April 29, 2011

Letters Opinion Wednesday, April 27th, 2011 Posted by Letters to the Editor Mountain Democrat
Save our historical Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad

EDITOR: The Sacramento Valley Railroad ran the first train into Folsom on Feb. 22, 1856. The route through White Rock to Latrobe opened in 1864 and in 1865 Shingle Springs became the end of the line. The railroad brought prosperity to the region and after much financial, political and legal drama, finally reached Placerville in 1888.

Although passenger service ended in the 1930s, it is claimed that the Placerville Branch was one of the most profitable on the Southern Pacific system.

The railroad continued in operation until approximately 1978 hauling freight such as lumber, lime, produce, etc. The line was bought by a joint powers authority in 1996 under the Rail Banking regulations, and though recently “out of use,” has never been abandoned. Rail Banking means the right-of-way must be protected for future rail services.

The modern Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad Inc., a registered not-for-profit corporation, was created in 2008 in response to a request for proposal from the JPA for an Excursion Railroad Operator. With the support of our parent organization, the Folsom, El Dorado and Sacramento Historical Railroad Association, the new P&SVRR is now ready to begin service on select dates for the 2011 season.

Dozens of railroad volunteers have spent tens of thousands of hours in Sacramento and El Dorado counties clearing brush, cutting tree limbs and fallen trees. Hundreds of rail ties have been removed and replaced. For about 15 years volunteers have been acquiring equipment and reworking it to first-class status and are ready to roll.

All this has been brought about by little or no money. It is amazing what a group of volunteers can do. For the past two weekends, the trains have run excursion trips from Shingle Springs up to El Dorado from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Each trip carried a full capacity of excited passengers. This coming weekend will host a hand-car derby at the Iron Point/Bidwell site in Folsom. Runs are also scheduled to run in Folsom starting in May and continuing throughout the summer. There also will be a Rail Fest during the Memorial Day weekend.

A recent action by the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors has cast a shadow over the future of this iconic railroad. We could lose this important part of the history of El Dorado County forever, denying the future generations the right to enjoy what we railroaders have worked so long and hard to protect. A concerted lobbying effort by local trails enthusiasts has finally convinced the supervisors to explore the long and difficult process of removing the rails. This was done by cutting short a 10-year review period built into the county’s own documents, even though there was ample evidence the P&SVRR was on the verge of launching operations.

Two meetings ago it was agreed that the Trails and Rails would work together in protecting this right-of-way. However, at the next meeting all that we had agreed upon had no validity.


Members, Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad