Friday, June 10, 2016

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Jamestown, Railtown 1897 State Historic Park

update/p.350

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park  Fifth St./Reservoir St., (209) 984-3953.  Park:  Daily 9:30-4:30, Apr-Oct; 10-3 Nov-Mar; free.  Train:  Sat-Sun 11-4, on the hr.; Apr-Sept only; $12, 6-17 $6; first class $20/$15.  Be sure to arrive early enough to watch the hubbub that surrounds preparing the train for departure.  The depot is full of excitement as the steam train rolls in and out, sounding its screaming whistle and belching a mix of fire, smoke, and steam.  The Sierra No. 3 steam engine pulls passengers at 5 m.p.h. on a 40-minute, 6-mile round trip.  Listen for the “toooot-toooot-toot-toooot” at railroad crossings, which I learned dates back to when this Morse code for “Q” was used in England to announce that the Queen was coming.  Special trips are sometimes scheduled.



interior of train at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, California
interior of train at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, California

interior of train at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, California
interior of train at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, California

A free tour is available of the six-stall roundhouse turntable and machine shop, where the trains are still serviced.  (This is one of only two remaining fully-operational original short-line roundhouse complexes in the U.S.)  Here you’ll see the Sierra Railway car, which was built in San Francisco and has probably been robbed more times in the movies than any other railcar in the world.

exterior of roundhouse at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, California
exterior of roundhouse at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, California

roundhouse tour at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, California
roundhouse tour at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, California

roundhouse tour at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, California
roundhouse tour at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, California

If it all looks familiar that could be because more than 200 TV shows and movies have been filmed here, including Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, The Virginian, High Noon, and Pale Rider.  Hollywood use kept this railroad alive during the 1930s, and is credited in an exhibit displaying Hollywood-related memorabilia.  Note that most of the people who work at this park are not employees but instead enthusiastic volunteers who usually dress in period costume and are excited to educate you about the equipment.  

Hollywood exhibit at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, California
Hollywood exhibit at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, California

Ginger Dingus wears her engineer's hat with pins from prior train trips,  at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, California
Ginger Dingus wears her engineer's hat with pins from prior train trips, at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park

More things to do in Jamestown.
   

More things to do in Gold Rush Country.

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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

3 comments:

  1. Oh wow, I would totally get into this and make the drive all the way out there, I love seeing all the train buildings and other regalia - priceless!

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  2. We love (or I should say David loves) these old steam trains. Then wait a minute, he looked at their website and it mentions passing the water tower from Petticoat Junction. Now we have to go.

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  3. Trains are just so darn interesting. This looks like a wonderful adventure.

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