Roaring Camp & Big Trees

The other day, my Honey and I went to ride a steam train at Big Trees Railroad in Roaring Camp. Roaring Camp is located in Fenton, California, not too far from Santa Cruz. In fact, they

This is the shortest covered bridge n the US.

This is the shortest covered bridge n the US.

have a train that goes to Santa Cruz , but we took the train through the big California Redwood trees. It was so much fun and I learned a few things too. Things like the fact that pre -1860, being a Brakeman for the trains  meant you had the]second deadliest job, with 10(+/-) men dying every day. (The first deadliest job was coal miner.)

The train is what they call a narrow gauge railroad.. That just means the width in between the tracks is smaller than standard gauge. That is a good thing because as we went through the trees you could literally reach out and touch many of them. It was a very intimate feeling, as if you were in nature not just going through it on a train.  In fact the trees we went through was old growth redwood trees that,

Dixiana Shay

Dixiana Shay

according to our guide, barely escaped the logger’s axe.  These trees were amazing and very tall.

The train itself is named the Dixiana Shay, or Dixie for short. It was their engine number 1and is one of three engines designated a National Mechanical Engineering Historical Landmark. Lima Locomotive Works, Shop No. 2593, on October 12, 1912, built the Dixiana. She served on six different short line railroads before coming west to California. It was a little narrow gauge mining railroad (now abandoned) in Dixiana, Virginia, that gave her the name “Dixiana.” Of course, she is Number One because she was the first Steam

Water tower for the Steam trains

Water tower for the Steam trains

engine bought by the owner of Roaring Camp in 1963.

And Roaring Camp? What a name, but I guess, an appropriate name.  In 1830, Isaac Graham, a rough and tumble mountain man settled at the site near Felton. Graham’s camp was so rowdy that soon after  his arrival the Mexican authorities named Graham’s wild settlement “Roaring Camp.” Graham soon established a brewery and a Sawmill. Eventually he brought in the small

BIG Redwood Trees

BIG Redwood Trees

gauge railroad in order to continue his family’ history of railroading and to add the romance of the steam train to his Big Trees Preserve.

Besides the train ride, there was some gold mining. I paid the five bucks for the sure deal. That meant I got a pain full of “pay dirt” which gave me several flakes of gold. For a dollar, you can just take your chances and pan away.  They had a nice snack bar/café that served the usual overpriced hamburgers, hot dogs and stuff. I only had lemonade so I cannot vouch for the food. They had

the remains of a railroad bridge that burned down in 1976. The guide said it burned for three days

the remains of a railroad bridge that burned down in 1976. The guide said it burned for three days

a lady there  doing drawings of your face.  A souvenir shop that had a lackadaisical museum attached was available. I did buy a t-shirt.   If you were so inclined, you could also go hiking through the big trees.  So, there was more than just the train ride but I was there for the train.

Overall I had a good time, might be because I adore riding the trains. It was fun train ride. I think I would like to do there starlight ride that comes from Santa Cruz , I think that would be fun. I also think it would be great to take a train along the coast if only for a little bit.
But the best thing ever? The rules on the back of the ticket. Here are the best of them:

No shooting of bears, deer , raccoons or birds from train

NO SMOKING. Passengers must  swallow butts.

Roaring Camp is not responsible for 1880’s soot ( it was a steam train)

Keep feet and food off of seat cushions (there were none)

If you ever get to Felton, go take a train ride. I think you will like it.

Dixiana Shay

Dixiana Shay