Shared History

Fireman Joe Francis and George Sapp trading stories about the No. 3

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.