This past weekend, we surprised the kids with an impromptu excursion in Dunsmuir that coincided with the annual Dunsmuir Railroad Days. It was a great family getaway, delighting everyone. I was even a little surprised with how much #1 enjoyed our accommodations. The photo here shows her reaction as we pulled into the resort. We stayed in the Southern Pacific caboose shown below. As we settled in, #2 exclaimed, “This is my dream!” as he quickly dropped his bag and ran outside to begin exploring the grounds.
In its golden era, Dunsmuir was once an important, thriving railroad community. Formerly named “Pusher”, this was the spot where additional locomotives were added onto the trains, to “push” them up the steep grade to Mt. Shasta. In 1968, the Murphy family, local descendents of pioneering railroaders, decided to collect and preserve the old rail era, by transforming rail cars into beautifully renovated units. A collection of cabooses, flat cars and box cars were acquired and work was started. “Murphy’s Pond” a popular swimming pond was the first phase of the project. In the years following, additional cabooses were transformed into motel units as well as a swimming pool and spa which completed the project. The Murphy Family still proudly owns and actively operates this family business.
After a quick picnic dinner, we drove into Dunsmuir for a quick tour of the quaint town. We checked out a few of the train cars and marveled at the roundhouse. We were excited to learn that the following day, we could climb aboard the engine as it went turned around on the turn-table. We returned to our caboose later that evening and enjoyed a soak in the spa. We met a kind gentleman from San Francisco with whom we exchanged stories of our travels and adventures. We can’t wait to check out some of the places he recommended to us.
On Saturday, we returned downtown to further partake in the festivities. The kids participated in a Little Mister and Little Miss Engineer contest – whereby #1 brought home a trophy for her age group. Sadly, public speaking has never been #2’s strong suit and he competed against a 9 year old returning champion. He earned 2nd place and was given a ribbon – but he was in tears. A good learning experience nonetheless.
A highlight was the Speeder Car ride up the track. Speeder Cars, otherwise known as railway motor cars, were formerly used on railroads around the world by track inspectors and work crews to move quickly to and from work sites. Although it is slow compared to a train or car, it is called speeder because it is faster than the human-powered vehicle that predates them.
Speeder cars were replaced in the 1990s with pickup trucks with flanged wheels. Now Speeders are collected by hobbyists who refurbish them and use them for short excursions and outings.