Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Locomotive fans ride trains at Railfest

From Ventura County Star.com: Locomotive fans ride trains at Railfest
The rain that soaked Ventura County on Sunday failed to dampen the excitement of train enthusiasts and children who braved the wet weather to attend Railfest 2012 in Fillmore.

"We have a 7-year-old who absolutely adores everything about trains, and we promised him a train ride and a look at the visitors center and all the model trains, so whether it rained or not, we were coming," said Mary Brehm, who came with husband, Ryan, and their two sons, Dylan and Evan.

The Ventura family planned to take a one-hour ride on a train pulled by Fillmore & Western's restored 1913 steam locomotive.

"I rode Thomas (the Tank Engine) here when I was a little kid," said Dylan, 7.

"I don't think anyone in the room is as excited as Dylan is," Ryan Brehm said as he snapped photos of his sons watching model trains.

The event organized by the Santa Clara River Valley Historical Society took place Saturday and Sunday in downtown Fillmore, and while the sunny weather Saturday brought out the crowds, crafts and food vendors packed up and left during the rain Sunday.

"This is the first time in 18 years that we've actually had one day of rain. We've had some sprinkles and misty stuff, but it's never been like this," said Michael "Dusty" Clark, the society's vice president, as he stood getting shelter from the downpour.

Tom and Gwen Cram drove from Los Angeles to spend Gwen's birthday at Railfest.

"We were up here a couple of months ago and just picked up the flier and decided we would come back, rain or not," said Tom Cram.

The couple said looking at the model trains brought back memories from their childhoods and that they were excited to be able to ride a steam train.

"This is disappearing from our culture, and so we want to at least keep riding while we can," said Tom Cram.

Fillmore & Western Railway's Baldwin 1913 Consolidation-type steam locomotive made its debut at Railfest 2011 after being restored.

As the locomotive pulled up to the depot at Fillmore hissing and spluttering after its first trip of the day, Scott Metcalf, carrying his son, Eric, 2, was among those disembarking.

"He loves trains. Even though it was raining, it was worth the trip. It's an impressive sight," said Metcalf, who lives in La CaƱada Flintridge.

Veronica Rooks from Ventura rode the train with her son, Travis, 5, whom she called "an absolute train enthusiast." "They let us off about halfway down, and they backed it up, and they put all this steam out so that we could get photo ops. And when it came by and the steam came out, you felt the power. It was amazing," she said.

Jared Bissen and Andrew Wilkinson of Fillmore & Western Railway were in the locomotive's cab keeping the boiler ticking over and driving the train.

"There's something about steam engines that are just magnificent, awesome, and it's a really neat deal to get it out and see all the kids smiles," Wilkinson said. "It makes all the work behind the scenes worthwhile."

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