A group of vintage railroad maintenance car enthusiasts recently landed in Lakeview for an overnight stay and day-long excursion trip into Alturas, Calif.
The Pacific Rail Car Operators Club brought 25 cars to Lakeview on Friday, May 17, with more than 50 members in attendance. The group partook in a day-long excursion trip along the Lake County Railroad’s 55-mile short line to Alturas, Calif., as part of its visit.
Bill Andrews, the club’s excursion coordinator, noted that the club is based in Oregon and has a membership base in multiple states, including Idaho, Washington and California.
A primary purpose of excursion trips, such as their Lakeview visit, is to keep money in local communities in support of local tourism, he said.
“It brings a lot of revenue to the communities when we come,” he said.
The group convened at 8 a.m. on the morning of their trip for a safety meeting. As a hobbyist group, they take safety very seriously, Andrews said.
In 19 years as an organization, there have been no incidents, he noted. Their travels included 1,500-mile trips in British Columbia, as well as a 1,000 mile journey into Mexico, Andrews said.
The rail cars are a part of the American railroad’s illustrious historical landscape, marking a bygone era of sorts. These vehicles were dedicated to use as transportation for maintenance crews that inspected rail lines for needed work or repair, Andrews said.
As a true sign of the times, they were eventually replaced with high-rail rigs. These are essentially modern pickup trucks that feature hydraulically-operated wheels that afford rail travel, Andrews said.
Andrews’ own rig happened to be a 1978 Fairmont, which was formerly designated to the railroad in Joplin, Mo., where his mother, coincidentally, was born.