Thursday, April 13, 2006


Tucked away in California's redwoods is a fascinating little narrow gauge railway once operated by a logging company. The Roaring Camp and Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad allows you to tour a virgin forest of gigantic Sequoia Sempervirens (Coastal Redwoods), the first privately purchased in 1867 to be preserved for posterity. Interestingly enough, if memory serves correctly, this is the very place that Mark Twain wrote about the famous "Calavaras County Jumping Frogs".

You can also take a self-guided tour almost a mile long (.8 miles), a nature walk through the adjoining Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. The Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad operates every day, rain or shine, except Christmas.

When I was there, they had three unique locomotives that were once used in logging. Number One, a 1912, 42-ton Shay, number Seven, a 1910, 60-ton Shay, and Number Two, a Heisler called "Toulumne". Toulumne was the locomotive power for our trip that day.

Below is a snapshot the "Town" center, showing the merchandise store and a bit of the depot.

To this day, I'm still wondering what the grey-haired lady in the center of the street was running to... or from.

Unfortunately, when I was there, one of the trestles had been recently hit by lightning, caught on fire, and was mostly destroyed, so the consist had no option but to run up the grade and then back it's way down.

When I asked about the rebuilding of the burnt trestle, they were not very encouraging about it. Seems that modern building construction requirements did not have 19th century wooden trestles in mind.

I wonder if they ever got past those legal hurdles and rebuilt the wooden structure as near as possible to it's original design, or if they replaced it with some sort of acceptable steel structure, or if it has not yet been replaced.

None the less, you can see from the photos that it was a beautiful day for a ride through the gigantic Sequoia Sempervirens.

Go visit this little jewel hidden away in the woods, before one of those California earthquake puts it put of business.

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