For most main lines, grades normally do not exceed 1% and most are kept under 2%. However, on occasion, in rugged terrain such as the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains, grades sometimes range from 2 to 3%. Anything above 3% is considered very steep and most such routes have been eliminated in the present day. Interestingly, 9% grades, or sometimes even greater, were not uncommon in logging operations, where Shays and other geared steam locomotives regularly roamed. In addition to the grades, Mr. Clark's railroad featured two large wooden trestles which formed a classic corkscrew loop at Spring Canyon.
Steam Locomotive Roster
Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow Gauge 2-Truck Shay #1, "Dixiana" (Operational. Originally built by the Lima Locomotive Works in 1912 as Alaculsy Lumber Company #3.)
Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow Gauge 2-Truck Heisler #2 "Tuolumne" (Operational. Originally built by the Stearns Manufacturing Company as West Side Lumber #3 in 1900.)
Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow Gauge 0-4-2T #3, "Kahuku" (Operational. Originally built by the Burnham Parry Williams & Company [Baldwin Locomotive Works] in 1890 as Kahuku Plantation #1.)
Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow Gauge 2-Truck Climax #5 "Bloomsburg" (Under restoration. Originally built for the Elk River Coal & Lumber by the Climax Locomotive Works in 1928 as #3.)
Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow Gauge 2-Truck Climax #6 "Daisy" (Display. Originally built by the Lima Locomotive Works as Elk & Little Kanawha Railroad #7 in 1912.)
Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow Gauge 3-Truck Climax #7 "Sonora" (Operational. Originally built by the Lima Locomotive Works as West Side Lumber #4 in 1911.)
By 1963 the Shay (given #1 and named "Dixiana" from the small community where it was acquired) and railroad were ready for service. Mr. Clark's original idea grew quickly in popularity, despite a 1976 fire that destroyed the two wooden trestles and resulted in switchbacks being constructed in their place. Today, these switchbacks are still in use although there remains an effort to have the bridges rebuilt. In December of 1985 Mr. Clark passed away with his widow taking over operation of the railroad. Today, it is still owned and managed by the Clark Family and the current fleet of locomotives is quite impressive: all three of the common, geared steam designs can be found there including two operational Shays, a Heisler in service, and a Climax under restoration.
In 1985 the Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad expanded its business when it launched the Santa Cruz, Big Trees & Pacific Railway. This new system took over the former Southern Pacific's Felton Branch between Felton and Santa Cruz, a one-time narrow-gauge system converted to standard-gauge under SP. With declining customers and washouts SP cutback the line to Rincon, which was later restored to Santa Cruz under Mr. Clark. With Felton as the base of all operations visitors can ride excursion trains on either the narrow-gauge segment or the standard-gauge line to Santa Cruz, which offers the unique experience of trains running along the city's streets.
Thanks to the relatively mild climate, you can ride their trains throughout the year. There are two primary excursions offered: the "Redwood Forest Steam Train" on the original Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow Gauge or the "Santa Cruz Beach Train" to Santa Cruz. In addition, you can enjoy several special events hosted throughout the year including dinner trains, trips for many major holidays, and visits by "Thomas The Tank Engine" for the kids. To plan a visit and ride their trains please visit the Roaring Camp's website.
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Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad