On Saturday, Dec. 1, for one night only, Railtown 1897 State Historic Park's Sierra No. 3 will visit Sonora to thank the community for helping keep Railtown rolling and to show off the restored locomotive.
It will be stopped from 5 to 8 p.m. at South Washington Street and Hospital Road.
Visitors will be able to climb aboard and visit with Santa. Hot chocolate, carolers and lots of holiday lights will be part of the free event. Parking is available in the old Tuolumne General Hospital parking lot.
The Sierra No. 3 became known as the movie star locomotive after starring in more than 100 movies and television productions along with world-famous actors in Tuolumne County, beginning in the early 1900s. It went back online in 2010 after a three-year, $1.5 million restoration project, largely paid for by hundreds of railroad enthusiasts who were willing to give their time and money to get it back on the tracks.
It's also one of the oldest operating steam locomotives in the United States.
Bringing No. 3 to Sonora is a joint effort of the Sonora Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, the Sierra Northern Railway, the California State Railroad Museum Foundation and J.S. West.
It is meant as a thank you to the people of Tuolumne County for helping to keep Railtown open. Members of the community donated thousands of dollars in 2012 to support the park, which was threatened with closure this year for the third time in 10 years.