2018 Western Pacific Railroad Historical Convention

The Feather River Rail Society is pleased to announce the opening of pre-registration for the 2018 Western Pacific Railroad Historical Convention!

This year marks the first time the convention will be held in Utah! April 19-22, 2018, we will be hosted by the DoubleTree Inn by Hilton near the Salt Lake City Airport.

This year’s theme is “Where the WP Meets the Rio Grande”

– Historic and Modeling Clinics including a look at the Tooele Valley Railroad, early WP Passenger service, a photo trip from west to east on the WP, the Mixed Train Cars of the WP and much more!
– Recently scanned rare films from the Virgil Staff Collection
– Our Ever Popular Raffle!
– Modeling Displays and Layout Tours
– Archive and Photo Exhibits
– Guided Tours at the WP / DRGW Depot
– Vendors and Special Guests

Our very special Saturday night Banquet Speaker will be Steve Lee, former head of Union Pacific Heritage Operations.

For more information and to register, please go to http://convention.wplives.org

WP Convention Graphic 2018

Please note that in addition to discount admission for Feather River Rail Society members, member of the Rio Grande Modelling and Historical Society also get discount admission to the convention and banquet!

Also, the DoubleTree has discount King Bed rooms for convention attendees. These rooms are $79 per night plus tax and fees. Find more information on the convention webpage.

Please join us for a great time in Salt Lake City!

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“Charles O. Sweetwood” nurse visits WP Museum

We had an extraordinary event on Saturday at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola. Julia Rigutto Pagan, one of the original nurses who worked the WP’s Korean War Blood Procurement Pullman Car the “Charles O. Sweetwood” was brought by her family for a surprise reunion with the railcar. Also present was Bill Sweetwood, the nephew of the car’s namesake. Charles Sweetwood was a front line medic in the early months of the conflict and was killed in action while saving lives on September 8, 1950, 8 days after his 21st birthday.

(History of the car and its blood drive service in conjunction with the Red Cross: http://www.wplives.org/passengercarpages/AHigherCallingtheSweetwood.pdf)

Representatives from the Red Cross and from Congressman Doug LaMalfa’s office came to present Julia with certificates thanking her for her service. Her and her family, as well as Bill and his wife, got to tour the unrestored car and learn about the recently received cost and work scope estimate to restore it to full operation. Bill Sweetwood also brought a scrapbook he and the family put together exploring Charles’ life and the history of the car in Blood Procurement Service.

The highlight was hearing Julia, now 95, talk about her experience and memories of working the car and the people she worked with on this incredible venture. She is still very proud of what they accomplished, even though, as she pointed out several times, the underlying need was something very tragic. She was thrilled to meet Bill and talked about meeting his grandmother, father and another uncle when the car was dedicated in January 1951.

It was amazing to hear this history come to life so vividly.

In a couple months, the daughter of one of the car’s later owners, Marcus “Marty” Lummus, will be coming to visit. We’re very much looking forward to her visit as well to hear about the car’s later life.

Earlier post on the Sweetwood: https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?11,3232053,4322032#msg-4322032

Photo 1: Juila Rigutto Pagan and Bill Sweetwood on the observation platform of the WP 106 “Charles O. Sweetwood”. I am holding a photo showing Julia and the rest of the original staff on the same platform in January 1951.

Photo 2: Julia and some of her family inside the WP 106 “Charles O. Sweetwood”, exploring the car and viewing photos showing Julia in 1951 and 1952 from the FRRS archives.

Photo 3: Julia drawing blood from a Donor in one of the car’s bedrooms.

Photo 4: Red Cross volunteers and representatives pose with Julia and the certificate honoring her years of service. Julia was also a Navy nurse before joining the Red Cross.

Photo 5: The original staff of the Sweetwood in Oakland on January 10, 1951. Julia is at far right. (This is the image I am holding in Photo 1 of this post)

Julia_Rigutto_and_Bill_Sweetwood_on_obs_platform_of_COSweetwood_carJulia_and_some_of_her_family_in_the_carSweetwood_Donating_Blood_003_WPA_KJM_FRRS_archivesJulia_Rigutto_Pagan_and_Red_Cross_repsSweetwood_Dedication_1_10_51_OaklandCA_001_WPAKJM_FRRS_archivesAll photos from the Feather River Rail Society by Michael Clawson.

Thank you to Patty Clawson, Shane Starr, Red Cross Gold Country Region, Bill Sweetwood, Frank Brehm and the volunteers of the Feather River Rail Society for pulling this whole thing together and to Julia’s daughter Cynthia for kicking off the whole visit.

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2017 Western Pacific Convention update

Good evening everyone!

Time is drawing near for the 2017 WP Convention in Reno, NV on May 4-7, 2017 at Harrah’s Reno.

I am pleased to announce that we have filled out last presentation slot! A big thank you to Micheal Clawson, “Chief Fish” at Big Fish Creations, the advertising and digital media company located in Graeagle, CA that has been working with the FRRS for the last year or so to improve our outreach and visitorship. Michael, a exhibited photographer and author on the topics of photography and iPhoneography, will be doing a presentation on Creative Railroad Photography during the Thursday session.

There is still time to register to attend the convention!!

While the registrations for the Depot Mixer on Thursday and the Reno Aces ball game and dinner on Friday have been closed, we layout tours on Thursday and the layout tour and operating session on Friday. These look like a lot of fun.

We are still accepting registrations for the Sunday tours and excursions. This whole day adventure includes a 1 hour ride on the rebuilt Virginia and Truckee, 2-1/2 hours to enjoy lunch and explore historic Virginia City, highlighted by a rare opportunity to tour the former home of Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg, the noted rail historians. This lovely Victorian is now owned by FRRS members and they have graciously offered to open their home on Sunday for us.

After Virginia City, we go to Carson City and the Nevada State Railroad Museum for a ride on restored McKeen car Virginia and Truckee 22 and then a guided tour of the museum. If you want to go on this great trip, we are accepting registrations until Sunday afternoon. There are only 10 or so spaces left.

Also ending Sunday afternoon is the registration for the closing banquet on Saturday, May 6. This will feature a talk by WP and UP engineer Greg Elems who will share his stories and photos of growing up along the Tidewater Southern then working for the Western Pacific and Union Pacific.

To sign up for the 2017 Convention, the Banquet and the Sunday excursions and tours, please go to http://convention.wplives.org. Please note you can still come to the convention and pay at the door, but the banquet and all extra events aside from layout tours will be closed.

Eugene Vicknair
2017 Convention Coordinatorconvention-logo-graphic

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Season Opening Work Session

Another season opening work session! We’re continuing our clean-up and work session to get ready for 2017. This weekend we’ll be working in and around the Diesel Shop.
For more information and to sign up, please visit: http://wplives.org/news_items/spring_2017_work_party.html
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More Convention Shows and Events!

We are pleased to announce several more shows for the WP Convention happening May 4-7, 2017 at Harrah’s in Reno, Nevada:

Orange and Silver Days Gone By – by Keith Ardinger
WP’s Oroville Line Change – by Kerry Cochran
The Story of WP Caboose 668 – by Katy Dickinson
Virgil Staff films
plus, we will soon have information on a special show hosted by Reno ESPN radio personality and train fan Todd Bruso!

We have also added two LAYOUT TOURS:

Kevin Caldwell
Thursday, May 4 – 5 PM to 10 PM
Viewing session
Kevin’s layout is the N Scale Squirrel Valley Railway Company, a 9′ x 13′ foot garage layout with plans for a lower deck. The layout has many different sections (all in various degrees of construction, no formal scenery has been completed) that includes the mountainous Donner Pass, coal regions of DRGW Tennessee Pass, a freelanced brewery section, Southern California citrus region with yards, engine facilities and a passenger station. A 6.5 coil helix has been constructed for the flight down to the proposed lower level. All 66 turnouts and diamonds are handmade with Code 55 track. The main era of focus is late 70s to mid 1980s and include the Western Pacific, Southern Pacific, ATSF, DRGW, UP, and his fictional Squirrel Valley.

James Petro
Friday, May 5 – 5 PM to 10 PM
Operating and viewing session
Jim’s layout is HO scale and models the D&RGW in about 1955. It is an operation oriented layout with several staging areas. It starts with the Joint Line, south of Denver, has a large Denver area, then proceeds through Moffat tunnel and goes through Grand Junction. Car movements are done with car cards. The layout is dispatcher controlled with CTC and some ABS signaling.

More to come!

To register for the convention, please visit: http://convention.wplives.org

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Start of Season Work Session!

Hi everyone. We will be having a clean-up and redecoration weekend coming on March 25-26 at the museum. Primary focus will be getting the Museum Store cleared out, cleaned and then repainting the floor and touching up the walls. We will also be working on the Diesel Shop and some other areas.
To get more info and to sign up, please visit: http://www.wplives.org/news_items/spring_2017_work_party.html
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2017 WP Convention Update

Update on WP Convention in Reno, May 4-7, 2017.

We have several great presentations currently in the works. They will include:

“The Feather River Lumber Company”  by Dan Elliott – Plumas County Museum
“Indian Valley Railway”  by Eugene Vicknair
“California Zephyr films”  by Warren Haack – Catenary Video Productions
“Time Flies and the Feather Flows – WP Then and Now”  by Steve Cope
“Tesla, California, and the Alameda & San Joaquin Railroad”  by Dan Mosier
“WPRM and the City of Portola: present and future”  by Robert Meacher – Portola City Manager and Steve Habeck – FRRS President

More presentation announcements to follow, as well as the reveal of our banquet speaker. Also coming is a full itinerary for the Sunday excursions and tours.

To register or for more details, go to: http://convention.wplives.org

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2017 Historic Convention opens registration

The 2017 Western Pacific Railroad Historic Convention will be held in Reno, Nevada, over May 4-7, 2017 at Harrah’s Reno.

We have some great presentations lined up as well as some special events, including a Western Pacific Night at the Reno Aces vs. Salt Lake City baseball game and a private mixer and tours at the WP / NCO Depot in downtown Reno.

Visit http://convention.wplives.org for more information.

We have discount rooms arranged with Harrah’s.  You can reserve them by visiting http://renorooms.wplives.org.  King and 2 Double Bed rooms for $247 for the 3 nights of the convention, plus taxes and fees.


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Winter at the WPRM


January 11 saw the museum receive another few inches of snow.

The week of January 9th saw a large amount of weather activity in the Sierra Nevada mountains, with flooding issues in many places, such as Reno, and through the Feather River Canyon. Luckily the museum was spared any major flooding outside the usual snow melt.


Fritz operates the backhoe, steadily clearing the way to the front gates.

The middle of the week saw temperatures drop and another storm move through the area, leaving several inches of snow on top of the previous accumulation, necessitating a trip to the Museum to begin the process of clearing access for the upcoming board meeting. Fritz made his way to the backhoe, and began the process of starting it, while I found a shovel and began clearing a path from the entrance to the parking lot, and through the snow berms to various doors around the shop.


Fritz in his usual snow removal attire, shoveling snow from in front of the entrance gates to allow them to open freely.

After successfully clearing the way to the shop from the front gate, and running out of useful daylight, we put the backhoe away and headed back to Reno.


A clear entrance, with a line of stored Union Pacific locomotives in the background.

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FRRS Sponsors!

The Feather River Rail Society has started a corporate sponsorship program and we have our first two sponsors!

Huge thank you to Portola Village Pharmacy for signing on as our first sponsor under this program.  They have joined as a SILVER level sponsor.

Just a few days later, Feather River Food Co-op also joined as a SILVER level.

You can see our sponsor page at: http://www.wplives.org/sponsors.html

For a description of the sponsorship levels or to become a sponsor, please visit: http://www.wplives.org/sponsors_how_to_become.html

We ask everyone to patronize our sponsors and let them know you appreciate their support of the FRRS and preservation of the Western Pacific!

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