Saturday, December 31, 2011

Train rides for winter 2012

Please come out and support California's newest county-run railroad. As residents and guests of El Dorado County, you have the opportunity to ride the train in the winter of 2012. With your support, the railroad will continue to operate many years into the future.

Train rides for 2012

Beginning on Sunday, January 8, 2012, the railroad will offer train rides on the historic Southern Pacific Placerville Branch rail line, weather permitting. The railroad will operate two Sundays each month in January (8th and 15th), February (5th and 19th) and March (4th and 18th). Trains will operate from noon to 4 p.m. Trains leave the depot on the hour and half-hour.

To locate the train depot in El Dorado County, California, take Pleasant Valley Road (from the east or west) to Oriental Street. Turn north. Keep left at the Wye. Continue to the end of the road and left to the station.

The video begins on the Placerville Branch from just west of the Forni Road grade crossing. The Camino, Placerville and Lake Tahoe No. 4 Kalamazoo track inspection car travels west across Blanchard Road toward the depot in historic El Dorado. The video was shot on a brisk fall day in the California Mother Lode on Saturday, December 3, 2011.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Thank you for a successful first year

The El Dorado Western Railroad extends a hearty thank you to our guests and riders. Since the railroad opened for weekly passenger runs on July 17, it has enjoyed a consistent and loyal following by a dedicated group of riders. It's interesting to note that our ticket agent said he is starting recognize familiar faces. Many passengers come out and ride the train each month.

Please come out and support California's newest county-run railroad. As residents and guests of El Dorado County, you have one more opportunity to ride the train in 2011. With your support, the railroad will continue to operate in 2012 and many years into the future. The railroad will run on Sunday, December 18, 2011, from noon to 4 p.m. Trains leave the depot on the hour and half-hour. See the yellow poster for directions to the railroad depot.

As an added bonus, you are all invited to attend The El Dorado Train Rider and Volunteer Appreciation Party at the El Dorado Community Center tomorrow noon to 4:00 p.m. We hope to see you there. This event is for all. You can visit the party, then walk down to the depot and ride the train.

Fairmont car operator and conductor Mark Bruto punches the ticket of a young mother and her daughter.

Mark directs passengers to their seat on the El Dorado Western Railroad No. 602 Fairmont A4D.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Donation of portable welder

The El Dorado Western Railroad thanks businessman George Turnboo for his donation of a portable welder to the railroad. The railroad has already placed the portable gas powered Miller welder in service.

George owns and operates George's Pit Stop in the town of El Dorado. The business is located at 6234 Pleasant Valley Road.

"This landmark auto repair business, owned and operated by George Turnboo for 35 years, is located at the intersection of Highway 49 and Pleasant Valley Road," states the description of his auto repair shop on the Historic Town of El Dorado website. "Services for foreign and domestic automobiles and trucks include brakes, tune-ups, electrical and diagnostic repairs. George's is an official licensed smog test & repair station. Need service? Call George: (530) 626-4845."

Friday, December 02, 2011

Train and stagecoach rides this weekend

Enjoy some holiday happenings on Saturday, December 3 in the historic town of El Dorado.

The El Dorado Western Railroad will give train rides from to noon 4 p.m. Trains depart on the hour and half-hour from the re-created depot on Oriental Street.

You can also ride Davey "Doc" Wiser's stagecoach from noon to 4 p.m.

While you're in El Dorado, stop by and enjoy what these shops have to offer:

Grab a tasty soup and bread (and Gingerbread Man cookies) at Allez! Good Food on the Go! from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Allez! is located at 6180 Pleasant Valley Rd.

Booksigning by local author Cindy Sample for her new book Dying For A Dance, the second book in a series, at Books n' Bears from 1 to 3 p.m. The bookstore is located at 6211-A Pleasant Valley Rd.

Annual favorites, the Suzuki Kids, will perform at 2:00 p.m. at Gallery El Dorado. The gallery is located at 6180 Pleasant Valley Rd.

Santa will be in town, so check to see if you're on the Naughty or Nice list!

The train will also run on Sunday, December 4 from Noon to 4 p.m. Two operating days reamin for 2011 if you can't ride the train this weekend. Come out and support the El Dorado Western Railroad on Sunday, December 11 and Sunday, December 18. We will post our 2012 operating schedule after the first of the year.

From now until Christmas, stroll and shop Historic El Dorado's local merchants for gifts and goodies!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Wind chill and train rides

We survived our first weekend with poor weather. Even though the ambient temperate hovered in the mid-40s, the wind cut right through the crew on Saturday. It felt like 32 degrees with the wind chill!

Then rain on Sunday morning almost shut down rail operations. With the right wind, the rain flies right through the open Faimount and Kalamazoo cars. After the crew decided to continue on, the rain passed. Grateful passengers enjoyed a nice ride up to Forni Road.

A cold wind or light rain won't stop the El Dorado Western Railroad from operating. We will continue to run each Sunday through December 18, 2011. Come out and enjoy the fall colors along the right of way. Bring a jacket and enjoy a ride in the cool fall air!.

Trains will run to the west for the coming two Sundays (November 13 and 20, 2011). After boarding at the El Dorado depot, the motorman will guide the two cars across El Dorado Road and past the Cascades onto Greenstone Road. In our opinion, this is the most beautiful section on the old Southern Pacific Placerville Branch rail line.

Trains leave the depot on the hour and half-hour. The first train departs at noon. The last departs at 4 p.m. The suggested donation is $5 for adults and children age 9 and above. The suggested donation is $3 for ages 3 to 8. He worked in the Southern Pacific No. 1094 caboose in 1964 as a young brakeman.

Volunteer motor car operator Davey "Doc" Wiser enjoys a hamburger during a break between trains. Of the four professional railroad crewmen on the project, Doc has the longest tenure. He worked for the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific railroads for 50 years!

The train returns to the depot after a late run on Sunday, November 6, 2011.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Come ride the train this fall

The weatherman has spoken. Temperatures will be in the mid-70s this weekend! If you're looking for something to do on a fine fall day, come out to the historic town of El Dorado and ride the train.

Monday, October 24, 2011

New locomotive for the railroad

The El Dorado Western Railway Foundation accepted donation of a General Electric 45-ton center cab Diesel-electric locomotive from CemexUSA plant in Pleasanton, California. The engine was built in September 1943. It was originally purchased by Pacific Coast Aggregates. We believe that it worked at the Pleasanton plant its entire working life.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rail spreader

The maintenance of way crew uses a make-shift rail spreader to adjust the gauge of the rail on the El Dorado Western Railroad. For the past month the crew has been re-ballasting the curve and replacing ties at the private rail crossing in front of The Barn antique shop.

In the photo, project lead Garrett Augustus sets the gauge bar as Billy Bellas puts pressure on the rail jack. Once the track was properly gauged, Jeremy McCormack drove several spikes into the tie to hold the gauge.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Burlington Northern Railroad speeder at work in 1982

Here's a frosty video of Burlington Northern Railroad employee Gary Meek from around 1982. At the time this news report was filmed, Gary was a track inspector for the railroad. His territory spanned some 60 miles from St. Paul to Hastings, Minnesota.

Riding the rails year-round, Gary rode a speeder over his area of responsibility each workday. Inspections were critical in winter because the rail contracted in the extreme cold, which caused the track bolts to snap. He certainly served a critical safety function.

I enjoyed the video because it shows the railroad speeder in action. Note the use of the setout at the beginning of the video. Gary turned the speeder 90 degrees with a pair of lifting bars. The El Dorado Western will build a similar setout in due time.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Kalamazoo Model 57A speeder

Here's a video of the Camino, Placerville and Lake Tahoe Railroad Speeder No. 4 that I uploaded to YouTube this afternoon.

The Camino, Placerville and Lake Tahoe Speeder No. 4 is one of the most useful artifacts on the El Dorado Western Railroad. Originally purchased by the CP and LT Railroad, which ran from Placerville to Camino, California, today the EDWR uses to shuttle railroad volunteers from the depot in the town of El Dorado to the work site. It frequently pulls a Southern Pacific push car to and from the work site. And since July 2011, the railroad has coupled it to the former Richmond Pacific Railroad Fairmont A-4D gang car on Sunday afternoons.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Work day on the El Dorado Western

Yes, we were working on the railroad this morning. With Bob McCormack's backhoe, the crew is continuing to replace ties on the curve at the depot in the town of El Dorado. While the work is hot and dusty, we enjoy the outcome.

Come out and support your local home grown railroad. El Dorado County's own railroad has extended its operating schedule through December. Trains will operate from the El Dorado depot every Sunday, weather permiting.

Trail rides begin at noon and continue to leave the depot every half hour until 4 p.m. You may ride the rails for a $5 donation (age 9 and above).

DIRECTIONS: Take Pleasant Valley Road (west- or eastbound) to Oriental Street (across from the El Dorado Post Office). Turn onto Oriental Street and follow the signs. There is plenty of free parking at the Community Center. The ticket booth is located at the recreated train depot.

See you there ... highball!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Track work

Volunteer track workers Garrett Agustus and Jeremy McCormack excavate soil from under the rails in the El Dorado County Historical Railroad Park on Saturday, August 20. The maintenance of way crew is preparing the site of a trail crossing adjacent to The Barn.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Horses at the depot

The train runs today from noon to 4 p.m. in historic El Dorado. Come to the depot and support the El Dorado County Historical Railroad Park. Trains leave the depot on the hour and half-hour. Rides are $5 for adults, $3 for children 3 to 8 and free under 2.

Last Sunday the railroad crew spotted three young ladies riding their horses along the El Dorado Trail. As they rode east toward home, the riders guided Harley (from the left), Sassy and Skippy down to the tracks, where they enjoyed attention from visitors.

Harley enjoys attention from railroad volunteer Larry Howe.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Flagging the Mother Lode Drive grade crossing

Three El Dorado Western Railroad volunteers flag the grade crossing at Mother Lode Drive. In the foreground, Jeremy McCormack stops eastbound traffic. Larry Howe flags westbound traffic under the signal tower while Dwight Ridge gives the highball to the approaching train. Train crewmen volunteer for the El Dorado County Historical Museum .

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Railroad operations on the Placerville Branch

The El Dorado Western Railroad has enjoyed growing popularity with the public in the last month. Since the railroad began regular passenger operations on July 17, 2011, it has operated on the historic Southern Pacific Placerville Branch rail line each Sunday afternoon. The cars are often packed to capacity.

The El Dorado Western will offer train rides each Sunday afternoon from noon to 4 p.m. through September 18. Please join the crew for an afternoon of fun on the rails. Watch conductor and motocar operator Davey "Doc" Wiser as he skillfully guides the Fairmont A4D gang car down the tracks.

Along the way Doc will tell stories from his 50-year career with the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific railroads. Did you know that he cooked breakfast in our SP caboose No. 1094? Yes, it's true. As the junior brakeman on the Chatsworth local, Doc tells that it was his duty to cook for the train crew.

Join the El Dorado Western on Sundays this summer. Each trainman has a unique story to tell. We'll see you soon.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The railroad extends a hearty thank you to our new supporters. We've received 25 new "likes" on the Facebook page in the last two weeks. You can support the railroad in two additional ways:
  1. Join the El Dorado Western Railway Foundation. Membership is $35 per year for an individual. Please mail a check or money order to EDWRF, PO Box 3517, Diamond Springs, CA, 95619. More membership options are available in the left column.

  2. Come out and ride the train each Sunday through September 18. Trains leave the depot in historic El Dorado, California, on the hour and on the half-hour between noon and 4 p.m. Tickets cost $5 for adults and $3 for children. Under 5 boards for free.
With your continued support, the railroad will realize its goal of completing the El Dorado County Historical Railroad Park and finishing the Diamond and Caldor No. 4 Shay geared locomotive, along with other rolling stock and locomotives.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Davey "Doc" Wiser's railroad story

Conductor Davey "Doc" Wise tells his story as he operates the El Dorado Western Railroad No. 602 Fairmont gang car. Davey recently retired from the Union Pacific Railroad after 40 years service with the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific railroads. He currently volunteers with the El Dorado Western Railroad.

The railroad gave train rides to the public on Sunday, June 17, 2011, on the Southern Pacific Placerville Branch rail line. For this run, crews hitched the railroad's Kalamazoo Model 57 speeder to the Fairmont.

Join us for train rides each Sunday

You are invited to join the El Dorado Western each Sunday this summer through September 18, 2011. The train leaves the depot in the historic town of El Dorado, California on the hour and on the half-hour. The first run departs the depot at noon, with the last run at 4 p.m. Join the El Dorado Western as we re-create an important piece of El Dorado County history.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Thank you for letting the whistle blow in Historic El Dorado

Sunday, June 26, 2011, was a memorable day for all who experienced some good old-fashioned fun along with helping to support the El Dorado Western Railroad. Many activities kept everyone busy; a vintage car show, craft faire, train and stagecoach rides, great food and an ice cream social. Events do not happen without a lot of monetary and public support, countless volunteer hours, materials and labor, and general participation.

The El Dorado Western Railroad, and Historic El Dorado, wholeheartedly wish to thank:

  • Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad

  • El Dorado Western Railway Foundation & crew

  • Around Here Magazine ~ Linda McIntosh

  • Bob & Monica Billingsley

  • Brookshire Gardens ~ Kurt Sommerdyke & Nina Davidson

  • CertainTeed Corporation

  • Charles Kelley, Sr.

  • Davey “Doc” Wiser & crew

  • Diamond Crane ~ Tom Anderson

  • Diamond Springs Ace Hardware

  • Diamond Springs Printing

  • Doug Veercamp General Engineering

  • Eagle Truck & Auto

  • Ed Hagen, Sheryl Ladner-Hagen and crew

  • El Dorado Grocery

  • George Peabody

  • George’s Pit Stop ~ George & Evelyn Turnboo

  • Hartwick House ~ Gail Hartwick, Event Chair

  • HKR Promotions ~ Kelly and Heather Roberts

  • Karen Morse

  • Marsha Steward & Family ~ on behalf of Anne Steward

  • Minuteman Press ~ John Zachary

  • Richard & Ellie Harrington

  • Strauss Food Service ~ Jim Strauss & Kathy Hartshorn

  • Terri Baer

  • The Barn ~ ReneĆ© Hargrove, Dave Thomson, Jean & Max Frigault

  • The Buckboard Bunch

  • The Mountain Democrat ~ Mimi Escabar

  • The Windfall ~ Robert & Tina Henderson

  • Tim Bordges

  • Various print and online publications

  • Wilkinson Portables

  • Williams Polaris
If anyone was accidentally left out, please know that this successful fundraising event could not have happened without you!

To find out about Historic El Dorado and events, visit

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Steam gauge wallpaper for android cell phones

Here's a great wallpaper for your android cell phone. Steam Gauge Live-Wallpaper shows battery level on the backhead of a steam locomotive. The steam pressure gauge gives you the current battery charge on your phone. One-hundred percent represents a full charge. An annimated steam leak plays behind one of the valves.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Video on the El Dorado Western Railroad

The El Dorado Western Railroad gave train rides to the public on Sunday, June 26, 2011. Passengers boarded at the replica freight depot in El Dorado and rode the Fairmont A-4D gang car (ERWR No. 602) or Kalamazoo Model 57 track inspection car (CP&LP No. 4) to Forni Road. The two cars were hitched for the event.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Train rides on the El Dorado Western Railroad No. 602

Experience good old fashion fun on Sunday, June 26 in historic El Dorado, California. Ride on vintage rail cars, run through town in Davey "Doc" Wiser’s authentic Western stagecoach and walk among classic cars on Main Street. And top the day off with a scoop of refreshing ice cream!

The schedule includes: breakfast at the Community Hall from 8 a.m. to noon, craft fair from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., classic car show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., train rides and ice cream scoop ($5 donation) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., free stagecoach rides from noon to 4 p.m. ice cream social ($1.50 per scoop) from noon to 4 p.m., music and food.

Proceeds benefit the El Dorado Western Railway Foundation.

Garret Augustus operates the Fairmont speeder on a test run today. The El Dorado Western Railroad has designated the Fairmount A-4D as No. 602. This follows the Trackmobile, which is No. 601.

The A-car is named the "Peabody" after George Peabody, a longtime historian and writer in El Dorado County.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A-car ready for train rides

I heard from Keith Berry that the Fairmont A-car has a fresh coat of paint on it. She'll be looking good for train rides this Sunday in historic El Dorado.

A $5 donation gets you a stagecoach ride, train ride and scoop of ice cream. Come out and support the El Dorado County RR Park on Sunday, June 26.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Anne’s caboose

Years ago, a train was not complete without a locomotive on the front end, and a caboose bringing up the rear end. The locomotive was an attention getter, what with smoke and noise, whistle blowing and bell ringing. Sure it was fun to wave at the engineer, and hopefully see him wave back, signaling to you that such an important guy recognized you down there as a friend.

However, once the locomotive went by, your attention was immediately drawn to that last car on the train, a car like no other, having steps, windows, and even a smokestack on the roof. The caboose was the only train car that had the one unique feature, a cupola on the roof.

A cupola was all windows. Once you spotted the caboose and its cupola, you immediately searched for the next guy to wave at. You didn’t quite know what his job really was, but to you his job was quite simple, WAVE AT YOU.

Your moment was highly anticipated, your timing had to be just right, or the caboose would be past you with no more chances until the next train. Get ready, decide which arm and hand would be offered, and make sure you obtained eye contact with that lucky guy who got to ride on the train all day just to see YOU.

A successful wave meant everything, no eye contact and wave meant you had failed to carry out the agreement. A good wave meant you did not wave like a madman, frantic and unsure. No, your wave had to reflect your confidence and understanding of railroad waves, you were one with him, and you were on the crew, just not on the train. The successful wave lasted all day; you had waved and been recognized, so long, see you on the next trip.

Today, trains don’t provide much chance to interact with the crew. There is no caboose, or friendly crew to wave back to you. Trains are less frequent, and lack the personality of the old trains when you could identify the type of cars and repeat the railroad names. Today’s trains do not present the opportunity to wave at the crew, or look for that caboose on the rear end, a caboose with a cupola and crew. Well, most trains don’t have a caboose, but, your El Dorado Western Railroad has a caboose, a caboose just for YOU.

Yes, your caboose arrived on the El Dorado Western Railroad on Thursday, June 16 at El Dorado. A caboose from the Southern Pacific Railroad, No. 1094, built in 1940 to travel the rails behind steam powered freight trains. A real railroad caboose; a caboose with steps, windows, and yes, a real cupola on the roof! A caboose complete with interior and a ladder climbing up to the seats where the crew sat and waved to you. Did you know the caboose was an office for the conductor with a desk, a coal stove for heat, a bathroom, ice box, lights, and bunk beds? The caboose supported the crew while out on the rails going between cities.

Southern Pacific Caboose No. 1094 is a gift from a very special person; a lady named Anne. Anne received her caboose from her husband on a Mother’s Day, to provide Anne with an art studio. Now, through Anne’s family, her caboose is returning to the rails.

A caboose to ride in, and a caboose from which to wave to people on foot, bicycle, or in the car waiting for the train to cross the road. Anne’s caboose is waiting for you, come out and see her at our Sunday, June 26 fund raiser to support the railroad.

We thank you Anne for giving all of us a chance to ride your caboose, on the El Dorado Western Railroad. Now, let’s all work on our railroad waves; a railroad caboose is coming down the track toward YOU.

Keith Berry for the EDWR where we work to make you smile.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Southern Pacific No. 1094 caboose move #1

The El Dorado Western Railroad moved the Southern Pacific No. 1094 caboose from private property to the El Dorado County Railroad Park on June 16, 2011.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Caboose move coming next week

Has the caboose move sparked your interest? To learn more, pick up a copy of the Windfall at your local El Dorado County store or restaurant. See "Along the Right of Way" on page 31. The big move takes place on Thursday, June 16.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Coming events for June

Please continue to watch the El Dorado Western Railway blog and Facebook pages. The railroad has three exciting events on the horizon.

They include:
  • El Dorado County Fair, June 16 to 19, 100 Plaverville Dr., Plaverville, California. Crew members will be on hand from opening each day until 8 p.m. On Saturday, the crew pull the Diamond and Caldor No. 4 Shay locomotive out of the engine house.
  • Train rides in the historic town of El Dorado, June 26, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Follow the signs for tickets.
  • New Southern Pacific caboose to be moved to the El Dorado railroad park soon. The caboose, Southern Pacific No. 1094 from the 1940s, will be placed in service for train rides next year.
Watch these pages for more news.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Work progresses on the Fairmont A-car

Yesterday the Saturday work crew gathered at the shop to continue work on the Fairmont A-4D gang car. Since the A-car, as we affectionately call it, came to the El Dorado Western Railroad in an operable condition, most work is cosmetic in nature. Until April, the car was used on the Richmond Pacific Railroad.

The A-car will be ready to haul passengers on Sunday, June 26, 2011, in the historic town of El Dorado, California. Please see our Facebook events page for details. The railroad will offer train rides from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Chef Steven Karoly prepared chili con carne with beans for the crew yesterday. Jeremy McCormack cleared a work bench so he could set up chili, cornbread, chipotle cole slaw, chips, salsa and fixin's for the crew.

The father and son team of Ed and Ben Cunha have handled most of the body work on recent acquisitions. Here Ed grinds away excess metal from the side panel after Ben welded a hole closed.

Ben welds a hole closed on the front panel of the car body. The body of the A-car is almost ready to be primed and painted.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Train rides in historic El Dorado

The El Dorado Western Railroads offered rides in the Camino, Placerville and Lake Tahoe No. 4 speeder today. Under direction of a dedicated volunteer crew, the railroad ran between the railroad park and Blanchard Road for around 12 trips. Over 50 visitors to the historic town of El Dorado enjoyed a leisurely ride through the countryside.

In case you missed the train rides today, the railroad will again offer rides next month. The town of El Dorado is will kick-off a community-wide event with a pancake breakfast at 8 a.m. on Sunday, June 26, 2011 at the El Dorado Community Hall. Throughout the day, train rides, stagecoach rides, classic cars and lots of ice cream will be available to the public.

Billy Bellas and "Doc" Davey Wiser pose next to El Dorado Western Railroad No. 601 Trackmobile. Davey will drive an authentic Western stagecoach in El Dorado on Sunday, June 26. Click for a webpage about rides offered in nearby Placerville.

The speeder returns from a run up to the Blanchard Road grade crossing with passengers. The railroad will add an additional car for the event in June.

EDWRF president and railroad director of rail operations Keith Berry watches a family board the speeder.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Along the right of way with the El Dorado Western Railway

This is next installment of a periodic column that Keith Berry is writing for the Windfall, the weekly classified newspaper in El Dorado County.

Were going to the Dogs! Yep, our railroad is going to the dogs, actually several "DOGS."

Over the past several months, we have found friendship with our canine friends out on the track. We are pleased to have found them; well, they actually found us as a new source of amusement during their daily walk. Oh, they have owners attached, but it's their walk and don't you forget it! It turns out the right of way is a great place for a dog; it's long, it's natural and it's full of attractive smells and other critters, including us.

Our first such encounter, and most frequent buddy is "Halo," a good sized boy who has come to be our greeter and inspector of the works. Halo is observed each morning, always with owners in tow, along the tracks west of Blanchard Rd. Halo keeps to schedule, a few leaps and hugs and off he goes and we get back to dogging it, working track.

The obvious winner based on size is Gunnison, a great (tall) hound something who is as gentle as he is big. We expect Gunnison, when fully grown, will make quite an eye full, for now were just glad to know him and thankfully not have to feed him. Go Gunnison!

Our newest dog friends are Ginger and Bob, each special, and eager to take a walk out where they can be without cars to worry about. We appreciate their owners who bring them out to El Dorado where there is no snow or busy streets. We look forward to their visits.

The smartest dog award goes to a smaller dog, who came by one rainy day, and decided that walking in the cold rain was not fun. No slow pooch this one, it decided our track inspection car was dry, and warm, and best of all moved on its own legs (wheels). This pooch got right up on the best cushion over the warm engine compartment, and settled down for a ride back to the car. What's a railroad for if not to ride in style, eh?

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Brake check

On Friday the crew exercised the bearings on the flatcar and checked the brake lines. The railroad acquired the flatcar, numbered as the El Dorado Western Railroad MW 1003, from the California State Railroad Museum via the Folsom, El Dorado and Sacramento Historical Railroad Association.

The flatcar will be used for maintenance of way duties for now. Ultimately, crews will convert it into a passenger car. It will be renumbered at that time.

EDWR general manager Keith Berry gets ready to step into the red zone to couple the flatcar to the El Dorado Western Railroad No. 1 for the first time.

The Plymouth and flatcar on the tracks beside Oriental Street in the historic town of El Dorado.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fairmont A-4D motorcar

The El Dorado Western Railroad recently acquired a Fairmont A-4D gang car from the Richmond Pacific Railroad in Richmond, California. Although we don't know what year the motor car was built, the A-4D series were constructed between 1968 and 1984 by Fairmont Railway Motors in Fairmont, Minnesota.

The crew unloads the motorcar off of the trailer today. The A4 is completely operational and only needs painting and other minor work. The Ford four cylinder engine is rumored to be a Pinto engine.

In a week, the crew has scraped most of the orange paint off of the frame and body. The car will be painted a bright yellow (to match the Trackmobile) once it's ready.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Along the Right of Way with the El Dorado Western Railroad

This is next installment of a periodic column that Keith Berry is writing for the Windfall, the weekly classified newspaper in El Dorado County. This article was written at the end of February.

The El Dorado Western was approved last fall to commence restoration of the rail corridor and track structure. Given the rainy winter weather, we have had about 16 weeks so far toward bringing the railroad back to life.

Recognizing that all labor in this project is by El Dorado County Historical Museum volunteers, we are very pleased to report that approximately 25 volunteers are working during an average of five days per week to achieve over 500 hundred hours of service per month! Different volunteers work different days, as some are in school while others have weekday jobs. All together, were making steady headway against the massive overgrowth of brush and removal of rotted track ties.

Our strength is in having volunteers willing to get out and do heavy work as they feel comfortable, go home and rest, and return the next day to start again. So, you may see a few or a lot of us anywhere along the railroad, and we would ask that anyone walking along the tracks be aware that rail equipment may come along. Of course, we go slowly, we have the headlight on, and we enjoy meeting everyone out enjoying the right of way.

We do thank everyone who has offered to keep an eye on things, and who helps to discourage those who would dump trash, tires, and junk on our community property. We have mowed much of the open space at El Dorado where the regional Railroad Park is planned. Happily, this immediately turned a large weed patch into a great exercise course for the dogs. Of interest is the device which allows the owner to really rare back and throw the ball out there for their canine athlete to race after, subdue, and return. We’ll mow again when the spring grass takes off, let the games continue, the area is there for everyone, two or four legged.

Several have inquired as to the old ties. Unfortunately, the ties were removing are so rotted that they are pretty much goners. We will use some of these ties for other track work; the remainder will be hauled away from the public use area of the corridor. Please note that as you see us burning brush, we never burn railroad ties. Eventually, once we have enough, they will be transferred to treated material recycling. All track materials are the property of El Dorado County.

We enjoy meeting people out there, and having the opportunity to discuss our work efforts and present the overall plan for the El Dorado Western Railroad. We understand that were re-introducing a living railway, and that involves a change from the last 22 years of dormancy. The crew wishes to thank all those offering encouragement and support for getting the train running soon. We especially thank those who are now establishing supportive membership to directly assist in the funding of new track ties and related materials.

Come Out in June for Ice Cream, Stage Coast Rides and Train Rides

Our first community-wide Fund Raiser, "One Tie at a Time," is now scheduled for Sunday, June 26th. If you donate to the purchase of a tie, you will be treated to Ice Cream, a Stage Coach ride, and introductory ride on the railroad. How about that for a way to come out and get acquainted!

Please contact our Blog for stories, photos and reports on our activity.

See you along the track,

Keith Berry

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Death Valley No. 5 Brill car at Laws

Death Valley No. 5 Brill Car being operated at the Laws Railroad Museum with Motorman Keith Berry and Conductor Paul Thompson. Photography by James N. Saylor. Last Day of Operations for 2010 season.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Along the right of way with the El Dorado Western Railroad

This is the first installment of a periodic column that Keith Berry is writing for the Windfall, the weekly classified newspaper in El Dorado County.

Welcome to the El Dorado Western Railway, your community historical railroad being developed by volunteers from the El Dorado County Historical Museum!

The El Dorado Western is named for the historic railroads that operated along the Sierra west slope. El Dorado County was home to several famous logging and mining railroads. These included the Diamond and Caldor, the Michigan – California and the El Dorado County Mineral Railroad. These railroads all connected with the first railroad in the western United States, the Theodore Judah-engineered Sacramento Valley Railroad and its Placerville Extension.

How appropriate we should respect and preserve this history, and now bring to life El Dorado’s rail legacy along this same right of way, that 1885 roadbed carrying the rails of El Dorado.

How natural to have the Township of El Dorado as the site for the El Dorado County Historical Railroad Park. The town of Mud Springs, later El Dorado, was an important station on the Placerville Branch line. The right of way measures a generous 250 feet, reflecting the need for a passenger station and freight room, livestock corrals, fuel transfer facility and lumber loading dock -- and complete with a two-seat outdoor privy.

El Dorado was the first station on the Placerville Extension, six miles east of Shingle Springs, the previous loading point for west slope freight lines. Due east from El Dorado, the tracks followed a two-percent working grade to the summit just west of Diamond Springs, and then on into Placerville. For right on 100 years, these rails brought prosperity to our county. Today fortunately these rails remain, their legacy is secure, but their future rests in our hands.

"Along the right of way" is our way of sharing with you the history, and the adventure of bringing the railway back to life as a public service program of the Museum. Let us share our news and our story, come ride with us along the newest railroad in California. After all, this railroad is you railroad, these rails are your rails. Come along as we shine up the rails, the rails of El Dorado.

RusT Spike

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Oregon Pacific Railroad No. 801

I am attending a chef's conference in Canby, Oregon ...

The Oregon Pacific Railroad No. 801 rests on the southern leg of the Canby Wye. The 801 hauls freight on the OPR Molalla Branch between Canby and Molalla. The locomotive was built in August 1951 for the Great Northern Railroad as its No. 99. It's equipped with a V-8 EMD 8-567-B diesel engine and is rated at 800 horsepower.

Machine shop

Lead machinist Sam Thompson mills a fixture that will be used to build the ballast plate rings for the engines on the Diamond and Caldor No. 4 Shay locomotive. Sam continues his work rebuilding the engines on the Shay while most other volunteers are working on the track.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Removing ties

The crew replaced railroad ties on the El Dorado Western Railway during February. After the weekday tie replacement crew installed replacement ties, the Saturday crew removed the rotten ties from along the right-of-way on February 12. In the photo, Billy Bellas and Jacob Karoly wrestle a beat-up tie onto the Southern Pacific push car.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Snow on the El Dorado Western Railway

El Dorado Western crews inspect the Blanchard Road to Forni Road section of the Southern Pacific Placerville Branch rail line after a recent snow storm. A short video by Ed Cunha.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hauling brush

I'm not sure if the crew worked yesterday. The forecast for the El Dorado County foothills called for a blanket of snow down to the thousand-foot level Friday night and Saturday morning. Instead rain soaked the foothills Friday morning. The moisture was gone by the time the cold front arrived Friday evening.

Here's picture of the crew hauling brush along the right-of-way:

Billy Bellas loads tree trimmings onto the Southern Pacific push car while Keith Berry supervises. The El Dorado Western Railway uses the speeder and push car to move tree trimmings from trackside down to our burn piles.

Since most areas on the right-of-way can only be accessed by rail equipment, the speeder is the most efficient way for it to move brush. Contrary to reports on Facebook and other websites, the railway does not use heavy equipment on the access roads to haul brush away from the right-of-way.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Snow day

After a week of winter storms in the Sierra Nevada foodhills, a light blanket of snow fell the Southern Pacific Placerville Branch rail line overnight. While the snow would've had little impact on maintenance of way operations for the day, most volunteers stay in their warm homes and enjoyed a day off.

I stopped near the summit at Missouri Flat Road to photograph the snow around 9 a.m. About an hour later, when I met the crew at Hagen's Crossing, I watched the CP&LT No. 4 speeder return from a run to the summit. If I'd waited 30 minutes, I would've been in a position to photograph the speeder pushing snow with its wheels.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Track rehab on west end of Placerville Branch

Eric Olds, vice president of the Placerville and Sacramento Valley Railroad, graciously allowed me to share this update on track work on the western end of the Placerville Branch:

Saturday, Ethan Doty, Jim Fryer, Philip Rose and I commenced track rehabilitation on the initial operating segment for the Placerville and Sacramento Valley Railroad. Ethan, P&SVRR assistant roadmaster, ably instructed us newbies on the finer points of tie replacement, and we had a grand time.

Jim and I are both Cal Poly SLO grads. We discussed how the day's activities reminded us of Cal Poly's "Learn By Doing" slogan as we discovered successful and less then successful ways to wrestle old ties from the roadbed and insert relays.

One particularly satisfying aspect of the day for me was hearing the ring of the spike maul as new spikes were driven into place. I have a new appreciation for those who went before us constructing this portion of the line in 1863-1865 with simple hand tools and hard work, Our dedicated volunteers are willing to do the same to be a part of the historic reactivation of this grand line.

Eric Olds

Ethan Doty pulls a new tie under the rail with a pair of tie tongs as Jim Fryer digs out the trench with his hand. In the background, Philip Rose prepares a trench for the next tie.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Driving spikes on the SP Placerville Branch

Donny Bellas, the youngest volunteer on the El Dorado Western Railway, drives a spike on the former SP Placerville Branch rail line. During the week, the crew removed about 14 ties between Hagen's Crossing and the Blanchard Road grade crossing. They had inserted all the replacement ties and had them spiked down by Friday except for two near Hagen's Crossing. The Saturday crew finished the job yesterday morning before moving onto other projects.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Morning briefing

El Dorado Western Railway President Keith Berry (sitting on speeder) briefs Saturday morning crew members on the day's activities. After assembling at Hagen's crossing around 9 a.m. this morning, the crew got ready to drive spikes and clear brush on the right-of-way.

The briefing is an important feature of railway workdays. In addition to safety issues, Keith informs the Saturday crew of work accomplished by weekday crews. He also informs the crew of important government meetings and decisions that impact the railway.

The three youngest volunteers of the railway are bunched together in the center of the photograph.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Training in Sacramento

The El Dorado Western Railway maintenance-of-way crew took part in safety training for track workers today. Crews from three railroads, including the Placerville and Sacramento Valley Railroad and the Sacramento Southern Railroad, participated in the training session at California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento.

Situational awareness is the watch-word for railroad track workers. Track workers must always be aware of on-coming rail traffic and know how to secure authorization to work on or alongside the rails. Safely takes precedence on any railroad.