Black Bears in the Mendocino Coast Forests

We have several bears on our layout. They are there, in part, to tell the kids how bears get honey from beehives. The other part is to make visitors aware that bears were very prevalent in the forests along the Mendocino Coast. I have been told that the Pomo Indians  who lived in peace along the Mendocino Coast for 15,000 years before the arrival of the white man feared bears, black and brown. You can read about California bears here.

Image result for california black bears

The white man with his rifle eliminated the bears from their surroundings as this piece from the Fort Bragg Advocate of December 27th 1915 attests:

Fred Roberts and Archie Kempe killed two black bear on South Ridge  on the Ten Mile river.The mother weighed 400 pounds while the cub topped the scales at 75 pounds. Both were fat and the Advocate can vouch for the fact that the steaks were delicious.”

The Highest Train You Can Ride – Xining (China) to Lhasa (Tibet)

Talking to visitors to our layout, I have concluded, requires an encyclopedic knowledge of trains and railroads around the world as well as knowing where in town (Fort Bragg, CA.) you can find the best ice-cream (Cowlicks). The questions I can’t answer off the top of my head I jot down on a pad and see if I can find an answer when I get home.

We are building a hill (mountain?) in the northy-west corner of the layout. Give or take its twelve foot high -300 G Scale feet. I had an animated conversation with a young lad and his mother about how we were building the hill and how his grandpa might build one on his N-scale layout. The lad and the mom were clearly impressed with our efforts – its going to be really high. The lad then asked what was the highest train you can ride. I confessed I didn’t know but thought that it might be in Peru. I promised to find out, post a blog and e-mail him with the result of my research.

Well, it took a couple of hours on the ‘net to find out that Peru is NOT the answer. The answer is the The Qinghai–Tibet railway that connects Xining to Lhasa. The length of the railway is 1,215 miles. The line includes the Tanggula Pass which, at 16,640 feet above sea level is the world’s highest point on a railway. Tanngula railway station  at 16,627 feet  is the world’s highest railway station. The 4,390 foot) Fenghuoshan Tunnel is the highest rail tunnel in the world at 16,093 feet above sea level.

Exactly where is it? This map helped me:


What’s it like to ride on? There aren’t too many vids to enable one to get a taste. This one is the best I can find:

I must confess, world’s highest or not it’s not one for THE LIST.

Legendary Locals of The Mendonoma Coast by Tammy Durston

Mendonoma Coast Cover

Our website on the history of the Mendocino Coast has, deliberately, included little about the people who lived there – we leave that to the genealogists. So, I was loath to purchase a book with the words “Legendary Locals” in the title. I was glad I did..

First, what is the author talking about in the phrase, “Mendonoma Coast?” This is the author’s map:

Map of Mendonoma

I have added Mendonoma to my lexicon.

I was much taken by some text in the Introduction:

Historian  and novelist Wallace Stegner wrote that, “Local history is the best history, the history with more of ourselves in it than other kinds.” I absolutely agree.

Poet John Masefield wrote regarding the coast redwoods, “They are not like trees, they are like spirits. The glens in which they grow are not like places, they are like haunts – haunts of the centuries or of the gods. The trees rise up with dignity, power and majesty as though they have been there forever.” How eloquent.

From a logging history the book has little to add to that which I have already chronicled in the website. But, it was a good read. Thank you Tammy Durston.


Crosscut Saw (Misery Whip) for a 15 foot diameter tree

I was talking to a gentleman at our layout about how huge Redwoods were cut down. Once I got him past the notion that a tree could be 370 feet tall and 17 foot diameter he was aghast that such trees were cut down by hand with an axe and a saw. “There weren’t any saws back then that big,” he said. Oh no? The saw in this pic is at least 15 foot long:

15 foot plus crosscut saw


The Train Whistle’s Echo – Story of the Western Railroad era by Phyllis Zauner

When I was young I was very sick. I rarely made school for more than two weeks at a time. This meant a lot of time at home in the days of steam radio and no TV or record players. I spent much of my illness at the home of Grandma Phillips. Grandma, bless her soul, quickly figured out that reading would keep me occupied. We couldn’t afford to buy books so Grandma would board the No. 6 bus in Portslade (Sussex, England), pay her tuppenny fare, and get off in Hove opposite the Hove Public Library. Portslade was too small to have its own library. I never saw Grandma with a book – she read the Daily Express newspaper at elevenses and the Evening Argus in the evening. Grandma would select six books for me at a time. She would pick a shelf and take six books. I knew this because the authors surnames all had the same letter! The result of her selection process was that I read a VERY diverse selection of books. Occasionally I would complain about one of the books – usually a soppy romance – which would elicit her standard comment – “You can’t tell a book by its cover.”

Which brings me to this book:

Front Cover

Front Cover

Back Cover

I saw the book on EBay. The front cover was of California Western Railroad’s #45. So I bid and I was the lucky(????) winner.

The book was written in 1981. The text and photos are in a washed out brown colour making reading the book possible only with strong reading glasses. I gave up trying to read it after about six pages. Which brings me back to Grandma Phillips – “You can’t tell a book by its cover.”


Gorden Kaye: ‘Allo ‘Allo!’s Rene Artois dies aged 75

You’ve never heard of him, right?

Actor Gorden Kaye, who was best known for his role in the long-running BBC sitcom ‘Allo ‘Allo!, has died aged 75. Kaye played cafe owner Rene Artois on the hit show, which centred on the fictional exploits of resistance fighters in World War Two in German-occupied France. He appeared in all 84 episodes of the sitcom, as well as a stage version.

Very, very sad. ‘Allo, ‘Allo was one of my favorite TV comedy’s. If you have 24 mins and 33 secs to spare try this episode: