Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

There are a few posts from our west coast trip that I just never managed to finish and get up on the blog, so I am going back in time a bit.

On our trip we visited some train and plane museums. What is it about old trains, planes and cars that attract old guys like my Mr. Dreamy? (Old farts enjoying relics, like themselves? Ahem, sorry Mr. Dreamy, I guess I am as much a relic and you are!) It must have something to do with that "Y" chromosome and the fact that one of the first sounds little boys make are engine noises as they scoot their toys across the floor.

Included among the 'transportation' museums we visited on this trip:
Air Museum,Tillamook, OR, 
Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, McMinnville, OR, 
California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento, CA
Railtown State Historic Park, Jamestown, CA
Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad, Fishcamp, CA

This post will be about trains - it was getting a bit too long to include planes. 
That will have to be another post!

Old trains are one of Mr. Dreamy's favorite things. Perhaps it is because his dad and grand dad worked on the railroad... it is in his blood.

Here is Mr. Dreamy as a boy, in the cab of a train locomotive! He often says that riding on the trains was his daycare. In those days, long, long ago, his dad would often take him to work during the summer or on holidays when his mom was working. So I guess it is little wonder that Mr. Dreamy enjoyed visits to different railroads and railroad museums on our trip.

We had a tour and train ride in Jamestown, CA at the rail museum.  Sadly, they only run the steam engine on Saturdays and we were there on Sunday. However, the tour took us through the round house and our guide shared the history of several of the engines the museum owns. Old number 3 is a movie and TV star, having played a starring role in Petticoat Junction, the Wild, Wild West and Back to the Future III, to name a few.

Yeah, I know it says "34" on the nose of the engine, but it really is #3. It is one of those movie things, just like actors have a character name in movies and TV.

Here is a bit of video I found online, showing what we missed.

I have to admit, even I would have enjoyed the ride a bit more with all of that clanging and hissing! However, I did find it very interesting that a 'fire car' had to follow our train up and down the track. Although it isn't likely, the State requires the fire car to make sure that any possible fire ignited by sparks is taken care of quickly.

The other thing I found interesting in Jamestown was seeing a steam locomotive without the outer covering. This engine is being painstakingly restored to make it an operable locomotive. Each of the holes on the side have pipes (or will have) in them. The pipes carry excess heat out of the compartment so the tank, which holds hot water, doesn't crack. Longer pipes run front to back inside the water tank. They carry hot air from the fire box (located behind the tank) through the front tank to heat the water and make the steam that drives the pistons. 

I guess since I was not endowed with that "Y" chromosome, I never thought about how the steam locomotive actually heated the water. 

The Railtown visit in the roundhouse was interesting as it is, and has been, an authentic, working roundhouse. It has several working locomotives and more being restored. There are huge tools, nuts and bolts, and lots of dirt and grease all over the place. The antithesis of this is the California State Railroad Museum. (I love that word!) This museum also has "rolling stock" but all of the locomotives and cars exhibited in the museum have been painstakingly restored. 

Visitors can walk among the cars inside the huge building. There are a few cars that visitors can walk through. I enjoyed seeing the mail car, where US Postal employees would sort mail as the train chugged across country. Another favorite of mine was the Pullman sleeper car, circa 1930's. The museum has rigged the car to sway and lurch as if the train were moving down the tracks, and a docent, dressed as a porter, is there to answer questions and point out features of the car. Next to the sleeper car is a dining car. I was fascinated by the place settings on each table, showing china from different railroad lines. But then again, that would appeal to me since I am somewhat of a 'chinaholic'!

The exhibit also included a number of menus from different railroad lines. It struck me how basic the meal offerings were, compared to the elaborate descriptions of dishes on today's menus.

Skip forward a few days….

We Dreamers were on our way into Yosemite when Mr. Dreaming noticed a sign, and took an immediate detour, to the Sugar Pine Railroad. Once again, we missed the opportunity for a steam locomotive trip (wrong day of the week), but we did get to experience something totally different. We took a "Jenny Car" ride. Jenny cars, powered by Model "A" engines, were used for maintenance of rail lines. The Sugar Pine rail company has refitted the cars to take a few passengers on a loop following an old logging line. Along the way, our 'driver' enlightened us regarding the history of logging in the area.


Although I thoroughly enjoyed our tours of railroad museums, and our rides on old trains, I was more than ready to move on….


  1. Those trains are fascinating and part of history. I like the black and white photo of Mr. Dreamy as a child, and the interior of the dining car and the engine being restored.

  2. I love that photo of Mr. Dreamy as a child on the train. Wow, I would have loved that kind of going to work with my dad! I LOVE trains. Thank you for sharing this, Dreaming!

  3. I love the childhood photo! How special that is!


  4. Oh my husband would love to visit all those places!! That old photo is really special!! :)


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