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August 28, 2007 > Tour on wheels at Railroad Fair

Tour on wheels at Railroad Fair

By Anuja Seith

Puffs of steam exhaled from the 1889 Porter Tank Engine will greet visitors to the Seventh Annual Washington Township Railroad Fair at Ardenwood Historic Park this weekend. History will come alive as steam and horse-drawn trains roll down the tracks of Arden Station picking up passengers, ferrying them through prolific corn fields, lush eucalyptus groves then dropping them off at Deer Park Station. Rail lore, equipment and authentic "smithing" of parts await rail enthusiasts. If you love to ride on trains and cherish rolling stock on rails, then the Porter Tank locomotive is a rare treat. For others, it is a bit of the past that not only makes history come alive, but lets you participate as well. Drivers, and brakemen attired in costumes of 19th century railroad workers operate railroads and take you back 100 years in time to days when these rails were an important part of everyday commercial life.

You can garnish the Porter Tank treat with a jaunt on hand cars, also known as pump cars, horse driven train rides pulled by Belgian Draft Horses, and a railroad exhibit that will demonstrate the operation of industrial switchers - small engines used to pull rail cars in a rail yard. There will also be demonstrations of equipment maintenance of the late 19th century. The Society for the Preservation of Carter Railroad Resources will also be working on the restoration of an antique car; visitors can watch smiths, carpenters and mechanics mould iron, lay tracks and tend brake and gears as they bring this car to action. A model railroad display located in the farmyard includes accurately designed bridges, buildings and towns to delight rail enthusiasts of all ages.

The Fair will not provide visitors with fun on wheels but also satisfy cravings when hunger intrudes. Hamburgers, barbeque and ice cream will be available accompanied by lively music playing throughout the day. If history is the call of the day, try sampling the treats baked at the historic country kitchen with wooden stoves and touring the lavish 1856 Victorian style Patterson mansion.

The farm and all its animals including strutting peacocks, chickens, goats, cows and other barnyard denizens will also be on hand to greet visitors. As a final touch, Arden Forge, the blacksmith shop, housed in 1890 wooden building using traditional methods will be operating. The fair promises a fun weekend for everyone whether a railroad aficionado or those looking for a pleasant outing to appreciate history, nature or just enjoy food and good music.

Washington Township Railroad Fair
Saturday-Monday, Sept. 1-3
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Ardenwood Historic Park
34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont
(510) 796-0663
Tickets: $8 adults, $6 seniors 62+, $ 5 children 4-17, and children 3 and under
Free Parking

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