Pacific Coast Goes to Hillcrest
On Saturday, a whole gang of us — Brad, Jarret, Rob, Phil, Karell, and I — had the pleasure of attending Reedley Rail Days, the annual event put on by our good friends at the Hillcrest Shops. This weekend-long extravaganza is hosted at Sean and Melissa Bautista’s Hillcrest Christmas Tree Farm in Reedley (near Fresno), which is the home of the flourishing company and 15″ gauge Hillcrest & Wahtoke Railroad. It was quite a show with five 15″ gauge locomotives under steam, not to mention the “Marie E.” and Craig Ludwick’s donkey boiler/Worthington pump setup. There was much to see and do, machine tools to envy, and work to admire. Current projects include a 15″ gauge diesel switcher, a 3′ , hand-riveted 10’+ long bridge members, and the beginnings of six 5″ scale Moguls…not to mention our very own Retlaw coach #105. It was neat to get to see it up on blocks and in the beginning stages of restoration. The body has been partially stripped of paint (two or three layers) and, in some places, is down to bare wood, revealing its seemingly excellent condition and even builder’s pencil marks made by Disney studio craftsmen. After a brief crew huddle, a spur-of-the-moment decision was made to restore it with the original “Grande Gold” color, which was painted over sometime in the ’60s with the lighter canary yellow. With much anticipation, we look forward to seeing what “mad skills” this talented crew will “lay down” next!
Thanks to the entire Hillcrest gang for their hospitality, camaraderie, and pulling off another first-class event. (Oh, and a happy birthday shout-out to “the Fossils!”)