Around the Museum in the evening, June 30, 2014

As the sun set on a fine Monday at the WPRM, the temperature finally started dropping to the point where work became comfortable.


Steve Habeck has been busy for the last 3 weeks repairing and improving the steps that were used to allow access to the now shrink-wrapped Silver Hostel.  Tonight, he and Fritz moved them to the end of the UP 105 Business Car, allowing visitors to pass through the car and exit without doubling back.



And the finished product, at 9:50pm, with temperatures still comfortable:


Come by and take a look at the 105!

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Press Release – FRRS secures grant from Union Pacific Foundation

FRRS Director Wayne Monger accepts UP Foundation Grant

Feather River Rail Society (Western Pacific Railroad Museum) Director Wayne Monger accepts 2014 Union Pacific Foundation grant check for ongoing Museum Archive preservation activities from Union Pacific Corporation director of Public Affairs for Northern California and Nevada Liisa Stark. May 16, 2014 at Rocklin, California Capitol Corridor depot. Photo by Debbie Baer.

MAY 21, 2014




Feather River Rail Society

Western Pacific Railroad Museum at Portola
700 Western Pacific Way
P.O. Box 608
Portola, CA 66122
530- 832-4131
Web site


   The Feather River Rail Society (FRRS), a public benefit 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which is the owner and operator of the Western Pacific Railroad Museum of Portola, California, has announced they were successful in obtaining a $3,000 grant from the Union Pacific Foundation. This 2014 grant will be used to support ongoing stabilization and cataloguing work by FRRS volunteers of fragile portions of the historical archives of the Western Pacific Railroad stored at the museum site in Portola.

The Union Pacific Foundation is the charitable giving arm of the Union Pacific Corporation. The Feather River Rail Society was one of over 2,300 charitable non-profits that applied for a Union Pacific Foundation grant. In 2013, the UP Foundation gave out around $7 million to 980 separate non-profits throughout the entire 23 state service area of the Union Pacific Railroad.

The successful FRRS grant writing team consisted of Active member Debbie Baer of Portola, Life member James Mason of Pasadena and charter Life member Wayne Monger of Suisun City. Mr. Monger has also served as an elected member of the FRRS Board of Directors for 25 of the past 30 years that the Feather River Rail Society has existed as a non-profit corporation. The Union Pacific Foundation grant application was completed prior to the mid-August 2013 deadline. During February 2014, the Union Pacific Foundation informed the FRRS that the grant application was successful and the organization would get $3,000 to support the ongoing volunteer work to stabilize and catalogue the vast Western Pacific Railroad archives.

To award the 2014 Union Pacific Foundation grant checks to all of the 33 winning non-profit charities in the greater Sacramento region, Union Pacific Corporation director of Public Affairs, Northern California and Nevada Liisa Stark arranged for a special Union Pacific heritage passenger train to be operated Friday May 16 between the Rocklin and Auburn Capitol Corridor passenger stations. FRRS representatives Debbie Baer of Portola and Wayne Monger of Suisun City were invited to join with dozens of representatives of the 32 other non-profit charities in the Sacramento region for the on-board ceremonies and check presentations.

The Feather River Rail Society owns and operates the Western Pacific Railroad Museum at Portola. The museum is open to the public seven days a week from 10AM to 5PM from May 1st until October 1st volunteers permitting. Train rides are available on the museum grounds every weekend from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The world famous “Run-A-Locomotive” program, where a paying guest can operate a diesel locomotive under the guidance of an instructor, is also available from mid-April through mid-November weather permitting.


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2014 Feather River Rail Society Board of Directors Election Results

Election Committee for 2014:
Matt Shuman (chairman)
Ron Huey
Tellers for 2014:
Courtney Rulley
Michael Scholz
Craig Simmons
Steven Cope

Total ballots cast: 343

Total ruled invalid due to procedural errors: 2
Total valid ballots: 341
Board Candidates: (I = incumbent)
Charlie Spikes (I) – 273
Kerry Cochran (I) – 238
Greg Elems (I) – 224
James Mason – 222
Charlie Spikes, Kerry Cochran and Greg Elems are reelected to their seats.
Write-ins for Board:
Craig Simmons – 2
Rick Gruninger – 2
Bill Meeker – 1
Bill Parker – 1
By-laws Revision Measure:
Yes to adopt – 263 (77% of valid ballots)
No to reject – 66 (19% of valid ballots)
Response rate (ballots received vs. ballots mailed out) was 39.7%.
Total ballots mailed: 864
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It’s a Wrap!

FastWrap from Reno arrived Thursday morning on the 29th to cocoon the Silver Hostel in plastic. It took them about 4 hours working time with 7 people working in a well choreographed process. David Elems is seen here pulling the Silver Hostel around the balloon track past Milward Switch and Political Promise crossing to stage the Hostel for cocooning this fine May 29th morning.



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Members Meeting & Dinner – Help Wanted!

This years membership dinner will take place on Saturday, June 7th at 5:30 with the membership meeting to follow.  As with last year, this years dinner will be a Pot-luck and Barbecue.  Alicia La Brecque is coordinating the food, and needs to know what the attendees will be bringing, so please contact her at to let her know.

Please consider joining us at dinner while we enjoy each others company, catch up on museum happenings and announce the winners of the 2014 FRRS Board of Directors election.

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Work Continues at the WPRM (Week of April 6)

Work continues to happen at the museum in preparation for the coming season.  This week, work continued on 917-D, getting closer to being ready for re-entry into the RAL program.  Greg Elems is shown below working on rust removal on the nose of 917, in preparation for temporary repairs to prevent further rust damage.  Removal of peeling paint is revealing an interesting history of patches and repairs on 917.

This weekend was also the first crew training session for the 2014 operating season.  We welcomed several new volunteers, and had a good turnout.

The next opportunities for crew training will be April 26 and 27, at 9am.

The Museum wood shop has also been cleaned out, and organized thanks to the efforts of Eugene and Tom Carter.

Greg Elems works on 917 in preparation for rust prevention work.

Greg Elems works on 917 in preparation for rust prevention work.

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Pre-Work Job Briefing

One of the most important things a group of railroaders do before starting their work day is hold a “job briefing”.  What is a job briefing you ask?  A job briefing is defined as a short meeting between all members of a crew or employees involved in a particular assignment so that everybody has a compete understanding of the task to be performed.  It gets everyone on the same page and lays out the work while assigning each member to a specific task.  So, that’s today’s railroad lesson for you, free of charge.

Now that you know and understand what a job briefing is all about, here’s your first one.  Now that Winter is over and the weather in Portola has been conducive to grunt work, the volunteers at your museum have come out of wherever they’ve been hiding out all Winter and are getting back to work.

Two of our resident “Go to” guys, Fritz and Poindexter, have been hard at work getting WP 917-D, our most popular Rental locomotive, back in service.  They have been meticulously cleaning and refurbishing electrical parts, as well as other tasks around the museum related to getting the gates open and the engines back up and running.

Gail McClure has, in addition to her new position of Treasurer for the FRRS, been busy getting new gift shop inventory counted, tagged, folded, and entered in the register computer.  Her and Rod spent a weekend down in Stockton at Winterrail, representing the museum and selling books, shirts, and other goodies to the rail buffs.  Gail was helped by brothers Tom & Tim Carter & Alicia La Brecque at the WPRM table.

A few personnel changes have taken place at the museum, the biggest being the departure of our Treasurer, James Mason.  James had asked us to find a new Treasurer at the August Board of Directors meeting, as he no longer wanted to continue in that role.  He did act as our “interim” Treasurer until Gail McClure was nominated and seated to the Treasurers position at the November meeting.  Gail has extensive experience and qualifications and is doing a fine job managing the FRRS funds and we have our complete confidence in her abilities, despite the rough economy the museum, and the country, is still recovering from.

Speaking of funding, Eugene Vicknair (FRRS Secretary) has been appointed “Fund Raising Department Head” as well as Historical Department Convention Manager.  Matt Elems (aka “Poindexter”) has been appointed editor of the “Trainsheet” newsletter, and I (Tom Carter) have been appointed Safety Manager.  You’ll notice this year a bigger shift towards increased safety both in the shop and in train operations both.  More on that as it is implemented.  Finally, my fiance, Alicia La Brecque, has taken on the role of volunteer coordinator and will be contacting both current, former and potentially new volunteers in an effort to rally the troops and get some work done.

Speaking of work, the list of approved projects for this year is:


  • WP 165 Restoration
  • Zephyr Project (Silver Plate work, WP 805-A work, Zephyr cab relocation)
  • Archives cataloging and related work
  • Archives utilization projects (coffee table book, etc.)

 Specific Projects:

  • WP 501 restoration
  • WP 563 restoration
  • WP 731 mechanical
  • WP 1503 painting
  • CCT 24 caboose
  • Perimeter Fence
  • Calendar Project
  • Silver Debris security improvements
  • Virgil Staff film scanning
  • FR&W Plymouth relocation and display

Yeah, this list is a long, ambitious one, but, with YOUR help, we can get it DONE.  Some of us are already at work on it, but this year, volunteer labor, monetary support, and, well, just MORAL support if that is all you can give right now, will help go a LONG way towards the FRRS accomplishing its goals this season at the museum.  

Now, if you’ll allow me to don my Director’s hat for just a second, I have said this and said this, and I’ll say it here again:  As Director’s of YOUR organization, we are VERY open to feedback.  Give us a call, or send us an email (you can get in touch with us through the museum phone number; leave a message and we’ll call you back, or send us a Facebook message or email and we’ll send you our phone numbers).  Let us know what YOU want.  If we’re on the right track, great, but if you feel we’re not, let us know.  Above all, ASK QUESTIONS.  We’re here to serve you, the member.  Get involved.  Give us input.  There’s no better way to serve the membership than to get feedback from them, so let’s hear it.

Matt, in taking over the Editor position for the Trainsheet, needs material for publication.  Articles, news and photos of recent work is very much appreciated.  This accounts for the lack of Trainsheet’s being published in the last year; we can’t publish blank newsletters.  Please consider taking a few moments to send Matt an article or news so he can get these out in a timely manner.

The museum re-opens to the public on April 26th.  We will be focusing a lot of effort to advertise and reach out to the Reno-Tahoe areas and are open for ideas to get the word out about the museum.

Come on out and join the “Willing People” as we preserve and present the spirit of the Western Pacific Railroad to the world.

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