The two travellers awoke at the Quality Inn in Santa Clara and after the usual morning routine, we went to the Denny's about a mile east of the hotel for breakfast. I then drove us down to Felton and we parked in their lot.Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad history
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". In 1958, Clark found the engine Dixiana abandoned near a coal mine in the Appalachian Mountains; he described as looking like a "rusty pile of junk". Dixiana was reconditioned and began service in 1963 on rails that had been shipped around Cape Horn in 1881. The railway route was laid out so that as few trees as possible would have to be cut on the 170 acres Clark acquired with a 99-year lease of the larger Big Trees Ranch. 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. The first scheduled train trip was on April 6, 1963 with 44 ticketed passengers. Clark's wife, Georgiana, Vice President of Operations, assumed the ownership and management responsibilities following his death on December 2, 1985. Originally, two large trestles formed a "corkscrew" loop at Spring Canyon, but these were destroyed by a 1976 fire, the smoke from which could be seen from San Francisco. Within six months, a switchback was constructed to bypass the severed loop and the entire line was returned to service. The switchback has an estimated 9.5% grade, making it the steepest passenger grade still in use. The length of the tail tracks in the switchback restricts the trains that may be operated to six cars or fewer. Special events are held to raise funds for repair and reconstruction of the trestles and steam locomotives at Roaring Camp. In 2003, the first "Day Out With Thomas" (Thomas The Tank Engine) special event was held. The event was the single largest in the 40-year history of Roaring Camp, with an estimated 25,000 participants over a three-day period.Our ride
Everyone first walks through Roaring Camp covered cridge to access the property.
Roaring Camp covered bridge. We went to pick up our tickets for the train up the mountain then visited the Genneral Store and I bought a T-shirt and a couple of magnets. Elizabeth was wearing the T-shirt that she bought last March when she rode this train for the first time.
Roaring Camp caboose 501.
The Roaring Camp and Big Trees station. Next the Santa Cruz, Big Trees and Pacific train arrived from the yard for its 10:20 departure.
Big Trees and Pacific Railway CF7 2641, originally Santa Fe F7 222L.
Combine concession car 801 (ex. Boston and Maine).
Open air car 501.
open air gondola 504.
Parlour car 802 (ex. Boston and Maine).
Roaring Camp and Big Trees 12 ton switcher 40 built in 1958 by the Plymouth Locomotive Works in Plymouth, Ohio, which worked for Kaiser Steel in Fontanta, California, where it was 1021, and was acquired by Roaring Camp in 1978, coming from Bear Mountain.
The switcher returning to the engine house.
Roaring Camp and Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad 2 truck Heisler 2 "Tuolumne" next came from the shops. It was built in 1899 by Stearns Manufacturing as West Side Flume & Lumber Co. 3 at Tuolumne, California then in 1900, was transferred to Hetch-Hetchy & Yosemite Valley Railway Company 3 "Thomas S. Bullock. In a 1925 corporate sale, it became Pickering Lumber 3, then another corporate sale in 1934 sent it to Westside Lumber 3 and was sold to the Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad in 1963.
The "Tuolumne" then went to get her train.
It then went toward the mountain but returned and I was glad since in my previous visits here, I had always ridden behind "Dixiana", so this would be a new steam engine for both my wife and I.
Roaring Camp and Big Trees "Tuolumne" would be the power for our train. We then boarded the last covered car and waited to leave. Our conductor was Kevin who was informative and gave an interesting commentary throughout the trip.
Now sit back and enjoy a trip on the Roaring Camp and Big Trees Narrow Railroad up Bear Mountain.
The trip up to Bear Mountain.
Bear Mountain scenes. Sit back and relax on the trip down Bear Mountain.
The trip back down from Bear Mountain to the station. I used the restroom while Elizabeth bought us "Tuolumne" engine pins.
Two views of the "Tuolumne" before its next trip up Bear Mountain.
The "Tuolumne" starts up the mountain on its noon run, and for us, was time to leave. Elizabeth drove us to our next destination in Los Gatos.Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad and W.E. "Bill" Mason Carousel history
Billy Jones was a railroad man for nearly his entire life. He was born in 1884 in Ben Lomond, California and at age 13, he began his railroad employment as a roustabout with the South Pacific Coast Railroad. He would eventually work for the Southern Pacific Railroad running locomotives up and down the California coast until his retirement in 1950. In 1939, Billy was on a layover in San Francisco and noticed a rusty old steam locomotive in a scrap yard destined to be shipped to Japan. Billy decided to purchase the one-third scale locomotive and then transferred it to his ranch located in Los Gatos and would spend countless hours restoring the engine. The number 2 would go on to be the centerpiece of Billy's railroad which eventually opened on his ranch in 1943.
For 25 years, Billy ran the "Wildcat Railroad" on his ranch free of charge, accepting donations as his only form of payment. Children and families from all over the valley enjoyed coming to his ranch and experiencing the thrill of riding behind a real steam engine. One of the many guests to the Wildcat Railroad was none other than Walt Disney who became fast-friends with Billy and often invited him to visit Disneyland and engineer on the Disneyland Railroad.
Billy was also an active member in the community and involved himself in a number of charitable organizations. He would often donate to various children's hospitals, orphanages and special-interest groups, but only on the condition he remained anonymous. Billy passed away in January 1968, but his railroad would continue serving the Town of Los Gatos and the surrounding community for generations to come.
Following Billy's death, a group of civic-minded businesspeople decided the Wildcat Railroad needed to be saved. They formed a group which founded Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad, Inc. - a non-profit corporation dedicated to the preservation of railroad history, affordable family entertainment and the education of youth. The entire railroad was then transferred to a parcel of land in the adjoining Oak Meadow and Vasona Parks in Los Gatos. Structures, including an engine house and train depot, along with nearly a mile of track would eventually be built. A bridge spanning Los Gatos Creek was also installed utilizing an old Southern Pacific flatcar. Finally on July 26, 1970 the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad began operation and continues to this day. The Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad is known worldwide. The railroad and its famous number 2 steam locomotive have been featured in numerous publications and television programs including On the Road with Charles Kuralt and CBS 5's Eye on the Bay. Most important however, is the joy that the railroad continues to give to the young and young-at-heart who enjoy the thrill of riding the rails. By 1992, the railroad was averaging well over 100,000 riders each year.Locomotives
BJWRR number 2 was built by Johnson Machine Works in Los Angeles in 1905 exclusively for the Venice Miniature Railway in Southern California. Designed by John J. Coit, the number 2 is a 2-6-2 "Prairie" type locomotive weighing over 9,000 pounds. It was constructed to a one-third scale running on an 18 inch gauge track. The number 2 ran at Venice Beach from 1905 until 1925 when the VMR closed. The number 2 faded from history until it was discovered by Billy Jones in San Francisco in 1939. Following a thorough restoration, Billy ran the locomotive on his ranch until his death in 1968. After the Wildcat Railroad was transferred to Oak Meadow and Vasona Parks, the number 2 was again restored and continued regular operation until 1994. From 1994 until 2005, the number 2 underwent a complete restoration including the replacement of its original boiler. The number 2 finally returned to service in the summer of 2005 and the occasion not only marked the 35th anniversary of the BJWRR in Oak Meadow and Vasona Parks, but also celebrated the number 2's 100th birthday.
Painted in the unmistakable Southern Pacific "Black Widow" color scheme, BJWRR No. 2502 has a unique history as the first diesel locomotive on the BJWRR. Built in 1992 by Custom Locomotive Works in Chicago, the locomotive was purchased by the late Al Smith and donated to the railroad. Smith, who had incorporated Orchard Supply Hardware, was also a train buff and spent countless hours at the BJWRR and at his own ranch north of Santa Cruz. Number 2502 received its number from one of Smith's other locomotives which he ran on the Swanton Pacific Railroad located on his ranch. That particular diesel was numbered SPRR number 502, hence number 2502 became the second 502. When the number 2 went down for repair in 1994, number 2502 became the mainstay of the BJWRR locomotive fleet.
In early 2002, Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad, Inc. determined that an additional diesel locomotive was necessary to assist with regular operation. Following a series of fundraising efforts, the railroad contracted with Merrick Light Railway Equipment Works in Marshall, Wisconsin to construct a diesel engine similar in style to number 2502. In early winter of 2005, number 3502 was delivered to the railroad and joined its sister locomotives, number 2 and number 2502, on the BJWRR locomotive roster. Like number 2502, number 3502 is similar in design and features a green and gold paint scheme.
BJWRR number 4 has the distinction of being the first locomotive constructed entirely in the shops of the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad. It was designed and built by Tom Waterfall, one of the railroads many volunteers. The number 4 was designed to serve as the railroad's "switcher engine," primarily responsible for moving equipment in and around the yard as well as assisting in track maintenance. While the number 4 does not serve on passenger trains, its use and utilization continues to greatly benefit the railroad's needs.
Number 5 is the newest and largest member of the BJWRR locomotive fleet. Like the number 2, number 5 is a one-third scale steam locomotive. Yet number 5 is nearly nine feet longer and features a 4-6-2. Following nearly 70 years of service on the railroad, the number 2 was in need of additional help. The railroad deemed it necessary to add another steam locomotive to the roster and again contracted with Merrick Light Railway Equipment Works for the new locomotive's construction. Number 5 was eventually delivered to BJWRR in April 2013. The arrival concluded a nearly seven-year process from conception to finish and the new locomotive guaranteed BJWRR would remain a steam railroad for generations to come. BJWRR debuted number 5 to the public on July 28, 2013. The inaugural trip was highlighted by a double-header featuring both number 5 and number 2, marking the first time in the railroad's long history that a steam double-header had been employed. The occasion was a great cause for celebration and crowds by the thousands made their way to watch and participate in the historic event.1915 W.E. "Bill" Mason Historical Carousel
Dedicated on July 4, 1991, the W.E. "Bill" Mason Carousel represented a ten-year restoration project. It is one of the few operating historic carousels in California. In 1980, Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad Inc. purchased the carousel after it was discovered in a San Francisco Peninsula warehouse. Originally manufactured by Savage in Great Britain for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, the carousel was shipped to North America around the horn of South America before the Panama Canal opened. Savage Bros. utilized a number of unique wooden horses on the carousel, acquiring them from carvers such as G & J Lines, C.J. Spooner, Charles Dare and C.W. Parker, whose horses make up most of the carousel. Following the exposition, the carousel became a part of a traveling circus and was then sold to a Foley & Burke Show in the 1930s.
In the 1980s, a group of volunteers set to work restoring the carousel as well as constructing a new building in Oak Meadow Park that would serve as the carousel's permanent home. Thousands of hours of labor were required to restore and paint each of the horses as well as the remaining portions of the carousel itself. Various paintings and decorations were also done especially for this project by local artists. In addition, a Wurlitzer-type band organ was installed inside the building to provide an antique musical experience during the ride. These efforts combined to transform the old roundabout into a carousel that can be enjoyed by young and old alike.Our visit
The train was starting its next trip around the property so we bought our train and carousel tickets and went to ride the 1915 W.E. "Bill" Mason Historical Carousel. Elizabeth took a horse (as she always does on any carousel) and I rode in a chair. Now enjoy a trip on this unique carousel.
The ride on the carousel was really enjoyable and a lot of fun.
Since the next train was not until 1:35, we had some spare time and talked to the engineer. Our locomotive for our trip was Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad 3502 named "Larry H. Pedersen".
The railroad shops behind the large initials.
The water tower on this railroad.
The railroad emblem on all of the cars. We boarded the train and a few minutes later were off and running. Sit back and relax and enjoy a trip on the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad.
Your 1.1 mile ride on the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad is complete. Next we visited the shop, meeting one of the friendly and keen voulunters who gave us a good shop tour.
Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad 5 is the newest and largest member of the BJWRR locomotive fleet. Like the number 2, number 5 is a one-third scale steam locomotive. Yet number 5 is nearly nine feet longer and features a 4-6-2. Following nearly 70 years of service on the railroad, the number 2 was in need of additional help. The railroad deemed it necessary to add another steam locomotive to the roster and again contracted with Merrick Light Railway Equipment Works for the new locomotive's construction. Number 5 was eventually delivered to BJWRR in April 2013. The arrival concluded a nearly seven-year process from conception to finish and the new locomotive guaranteed BJWRR would remain a steam railroad for generations to come. BJWRR debuted number 5 to the public on July 28, 2013. The inaugural trip was highlighted by a double-header featuring both number 5 and number 2, marking the first time in the railroad's long history that a steam double-header had been employed. The occasion was a great cause for celebration and crowds by the thousands made their way to watch and participate in the historic event.
Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad number 2 was built by Johnson Machine Works in Los Angeles in 1905 exclusively for the Venice Miniature Railway in Southern California. Designed by John J. Coit, the number 2 is a 2-6-2 "Prairie" type locomotive weighing over 9,000 pounds. It was constructed to a one-third scale running on an 18 inch gauge track. The number 2 ran at Venice Beach from 1905 until 1925 when the VMR closed. The number 2 faded from history until it was discovered by Billy Jones in San Francisco in 1939. Following a thorough restoration, Billy ran the locomotive on his ranch until his death in 1968. After the Wildcat Railroad was transferred to Oak Meadow and Vasona Parks, the number 2 was again restored and continued regular operation until 1994. From 1994 until 2005, the number 2 underwent a complete restoration including the replacement of its original boiler. The number 2 finally returned to service in the summer of 2005 and the occasion not only marked the 35th anniversary of the BJWRR in Oak Meadow and Vasona Parks, but also celebrated the number 2 100th birthday.
Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad diesel 2502.
Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad diesel 4.
Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad hand car and trailer that had been built by volunteers.
This Santa Fe steam engine 96 is for the childern.
Shop view. We thanked our host then thanked our two volunteers who assited us.
We started to walk back to the car but had to stop for more pictures.
The train made one more pass as we photographed it. From here I drove us to Campbell.
Southern Pacific freight house in Campbell. We then drove to Sizzler for dinner and returned to the Quality Inn for the night.
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