Friday, September 12, 2008

Summer newsletter released

The summer issue of The Dispatch, the official newsletter of El Dorado Western Railway Foundation, was mailed to members and supporters this week. This is the third issue for 2008, according to EDWRF vice-president and newsletter editor Steve Karoly. The railrway is on-line to produce four issues this year.

The Dispatch is a benefit of membership in the railway foundation. A copy of the quarterly is normally mailed to each member's house each quarter.

Join the effort to restore the Diamond & Caldor No. 4 today
To join our effort to renovate the Diamond & Caldor No. 4 Shay locomotive and to build and operate an El Dorado County Logging and Railroad Museum, send $35 (check or money order) for individual membership to:

PO Box 3517
Diamond Springs, CA 95619

Family membership costs $60, corporate $100 and life membership is $500 for individual or family and $1,000 for a business. Annual membership runs from January to December.

Won't you please join our effort for the 2008/09 renovation season and help us celebrate the 102th anniversary of the D&C No. 4 Shay?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

You know it's a railroad wedding when ...

It seems the commissary crew at the Pacific Coast Railroad has been getting a lot of practice lately. I've reported on the culinary delights prepared by Patti LaRose, Mary Harlow and Karell Reader at least three times this year. These ladies cook more than I do on the El Dorado Western.

The railroad, which is located on a private Santa Margarita Ranch, found another reason to barbecue chicken and give up train rides.

Commissary crew member Patti "Cookie" LaRose tied the knot with fellow railroader Dennis Thurman, a trail crewman on the PCRR. The ceremony occurred at the nearby Bittercreek Western Railroad, a 7-1/2-inch gauge steam railroad park in Arroyo Grande, California.

One aspect of the nuptials stand out when you read the blog article. It's not "sight of steam engines lined up in the steaming bays and circling the miles of track" or the "delicious chicken barbecue."

Like a railroading couple I know, Patti and Dennis experienced a true railroader's wedding, down to the bride's conductor "wedding gown" and her bouquet.
Since Patti's bridal bouquet was a signal lantern and could not be tossed easily, the lantern was passed to Stephanie, Karl's sweetheart. Everyone had a wonderful time and wished the newlyweds well on their honeymoon to northern California. Congratulations and lots of love to Patti and Dennis.
It looks like the ladies will soon have a couple reasons to put some good railroading vittles. I'm certain they'll fire up the coals once the fire danger passes.

And Stephanie and Karl may just tie the knot themselves. That's reason enough to cook in my book.

No weddings are on the horizon at our Northern California railroad. But I'm sure I'll find sufficient reason to cook for the El Dorado Western soon.

Cross-posted at the 'Round the Chuckbox.

Workin' on the El Dorado site plan

For more than six months, the El Dorado Western Railway has been considering the Town of El Dorado for the site of a new county railroad park. Current plans call for reconstruction of the Southern Pacific freight and passenger depot and construction of engine house and shot buildings on the abandoned Southern Pacific right-of-way.

Even though the park is several years off, railway volunteers are working on a site plan for presentation to the Sacramento Placerville Transportation Corridor Joint Powers Authority (or SPTC). Since the right-of-way is controlled by the SPTC, we will have to secure its permission to operate on the tracks.

In the above photograph, Bill Schultz (left), Harold Kiser and Keith Berry discuss the location of track and buildings at the proposed railroad park. Bill recently retired from the Union Pacific Railroad. He brings 30 years of railroad operation experience to the El Dorado Western.

To the left, Harold, a retired engineer, moves orange cutouts as Bill and Keith discuss the feasibility of the location of each building in the park. His challenge is to site the engine house, turntable, siding and switches where they don't interfere with existing easements.

After the planning session, the team drove out to El Dorado and walked the ground. This gave Harold a chance to take measurements while Bill and Keith compared plans to historic photographs of the old depot site. They were able to locate several features that confirm the depot's probable location.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

History of the California Door Company and its logging railroads #6

This history was prepared by Robert Niles for the Eldorado National Forest in 1979. The El Dorado Western Railway blog will reprint serialized portions of Mr. Nile’s report in the coming months.

The Dolbeer steam donkey was developed in 1882 by John Dolbeer of Eureka, California. With this development the chore of handling logs became considerably easier.

The Dolbeer donkey was a simple devise utilizing a small, upright steam engine to power a single drum winch. The devise was first used for unloading logs at the mill, but was soon it was put to use pulling logs to the landings in the woods and unloading logs by cross haul cables and "gin" poles on to the log cars. More powerful engines were developed later to operate double drum winches for increased pulling power.

The versatile Dolbeer donkey was also utilized by attaching it to the pilot of a locomotive. This combination of log handling machinery and locomotive was dubbed a "gypsy." There is no evidence that such a devise was ever used by the Caldor operation, but extensive use was made of the skid mounted Dolbeer donkey in the woods and at the saw mill.

These steam winches began the phase out of the dependence on horses and mules for log skidding and loading after 1900.

With the arrival of the steel rail and steam locomotives at Caldor in 1904, the transition to a railroad logging operation began. The timber stands owned by the California Door Company were of excellent quality and could average up to 35,000 board feet per acre on the well-stocked sites.

The new mill could produce up to 60,000 board feet of timber per day so the stage was set for a more efficient harvest of the timber stands by utilizing the new geared locomotives that were now being used in the Sierra Nevada and were to drastically change production and logging methods in the timer industry.

I'll post the next installment in two weeks ...