Thursday, December 30, 2010


"This is just everyday routine stuff," explained Keith Berry (right) as he repaired a sticking coupler pin on the El Dorado Western Railway No. 1 locomotive with Cal Jessiman as Bob McCormack looked on. "It's what they do everyday at Roseville."

Sunday, December 26, 2010

El Dorado Western Railway No. 1 Plymouth locomotive move to El Dorado

Plymouth Locomotive No. 5634 was donated by the Certainteed Division of the Saint-Gobain Corporation of Chowchilla, California. The El Dorado Western Railway is operating component of the El Dorado County Railroad Park and is located in the town El Dorado, California, on the former Placerville Branch of the Sacramento Valley Railroad. The railroad runs parallel to the El Dorado Trail.

Friday, December 24, 2010

EDWR No. 1 on YouTube

Brett Soto, El Dorado Western engineer trainee, heads to Hagen's Crossing on the first run day for the 1952 Plymouth JDT 18-ton locomotive. Number 1 is the first Locomotive on the Placerville Branch of the Sacramento Valley Railroad in more than 20 years.

Plymouth loco run day at El Dorado

There's nothing more exciting than to wake up Christmas morning and find a HO-scale train under the tree. All you want to do is piece the track segments together, plug in the transformer and run the five-car train in a circle for hours on end. It's a holiday ritual that's been practiced in millions of American homes over the past century.

Last Saturday morning the town of El Dorado woke up and found a full size Plymouth locomotive under the oak trees. The banner on the engine housing proclaimed, "Merry Christmas to El Dorado, CA."

It's the gift of the El Dorado Western Railway to the historic town of El Dorado, a town that once served as an important stop on the Southern Pacific Placerville Branch rail line. Two long blasts on the whistle indicated that the railroad had returned to El Dorado.

Steven Karoly takes his turn at operating the No. 1. The crew ran the El Dorado Western Railway No. 1 up and down the rail this afternoon. The 18-ton Plymouth locomotive was donated to the railway on Friday, December 17, 2010 by the CertainTeed Corporation in Chowchilla, California.

The Plymouth approaches Hagen's Crossing at Oriental Drive. The banner over the radiator thanks three companies for their assistance in the donation of the Plymouth locomotive to the railway. They include the CertainTeed Corporation for its donation of the engine, Diamond Crane of Diamond Springs for lifting the locomotive onto the track and Bordges Timber of El Dorado for transporting the engine to El Dorado.

Cal Jessiman relaxes for a moment after completing the first leg of his run to Hagen's Crossing.

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.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

There is a better way to remove ties

I've previously posted pictures of the crew removing railroad ties the hard way. We often resort to prying, kicking and pounding the tie out from under the rail. While it's time consuming, our method gets the job done, especially in remote areas.

Last week El Dorado Western Railway President Keith Berry let me download these photographs from his camera. They gave me a chance to view track work on the weekdays. Since I work in Sacramento Monday through Friday, I miss the weekday projects.

This photographic series show how the crew used Bob McCormack's backhoe to remove a dozen ties on the historic Southern Pacific Placerville Branch rail line on Friday, November 5, 2010.

Ben Cuhna and Jeremy McCormack (both bent over) guide a rotten tie out from under the rail as Bob pulls it with the backhoe. While difficult to see, the crew wrapped a chain around the leading edge of the tie and attached to to the bucket.

Jeremy observes as the backhoe operator pulls a rotten tie out with the claws on the bucket.

The CP&LT No. 4 track inspection car waits at Hagen's Crossing on Oriental Road in the Town of El Dorado. The ties on the Southern Pacific push car will soon be inserted under the track.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Speeder run on Saturday

On Saturday, December 4, 2010, the El Dorado Western Railway participated in the Town El Dorado's Gold Rush Christmas. It was a relaxing day after working on the track for the past seven Saturdays.

Put my granddaughter in a moving vehicle and she's sound asleep! She's drifting into dreamland as she watches her reflection the speeder's taillight.

Twice I was able to take the Camino, Placerville and Lake Tahoe Railroad No. 4 speeder out for a spin between the old SP depot site and Blanchard Road.

These western troubadours strolled along the right-of-way in early afternoon.