The station is a /4 size replica of the former
Wadsworth Nevada Central Pacific Railroad station which was moved to
Sparks in 1904.
For other photos of this display, click here.
The rail line has used for
railcar storage. This 29 mile former Western Pacific branch line
Reno/Sparks to Reno Junction, seen below.
It is a 51 mile drive from
Sparks to Portola via Highway 395 and Highway 70.
Above right and both sides
below, Reno Junction. The track comes up the Feather River
Canyon, throught Portola, this spot and up to
Winnemucca Nevada and on to Utah. The #5 Calfiornia Zephyr for
August 24, 2008
featured 3 former CZ railcars, two of which are domes. The
Reno Junction Wye is out of service and disconnected. Grownover
rails still curve around on the abandoned wye track
Our busses stopped one mile
east of Portola at a rest
stop for a quick meeting with Chris and
Debbie Skow, residents of Portola and operators of Trains Unlimited,
Portola is a community located in picturesque eastern Plumas County
(total population 23,000) in
Northern California with a permanent population of 2249. It sits
roughly between the CA Highway 99
corridor (central CA) and the Nevada state line about 60 miles north of
and 150 miles south of the Oregon border. Plumas County occupies
2,554 square miles (about
the size of the state of Delaware) with low population density of about
8 persons per
square mile. The only incorporated city is Portola with the
seat in Quincy, an unincorporated town to the west. This county
includes Lake Almanor in
the northwest quadrant to Portola and surrounding communities in the
Plumas County gets name from Spanish Rio de las Plumas. The area
economy used to be resource based with mining and farming, but has been diversified into
tourism and service based economy. Among the areas biggest
employers are the U.S. Forest Service followed by
the county government, schools and healthcare.
Interestlingly, Portola is named
after the explorer Gaspar de Portola. The daughter of a railroad
employee had been in
San Francisco participating in a parade honoring Gaspar de Portola and
the town got named in his honor. The town had
many names before that. Portola is due to celebrate its
2009. Portola started out as a logging town with local railroads
the Western Pacific Railroad built through in the early 1900's. A
location on the WP, called the Keddie Wye was named for the land
surveyor Arthur Keddie and spans
Spanish Creek on converging trestle bridges. The WP was the last
completed into California as well as the first railroad to completely
place is widely known as a railroad town with the Western Pacific Railroad Museum, one
of the nation's best railroad museums which is a great destination for families
kids. I made my
first visit many
years ago to run a locomotive. Every railfan wants to do
can still run a locomotive at the WPRR Museum. The museum
is located on the grounds of the old Western Pacific railroad machine
shop. There are many tracks full of historic railroad
equipment. Museum members come from some distance away
to work on the museum equipment. The museum has a gift store with all
types of rail paraphernalia.
Just in case you didn't
know where you were, here is a map found along
Main Street in Portola, also known as Highway 70.
Portola was throwing a weekend
long party. The parade
took place on Commercial Street in town, while "Main Street" is on
Highway70 through town on the other side of the Feather River
Boothes lined the north side of
Commercial Street while many of the spectators lined the south side in
some shade provided by the buildings.
Before and after the parade the
street was busy with pedestrian traffic.
Portola area, water sports are a big deal. In addition to local
lakes, stream fishing is good on the Milddle Fork of the Feather River,
well as the tributaries. The headwaters of the Middle Fork of the
Feather River are in the Portola area. The Middle Fork is
quiet for kayaking with faster water down the canyon.
There are many
championship golf courses throughout the area, including the Grizzly
Ranch private golf course in Portola. Nearby, Graeagle is
known as golf course mecca with at least 6 courses. Graeagle, 10 miles
away close to Portola, has one of the smallest state parks, Plumas
Park The park, sitting at the base of Eureka
Peak, is very unique featuring a bunkhouse used by miners and an
annual living history day. A unique
event is the annual Historic Longboard Revival Series ski races staged
on the third Sundays of January, February and March, depending
on snow. The participants, dressed in period costumes use 11 to
foot skiis reaching 40-50
mph. This a recreation by the ski club at the site of the first
recorded downhill ski races took place in all of north America.
The participants use period costume too. There is also music and
at this event which takes place at Plumas Eureka State
Park. Just south of Plumas Eureka State
Park is the Lakes Basin Recreation Area. Even though it is not in
Plumas County, it is a great destination spot if you love alpine lakes
tucked up against the Sierra Buttes which reach 8591' elevation.
There is a resort at Sardine Lakes which is so popular, it takes
several years to get reservations. Both Portola and the Graeagle
are popular as locations to own a vacation home. The same is true
for the Chester/Lake Almanor area.