November 06, 2009

Laying tracks for the future

By Don Chaddock The Telegraph

Philip Wood / The Telegraph
Conductor Doug Fuller, left, and railroad association president Bill Anderson discuss the rest of the tour during a brief stop on a 60-foot-long “open grate” bridge that was constructed in 1913. The local railroad group hopes to restore the tracks so regular excursion runs can be made from Folsom up to Latrobe and eventually Shingle Springs.
A whistle blows and the conductor yells, “All aboard,” on an otherwise quiet day in Folsom near Highway 50.
On board the 72-year-old rail motorcar were representatives of the Clarksville Region Historical Society, members of the Folsom, El Dorado & Sacramento Historical Railroad Association and other interested people all exploring the railroad line that organizers hope can be restored.
The Tuesday, Aug. 25, trip marked the first official run of the Skagit, a 20-person motorized railcar. The purpose of the trip was to make people aware of the potential of the rail line.
“This is historically significant,” said Bill Anderson, president of the local railroad association. “It was built in 1864.”
The organization hopes to start offering excursion runs from Highway 50, behind the new hotel and In-n-Out, to Latrobe and eventually up to Shingle Springs.
Along the two-hour tour, conductor Doug Fuller asked Engineer Bob Morison to stop at certain points so historic landmarks could be pointed out.
Some of those on the trip were impressed.
“What amazes me is this was all done by hand,” said Hal Erpenbeck.
The car rolled along the tracks over bridges and through hills.
“This is the first of two major cuts (along) the route,” Fuller said.
Most of line runs through pastures, over creeks and crosses into El Dorado County.
“Rather idyllic scene, isn’t it?” Fuller said as the car stopped atop an “open-grate” bridge over a creek. The bridge was constructed in 1913 and is 60 feet in length, according to Fuller.
The rail line currently stops at an area that has been washed out.
“It’s not safe to go any farther,” said Fuller.
According to Anderson, the cost to repair that stretch of line is estimated at $70,000.
The organization is working with the Joint Powers Authority, the city of Folsom and organizations throughout the region to help make the new rail line a reality. They also hope to offer a shuttle service from the light rail station in the historic district up to the area near Highway 50.
Pat Thomson,with the Clarksville Region Historical Society based in El Dorado Hills, thoguth the trip was entertaining and informative.
“This is excellent,” she said. “Very excellent. Isn’t it wonderful?”