Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

August 30, 2005 > 5th Annual Washington Township Railroad Fair

5th Annual Washington Township Railroad Fair

by John Fisher

A train runs through it, Ardenwood Historic Farm, that is. For three days the 1889 Porter Tank Engine, brought in for this special occasion, will burn wood, produce steam and ferry passengers through the park. Visitors can also ride on an 1885 North Pacific railroad flat car pulled by either Jiggs or Tucker, the park's resident Belgian draft horses. The track route is one and a half miles long, running through cultivated fields and Eucalyptus groves.

Authentic period costumes will bring the by-gone railroad era to life. Brakemen and drivers will tell stories giving color to the railroad experience. Smiths, carpenters, laborers and mechanics ply their craft, demonstrating for the public the necessary maintenance and restoration efforts required to operate a railroad.

The rail camp on display is a replica of railroad Americana; a microcosm of the rough camp life, usually a temporary combination headquarters, supply depot and general hub of activities.

Can you drive a spike? Pump a Pumper? During this event you can try your hand at one or both. Feel the weight of the hammer and hear the clang as you pound a metal spike into a wooden tie or find out if you have the strength to pump the Pumper, also known as a hand car, down the track.

Hobo camp life is endemic to the railroad, hitting its peak during the Depression Era of the '30's. "Riding the rails" and "catching a freight" were synonymous terms used frequently in the past. Mostly men rode the rails, looking for work, and to some, it became a way of life, proud to be called a "hobo." Camp life was seeing old acquaintances, catching up on histories, reminiscing... all now nostalgia.

Featured on Saturday evening will be a genuine Hobo meal serving Mulligan Stew. (Dinner between 5 & 8 p.m.) Call 866-417-7277 for reservations. The $5.00 charge is a bargain to have bragging rights about the time you ate in a real "Hobo Camp" with guest singers, fiddlers and a "prince of the rails" around the old camp fire. Eating Mulligan Stew with fellow "hobos" may be the closest you can come to participating in the past "on the rails."

Model railroaders and enthusiasts will be delighted with a display presented by the Bay Area Garden Railway Society. There is nothing more pleasing to the eye than watching a model train, accurately scaled with scenery including bridges, towns and buildings, all a fascinating panorama. This event promises fun for the whole family.

5th Annual Washington Township Railroad Fair
Saturday- Monday, Sept. 3 - 5
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Ardenwood Historic Park
34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont
Tickets: $8 adults, $6 seniors 62+, $5 children 4-17

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