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NMRA 2021 Virtual National Convention


July 6 – 10, 2021
Santa Clara, California

Prototype Tours

Chairman: Paul Deis

While we can't be there in person, here are some videos of four premier prototype destinations of the Pacific Coast Region.

Click the prototype tour name to start the video.

Niles Canyon Railway

Niles Canyon Railway photo Niles Canyon Railway – A railroad museum where the exhibits come to life! The Pacific Locomotive Association, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, operates Niles Canyon Railway as a living history museum interpreting the importance of our heritage railroads in the development of California and the nation. The purpose of the organization is to preserve the physical aspects and atmosphere of Pacific Coast railroading during the period from 1910 to 1960. Our mission is to develop and operate a working railroad museum for the benefit of the general public.

Website: ncry.org

Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad

Roaring Camp photo Roaring Camp – Where history come to life! Travel over trestles, through towering redwood groves and up a winding narrow-gauge grade to the summit of Bear Mountain as conductors narrate the history of Roaring Camp, the railroad and the forest. In the 1880s, narrow-gauge steam locomotives were used to haul giant redwood logs out of the mountains. Roaring Camp’s steam engines date from 1890 and are among the oldest and most authentically preserved narrow-gauge steam engines providing regularly scheduled passenger service in America.

Website: roaringcamp.com

Sturgeon's Mill

Sturgeon's Mill photo The technology of Sturgeon’s Mill dates to about 1865-70, only about 80 years after the start of the industrial revolution. In the early days, logs were pulled out of the woods with mules, oxen and horses, then hauled to mills such as this one. The development of the steam powered donkey engine in 1883 began replacing oxen and greatly increased the production of lumber.

This mill ran with a crew of 10 and could cut 15,000 feet of lumber per day. Eventually the mill’s technology could not compete. The big circle saws cut a 1/3 inch kerf which lost a lot of lumber to sawdust. The newer technology of band sawing (as early as 1914) was faster and cut a much thinner kerf. The mill closed down in 1964 and Jim Henningsen passed his interest in the mill to his son Harvey. Ralph Sturgeon passed his interest to his son Bob Sturgeon and daughter Essie Doty.

In 1992 a group of seven former mill workers and historians formed the core of the Sturgeon’s Mill Restoration Project each throwing in a $100 bill and a pledge to save this steam powered sawmill. The group found traction and more volunteers joined the restoration effort.

Today the working museum’s volunteer crew has grown from the original 7 to over 60 dedicated historians, craftsmen and women who not only operate the equipment and explain the histories of the mill and its machines, but work at restoring the equipment and the mill itself on the first Saturday of every month.

Watch the video to see a fantastic site and sight. It is probably one of the only steam lumber mills in the world still operating.

Website: sturgeonsmill.com

Another Video: Working Historical Steam Powered Lumber Mill

Bitter Creek Western Railroad

Bitter Creek Western photo The Bitter Creek Western Railroad (BCWRR) is a privately owned 7.5-inch gauge railroad operated for the benefit of children of all ages who enjoy playing trains. The Bitter Creek Western Railroad is located on the Nipomo Mesa just outside Arroyo Grande, CA about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco along Highway 101.

The railroad includes 1.2 miles (9.6 scale miles) of mainline with many sidings and two rail yards. The facilities include fourteen steaming bays, hydraulic lift and turntable. A 14x80 foot car barn, 3 bridges, 3 trestles, and 3 tunnels can be found along the way. Most mainline switches are motorized with spring points. There are six water sources amongst the trees, shrubs and flowers.

Website: bcwrr.org

Paul Deis
Protoype Tours Chairman
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