Engines fire up for this weekend's Railroad Days

Steam Locomotive No. 844 to makes second visit today
By: Martha Garcia, Colfax Record Editor
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Colfax continues to observe its railroad heritage this weekend when the community celebrates Union Pacific’s 150th anniversary during the annual Colfax Railroad Days, presented by the Colfax Area Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with local service organizations and businesses. Railroad Days, which runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 6-7, pays tribute to the contributions and accomplishments of the men and women who helped build the Transcontinental Railroad. Attractions include Union Pacific snow clearing equipment, Mountain Quarries Railroad Steam Locomotive 202, and vendor booths including Railroadiana vendors, a railroad memorabilia raffle and auction and modular railroad layouts. Operation Lifesaver, which spreads the message of rail safety, will also be in town. At the Sierra Vista Community Center, there will be rides on the Sacramento Valley Live Steamers, a Railroad Art Show, a barbecue, and the Kid’s Zone. A Railroad Film Fest takes place at the Community Center, showing “Rotaries – Avalanche on the Mountain” and “Big Steam 844,” beginning at 9 a.m. and continuing throughout the Saturday and Sunday. Mike Lynch, director of the Auburn State Recreation Area, will give a talk about the Mountain Quarries Railroad at 1:15 p.m. Sunday at the Community Center. On Saturday only, the Colfax Garden Club will hold a plant sale and an outdoor quilt show will be displayed. Also on Saturday, the Chamber Business Fair will take place, the Colfax Lions will give away free water and information at their booth, and the Kiwanis Club of Colfax will have wreath sales. The Soroptimists Beer Garden will be open Saturday and Sunday. Scheduled for Sunday only is the 2nd annual Downtown Classic Car Show. Colfax Greek Bistro hosts the third annual Railroad Days History Chats beginning at noon Saturday. Longtime residents will make a presentation, and community members can participate, too, by sharing their memories of Colfax or their experiences at the historic Colfax Pharmacy, where the Bistro is located. The talks will be preserved on tape. Anyone wishing to participate in the History Chats can call Colfax Greek Bistro owner Elan Vitkoff at 305-4050 for more information. Colfax resident Jim Wood is president of the Placer Sierra Railroad Heritage Society, one of the groups that helps organize Railroad Days annually. Wood said one of the Railroad Heritage Society’s missions is to educate people of the importance of the railroad to this region and the state of California. “This was the first transcontinental railroad that opened the west. And it is probably the single-most event that led to the rapid development of California, and all the towns in Placer County,” Wood said. “It's just as important to the nation's economy now than it was back then in the historic day.” The railroad is also vital to the regional and local economy. “People don't realize that the railroad, if the truth be known, is probably the largest employer … It employs an army of people,” he said, “You don't realize how important it, is even Colfax. A lot of the employees in the mountain region live in the Colfax area.”