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A Historic Match Made on Railroad Tracks

OAKHURST–The weekend of Saturday, August 28 and Sunday, August 29 brings together two area icons:  Fresno Flats Historic Village and Park partnered with Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad. The organizations share much in common in interpreting the history of our southern Yosemite/Sierra Nevada region.

Thornberry Museum at Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad

This isn’t the first time the two have joined together in projects. Fresno Flats assisted the railroad crew in restoring the exterior of the historic Thornberry Log Cabin Logging Museum. The project capitalized on the complementary skills and experience of both organizations and was a result of the outcome of the Fresno Flats crew’s work displayed in the historically accurate restoration of one of their buildings. When YMSPRR saw the results, the railroad asked if Fresno Flats would join with them in renovating the historic Thornberry Log Cabin Logging Museum.

As a follow up to that collaborative effort, Dr. Ken Machoian, Fresno Flats director of buildings and grounds and a volunteer docent, conceived of a public event capitalizing on both historic sites and their trained staff and volunteers.

For the price of a railroad ticket ($30 for adults; $18, children 3 to 12. Two and under are free.) Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad and Fresno Flats present a program for all ages, centered on train rides but featuring hands-on historic-era activities. From simple children’s games and toy crafts to more challenging lumberjack log sawing, designed to appeal to teens and adults, participants learn skills and earn an appreciation for the pioneer spirit and development of tool and implement technology.

Additional participative and demonstrative activities include button toy making, candle making, authentic games, roof wood shake (shingle) making, two-person cross-cut log sawing, ropemaking, Gold Rush song singing, yarn spinning, pioneer storytelling, and folk dancing. Something for everyone, depending on physical ability and maturity level.

Dr. Machoian leads the Fresno Flats Museum team, along with Laurie Thiessen, Director of Docents. Scott McGhee, General Manager of YMSPRR, assisted by Operations Supervisor Mike Hubble head the railroad team.

Learning to pan for gold

Laurie Thiessen, Director of Docents and an experienced historical reenactor and living history guide, guides the various crafts, which will be provided by craftspeople including Sandra and Paul Adelizi. Paul is employed by the Department of Fish and Game and brings to the event knowledge of a wide variety of outdoor crafts. Laurie’s daughter, Rebekah Thiessen, is an area folk musician and historical tour guide. Ken Machoian contributes his woodcraft skills as well as previous service as an interpreter of history at Yosemite National Park, stationed at the Pioneer History Center at Wawona.

Children’s activities abound on Pioneer Days at the Railroad

Several more challenging activities are designed to appeal to teens and adults, in which they will learn skills and earn an appreciation for the pioneer spirit and development of tool and implement technology.

In addition to the special activities planned for the day, the railroad offers its normal  happenings such as gold panning, museum, gift shops, toy store, snack shop, as well as giving narrated excursions aboard the Logger Steam Train.

This is just one of the special goings-on the railroad offers during its 2021 season. Scott McGhee says, “One of our goals this season was to have a special event every month. Unfortunately, our Easter event was cancelled due to the weather incident, but we did have events for Mother’s Day weekend, Father’s Day, and Independence Day. The Pioneer Days event is for August. In September and October we are having a Jazz Train which will be followed by our harvest trains and Halloween Limited.”

In 2022 the railroad has set a goal to once again offer its annual Melodrama presentation, in collaboration with Golden Chain Theatre.

The railroad also offers its always-popular Wednesday night and Saturday night Moonlight Special, which includes a BBQ dinner, a train ride and entertainment by Sugar Pine—an event not to be missed.

At about 5,000 feet elevation in the hamlet of Fish Camp, Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad serves as a usually-cooler alternative to lower elevations in the heat of a Sierra Nevada summer, a great getaway anytime. Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad’s season is scheduled to run through October, weather permitting.

Advance reservations are required. Make them via the railroad at YMSPRR.com or call them at 559/683-7273. For further information about the program, contact the railroad or Fresno Flats Historic Village & Park at 559/683-6570 or email them at fresnoflatsmuseum@gmail.com.


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Sierra News Online

Sierra News Online