May 20, 2011

All aboard for railroad run fun
Group to host excursion runs on historic railroad lines
By Margaret Snider, Telegraph Correspondent
Kim Palaferri / The Telegraph
Eric Olds, the motorman, drives the scenic rail vehicle on a newly repaired historic train track in Folsom that was washed out several years ago near Latrobe. Olds is vice president of the Placerville and Sacramento Valley Railroad. The group has been using volunteers to help rebuild the historic track. The track is repaired a short distance but one day their goal is to restore it all the way to Latrobe and Shingle Springs. For more photos, go here
As El Dorado County officials look at removing historic railroad lines, another group is seeking to use them for day trip excursion runs.
The Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad (P&SVRR) celebrated National Train Day with a media tour on May 7, a prelude to beginning excursion runs open to the public.
In the past, enthusiasts and public leaders rallied to preserve this historical and practical asset, and a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) purchased the line in 1996 to preserve it in a multi-modal transportation corridor to include rail, hiking, biking, and equestrian modalities.
The P&SVRR is a not-for-profit corporation developed and run entirely by community volunteers.
“The organization’s been in existence since 2008,” said President Philip Rose. “It came out of the FEDS — the Folsom, El Dorado, and Sacramento Valley Historical Railroad Association — which restored this vehicle.”
The vehicle referred to is the 20-person capacity “Skagit,” built in 1936 by Skagit Steel and Iron Works, Washington, for the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company. It runs on a 6 cylinder BMC gas engine, and took the trip at a leisurely 10 to 15 mph.
A washout of the track had occurred around 1999 at Latrobe. John Haverty of Haverty Construction took charge on his own to see that the needed repairs were made.
“When I joined the crew,” said Haverty, “everybody talked about the washout. ‘Yeah, we can only go as far as the washout’.”
Haverty’s crew of volunteers, one person coming all the way from San Diego, put their shoulders to the wheel and repaired the track by hand, just as they would have 100 years ago.
“There was a gang of 12 guys with rail tongs,” said Haverty. “You pick up the rails, all in one shot, somebody called cadence, we turned the rails around, and walked them down, set them in place. Everything was hand spiked and hand tightened on the nuts, it was all hand labor.”
Now public excursions are scheduled going into the summer. The Skagit is ready to roll, and the P&SVRR has heavier equipment also, a 45 ton locomotive and converted flatcar.
“It is our goal that this heavier equipment plus a caboose will run from (near) the Hampton Inn, where we boarded on Saturday, and travel “Railroad East” towards Latrobe and Shingle Springs as track maintenance allows,” said P&SVRR Director of Development Jim Harville. “In the meantime, the Skagit Motorcar and other light equipment will be operating on any and all track not ready for the big stuff. As you can see, removal of the track between the county line and Shingle Springs would destroy any chance of developing this railroad into a regional or national tourist destination.”
P&SVRR Auxiliary members Connie Haverty, Diana Lee, and Sondra Fuson provided lunch on the media tour, which was served al fresco at the repaired washout point.
For more information on the P&SVRR, including excursion dates and the number to call for more information, go to, or call Gary Davis at (916) 834-3094.
All ticket proceeds to go the effort to save the historic rails and keep the trains running.
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For more photographs, visit