Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Movie Queen

On Saturday we went to see one of the oldest steam engines, the Sierra #3, come back from retirement. Evidently this Engine is famous. She has been in over a hundred t.v. shows and movies  and has stared alongside many of the top movie stars for decades. No wonder she is know as the "Movie star locomotive."

In our family we affectionately know her as Doc and Marty's train. My sister Julie has a love of all things Back to the Future and especially the train from the third installment of the movie. This film was partly filmed in my hometown, when I was in high school. Some of my friends or acquaintances were extras in some of the old west scenes.

The #3 engine had gone into disrepair and required over a million dollars and 10 years to fully get back running. They made a really big deal about bringing her back out for more runs and hopefully more movies.

For her first run she was welcomed in to the Railtown station with sprays of water from the old time fire pumpers from the nearby Gold Rush towns.

It was quite and show. The kids really enjoyed watching the water spraying and the train chug in.

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) also showed up for event. Mark Twain spent some time in this area and there are several towns in the area with his name.  I think there used to be a cabin in Calaveras that he was said to have stayed but I don't think it is still there. He often shows up to events in this area.

After watching the train for awhile we took some time to tour the round house where there are a number of other engines and also some of their cars are stored. They had a lot more open for the public to see than I remember ever seeing before. We didn't just get to look in we were able to walk into and wander in among the engines and there were volunteers there to explain things and tell stories and facts about the trains or Railtown or the movies that had been filmed in that place. It isn't just the engines that often get used but the whole station and many of the coaches and such have also been used in many old westerns, Little house on the prairie, Bonanza and even some more recent shows including Back to the Future.

We didn't actually take a train ride this day. They really wanted a lot of money for the short trip on this day. We will have to do it another day when it isn't quite so new and pricy. We did get to see the blacksmith at work and took a ride on the turntable. The kids especially liked the little bike that they could push on the tracks.

Even though I have been to Railtown many many times in my life, this was one of the best visits we have ever had. We got to see so much more then we usually do. They really made this into quite a debut for the return of the "Move star Locomotive."

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