Monday, July 16, 2012

Day 14 - Felton and Santa Cruz

Today, we spent half a day at a tourist attraction in the mountains east of Santa Cruz near the town of Felton. My wife loves trains and I really enjoy the sounds associated with steam locomotives. This one runs on oil and consumes about 80 gallons per run up the mountain and about 400 gallons of water. It is a narrow gauge train and runs just about every day during the summer.

The steam engine slowly works its way up the mountain using switchbacks and once at the top, there is a short stop for everyone to stretch their legs. By switchbacks, I mean the train works it's way up the mountain going back and forth while a switch man moves the rails so the train can continue uphill. The design was unique, at least for me, with three vertical cylinders driving a shaft running the length of the engine on the right side. That's why the firebox is offset to one side. I think I think it's a Shay locomotive and designed for the hill climbing task due to the gear reduction and all of the wheels are driven for more traction.


The train seems to be in wonderful condition and I love all the wonderful mechanical sounds I associate with steam locomotives. Maybe that's why I like the old airheads as they make a variety of nice mechanical sounds. While we were up in the mountains, we found a few more geocaches including a real cool one hidden in a drilled out rusty bolt.

We then arrived back at the hotel in time for a family picture and a banquet. Entertainment was a slide show showing how everyone was doing. I really do enjoy these reunions and it ends tomorrow morning. Not enough time.

Tomorrow, I start heading back north sort of diagonally across California towards eastern Oregon. No rush as I think it's only 784 miles. And I have 3½ days to get there.


  1. that's a cool looking train Richard....I wonder if Mr Riepe has heard of that type of train.


    Redleg's Rides

    Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

    1. I think it is designed for climbing hills due to the number of driven wheels (all of them).

  2. Richard:

    There are not that many steam engines left. We have a famous one here called the Royal Hudson but they don't take it out much, mostly just on display at the Squamish Railway Museaum. I like the sounds of the "chugging"

    that engine seems like a unique design

    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

    1. This really was a cool engine and it made wonderful mechanical sounds. Not too many of the steam ones still running...

  3. Great pictures of the trains. It looks like a fun way to spend the day.

    At least you will have a nice easy pace riding to Baker City. Maybe you can see some sights on the way too.

    See you Friday.

    1. It was a great way to spend the day and the geocaching was fun as well.

      Only 440 miles to Baker City. Not sure how I'll break it up into two days...

  4. There's a back trail from Graham Hill Road to the top of the railroad tracks I used to walk my dogs up, somewhat illegally. The top of Thunder Mountain was quite surreal with the railroad tracks and no one there.