 at some point, to replace the deck boards.
Jim had good timing for his visit, because we are running the No. 3 tomorrow. If you are out in the morning, you may see him up in the cab with the crew, taking a trip down “memory rail”.
Come out and ride the train yourself tomorrow. If you are at the park in the morning before 10, you can see the crew bring the locomotive onto the turntable, and fill up at the water tank. Watching the crew at work in and around the historic roundhouse is a wonderful way to make the connection that we are keeping history alive through the trades– maintaining and running the same equipment in the same place, in mostly the same way, today, as Jim and Mose and Bill and so many others over the past century.
Get ready for a summertime favorite — it’s the Mark Twain Train Ride on Saturday evening, July 23, at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown! Get there early to listen to live music provided by local sensation Dave Rainwater and fascinating storytelling by Mark Twain himself (vividly portrayed by Pat Kaunert) beginning at 4 p.m. on the sprawling Roundhouse lawn.
Then, the Sidewinder Express (No. 2 Shay) departs promptly at 5 p.m. for an entertaining and spirited train ride through the rolling Gold Country foothills. Bring your own victuals and libations to enjoy on board this lovely summer evening train.
Advance tickets for are available online at www.railtown1897.org for the special Mark Twain Train Ride. Don’t miss the family friendly rail-related fun at Railtown 1897! For more information, call 209-984-3953.
The General Code of Operating Rules (GCOR) is a set of operating rules for railroads in North America. It is used by a wide range of Class 1, Class 2, and shortline railroads, including UP, Amtrak, BNSF, and Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. Our engine crews ( including brakemen, conductors, firemen and engineers), must pass a written exam on GCOR annually, in addition to unannounced operations testing. Operations testing may include a variety of different “on the job” challenges. Most noticeable to riders of the train is the “Red Flag Test”. When a red flag is placed on the tracks, the train must stop, the engineer notifies the conductor. The conductor authorizes the train to proceed, only after confirming removal of the flag by the person (or class of employee) who placed it. The red flag is primarily used to mark the boundaries of working limits when maintenance of way crew are on the tracks, but can be used to mark any hazard requiring the train to stop.
CGOR Rule 5.4.7 Display of Red Flag or Red Light
A red flag or red light is displayed where trains must stop. When approaching a red flag or red light, the train must stop short of the red flag or red light and not proceed unless the employee in charge gives verbal permission. If permission to proceed is received before the train stops, the train may pass the red flag or red light without stopping.
If track bulletin Form B is not in effect, permission must include speed and distance. This speed must not be exceeded until the rear of the train has passed the specified distance from the red flag or red light, unless otherwise instructed by the employee in charge.
Displayed Between Rails. When a red flag or red light is displayed between the rails of a track other than a main track or controlled siding, the train must stop and not proceed until the flag or light has been removed by an employee of the class that placed it.
Today’s crew passed the test with a perfect performance. Although we rarely face actual red flags, it is important that we train for any eventuality. The all-volunteer train crew takes their responsibilities seriously, and approaches their jobs with a high level of professionalism and concern for the safety of the passengers and other crew members.
The ever-popular weekend steam-powered excursion trains at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park (SHP) will be running all three days of the 4th of July holiday weekend — July 2, 3 and 4 — with special rides behind Sierra No. 3 (widely known as the “Movie Star Locomotive”) and aboard Caboose No. 7 on Monday, July 4 only. On Saturday and Sunday, the excursion trains depart on-the-hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Then on Monday, July 4, excursion train ride availability has been expanded with trains departing hourly from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day only.
Tickets for all holiday weekend steam train excursion rides are $13 for adults, $6 for youths ages 6-17 and kids five and under are free. On Saturday and Sunday, tickets are available on a first-come, first served basis at the ticket window beginning at 10 a.m. the day of the train ride. For Monday, July 4, train rides behind Sierra No. 3, advance tickets are available online. As always, all train ride tickets include Park admission.
In addition, guests are encouraged to spend the day at Railtown 1897 SHP by touring the Park and learning more about its authentic railroad facilities and fascinating role in the Hollywood and television industry. Also, guests are invited to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the sprawling Roundhouse lawn while enjoying the holiday weekend.
Old-fashioned games will be held on the lawn on the 4th, from Noon-2PM, and the historic belt-driven machine shop will be in operation, and live music will be presented on-board the trains. As always, visitors are invited to arrive early (9:30 Saturday & Sunday, 8:30 on Monday) or stay after the last train to watch the turntable in use in the yard. Railtown is one of the few places where visitors are able to view the crew at work before and after the excursion rides.
Steam-powered excursion train rides are offered weekends through October 2011. For more information about excursion train rides or Railtown 1897 SHP in general, please call 209-984-3953 or visit www.railtown1897.org.
See our page on facebook for more fun details.
Posted in Restoration |
One of the most exciting parts of the Railtown operation is the constant process of problem-solving. When you are working with historic structures and equipment, life is always unpredictable. Because we are a State Park, our priority is always on solving problems with a focus on adherence to preservation standards, and on sharing this process with the public. In fact, on most days, visitors to Railtown are able to get an “up-close” view of the work in progress. On weekends, these processes include preparing and operating the locomotives, and of course, most visitors come out to ride the train. On weekdays, the focus is usually on maintenance and repair. Here are a few of the projects we’ve been working on so far this year. In the next few weeks, we’ll elaborate more on how these were addressed.
Posted in Restoration |