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Rotary clubs raise $75K for Railtown

The five Tuolumne County Rotary clubs have raised enough money to match a $75,000 grant from the Sonora Area Foundation intended to keep Railtown 1897 State Historic Park afloat, at least for a while.

John Zach, of the Twain Harte Rotary Club and one of the organizers of a campaign to keep the park open, said Tuesday that the clubs have met the foundation’s challenge. 


The announcement comes in the wake of a June 5 public vote against expanding a lodging tax to temporarily fund Railtown and the Mother Lode Fairgrounds.

The Rotary organizations put together three events to raise funds for Railtown — the annual Seven Sisters celebrity dinner, a raffle for a new Corvette and a special event held Saturday at the park. 

The winner of the raffle opted to take a cash prize instead of the vehicle, leading to a bid-off for the new Corvette to raise extra money.

“All the Rotarians are really excited,” Zach said.

The local organizations started the fundraiser campaign before the tax vote, as even if the tax had passed, the park would still require outside funds to carry it through this season. 

The park is on a list of state parks set to close July 1 due to budget cuts.

Representatives with the state Department of Parks and Recreation have not formally said Railtown will stay open this season but have expressed optimism they can use the private funds to do so. 

A group of Railtown supporters also was scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon to discuss new ideas for funding the park beyond the end of this season, should it stay open.

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