Thursday, December 23, 2010

Storm patrol

Water is the enemy of railroad ties. More than 20 years of maintenance inactivity on the Southern Pacific Placerville Branch line has taken a toll. Many ties have slowly rotted away due to poor drainage on the right-of-way.

One of the first tasks of the El Dorado Western Railway was to rehabilitate a major flood zone adjacent to the El Dorado Community Hall. Storm water formed a sizable pond each winter at the site of the SP station in the town of El Dorado. The seasonal pond threatened to undermine a good 100 yards of track on the curve.

A volunteer crew began work at the site in late October. The crew fill in the pond, stabilized the soil with straw and devised a drainage system. Volunteers patrol the site during each large storm to make sure water is properly flowing.

Last Saturday, my son and I mucked out the drainage ditches at the depot site. Storm water once again flows in the ditch on the north side of the rail after all obstructions were cleared. In the background, Jacob Karoly mucks the drainage ditch on the south side.

The El Dorado Western Railway No. 1, a 1952 18-ton Plymouth locomotive, waits out the rain storm in El Dorado. The water started draining once I muked out the ditch.

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