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Steam & Excursion > Two days at Roaring Camp- Part 1


Date: 08/11/19 22:22
Two days at Roaring Camp- Part 1
Author: JDLX

A couple weeks ago I spent several days tent camping in the Santa Cruz mountains in central California with my daughter and a friend of hers.  We spent parts of two days on or around the Roaring Camp railroads during our time there, one day riding the Santa Cruz, Big Trees & Pacific down to Santa Cruz and back and the other day on the Roaring Camp & Big Trees.  Part 1 covers the Santa Cruz, Big Trees & Pacific.  

First, some brief history for those who don't know as there are always a few.  In the 1950s Norman Clark leased 180 acres of land next to Felton, California, upon which he built the Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad.  Southern Pacific's Olympia branch ran along one side of the property, and Clark had always dreamed of running standard gauge passenger excursions on that line.  The chance finally came after SP elected not to rebuild the line after it recieved significant storm damage in 1981, and by February 1985 they had a deal.  Clark incorporated the Santa Cruz, Big Trees & Pacific- reporting marks SCBG- as a common carrier shortline, and by September 1985 they fully acquired the 8.8 mile long branchline.  The new company extensively rebuilt the line, and the SCBG operated its first public excursion covering a couple miles of the line out of Felton on 12 October 1985.  Further work allowed operations through to Santa Cruz in October 1986, and in April 1987 the SCBG reached the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk over trackage rights on the SP.  The company is now in its 32nd year of operations, which have consisted of two round trips a day seven days a week through the summer and weekends in the spring and fall, plus seasonal holiday light trains.  The railroad has hauled inbound caroloads of lumber destined for a lumber yard in Felton in the past, but that traffic ceased close to ten years ago now and there are signs it may not return once the St. Paul & Pacific and the regional transportation commission that now owns the former SP branchline through Santa Cruz are able to finish repairs and restore service to Santa Cruz. 

I've always enjoyed the line, and we tend to get down to ride it about once every three or so years.  Power on the day we rode was SCBG #2600, one of two former Santa Fe CF-7s the company owns.  SCBG initially purchased one or two former SP GP-9s with the branch, but rejected them upon delivery and bought the CF-7s instead.  The railroad recently purchased two more CF-7s from a Texas industrial operation, and they have been in storage down in Watsonville for about a year now waiting for the line to Santa Cruz to be reopened so they can be delivered.  The ride from Felton to Santa Cruz consumes about an hour, about the first half of which is spent crusing through the second growth redwoods in the San Lorenzo River Canyon and the rest consists of navigating the streets of Santa Cruz.  In this first set of photos we see the #2600 and the five car train approaching the boarding area in Felton, then the train crossing Inspiration Point, and finally the #2600 rolling the train out onto Chesnut Street for the first stretch of the substantial street running this railroad does.  

To be continued.   








Date: 08/11/19 22:28
Re: Two days at Roaring Camp- Part 1
Author: JDLX

On days when neither train sells out you can take the morning train from Felton down tot he Boardwalk and the afternoon train back up the mountain, which give you about five hours to wander the Boardwalk and its many attractions and/or hit the beach.  In these three photos we see more of the street running on Chesnut Street, then the first glimpse of the ocean as the train backs down some more street running on Beach Street towards the Boardwalk, an finally the #2600 framed underneath one of the archways into the Boardwalk. 

To be continued. 








Date: 08/11/19 22:34
Re: Two days at Roaring Camp- Part 1
Author: JDLX

I'm not big on roller coasters or other thrill rides, so after setting my daughter and her friend up with day passes for the rides I walked back out to Beach Street to watch the morning train starting its return trip to Felton.  Beach Street is one way for cars, and trains departing the Boardwalk go against the flow of auto traffic, which can be quite heavy especially on weekends.  It's not uncommon for the train to get a full police escort up Beach Street, and there are some entertaining videos of the scene up on Youtube.  Some drivers have been known to scream at the train that it's going the wrong way up the one way street.  We were there on a Thursday, which resulted in the light traffic seen here. 

To be continued. 








Date: 08/11/19 22:39
Re: Two days at Roaring Camp- Part 1
Author: JDLX

We were back on the afternoon train in time for the 4:15 p.m. scheduled departure.  The conductor in the first photo is having a group of kids scream the Highball to the engine crew #2600 over the radio, something he did on each segment of the trip.  The second photo is one of two wig-wags still in service on the street running along Chesnut Street, and the last photo is back in the redwoods, climbing the hill out of Santa Cruz.  There's evidence the SCBG has been doing a lot of trackwork recently along much of the line.  

To be continued. 








Date: 08/11/19 22:46
Re: Two days at Roaring Camp- Part 1
Author: JDLX

Last photos for this thread...the SCBG #2600 at the end of the day in Felton, we were stepping around the front of the train on our way back to our car parked next door in the Hentry Cowell Redwoods State Park day use area.  The other two pictures are of the yard area the next morning, one shows the road's former SP ballast hopper, which has been seeing a lot of use lately, along with the former Lonestar sand plant's 45-ton Whitcomb switcher and other equipment.  The Whitcomb had been spotted down next to the Graham Hill Road crossing earlier in the week but had been switched to where it is seen here.  It was the SCBG's first locmotive.  The last photo is the #2641, the other CF-7 now on the property, coupled to some of the other passenger equipment.

Thanks for looking, hope you enjoy this!

Jeff Moore
Elko, NV








Date: 08/12/19 11:16
Re: Two days at Roaring Camp- Part 1
Author: mcfflyer

Nice stuff, Jeff.  And great photos from an iPhone!

Lee Hower - Sacramento



Date: 08/12/19 13:21
Re: Two days at Roaring Camp- Part 1
Author: railstiesballast

Those on board pictures along the ocean should be something they use for publicity their publicity.
Where  else in the USA could one ride along the beach in an open car?
Thanks for sharing.



Date: 08/12/19 22:12
Re: Two days at Roaring Camp- Part 1
Author: webmaster

Thank you for the photos.  I suppose Roaring Camp will be the only revenue left on the Santa Cruz Branch Line.  We were up there last summer and visited the boardwalk and I was amazed at the Gridlock in town on a typical weekday. 

Todd Clark
Canyon Country, CA
Trainorders.com



Date: 08/13/19 11:40
Re: Two days at Roaring Camp- Part 1
Author: Ritzville

Very NICE series!

Larry



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