Saturday, August 13, 2005

Diamond & Caldor Shay Locomotive No. 4

For the last two Saturdays I've helped friend Keith Berry renovate a passenger rail car at the El Dorado California Museum. The parlor car was once owned by Taco Bell founder Glen Bell's defunk Westside & Cherry Valley Railway.

Keith and members of the El Dorado Western Railway Foundation someday plan to operate the refurbished parlor car, with a caboose and a flatbed car, as an excursion train on the abandoned Southern Pacific Placerville branch line.

The train will be pulled by the only surviving Shay locomotive from the Diamond & Caldor Railway, which carried lumber from the Caldor sawmill 35 miles west to the a planing and box mill in Diamond Springs.

As the weather cools, I plan to bring my Dutch ovens to the engine house at the El Dorado County Museum and cook some railroad vitles for the volunteers. More in a couple months. It's still too hot to cook.

Diamond & Caldor Ry. Shay locomotive no. 4 is about two years away from full steam operation. Keith and a team of volunteers, many skilled machinists, have labored for 10 years to renovate the only surviving Shay engine from the D&C.

The interior of the Westside & Cherry Valley Ry. Passenger car. According to Keith, Bell built the parlor car on an original logging flatbed car. The flat car is about 100 years old today. Bell operated the tourist rail line in the late 1970s in Tuolumne, California.

Volunteers Rob McMillian (left) and Keith Berry contemplate their next move as they renovate the exterior siding of the passenger car. Rob is a finish carpenter who recently started volunteering his time for the project. Keith has been involved for 10 years.

Volunteers work on their projects each Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon to avoid the summer heat. For the past two Saturdays, Rob, Keith and I have stripped the weathered siding from the car's exterior. Rob replaced rotten stubs and cross-pieces while Keith and I cleaned and prepared the car for new siding.

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