Dunsmuir Railroad Days

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, werformerly 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.   

Scandinavia Day Four: Copenhagen to Stockholm by Train

On our way down for breakfast at 6:30, we asked the receptionist for assistance deciphering our train tickets and reservations.  He indicated we should be there at 7 despite a departure time of 8:37.  We thereby returned quickly to our room for our luggage and had to forgo the breakfast buffet by which we had become so entranced.  We hurried to the train station and upon activating our Euro-Rail passes learned we were in fact quite early .. we learned our lesson and vowed not to make the same mistake again.   As an added penalty, we were forced to eat breakfast at McDonalds … and not surprisingly, they did not have a breakfast menu.  We thereby ate 1957 Burgers.  Hmmm

We made it to the correct platform (Spår) with the kind assistance of a DSB employee, Nicolai.  We were very thankful for his guidance as just minutes before we were to depart, they changed the platform … I’m not sure we would have been aware.  He was very friendly and even allowed the kids to wear his cap, though he wouldn’t allow me to take his photograph.  Sorry ladies …  

The train ride through the Swedish countryside was delightful – enabling us to take in so much. We arrived in Stockholm in the early afternoon and we promptly took a taxi to our hotel – Courtyard Marriott @ Fridhelmsplan.  Soon after we were settled in our room – a little smaller than our room in Copenhagen but meticulously clean, in fact it was a new hotel – we walked quite a distance along the water (Riddarfjärden) to Gamle Stan, Stockholm’s old town.

This historic island is charming, photogenic and full of antique shops and cafes.  Until the 1600s, all of Stockholm fit on Gamle Stan.  In time, German culture influenced art, architecture and even the language, turning Old Norse into modern Swedish.

We walked through the quaint narrow streets, made a few small purchases and coincidentally stumbled upon something taking place at the Royal Palace that may have been the changing of the guard, though the tourist literature indicated that this was to take place at an earlier time of the day, so we are not certain.

We opted to eat dinner here as well and selected Trotzig – a very nice, fine dining atmosphere.  Finally!  A meal worth the kroner!!

Canada’s Railway :: Book Sharing Monday

The Kids Book of Canada’s Railway and How the CPR Was Built 
by Deborah Hodge

  
We stumbled across this book at the Friends of Jasper National Park gift store in Jasper, British Columbia. Buddy became engrossed in the illustrations immediately.  I purchased it for him and to our delight, it became very useful when we discovered the Spiral Tunnel in Yoho National Park.  Prior to this trip we weren’t familiar with this engineering marvel – I had heard of similar tunnels in Norway but I didn’t know they existed in North America.

Buddy was spellbound.  Though it was very cold we waited for a train to pass through the tunnels while we were there.  Fortunately, on the drive to the viewpoint from Lake Louise, we had passed by two trains traveling in that direction so we knew if we were patient enough, our efforts would be rewarded.

November 7, 1885, marked the completion of one of the longest, most expensive, most challenging engineering feats in the world — the Canadian Pacific Railway. A ribbon of steel now united Canada from east to west. It took 30,000 workers less than five years to cross the wild land.  Working from both directions, teams of railroad workers laid track and blasted through the mountains.  When they finally broke through, the teams were within centimeters of matching perfectly.   

This is the story of Canada’s first transcontinental railway and the thousands of people who made the dream of a united Canada a reality. This is also a look at the freight trains, school trains, troop trains and passenger trains that helped shape a country, the people who worked and rode on them and what our railway system looks like today.  We’ve read it several times – it is fast becoming a favorite.

On our drive home, my little guy talked endlessly about the trains and began to describe a model that he planned to build upon our return.  He got started right away, collecting materials for the track (small sticks) and landscape (old pine cones for trees).  I was very impressed with his ingenuity and how well he and his sister worked together.  She had asked him if she could help and he was delighted.

Needless to say, we were very impressed with the prevalence of Canada’s railways and look forward to a future transcontinental journey aboard a passenger train.