Railtown 1897 to Give Dads the Star Treatment on Father’s Day With Train Rides Behind Sierra No. 3 and Complimentary Commemorative Chocolate Bars

ImageJAMESTOWN, Calif. – Railtown 1897 State Historic Park (SHP) plans to treat dads and granddads extra special this Father’s Day — on Sunday, June 16 — by pulling out the famous “Movie Star Locomotive” Sierra No. 3 for excursion train rides (regular ticket prices apply).

In addition, Railtown 1897 will give away complimentary commemorative Belgian chocolate bars to all fathers — and grandfathers, too — who take a train ride, while supplies last. Adding to the holiday festivities, train ride guests will be treated to live music performed by strolling cowboy Keith Keenom, the popular wooden Caboose No. 7 will be open for tours, and children will receive complimentary balloons on this special day. 

As usual, Railtown 1897’s excursion trains will depart on-the-hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and guests will ride in an open-sided mountain observation car. 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.  All train ride tickets include Park admission and are now available for advance purchase at http://www.railtown1897.org as well as at the ticket window beginning at 10 a.m. on the day of the ride (based on availability).

Memorial Day Weekend at Railtown 1897

Saturday, May 25 thru Monday, May 27

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To kick off the summer season in rail-related style, popular weekend excursion trains will be running all three days of the Memorial Day holiday weekend — May 25, 26 and 27 — at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park (SHP) in Jamestown.  As a highlight on Saturday and Sunday, steam-powered excursion train rides behind Sierra No. 3 are available; then on Monday, visitors have the opportunity to take a ride behind a vintage diesel locomotive.  For all three days of the holiday weekend, the prized Caboose No. 7 will be open for tours and, as a special treat, local musician Jim Nelson of the Black Irish Band will be aboard the trains playing banjo, guitar and vocals.

Excursion trains will depart on-the-hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, delighting visitors from near and far during a six-mile, 45-minute round trip ride along the rails of the famous “Movie Railroad,” passing through California’s scenic Gold Country.  

Tickets for the weekend excursion train rides during the holiday weekend are $15 for adults, $8 for youths ages 6-17 and free for children five and under.  All train ride tickets include Park admission and are now available for advance purchase online as well as at the ticket window beginning at 10 a.m. on the day of the ride (based on availability).   For more information, call 209-984-3953 or visit www.railtown1897.org.

Railtown 1897 celebrates “National Train Day” on May 11, 2013

Special activities include steam-powered excursion train rides behind Sierra No. 3 and caboose No. 7, historic locomotives on display, behind-the-scenes shop tours and more!

Railtown 1897

JAMESTOWN, Calif. – On Saturday, May 11, Railtown 1897 State Historic Park (SHP) will proudly participate in the sixth annual National Train Day, an event designed to celebrate American railroading, trains and train travel in cities all across the country.   Coordinated in conjunction with California State Parks and Amtrak®, 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.  

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, and behind-the-scenes tours of the historic Roundhouse and Shops. A number of historic locomotives, equipment and vehicles will also be on special display this one-day-only, including the No. 28 & 2 locomotives, historic track maintenance vehicles such as the 1920s Ford Model T custom-adapted for use on the Railroad, and the Hetch-Hetchy 19 car, custom built for use in the construction of the Hetch Hetchy Dam (which will be operational and available for rides). To the delight of Park visitors, the historic belt-driven machine shop will also be up and running on National Train Day so guests can see it in action and understand that on a shortline, much of the work was done “in house” at the shops (with exception of major engine rebuilds). 

Except for ste am-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 at www.railtown1897.org 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.   More information about Railtown 1897 SHP is available online or by calling 209-984-3953.  More information about National Train Day is available by visiting www.nationaldaytrain.com.

Railtown 1897 gives Moms the star treatment on Mother’s Day

Railtown 1897 gives Moms the star treatment on Mother’s Day with train rides behind Sierra No. 3 and complimentary commemorative chocolate bars.

Railtown 1897

JAMESTOWN, Calif. – Railtown 1897 State Historic Park (SHP) plans to treat moms extra special this Mother’s Day — on Sunday, May 12 — 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).

Railtown 1897 Offers Behind-the-Scenes Shop Tours every Tuesday Morning!

Visitors Will See the Famous Sierra No. 3 Up-Close & Personal Plus Learn About Current Projects Underway

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 Railtown 1897 State Historic Park (SHP) will now offer special, behind-the-scenes Shop Tours on Tuesday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon on an ongoing basis beginning March 26, 2013. Interested visitors will be treated to an up-close and personal view of routine maintenance and specialized work happening on current projects in the historic Roundhouse as well as in the Tri-Dam shop (a Cold War-era machine shop used to repair, replace or service parts for operating equipment, cars, steam and diesel locomotives). Keep in mind, parts for steam engines — and sometimes vintage diesel locomotives — cannot be purchased and must be manufactured on-site making Railtown 1897 SHP one of the most accessible places around to watch this specialized work being performed.  Along with educating visitors about our fascinating rail history, maintaining and repairing steam engines and diesels is an important part of the mission of Railtown 1897 SHP.

The weekly two-hour Shop Tours begin with a brief slide show that provides background of current projects to date.   After the video, a knowledgeable volunteer host will guide visitors to the historic shops to meet and ask questions of skilled paid and volunteer staff who are actively working on projects and activities that keep the historic shops alive.

Open daily, Railtown 1897 SHP Shop Tours are included with Park admission, which is as follows: $5 for adults, $3 for youths ages 6-17 and free for children five and under.  More information about the Shop Tours or Railtown 1897 SHP is available by calling 209-984-3953 or visiting http://www.railtown1897.org.

Railtown and Sonora– A Bit of Sierra Railway History

On New Year’s Day in 1897, a corporation was formed, named the Sierra Railway Company of California.  That same month, crews started work, and by November, the first train arrived in Jamestown.  It is interesting to note that it wasn’t until 1899 that the railroad made it to Sonora, due to opposition from stage companies and teamsters who feared the loss of business to the railroad, amongst others.  The line eventually made it to Tuolumne, and Angels Camp. 

The Sierra Railway Company was the shortline branch which supported many other railroads, bringing lumber and mining products out of the foothills, and goods in.  The Sierra Railway played a role in the building of the Hetch Hetchy, Tullock, Beardsley, Donnels, Melones and Don Pedro dams.  It hauled lumber products brought out of the Sierras by the Sugar Pine Railway, Westside Lumber Company, and others. 

At times during the history of the railroad, passengers could travel from stations in Angels Camp, Tuolumne, Sonora &  Jamestown, to Oakdale, and on to anywhere in America served by a rail line. 

 In 1938, the railroad ended regular passenger service— as with most passenger service, operational costs exceeded revenue.  However,  freight operations have been continuous throughout the railroad’s 115 year history.   Today,  modern diesel locomotives from the Sierra Northern Railway haul lumber and propane, and a different type of passenger service— excursions— run on 3 miles out of Jamestown, from the old shops and roundhouse of the railroad–preserved as Railtown 1897 State Historic Park.

Without passengers, the depots lost much of their use.  When the Sonora depot burnt down in 1946, it was rebuilt as a freight station only.  Today the Sonora Post Office sits at the same location.

1911 Sonora Lumber Company Plant in Sonora-- near where today's Grocery Outlet now stands.

1911 Sonora Lumber Company Plant in Sonora– near where today’s Grocery Outlet now stands.

Looking down onto the depot (seen in the approximate center of image) from the hill above today's JS West.  This photo was probably taken in the early 1940s.

Looking down onto the depot (seen in the approximate left-center of image) from the hill above today’s JS West. This photo was probably taken in the early 1940s.

This unique panorama, taken in 1912 shows the depot on the left, hospital in center (behind cars), and ice plant on the right

This unique panorama, taken in 1912 shows the depot on the left, hospital in center (behind rail cars), and ice plant on the right

Old Sonora Depot.  Wainscotting on the bottom is marble quarried from Columbia-- another product the railroad transported at one time.

Old Sonora Depot. The wainscotting on the bottom is marble quarried from Columbia– another product the railroad transported at one time.

The Sierra No. 3 and Santa are set to make an historic appearance in Sonora on December 1st!

Tuolumne County’s most famous movie star will make her first appearance in twenty years in Sonora on December 1st

Come see the Sierra No. 3 lit for the holidays, and with Santa on board!

Sonora, Calif. – On December 1st, 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 No. 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.

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

For the first time since 1992, the Sierra No. 3 will make an appearance in Sonora, on Saturday December 1st 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’.  Members from the community donated thousands of dollars in 2012 to support the park which was threatened with closure this year for the third time in 10 years.  The last operating weekend for train rides at Railtown will be December 15th & 16th, and will be pulled by the Sierra No. 3, with Santa on Board!