The Polar Express at Railtown 1897– Just the Start of Your State Parks Adventure!

If you are heading up into the Sierra Foothills for a ride on The Polar Express at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park this holiday season, round out your family adventure with a visit to other nearby state parks.

Columbia State Historic Park is  just a short 7 mile drive from Railtown 1897 State Historic Park and is full of holiday spirit for the month of December. The historic Gold Rush town is decorated with cedar bows, and lots of old-fashioned cheer. Park shops are open daily from 10am to 5pm, and offer unique shopping options.  You can watch old-fashioned candy canes being made at Nelson’s Columbia Candy Kitchen, shop at the leather store, candle store or book store, enjoy a sarsaparilla or fresh baked cookie, and make family memories on a stagecoach ride.  During Miner’s Christmas you can also enjoy fresh roasted chestnuts and old-fashioned children’s games on the street.  Free town tours are offered every Saturday and Sunday at 11am and Columbia has a wonderful little museum.

The California Store at Columbia State Historic Park with a rare dusting of snow

The California Store at Columbia State Historic Park with a rare dusting of snow

Columbia State Historic Park offers  unique accommodations  in two historic hotels.  The City and Fallon Hotels are located on Main Street,  inside the park and offer beautifully restored Victorian-era rooms. The park also has several cottages available for overnight stays– perfect for families. Call the City Hotel to book your room or cottage at (209) 532-1479. Show the hotel staff your Polar Express tickets and you will receive a 20% percent discount for your entire stay!

Guest room in the City Hotel at Columbia State Historic Park

Guest room in the City Hotel at Columbia State Historic Park

Another California State Park within driving distance of both Railtown 1897 and Columbia is Calaveras Big Trees State Park located in Arnold, Ca. In the Winter months the park often has snow, and is home to some of the largest trees in the world, making this winter wonderland a must-see. The spectacular Sequoia redwoods can be seen on an easy trail hike. Once snow arrives in the park, guided snowshoe tours are held on Saturdays at 1 pm. Snow shoes are available on a first come first serve basis. Calaveras Big Trees State Park also has cabins available for rent. Call the park for more information at (209) 795-2334.

Giant Sequoia at Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Giant Sequoia at Calaveras Big Trees State Park

And, of course, don’t forget to come back and visit Railtown 1897 State Historic Park during the daytime!  Tours of the historic roundhouse are available everyday.  This unique building is one of only two original, functioning steam-era roundhouses.  Climb into the cab of one of the sleeping giants, see a locomotive restoration in progress, visit the belt driven machine shop, and view the historic track car collection.  If you come between noon and 3PM on the Polar Express days, you can even watch the train crew firing up the famous Sierra No. 3 steam engine for the evening. The park also has a self-guided Jr. Ranger program.  Print the book ahead of time, or pick one up for free at the Depot Store (209) 984-3953.

Get an up-close view of a steam engine in the Roundhouse

Get an up-close view of a steam engine in the Roundhouse

Lots to see and do at these California State Parks in December.  Make this your new holiday tradition!
December Events in Columbia and Railtown 1897 State Historic Parks & Calaveras Big Trees State Park:

November 27-Dec 20th Candy Cane Making– Columbia SHP

December 2nd and 3rd  Lamplight Tours– Columbia SHP

December 12th Gold Rush Days– Columbia SHP

December 9th, 11th, 15th, and 16th The Victorian Feast at the City Hotel

December 10th, 11th, 17th, and 18th A Miners Christmas– Columbia SHP

December 11th Los Posadas Nativity Procession– Columbia SHP

December 11thEquestrian Parade- Columbia SHP

December Saturday Snowshoe Tours– Calaveras Big Trees SP

The Polar Express at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, December 2,3 4, 9,10,11,16,17,18.  Trains depart at 4:30, 6:00 and 7:30.  Tickets sell out quickly.

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Railtown 1897 Celebrates Railroading As Part of “National Train Day” on May 10!

Special Activities Include Steam-Powered Excursion Train Rides Behind Sierra No. 3 and Caboose No. 7, Historic Locomotives on Display, Historic Speeder Car Rides, Behind-the-Scenes Shop Tours and More!

Plus a Special Opening Reception for the Second Annual “In Train View” Photo Exhibition Featuring Rail-Related Works by the Sonora Photo Club!

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JAMESTOWN, Calif. – California State Parks and Railtown 1897 State Historic Park (SHP) will proudly participate in the seventh annual National Train Day on Saturday, May 10, 2014.  Designed to celebrate American railroading, trains and train travel in cities all across the country, 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.

Celebrate National Train Day with a visit to historic Railtown 1897

Celebrate National Train Day with a visit to historic Railtown 1897

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.  To the delight of visitors, behind-the-scenes tours of the historic Roundhouse and Shops will also be available. A number of historic locomotives, equipment and vehicles will also be on special display, historic track “speeder” car rides will offered from noon to 3 p.m. and Amtrak goodie bags will be available while supplies last. Also, the historic the blacksmith forge will be open and operating — which was once used to produce hardware and some parts for locomotives and cars.

Railtown 1897 also invites park visitiors to a special kick-off reception for the second annual “In Train View” photo exhibition with works by the Sonora Photo Club. Visitors can join the photographers for an opening reception at 11 a.m.Once debuted, the exhibit will then be on display at Railtown 1897 SHP through Labor Day weekend. The rail-related photographs will also be offered for sale, with proceeds to benefit the Park. The photo exhibit is presented by the Sonora Photo Club, founded in 2005 in the California Gold Country town of Sonora, to promote the art of photography.

Photo by Dave Henry

Photo by Dave Henry

Except for steam-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 online 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.   Train ride tickets are available online at www.railtown1897.org and more information about Railtown 1897 SHP is by calling 209-984-3953.  More information about National Train Day is available by visiting www.nationaldaytrain.com.

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park Announces First Female Engineer

Stephanie Tadlock, Engineer

Stephanie Tadlock, Engineer

Volunteer Stephanie Tadlock recently joined an exclusive club, she was promoted to the position of Steam Locomotive Engineer at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, the park’s first female to hold this position.

Engineer is the most advanced position on the train crew. Commonly confused with conductor (who directs the movement of the train), the engineer is charge of operating the locomotive. To qualify for the position, Stephanie put in years training in every position on the train crew, including brakeman, conductor, hostler and fireman, before qualifying as an engineer earlier this summer.  Railtown 1897 State Historic Park’s railroad operations are regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration.  The park currently employs 20 volunteer train crew members who adhere to the training, testing and operating requirements administered by the FRA, and operate steam and diesel excursion trains from April-December.

A resident of Merced, Stephanie grew up on a small farm outside of Madera, CA. In her day job, she works as a program analyst in Fresno, with a 2-hour round trip commute. One wouldn’t imagine that would lend much free time, but somehow between cross country motorcycle trips, helping her dad with antique shows, and spoiling her granddaughter, Stephanie has shown the drive, energy, and aptitude to become Railtown 1897’s first female engineer.

Stephanie began volunteering at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park  after her husband, Dave, transitioned from volunteer tour guide to volunteer train crew member in 2007. After realizing that Dave was at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park every weekend, Stephanie and her son began volunteering on the fire patrol crew during Dave’s second year in order to be able to see Dave once in a while! After spending a year learning and becoming immersed in the camaraderie of Railtown’s volunteer crew, in 2008 Stephanie volunteered for train crew and, as she says “that’s about the time I got bit by the steam bug.”

Though excited about her new position as engineer, Stephanie still enjoys hostling and firing. “There’s just something indescribable about bringing a cold mechanical hunk of metal to life with your own two hands,” she says.

Thanks, Stephanie, for your dedication to Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, and here’s to many more years to come!

Railtown 1897 Announces Train Rides on Wednesdays July 10 through August 28

JAMESTOWN, Calif. – Beginning on July 10 and continuing through August 28, 2013, Railtown 1897 State Historic Park (SHP) in Jamestown will begin offering diesel train rides on Wednesdays at noon and 2 p.m. While the Park is open daily, steam-powered excursion train rides are typically offered on weekends only except for holidays and special occasions. 2013 is the first time Railtown 1897 SHP has offered Wednesday train rides through the summer.
All train ride passengers will be treated to a six-mile, 45-minute round trip ride along the rails of the famous “Movie Railroad,” passing through California’s scenic Gold Country where scenes from many Hollywood movies were filmed. Tickets for all excursion train rides include Park admission and cost $15 for adults, $8 for youths ages 6-17 and kids five and under are free. Advance train ride tickets are available online or at the ticket window beginning at 10 a.m. the day of the train ride on a first-come, first-served basis depending on availability.

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 day.

Advance train ride tickets are available at http://www.railtown1897.org and more information about excursion train rides or Railtown 1897 SHP in general is available by calling 209-984-3953.

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.