Saturday, November 09, 2019

Roaring Camp, 1969

Today I have seven fun photos from the "Roaring Camp and Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad" in Felton, California (in Santa Cruz County, K. Martinez!). These are from two different 1969 batches.

Wikipedia sez: Roaring Camp Railroads operations began in 1963 under the guidance of F. Norman Clark (1935–1985), who was the founder and owner. His purpose was to keep a family tradition of constructing railroads and to "bring the romance and color of steam railroading back to America".

Ah, the old general store. I hope they have Beemans gum (even though I am not an official bee man). The Roaring Camp railroad is a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow-gauge tourist railroad…that starts from the Roaring Camp depot in Felton, California and runs up steep grades through redwood forests to the top of nearby Bear Mountain, a distance of 3.25 miles.

It sure looks like a beautiful place; I wonder if Walt Disney ever visited? He would have been able to in the earliest years.

The Big Trees Ranch was bought in 1867 by San Francisco businessman Joseph Warren Welch to preserve the giant redwood trees from logging. It was the first property in the state acquired specifically for that purpose. In 1930, the Welch family sold part of the property to Santa Cruz County, which eventually became part of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.

Sorry folks, the next train won't  be along for six hours. The Roaring Camp RR has five or six operable train engines in various states of repair, I presume that they would run a couple of them on a busy day. Or maybe not? If any of you have visited this place, please let us know your experience!

There were no good photos of the locomotives, unfortunately; comparing the previous image and the photo below (also from Wikipedia), I'm guessing that old #2, the Tuolumne (a 2 truck Heisler built in 1899) is what was hauling the rolling stock that day. But I could be wrong!

Hooray for hayrides! A lucky gal got to ride up top with the driver, while those other poor schlubs had to sit in the wagon like chumps. Still, it's something to do while waiting for the next train.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to The Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad!


Nanook said...

What fun this musta been-! We need more attractions such as this one. I see even the foal got into the hayride spirit.

And as for Beemans Chewing Gum - my dad used to chew it, and as such, so did I - the few times I chomped on any sort of gum. (I wasn't much of a gum-chewer).

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

The lady in the green pants, in front of the General Store (second pic), is also in the fourth pic. She's sitting in one of the train cars, staring back at us.

This looks like a fun place to visit. I just hope at some point during those Hayrides, "monsters" came running out of the bushes and terrorized the guests in the hay wagon.

Chuck said...

Major, I agree with you that the locomotive operating that day was the Tuolumne; the hump behind the smokebox and stack is the giveaway.

In the fifth photo, note the three uniformed Cub Scouts to the immediate right of the Tuolumne. Although he's harder to make out, their Den Chief, an older Boy Scout whose job was to help the adult Den Mother (as they were then called) with running meetings and outings, is also in uniform wearing a black neckerchief and standing behind the rightmost Cubs.

I rode the Roaring Camp & Big Trees in 1975, before the corkscrew trestles were burned by vandals the next year. My clearest memories are of watching the locomotive arrive with the previous load of passengers and chugging through the redwood forest. I was six, so the advantages and rarity of geared locomotives or the differences between a Heisler and a Shay and a Climax (the RC&BT has examples of each) were beyond me, but what stands out is how dark it was in the stand of trees that afternoon and how the trestle reminded me of the Cedar Creek Mine Ride at Cedar Point.

Thanks for bringing back a great memory!

stu29573 said...

Although I never rode this RR, I have ridden the Texas State Railroad between Palestine and Rusk (Texas, of course). It's a thrill to ride a steam train "in the wild!"

Andrew said...

The passenger cars look like people-filled hopper cars, ready to be deposited at their destination (probably a sawmill). Very cool pictures today!

K. Martinez said...

I've ridden this railroad dozens of times as it's right in my backyard about a ten minute drive away. Whenever family or friends came to visit, this was one of our go-to spots to take them. The Roaring Camp General Store has a lot of great memories for me as a child as we'd pick up some of the old fashioned candy that was sold there.

The track configuration has changed over the years due to fires destroying the trestle, but it's still a fun ride and there are other train rides available from Roaring Camp like the one that goes to the Boardwalk with a scenic tour of the mountains/foothills to downtown Santa Cruz and onto the Beach and Boardwalk. Lots of fun to be still had.

Thanks, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, Yeah, that foal is pretty cute. I remember having Beeman’s Gum when I was a kid, but couldn’t tell you what the flavor was… it was too long ago! Maybe some kind of mint? Or else pine tar and menthol?

TokyoMagic!, that lady with the green pants is not just staring at us, she’s staring THROUGH us. Hopefully she won’t step through our computer screens like Samara in “The Ring”. I would love a good haunted hayride!

Chuck, I do see the Cub Scouts, but I can’t quite see the Den Chief and Den Mother. It’s OK, I know they’re there! A black neckerchief sounds very ominous, he’s the Den Terminator. Thanks for your memories of RC&BTRR; it’s hard for me to picture a “corkscrew trestle”, time to look for photos on Google. Why would anybody be so awful as to burn them? I can’t believe you didn’t know the difference between a Shay, Heisler, and Climax when you were six. It’s a rite of passage!

stu29573, you took a train from Texas to Palestine?? What did you do during all those hours underwater? Probably a crossword puzzle, that’s what I’d do.

Andrew, are you saying that the passenger cars were filled with what would eventually be Soylent Green?!

K. Martinez, I wondered if you’d visited this railroad, and figured that you must have at least a couple of times. What a fun thing to do with visitors. I wonder how much of the stuff in these photos is still there? Bummer about the fires destroying the trestles, they sound like they were neat. Thanks for your great info and memories!

stu29573 said...

Lol, Texas has many popular destinations that you thought you'd have to cross an ocean for! Rome, Paris, Edinburg, London, Athens, Florence, etc....You can do a world tour and never leave the state!

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Great train photos. I love the open observation cars. The lady in the red babushka is ready for business in the elements. I can't quite tell but the lady on the porch appears to have a black and white checked pot holder attached to the side of her head.

JC Shannon said...

There is something about a train. Especially a steam train. The lore of the steam loco, the work it takes to make a trip, the sound of the whistle in the dark of the night. Very cool. Thanks Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

stu29573, man, I knew Texas was big, but I didn’t know it was THAT big!

Alonzo, I can’t tell you how much I wish I was aboard one of those yellow passenger cars. Ladies in red babushkas are ALWAYS ready for business! I honestly don’t know what that pot holder thing actually is.

Jonathan, I agree! There’s just nothing like an old steam locomotive. I’m glad some are still around for all of us to enjoy.

Warren Nielsen said...

We rode this line in the late 80s, and the kids got the T-shirts to prove it. The ride thru the forest is sublime, just the sound of the loco chugging thru the trees and the smell of hot steam and smoke. If you get the opportunity, go. It's well worth it.



I never got to go to Roaring Camp but I feel very familiar with it. My grandparents went several times before I was born and very little and gave me a handful of brochures and postcards from their visits. One was a booklet with a postcard with artists concepts featuring a proposed California Boomtown to be constructed along the tracks of the railroad. While the brochures and booklets care long gone I still have the concept postcard - I’ll send the image to MAJOR and he can post it if he’s like.

It’s interesting for me to now look at the concept because I recognize many of the structures from real like California mining towns - I assume they were serving as a general guide or they had plans to replicate the actual structures. From the town of Columbia there is the Wells Fargo Express office, a saloon and a bank building. From Sutter Creek is a Mercantile , and Sonora a Stone General Store . From Nevada City ( california) is a Fire Hall. The yellow fire hall is a copy of one in Georgetown Colorado ( oddly)

To my understanding this expansion was killed off by the 70’s gas crises and the lack of investors , and was quietly shelved.

Anonymous said...

Major, these are definitely fun pictures. Even though it was close by to several places where I have lived, I have never been here.

Just a note for the out-of-state readers about the locomotive name.

Tuolumne is a local (Central California) place-name based on native indian names, found in Yosemite Park, Fresno, and other places in the mid-state and central valley.

It is definitely not pronounced as it is spelled.

Say "Two-walla-me". Not "Too-o-lum-ney".

Thanks for the post, Major.


HBG2 said...

Hey Major, guess what? Roaring Camp is about a 20 minute walk from where I now live! Been there many times. I have memories of it going back to the 70's, and my wife to when she was a wee, wee one in the late 50's or early 60's.