Workin' on the Railroad
This is a blog about working on the railroad. The railroad in question is the Redwood Valley Railway, which is a 15" gauge, 5" scale live steam tourist road located in Tilden Park, 1600' above Berkeley and Oakland, California. I'm Chris, and I'm totally new to the railroad world, and now I'm volunteering with the RVRy.
Earlier this summer I took a trip to England, which included a visit to the wonderful National Railway Museum in York. When I got home, I picked up Empire Express, David Bain's history of the first transcontinental railroad in the United States. I read all about Huntingdon, Hopkins, Crocker, and Stanford; these were the "Big Four" directors of the Central Pacific which was attempting to build a railroad between Sacramento and Truckee, and eventually into Nevada and points East. I read all about the tremendous and tragic story of Theodore Judah's surveying and engineering work on the first part of the railroad (before dying of Yellow Fever following a trip across Panama on his way to New York).
Digging a bit more, I discovered that Sacramento is the home of perhaps the finest railroad museum in America, the California State Railroad Museum. Sacramento is only 2 hours away, so I travelled up to visit (via Amtrak, of course), and right there was a statue of Ted Judah, a recreation of Huntingdon and Hopkins' general store, and the Central Pacific's first locomotive, Governor Stanford. Coming back home, my wife and I went up to Tilden to take a ride on the Redwood Valley. The ride's about 12 minutes, covering about 1.25 miles, and costs $2. We loved it.
I went back up a few days later and chatted with some of the crew up there. Most of them are volunteers, and I told them I was interested in getting involved. I got a tour of the roundhouse and the machine shop from Ray, who's been there a long time. He spent 14 years building the road's latest locomotive. I also met Ellen, whose dad founded the Redwood Valley in 1952, and who keeps things going at the road.
So now I'm a volunteer. I'll be keeping a log of my experiences at the RVRy, workin' on the railroad.