Sunday, July 08, 2012

Railroading on the Central Coast

We finally made it up to Arroyo Grande, where my high-school friend Karen H.’s brother-in-law Karl owns and manages the Bitter Creek Western Railroad, ten acres of private property where train buffs can work on and ride their narrow-gauge model trains. Several times a year Karl hosts organized “runs,” where train owners and their fans are welcome to camp on the grounds and operate their trains. The 4th of July run is one of the largest, attracting model railroad folks from around the world.

Bitter Creek Western, which is maintained by Karl and a group of volunteer train aficionados, features more than a mile of track that takes riders over and through three bridges, three trestles, and four tunnels. Riders catch trains as they pass a small station, located at the foot of a short hill where Karl lives. Passengers are invited aboard depending on how many seats are available. Some trains can accommodate several riders, while others offer just one or two seats. Trains run all day long, so there are lots of opportunities to ride. We had a ton of fun looking at the various types of trains—steam, electric, lawnmower motor!—and taking leisurely rides. It’s easy to see how people can become so addicted to railroading.

Karen H. and a train

Readying a train to run

Karen's husband Eric getting ready to take us on a ride

Trains running

The grounds

Riding over a trestle

Engine detail: When asked if everything worked or was
 just decoration, the engineer replied, "Nothing here is 'just decoration.'"

Karen H., Eric, Stephanie, and Karl

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