|Roaring Camp Railroads through
California Giant Redwoods near Santa Cruz
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On Saturday June 17, 2017, we came to the Roaring Camp in the Santa Cruz Mountains in the Town of Felton,
California to enjoy one-hour steam train ride through towering old-growth California redwoods forest and up a
winding narrow-gauge grade to the summit of Bear Mountain. Roaring Camp is located at 5401 Graham Hill
Rd, Felton, CA 95018, Phone 1 831-335-4484. It is just six miles up the hill from Santa Cruz and about one
hour and 10 minutes driving distance from San Francisco Bay area. It is a re-creation of an 1880's logging
town operating a heritage railway with authentic 1880’s steam locomotives.
The authentic 1880’s steam locomotives of Roaring Camp Railroads. In the 1880s, narrow-gauge steam
locomotives were used to haul giant redwood logs out of the mountains. Roaring Camp's steam engines date
from 1890 and are among the oldest and most authentically preserved narrow-gauge steam engines providing
regularly scheduled passenger service in America.
This steam geared locomotive is special and is known as Shay Locomotive which was built according to the
patents of Ephraim Shay (1839–1916) a railway owner, and an inventor. Shay Locomotives have three vertical
pistons that operate the wheels via a geared driveshaft. Shay locomotives were often known as sidewinders or
stemwinders for their side-mounted drive shafts.
Closer views of the special Shay Locomotives can be seen at:
The strange looking sidewinders operation of Shay Locomotives can be seen at the beginning in the following
The strength of these Shay Locomotives is that all wheels are driven so that all the weight develops tractive
effort. A high ratio of piston strokes to wheel revolutions allowed them to run at partial slip, where a
conventional rod engine would spin its drive wheels and burn rails, losing all traction. In other words, the Shay
geared locomotives are designed to produce a much greater draw-bar pull so that it operates well on steep
grade and on curves and uneven tracks.
The narrow-gauge steam train rambles through old-growth California redwood groves with many giant
towering redwood trees. Some of them may be more than 1,000 years old and more than 200 feet tall.
Where else can you see such tall Redwood Trees so close to civilization?
When the train came back to the Roaring Camp train depot, there were many tourists waiting to board the
Georgie's Cook House at Roaring Camp for tourists to buy foods and drinks.
The menu of food and drink are on the black chalk boards, including hamburger, cheeseburger, TerriYaki
burger, hot dog, several kinds of sandwich, coke, lemonade, coffee, tea, juice, etc. A long line of tourists
waiting to order their foods and drinks.
The walk path between the train depot and the parking lot.
A covered wooden bridge over a duck pond between the train depot and the parking lot.
The unpaved parking lot of Roaring Camp Railroads. They charge $10 for parking in this parking lot.
The parking fee station where the lady collects $10 per vehicle for parking.
Another unpaved parking lot before parking fee station. It is free to park in this lot before parking fee station.
But it took a longer walk under the scorching sun to reach the train depot. When the train got under the canopy
of the tall redwoods forest, it really felt good.
We bought the tickets online on the website of Roaring Camp Railroads couple days ahead of time for the train
departing at 12:30 Noon. But on Saturday June 17, 2017, we were late by about 7 minutes because of traffic
jam on the road. Fortunately, they ran the train more frequently on Saturday. So, we got on the 12:45 train.
Other attractions in or near Santa Cruz include:
Municipal Wharf, the Beach of Santa Cruz, Light House Point (or Point Santa Cruz), and Steamer Lane near
Light House Point, 17-mile Scenic Drive, are shown on my web page at:
Beautiful Rocky Shore of Pacific Grove as shown on my web page at:
Thousands of beautiful Monarch Butterflies wintering at Santa Cruz as shown on my web page at:
Mystery Spot in the redwoods forest near Santa Cruz as shown on my web page at:
The train ride was mostly beneath the canopy of massive branches of giant redwood trees. Absolute forest
beauty. Towering trees everywhere. It is fantastic.
Amazing sight these big trees are! The forest is breathtakingly beautiful.
The sight is like being in an outdoor cathedral with the trees as the pillars. The play of the light on the trees,
branches, and the ground is like stained glass.
Being under the canopy of these giants is incredibly relaxing and exhilarating. As soon as you get into this
place and get a glimpse of the giant redwoods, you will experience a sense of peace and wonder. It is almost
The Roaring Camp is also conveniently located right next to the lovely 0.8 mile Redwood Grove Loop Trail in
beautiful Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park where you can enjoy hiking among these giant redwood trees as
described in the following website with very impressive photos:
There is absolutely nothing like spending time and adventuring among redwood trees. There is a peace and
stillness in the air that is indescribable. Pathways are wide, flat, and well maintained. The forest is very quiet
and has an almost "reverent" feeling to it as you walk among the giants.
The massive Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park also has miles and miles of more hiking trails, towering
trees, creeks, beautiful San Lorenzo River, Garden of Eden (awesome swimming hole with a little waterfall
tucked away), wildflowers and Nature! The farther you get from the Redwood Grove Loop, the more peace
and quiet you will experience if that is what you are looking for. There is an observation deck in this park. On a
clear day, you can see all the way to Monterey, as well as a panoramic view of the rolling hills of the Santa
Cruz Mountains. Absolutely beautiful. Henry Cowell Redwood State Park is located at 101 North Big Trees
Park Road, Felton, CA 95018.
Seeing the sun rays peek through the vast shade the giant trees provide, your jaw will drop at the beauty that
abounds in this place. If you like lush green forest with Very Tall trees then you will love this place.
The majestic coastal redwoods along the train track.
It's such a great place for people to connect with nature!
There are three open air cars behind the locomotive, then two semi-open air cars and the last car is closed car
with windows. I sat in the open air car so that I could enjoy the magnificent views of redwoods forest more