Tie a bandana around Rover’s neck so he’ll look the part as you explore Railtown 1897 Historic State Park, where you’ll hear that lonely whistle blow just like it has in movies and television shows as diverse as The Virginian, Little House on the Prairie, Petticoat Junction, The Lone Ranger and Back to the Future Part III. This engaging park, a branch of the California State Railroad Museum, is on the state’s hit list for closure in 2012 due to proposed budget reductions, so now is the time to pay a visit and salute California’s railroad heritage.
Visitors with dogs are welcome at this Tuolumne County treasure trove of all things railroad-related (but don’t forget to bring your own pickup bags). Docent-led tours explore the historic Sierra Railway Roundhouse, machine shops, locomotives and rail cars—or, you can explore on your own. Exhibits include a monitor showing clips from the many Hollywood productions in which Sierra No. 3, the park’s star attraction and the most widely seen locomotive in the world, has appeared.
Four-legged passengers are also welcome to ride in open “mountain observation” cars pulled by Sierra No. 3 and other vintage steam locomotives. Six-mile, 40-minute excursions operate weekends and holidays April through October, with special events offered throughout the year.
Photo:"Locomotive at Railtown" – Marcel Marchon (CC)