Newspaper Archive of
Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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May 26, 2010     Feather River Bulletin
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May 26, 2010
 

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Bulletin, Progressive, Record, Reporter Wednesday, May 26, 2010 1B REGIONAL ,D o.,.,o., u00co00,.G 00VE.Ts Train offers locals the chance ride the rails The rail line makes its way toward Pulga, along tracks carved out of the mountainside hundreds of feet above the North Fork of the Feather River on the south side of the canyon, At Pulga, the tracks cross to the north side of the river and at the same time pass hundreds of feet under High- way 70 at the famous "Pulga Bridges." For those passengers in dome class, the view of the bridges is spectacular. Union Pacific's Passenger Department in Omaha gave its final approval May 5 to allow the first-ever excursion train to bring passengers to the 28th annual Portola Railroad Days Festival Aug. 19 - 23. The process of getting a charter excursion passenger train approved takes several months. Railroad manage- ment at Amtrak and Union Pacific must both approve it. Since the Feather River Route is a freight-only line it took longer to get the final approval. Trains & Travel Interna- tional operates the Feather River Express, a 15-car passen- ger train made up of private rail cars that will bring 425 passengers and a crew of 45 to Portola to enjoy the Railroad Days Festival. Private rail cars will deadhead to Oakland from Chicago, Ill., St. Louis, Mo., Winslow, Ariz., Salt Lake City, Utah, Salinas and Los Angeles. Amtrak does not have extra passenger cars at this time of the year. Organizer Chris Skow re- called the popularity 28 years ago of the train ride between Portola-Blairsden and Reno Junction and has set aside a block of seats for locals. He wants everyone to have the opportunity to ride through the Feather River Canyon. This special opportunity is offered to people who live in the Feather River Canyon region, including Lake Almanor, Sierra Valley, Susanville and northern Nevada. Locals will have a chance to ride through the Feather River Canyon eastbound between Sacramento and Portola Aug, 20, and west- bound from Portola to Sacra- mento Aug. 22. Passengers may opt to ride.the train one direction and take a charter motor coach in the other direction. Both lounge and dome car seats are available. For the Friday, Aug. 20, special, the charter motor coach will depart from the Western Pacific Railroad Museum parking lot in Portola at 7 a.m. and travel directly to Sacramento via Truckee and Interstate 80, arriving in Sacramento at 10 a.m. The Feather River Express is due to depart at 10:15 from the Amtrak Station in Sacra- mento. The train will arrive in Portola at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 22, the west- bound train departs from the Western Pacific Railroad Museum grounds in Portola at 8 a.m. and arrives at the Sacramento Amtrak station at 2:30 p.m. Passengers will board a charter motor coach that will bring them directly back to the museum by 6:30 p.m., Three railroad cars on the Feather River Express are reserved for locals: the Over- land Trail, a former Southern Pacific club-lounge car; the Nenana Super Dome, built for Santa Fe Chief passenger train; and the Ocean View .................. once ran on Great Northern's Empire Builder. The adult price for the club- lounge car is $158 and chil- dren age 4-12 pay $138. Tickets on the Super Domes are $198 for adults and $168 for chil- dren. All tickets include a box lunch and drink. There will be several snack bars on the train offering additional food and drinks. For more information and tickets on the Feather River Express visit traintrips.biz or call (800) 359-4870 or (775) 453-1004. This train is filling up fast and only a limited number of seats are available for the local options. As the Feather River Express approaches Keddie, passengers will see one of the most unusual railroad bridges in the world. Six miles west of Quincy is the only railroad wye bridge in the world, the famous "Keddie Wye Bridge" also sometimes called the Spanish Creek Bridge. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe line coming down from Oregon joins the Feather River Canyon line on this bridge that includes two rail legs and a connecting third leg line running through a tunnel to reach the Keddie rail yard. As if the Keddie Wye Bridge was not notable enough, the last spike that officially opened the Western Pacific was driven on this bridge Nov. 1, 1909. A special train (above) commemorating that last spike stopped Nov. 1, 2009, on the Keddie Wye Bridge for a re-enactment. At this point, the tracks cross over to the north side of the canyon. The bridge and the community of Keddie were named for A.W. Keddie, who did much of the survey work for the Western Pacific. Photos by Marry Banks and Deborah Skow Deep in the Feather River Canyon, the tracks follow the river on the south side while Highway 70 is on the north side for about 29 miles. At times the tracks are just a few feet above the water while at other times they run hundreds of feet above the river with the mountains towering thousands of feet above. The rail line will pass through many tunnels blasted through solid rock with the portals left natural. Pacific Gas & Electric facilities, including a diversion dam and power plant, are visible along the way. Approaching Rich Bar a number of mines can be seen from the train. At one time, the gold mining town had 1,000 inhabitants. Miners took more than $B million in gold from these mines in 1849 alone. Rich Bar was an important trading post along the river for the '49ers. Leaving Rich Bar, passengers will experience the sere ruggedness of the Serpen- tine Canyon. The railroad is protected from falling rocks by slide fences that will warn the engineer of a problem. The line passes through Virgilia, named for the daughter of the chief engineer who built the Western Pacific. His daughter was crowned Queen of the Portola Festival in San Francisco in October 1909. For more, see page 9B. Towering Grizzly Ridge, from the north, and Eureka Ridge, from the south, join at the east end of Spring Garden. To reach the Middle Fork of the Feather River the rail line enters tunnel 35, which is 7,344 feet long. This tunnel penetrates the divide un- der Lee Summit and runs hundreds of feet under Highway 70. The tunnel transfers the railroad from the North Fork Feather River drainage to the Middle Fork. Upon exiting this tunnel the Express will run along the Middle Fork of the Feather River for the next 22 miles. This is a wild river; there are no dams or power plants. As the line continues to climb, the train passes Sloat (above), Cromberg and Two Rivers before entering Mohawk Valley just before passing through Blairsden. During the early 1900s, Blairsden and the Mohawk Valley were considered one of the top vacation spots in California.