August 14, 2008

Labor Day Steam in Niles Canyon

If you're a Southern Pacific steam fan, or just dig vintage trains, the Niles Canyon Railway near Fremont is running three days of steam excursions on Labor Day Weekend with 4-6-2 No. 2472, one of the classiest engines in California. Owned and operated by the Golden Gate RR Museum, this handsome Pacific is completely at home in Niles, where she and her sisters used to roam in Espee passenger days. Saturday, August 30 will see a photographer's special with matching Harimann passenger cars, a typical SP consist through the canyon during the 1920s, 30s and 40s.

I was lucky enough to ride the Memorial Day photo train on May 24 (above), and it was a blast. This short canyon is Disneyland for railfans: there are places where the views are unchanged from 100 years ago. An added bonus: the line runs over the original right-of-way of the first transcontinental route, dating back to pre-Central Pacific days . . . some bridge abutments and culverts were completed in 1866 by the first Western Pacific Railroad.

Trains are running Saturday, Sunday and Monday. 2472 will be under steam all three days, but is running on Saturday and Monday only. On Sunday, she'll be on display with a short train next to the Sunol depot while the regular Niles Canyon train operates. For more information or to buy tickets, click HERE.