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

No comments: