STATE HISTORIC PARK
I can’t remember who had the thought to go on this one, but I’m sure glad we did. While traveling through Jamestown, California we noticed a sign to Rail-town, a small historic state park.Wow, were we surprised when we took the tour. We got so much more than seeing a few trains. It was a great way to spend a few hours before heading off to Yosemite National Park.
At the beginning of the tour our guide mentioned that a majority of visitors go on the excursion train ride but neglect to go on the tour. Those who don’t go on the tour miss out on a great working train yard. Seeing the roundhouse and learning how steam trains work was a great learning experience for me.
The tour is very informative and it was a great opportunity for photo hounds like myself to get great photos of the steam trains, the roundhouse and even the guides themselves. One of the female guides was dressed in an character dress. She was at the end of the group tour to make sure none of us fell behind and dallied.
Learning the history of the Sierra Railway Company, like what the company did during 1800’s and 1900’s was exciting (at least for me it was). It wasn’t until the 1970’s that the park we know today was born. When we came to the roundhouse, our tour guide began to tell us how steam engines work and identifying the engine parts. He had a great way to simplify the complex steam engine.He made it so you did not need an engineer degree to understand it.
A small side note that I thought was interesting was although you see people using coal to make movie steam engines go ,it is not actually the best way to get the locomotive on its way, but movies love it. Another thing I thought was very interesting , there is a small line that goes from the top of the train down to in front of the wheels. It lays sand down for traction!
Steam engine trains and the Sierra Railroad had quite the movie career. More than 200 commercials, Big screen motion pictures and television shows. Some movies I hadn’t even thought about in years. Does anyone else remember “The Gambler”. I loved that movie! There is a nice exhibit in the park next to the blacksmith shop. It is a trip down memory lane for most of us, especially those who love movies and steam trains.
At one point, our tour became more technical, at least two men on the tour asked questions of the tour guide that garnered more information about the engines of the trains.(I could tell the people who were train aficionados.When you have a passion for anything it shows in your entire being). It was way more technical than I could understand, but I love learning new things and when you are around people who know a subject, It makes the subject that much more interesting.
There are so many reasons to visit this piece of history. I loved seeing the steam trains and was surprised to see a few dogs there. Not only just on the walking tour, but dogs are also allowed on the excursion train.I thought that is really nice considering it is a historic park. I hope that in sharing my visit to the Railtown state historic park, It has fired your imagination to want to take a visit.