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Portola businesses work together to welcome railfans to event

Feather Publishing
4/22/2010


    Merchants and businesses in and around Portola are rolling up their sleeves and preparing for the 100th anniversary celebration of the first through passenger train operating over the Western Pacific Railway and into Portola.     The date happens to coincide with the 28th annual Portola Railroad Days Festival Aug. 19 –22.

    Local Rotarians have taken on many tasks aimed at sprucing up the downtown area for their annual Rotary International “Clean-Up Day” Saturday, April 24.
    Other businesses and organizations are banding together to lend a hand with improvements at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum, at the west end of Portola, in preparation for the August event.
    A larger than normal crowd is expected at Railroad Days this year, partially due to a special excursion train operating from Emeryville to Portola. The Feather River Express, due to arrive Aug. 20, is expected to book all 400 seats well in advance of the three-day excursion.
    Special one-way tickets Sunday, Aug. 22, are available for locals who live in the upper Feather River Canyon region. That option includes a train ticket from Portola to Sacramento with a direct return charter motor coach back to Portola. For more information or tickets call (800) 359-4870 or visit traintrips.biz
    The Feather River Express will park at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum to allow easy access to the Portola Railroad Days Festival for passengers who have purchased Pullman sleeping class for the excursion.
    The train will be open to the public for viewing at the museum Saturday, Aug. 21, and depart Portola Sunday, Aug. 22, westbound down the Feather River Canyon, 100 years after the first passenger train traveled the same route.
    Western Pacific’s first through passenger train from Salt Lake City, Utah, departed Portola and ran down the Canyon on its journey to Oakland Aug. 21, 1910.
    Organizers have come up with creative lodging solutions in and around Portola, including transportation to and from the event from local hotels and motels, for passengers not booking the Pullman sleeping cars. In addition, transfers will be available to and from Reno, Nev.
    Another draw for the event is the annual Railroad Days Show and Shine. Always a hit, Curt McBride, organizer of the classic car show, has been receiving applications daily, and expected upwards of 100 entries or more for the event.
    Meanwhile, art and crafts and food vendors are turning in early applications hoping to secure prime locations in two downtown parks and on Commercial Street. With extra activities planned in and around the museum this year, there will be no shortage of space for vendors down Commercial Street and in the parks.
    For more information or applications, call 832-6032 or visit PortolaRailroadDays.com.
    Others in the community are planning events to round out the weekend hoping to bring even more visitors to the area.
    Chris David, a local equestrian, is organizing a first ever Stars in the Barn Friday and Saturday, Aug. 20 – 21, at The Barn in Blairsden, Highways 89 and 70, just 10 miles west of Portola.
    The two-day event features a professional horse show presentation, Taiko drummers and Japanese acrobats. For more information or tickets, contact Chris David at 249-0384, or chrisdavid@jps.net.

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