Dewi's Trains,
Trams & Trolleys

Around America by train:
San Francisco to Auburn, CA

[Previous segment]  [Around America Page]  [Next segment

Amtrak 6638 (a bus) to Emeryville

At this point Dewi still had not realized that the bus to Emeryville had been announced, twice, inside the Amtrak office. Eufron came staggering out with the two suitcases, and at the same time Dewi saw that the bus had arrived, and so ran across to her and we boarded for the short but active bus ride to Emeryville.

Amtrak 538 (a train) to Auburn, CA

The Auburn train arrived, very self-important, pushed by the loco. We boarded car 4 (Auburn) and went upstairs. Dewi was able to go to car 5 (driving trailer) and stand beside the engineer, looking out the front. Crowds got on in Sacramento: our train had turned into the commuter train! At Roseville, we went past the enormous J.R. Davis railway yards - and I got to see the Green Goat, the prototype of a new low-emission, low-noise, low-cost hybrid diesel/battery switching locomotive. Three stops after Sacramento, it was Auburn - no need to tell the conductor we wanted to get off as it was the final stop. In setting plans to meet us, our friends had had trouble getting Amtrak to acknowledge that it did have a train to Auburn. No wonder: there's no station, and only car 4 opens its doors, directly onto a gravel area with commuters' cars parked on it. Our friends were waiting, to sweep us to dinner at Appleville restaurant and to their home, which is out in the country near Grass Valley, very quiet and peaceful.

Grass Valley

Next day we were off towards Portola.

First, through Grass valley. It's an old gold mining area: the town is ON TOP OF gold mine shafts, and we could see a stamper and Pelton wheel on display. The are many old buildings, what looked like wooden sidewalks, and balconies of filigree ironwork.
Then on to Nevada City, once a strong rival to Grass Valley. Saw another, bigger stamper and Pelton wheel. There used to be a lake in between these two cities: it has been drained for housing and commercial buildings, but the water table is still 2 feet below surface. Nevada City is similar in style to Grass valley, similar but different. There are many tiny miners houses (tiny houses, not tiny miners) still around Nevada. City. The Court House and City Hall there similar in style, with Art Deco lettering, and also an old theatre, used over the years for many purposes and now for visiting stage shows.

We continued on to Portola: up and up, 5000 ft, 6000ft, with a pass at 6701ft. Plenty of snow, but old, dirty snow. Arrived at Portola in pouring rain, entered the museum, and waited for the train driving man.

Driving a Diesel Locomotive

We arranged to drive after the 2pm group, i.e. at 3pm, and then we left in search of food. The Railroad Cafe was closed. The Canyon Cafe was closed for April. We had a choice of Mexican or Chinese, so we chose the Hong Kong, and immediately ordered Tsing-Tao beer. Went back to the museum, but the previous group were still driving. We boarded the yard loco, the instructor pulled the loco forward and demonstrated the brake, throttle (8 power settings), reverser, and horn. I started forward (power 2) and advanced around the curve to a crossing, where I blew the horn (dah dah dit dah). Then it was time to cut the power, apply the brake, and stop more or less correctly. Then of course it was time to do it in reverse, back to the start, and do it all again. Then Ray had a turn, then me again, and I tried a hill start on the gentle slope. The tricky part is the brake; stop not too hard, not too soft. You have to apply the brakes fully and then release to the level that you need. Ray drove the loco back to the start point, and then it was time to pay the dues and get the paper work.

Back we went to the Hong Kong, and our lunch was ready, at about 4:20pm. Delicious! Then we drove to Reno, following a scenic route hrough the Sierras (on this trip we drove through both the Spooner summit - 7146 ft and the Donner summit - 7239 ft).
In Reno, we had a light dinner in the Irish-themed "Molly's" and went early to bed.

Next morning, we left Reno without gambling at all, to drive down Route 395 to Carson City and the Nevada State railroad museum. The interior exhibits are beautifully restored and repainted, better than they ever were "in life". In the main hall and in the workshop shed, the people on duty were very knowledgeable and willing to tell us. After the museum, we drove off to Lake Tahoe, with a stop for photos. It's a beautiful area.

After lunch, it was back to Grass Valley for dinner, chicken cooked by Marilyn.


Next morning: we put dirty clothes into the washer while we had breakfast: cinnamon bread toasted.  We were on the way to Sacramento, and we drove by way of the Interstate-80, which we last drove in 1970-something. The first stop in Sacramento was to Amtrak, to deposit our cases; then to Old Sacramento and the California State Railroad Museum. It really is very well done. There is the last remaining cab-forward Southern Pacific engine (very interesting), and lots of other stuff. They have a CN passenger car, a sleeper combination, that simulates movement and bouncing and tilting. There are also outside exhibits dominated by Thomas the Tank Engine, but in addition there is an interesting Nevada Copper motor car.

We took a short walk in Old Town, then under the freeway to the K-street mall, to find the light rail. At Rose of Lima park, we boarded the light rail to go to Maher Field and back and managed to get off one stop too soon. We walked the remaining distance. There's a slightly unpleasant feel to that neighbourhood after the daytime pedestrians have left: rather run down.

Click on thumbnail for larger picture.

image Fuji0001
View from front of Amtrak train 538 to Auburn, CA
Photo Fuji0001 on 08/04/2002
image 1066_23
Diesel locomotive, Portola RR museum
Photo 1066_23 on 27/04/2002
image 1069_00
The diesel yard locomotive that I drove at Portola RR museum
Photo 1069_00 on 29/04/2002
image 1069_03
Interior of cab, diesel yard loco, Portola RR museum
Photo 1069_03 on 29/04/2002
image 1069_04
Interior of cab, Dewi driving diesel yard loco, Portola RR museum
Photo 1069_04 on 29/04/2002
image 1069_09
View from cab window: what the engineer saw: Portola RR museum
Photo 1069_09 on 29/04/2002
image 1069_11
Dewi leaving diesel yard loco, Portola RR museum
Photo 1069_11 on 29/04/2002
image 1069_14
Nevada State RR museum, Carson City
Photo 1069_14 on 29/04/2002
image 1069_18
California State RR museum, Sacamento
Photo 1069_18 on 29/04/2002
image 1069_20
Cab-forward loco in California State RR museum, Sacramento
Photo 1069_20 on 29/04/2002
image 1069_21
Cab-forward loco in California State RR museum, Sacramento
Photo 1069_21 on 29/04/2002
image Fuji0009
Nevada Copper Belt motor car, California State RR Museum
Photo Fuji0009 on 11/04/2002
image 1069_16
Sacramento light rail train, seen from highway
Photo 1069_16 on 29/04/2002
image Fuji0010
Sacramento light rail train near Rose of Lima park
Photo Fuji0010 on 11/04/2002
image Fuji0011
Sacramento light rail train rounding corner near the K-street Mall.
Photo Fuji0011 on 11/04/2002

[Around America Page]  [Trains Page]  [Home]  [About]
This page last updated on 22/04/2006 19:33:04.