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.