Rail fans and casual visitors to Railtown 1897 State Historic Park have the rare opportunity to see repairs to the historic steam locomotive “Sierra No. 28” up close thanks to a newly signed donor agreement that provides funding for the project. Visitors are invited to tour the shops to see the work as it progresses, and follow frequent updates at railtown1897.wordpress.com and at Railtown’s facebook page.
Sierra No. 28 has been a mainstay for passenger operations since the facility became a state park in 1982. The locomotive will be repaired while on public display in the roundhouse. Visitors can watch as crews remove and replace worn parts and inspect and repair the boiler. The work is anticipated to be completed by the summer of 2014.
California State Parks recently finalized a matching fund partnership donor agreement with the California State Railroad Museum Foundation to keep Railtown 1897 State Historic Park open and fund this project. The agreement was made possible by the AB 1478 Match Program, which appropriated $10 million back to State Parks to match contributions by donors and operating partners.
The Association has been Railtown 1897’s SHP’s non-profit partner for over 20 years. The agreement also represents an enormous effort by the local community. As part of the “Keep Railtown Rolling” effort, five Tuolumne County Rotary clubs united with business and community leaders to raise over $75,000. The Sonora Area Foundation and the Irving J. Symons Foundation for Tuolumne County, a Supporting Organization of the Sonora Area Foundation, provided matching funds.
“The last couple of years have been very challenging ones for the park and it’s been gratifying to see so many come together to work to keep the doors open. We are pleased to see that our fundraising efforts are going to result in something that will help the park better meet its potential into the future” said Kathy Daigle, Executive Director of the California State Railroad Museum Foundation
In addition to deferred maintenance projects, the matching funds will be used for operational expenses, interpretive program development and to enhance the park’s public and school programs. Funding will also be used to complete National & State Historic Register nominations for locomotives and buildings. Together, these projects will better position the park to increase visitation, improve revenue generation and demonstrate the park’s statewide significance.
Behind the Scenes shop tours are scheduled every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon and are free to the public with paid park admission. The work is also on public display from the Roundhouse doors at any time the park is open. Railtown 1897 SHP admission costs are as follows: $5 for adults, $3 for youths ages 6-17 and free for children five and under.
Excursion train rides run hourly between 11-3, Saturday & Sunday through the end of October, with special trains in November and December. Steam excursion train rides are pulled by the Sierra No. 3 on Saturdays, and Vintage diesel train rides are offered every Sunday. Train ride tickets include Park admission and are available for advance purchase at http://www.railtown1897.org as well as at the ticket window beginning at 10 a.m. the day of the train ride (based on availability). Tickets are $15 for adults, $8 for youths ages 6-17 and kids five and under are free.