Roaring Camp Railroad
bit north and east of Santa Cruz is the small town of Felton. There you'll
find the Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow-Gauge Railroad, a private
year-round steam-powered passenger railroad that travels through the
||The trip starts at the station where the Dixiana Shay Locomotive hooks
up to a small train of open (and one closed) cars.
||The train right-of-way is all on private land; basically a hill (Bear
Mountain). Going up the engine huffs and puffs past and through large
redwood stands; a few of which angle overhead.
The Welch Big Trees grove was the first stand of coastal redwoods
preserved; back in 1867.
|When the tracks were originally put down they built a helical trestle
for the train to get up the steepest part of the hill. Unfortunately,
the trestle burned in an act of arson some time back. It has been
replaced with a switchback series where the train goes up a section,
backs up another section, and then continues up the hill. The remains of
the original trestle can be seen along the route.
||At the top the train stops for awhile at Cathedral Grove. There are
picnic grounds there and passengers can detrain, hike around the area,
and take a later train back to the station.
||On the way back the train covers much of the same route. At the bottom
of the hill it goes a different route to pull into the station engine
first. In the process the engine pulls up next to a pond and dumps steam
as a way of cleaning the boilers. The railroad jokes that they have the
cleanest ducks in the area.
|Finally, just before pulling into the station the train passes by the
holding areas for train cars and a lumber mill using original equipment
that is being restored.
There is a second railroad in the area that travels between Felton and the
Santa Cruz boardwalk. Unfortunately, when I was there the rains of the previous
spring had washed out part of the track and it had not quite been repaired.
And, no visit to this part of California can be complete without at least
spending a day in San Francisco...
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Copyright © 2002
Tom Simondi, All Rights Reserved