Opening day at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park– 7am. Approximately ten visitors showed up to witness the preparations of the locomotive. By 8:30, about 25 had trickled in, from all over the state– San Diego, Sacramento, Livermore, Fresno, Bakersfield. It was a rare chance for visitors to witness, up close, the historic activities of the historic railroad, in the historic roundhouse.
Paid and volunteer park staff, led by Railroad Restoration Leadworker George Sapp, were working on some last minute repairs to the Shay #2. The locomotive went for test runs on Thursday and Friday, and was running ok, but something was still not quite right. When it was determined that one of the parts needed replacing, staff scrambled to get it done in order to make the first train of the day. A single replacement part was located in the historic parts warehouse, and after some tense moments removing the offending piece, the replacement was installed, the fire was lit, and a sigh of relief was felt throughout the operation!
A bit slower than our usual workhorse (the 1922 Baldwin, Sierra #28), the #2 Shay makes for a leisurely run, but for enthusiasts of this unique type of locomotive, it was an exciting day! We had over 1600 riders throughout the weekend, who also enjoyed handcar and speeder rides, tours of the restored 2901 observation car, a caboose restoration in progress, and the always amazing belt-driven machine shop in action.
Just the first of many operating weekends at Railtown, now through October.