Motorcars, Speeders and Railcars

By Wayne Parsons

Ione Rail Fair 2007 - Amador Foothill Railroad

May 12 & 13, 2007 - Presented By

Recreational Railroad Coalition, Inc - Larry Bowler, President

Motorcar Operators West - Dave Balestreri, Meet Coordinator

The Amador Central Railroad, now known as the Amador Foothill Railroad, runs 11.6 miles from Ione to Martell, CA.  Ione was the interchange point with the Southern Pacific and at Martell was the line's sole customer the Georgia Pacific lumber mill.  GP ran the line until around 2005 when operations ended.  At one time there was an additional four tenths of a mile long spur that ran from the mill into Martel making the line exactly 12 miles total.  The track is 75 pound rail from the Carnegie mills (dated 1900 and 1905) with good ties and ballast.  The RRC has leased the line and taken over preservation duties.  This unique situation, where members of the motorcar hobby control the rail, is due to the personal initiative and dynamic leadership of Larry Bowler, President of RRC.  MOW ran two daytime and one night run on Saturday and two daytime runs on Sunday.   If you have a photo you'd like included, please e-mail me at the address below.

Views from the rails.

This was the interchange yard.  The City of Ione is trying to get Union Pacific to donate the old freight station so it can be restored and used for civic functions.  As part of the Rail Fair the public could operate a hand car.  Down the tracks in the trees is where the Wye (under restoration) meets the SP main line.
Speeders depart on the first Saturday run around 9:00 AM following the safety meeting. 


The line crosses busy Highway 88 three times in the 10.5 mile run.  With flagmen and the working lights and gates, the crossings go smoothly and without incident for all trips.  Thank you to all the volunteer flagmen (flag persons) who made our day so safe and easy.




The mill at Martell is visible in the distance as the motorcars approach the turn around point.


This fourth crossing of Highway 88 is the limit for motorcar operations.  The turn-around pad is to the right of this shot.


These wide vistas of valley cattle ranches and far hills dotted with California Oak trees more than qualify the Amador Foothill RR as a very scenic ride!



When returning to Ione, cars without turntables turned on this wide shoulder under the protection of the flagman.

Breakdowns required an immediate tow.  Otherwise Rob Finch could have refueled.


The freight station that Ione would like to save was built using one of the standard designs that Southern Pacific RR had for such buildings.  Two photos show the freight doors.  The first boarded up opening in the lower photo is for the missing bay window and on the right is the office door.


This is the second operating kerosene switch lantern that was on display during the rail fair courtesy of Larry Shaw.  If you walked around the yard Saturday night you would have seen it lit.

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