Rerailing a Steam Locomotive

Today we had two classes of local schoolkids visit the layout on a field trip. Fifty plus children generate a lot of excitement. Fifty plus schoolkids also generate a lot of questions. I give the kids a lot of credit – all but a very few of their questions were on the money. I did pretty good answering their questions. However one young lady stumped me when she asked if locomotives ever came off the track. That was easy, “Yes.” Had I ever been on a train that had come off the tracks? Again easy, “Yes.” I have been on the Cumbres and Toltec Railroad which ran six hours late because of two derailments.Then she asked, “How do they get them back on the rails?”.  Now if she’s asked what are the rules for a pooling of interest I’d have nailed it. Alas, this accountant couldn’t answer her question. As is my wont I wrote the question down and started searching for an answer. Rather than bore you with a lousy answer Have a look at this vid.

The vid is from the Fort Wayne historical Society. The volunteer crew made up of veteran railroaders, experienced mechanics and new recruits wrangled their 200-ton steam locomotive back on the rails. This was not an easy way to spend a Saturday. For those curious, the boiler was filled with compressed air to help move the locomotive.

Having watched the video twice my new answer is, “With a great deal of difficulty.”

Gene Parsons – Caspar CA. resident, Musician, Inventor and Craftsman

First let me give a quote from Wiki:

“Gene Victor Parsons is an American drummer, banjo player, guitarist, singer-songwriter, and innovative engineer, best known for his work with The Byrds from 1968 to 1972. Parsons has also released solo albums and played in bands including Nashville West, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Parsons Green. Parsons is credited with inventing the B-Bender (also known as the StringBender) along with Clarence White and the device is often referred to as the Parsons/White B-Bender, a trademarked name”

Now watch this vid:

To see just how talented Gene is have a look at these photos taken when Club Members Santa Cruz Frank Smith and Ben Sochacki visited Gene. The loco was TOTALLY built by Gene.

Ben aboard Gene's hand built 10 wheeler - Gene beside him

Ben aboard Gene’s hand built 10 wheeler – Gene beside him

Now you can see how beautiful the 10 wheeler really is

Now you can see how beautiful the 10 wheeler really is

Is that Santa Cruz Frank offering advice?

Is that Santa Cruz Frank offering advice?

Irvine Park Railroad, Orange County, CA. – has a 24″ gauge ride on consist

Irvine Park Railroad, founded in April 1996, is a one-third scale train that takes both children and adults on a scenic ride through historic Irvine Regional Park. It’s located in the foothills of Orange. I found this out when Bill Burbridge and his charming wife came to visit our layout in Fort Bragg, CA. Bill and I got chatting and I soon found out that he is an engineer on the railroad. Me, not being shy, asked him if he had any photos and if so could I include them in my blog. Well, he did send some photos and they are bobby dazzlers. See for yourself:

[Click on any one to see full size in a gallery.]

The train is a 24″ gauge C.P. Huntington, manufactured by Chance Rides of Wichita, KS.

Thanks Bill for sharing.

A visit to the Golden Gate Railroad Museum in Point Richmond, CA.

The Golden State Model Railroad Museum is an operating model railroad exhibit located in Point Richmond, California, within the boundary of the Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline park. It is located in the Brickyard Cove area and features dozens of realistic city and country scenes, with trains from different eras running on several layouts in different scales. Previously based in Oakland, the East Bay Model Engineers Society, which builds and operates the layouts in the Museum, was founded in 1933 and is one of the oldest continually operating model railroad clubs in the country.Construction of the museum began in 1986.

The Museum operates models ranging from the steam engines and classic passenger trains to today’s modern diesel behemoths and Amtrak passenger trains. The 10,000 square foot exhibit includes O scale, HO scale and N scale models, replicating many California railroading locations. Track layouts include historic scenes such as the Oakland Mole, Oakland 16th Street stations ca. 1955, Martinez’ John Muir trestle, Tehachapi Loop, Niles Canyon, and Donner Pass.

Recently club member Ben Sochacki paid a visit. Ben being Ben even managed to wangle his way into the members only area! Here’s Ben’s pics from his visit. Click on any pic to see the gallery and the pics full size.

Here’s the best vid I could find of the layouts. The vid has some great Moz music at the beginning.


Osprey fishing for salmon

ZA picture is worth a thousand words. I’d certainly need more than a thousand words to describe what is in these pics.

I have seen quite a few Ospreys since I moved here (Fort Bragg, CA.) in 2000. I have never seen one with a salmon in its talons.

Click on any photo to see full size in a gallery.

Thanks to club member Mike Aplet for giving me a heads up on these great photos. Thanks too to the photographers for sharing these remarkable photos.

Big River News – A monthly news digest for the coastal Mendocino County

I was in our new library sifting and sorting through a pile of donated magazines when I came across the two pages you see below:

Big River News - November 1984 front page

Big River News – November 1984 front page

Big River News - front page February 1985

Big River News – front page February 1985

I have been the historian for our club for ten years or more but I have never heard of nor seen this “mag.” To say the least I am intrigued. I have just two front pages. If anyone has more or knows more I would be delighted to hear from them.

Branscomb – once the site of a lumber mill located between Westport and Laytonville in Northern California

This is another crumb of local history gleaned as a result of my finding a photo.

First where is/was Branscomb? Here’s a map to orient you:

Map showing location of Branscombe in Northern California

Map showing location of Branscombe in Northern California

Wiki is my only source of info. Fortunately they have quite a bit of info:

Benjamin Franklin Branscomb joined an ox-team wagon train that was headed for California in 1857. He was born in Jackson, Ohio, in 1832, the son of Joseph Edmond Branscomb. The family moved to DeKalb County, Missouri, where Joseph became Sheriff. According to family tradition, Joseph, a staunch abolitionist, was shot and killed 3 days before President Lincoln was assassinated, but a contemporary newspaper account says Joseph was shot to death by a Mr. Jacob J. Stoffel in Maysville in July 1865, several months after Lincoln’s assassination.

Benjamin later settled in Sonoma County and farmed there for about twenty years. He married one of the daughters of the captain of the wagon train, Mary Jane Taylor, and they had 10 children: 6 boys and 4 girls. They moved to Jackson Valley, Mendocino, in 1880, where he homesteaded 160 acres (0.65 km2) of land and 40 acres more under the Timber Act. He was instrumental in starting the first school in that area. He built a large home which, after his family grew up, he turned into a hotel. A small grocery store, meat market and livery stable were added later. After more people came into the area, he established a post office, which first opened in 1894. Since the place had no official name, it was named after him, the postmaster. After his death in 1921, one of his sons, John, inherited the property and ran it until 1959, when he sold it to the Harwood family, who built the timber mill in Branscomb called Harwood Products. Unfortunately in the year 2007 the mill filed bankruptcy, eventually closing its doors for good in 2008. The Branscomb store along with the post office, officially closed few years after in 2016.

And my one and only photo? Here it is:



Whiskey River Railway – a 16″ gauge railroad in Marshall, WI

You just have to be lucky to find “nuggets” of railroad stuff. Me and the missus were holidaying in Holland. One of the “things” that struck us was how many of the houses’ front windows had flowers in them. The flowers were great but what was also great was the “vases” in which they resided. A lot of the “vases” were nothing more than household bottles. One empty bottle that caught my eye was what I am certain was an old dimple Haig whisky bottle. Unbeknownst to herself I determined to get her one when we got back to Fort Bragg (CA.)

What I thought would be easy is actually difficult and expensive. This dimple Haig is available for $274.34!!!!!!!!!

Dimple Haig Bottle

Dimple Haig Bottle

So I quit on Plan A and went to Plan B and acquired some beakers used in a lab – happy wife!!!

All was not lost in my efforts ‘cos I came across a vid of a 16″ gauge railroad called the Whiskey River Railway. My knowledge  of it is miniscule – it’s in an amusement park and runs on a two mile track. Here’s the vid:

Lovely locos.