Train rides are expected to resume at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, with passengers limited to 25% capacity, about 20 people per passenger rail car, due to ongoing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

Workers and volunteers prepared the Baldwin Whitcomb diesel electric locomotive No. 1265 to pull a four-car passenger train last Saturday with a training ride for park volunteers, which was for park staff only. Rides for the public will begin Saturday and Sunday.

Following state-issued pandemic protocols, face masks are required for all park staff and visitors. Two of the four train cars operating will be open-air cars, and all cars will be cleaned and sanitized between each train ride. Special attention will be focused on high-touch points, such as grab irons and handrails.

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park never closed 100% during the pandemic. In March 2020, the park closed all buildings to public access and kept the park grounds open. From March 2020 to May 2020, no admission was required to walk outside on the park grounds.

In May 2020, the park began allowing visitors back in the park store at 50% capacity, and began charging park admission fees again, $5 for adults, $3 for ages 6 to 17, and free admission for ages 5 and younger. Park admission fees remain in place this weekend and going forward.

The park ran some passenger trains at 50% capacity in October, then shut the train rides down again. The park grounds and the store remained open to the public, and other park buildings were closed to the public. 

Polar Express trains were cancelled in December. That was a big loss of income for California State Parks and the California State Railroad Museum Foundation, Dianna Turner, a senior park aide in Jamestown, said Friday. The park’s last public train ride was on Veterans Day in November.

Park staff are trying to sell train ride tickets for the upcoming rides in groups of four to ensure social distancing on passenger train cars, Jeannie Teschke, programs and events coordinator for the California State Railroad Museum Foundation, said Friday. The park will also sell individual tickets to solo riders.

Train ride tickets include the cost of park admission. For Saturday and Sunday, tickets are supposed to cost $50 for four adult passengers, $40 for three adults, $30 for two adults and $15 for one adult. Ages 6 to 17 can ride for $10, and ages 5 and younger can ride free.

Public train rides on Saturday and Sunday are scheduled at 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m., and 3 p.m. Public train rides are billed as 6-mile, 45-minute round-trip excursions.

Following the first weekend of April, Railtown 1897 State Historic Park will offer what they call Wildflower Trains, once a day, at 4:15 p.m. on April 10 and 11 and April 17 and 18. Wildflower Train tickets are $68 for four adults, $54 for three adults, $40 for two adults, and $20 for one adult. Park staff this week said Wildflower Train excursions will include a stop along the way so visitors can get off the train and walk among blooming wildflowers

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park is one of two complete steam-era rail yards remaining in the U.S., Rob Rief, a California State Parks interpreter, said Thursday.

For more information about hours, admission prices, train ride ticket prices or COVID-19 restrictions, visit www.railtown1897.org online.

Contact Guy McCarthy at gmccarthy@uniondemocrat.net or 770-0405. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.

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