Sunday, June 18, 2006

Saturday at the Fair

By the time I left the engine house late yesterday afternoon, around 90 fairgoers had stopped by to check progress on the Shay locomotive. Keith Berry said another 50 stopped by Saturday evening.

Little work got done yesterday, although we had planned a regular work day. Ken and Scott Romine -- along with their wives -- came by to talk to visitors at the engine house and to enjoy the fair. I suspect that Sam Thompson and Bill, two of our machinists, were the only ones working. Keith and I rounded out the crew.

Railway president Eric Stohl and board member Kathy Brown arrived around 3 p.m. to take the evening watch. Bill Rodgers was going to man the booth today.

Les Wilmunder's Sheffield Motor Car speeder was the hit of the day. Les' father Hal Wilmunder rescued the speeded, along with the Railbus No. 10 and other equipment, from the scrapper's torch in 1953. Les and the crew set up 60 feet on mobile track. He gave demonstrations all day.

According to Les, The speeder was manufactured in 1914 and was operated by the Diamond & Caldor Railway until the line closed operations in 1953.

"As far as we know," said Keith, "that's the only operating piece of Diamond and Caldor equipment."

"Wow" and "Dad, come look at this" seemed to be the most common expressions of the day. Many boys and girls enjoyed taking a peak at a 99-year old locomotive. Adults and children alike enjoyed hearing the history of the four-spot.

Some folks stopped to check the progress of restoration. Others were just curious.

But locating men and women who're willing to contribute to the El Dorado Western Railway may be our biggest accomplishment of the 2006 El Dorado County Fair.

Two women -- one with fund raising skills and the other a graphic artist -- expressed a willingness to possibly work with the railway.

Two men with critical trades stopped by the engine house on Friday and Saturday. The railway may have located a carpenter who can finish important finish work on the West Side & Cherry Valley parlor car and combine car.

A certified welder who can repair the boiler stopped by after being referred to the railway by a mutual friend. He can provide valuable assistance as we gear up to certify the Shay's 180-pound boiler for operation.

From my vantage point (this was my first fair with the railway), the 2006 El Dorado County Fair was successful. Although we have few new members, about 200 newsletters made it into the hands of county residents and visitors. We like to think that 200 more folks have a newly acquired appreciation for an important piece of El Dorado County history.

See you next year.

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