New Feather River train tour to take the Highline past Lake Almanor
Rail fans will want to mark their calendars for the opportunity of rare mileage on the Northern California Explorer as it traverses the Feather River Canyon to Keddie, then onto the Highline/Inside Gateway past Lake Almanor and Shasta to Klamath Falls, Ore.
The proposed itinerary begins the afternoon of Friday, June 3, with departures from Emeryville, Martinez, Davis and Sacramento. Passengers will overnight at hotels in Oroville, with the chance to dine in the historic Western Pacific depot, which is now the Western Pacific Brewing Co., a locally owned brewpub.
Saturday morning views will include Lake Oroville and the climb up the canyon to Keddie, where the train will turn north onto the old Western Pacific Highline, which now belongs to Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and is known as the Inside Gateway. Passengers will see Lake Almanor and Westwood before heading toward Bieber on tracks that were never in existence until the 1930s and were never part of regular passenger service.
Once past Bieber, the train will run the former Great Northern tracks on the east side of Mount Shasta to Klamath Falls, where passengers will be housed for the night in area motels.
The southbound trip begins Sunday morning, along the former Southern Pacific Shasta Route along the line once traveled by the Shasta Daylight, including a climb on the Grass Lake Summit and a downward spiral through the Cantara Loop to Dunsmuir and on to Redding and Binney Junction, where the train will resume the same route traveled on the outbound journey.
Three classes of travel are currently offered: coach, dome and premium dome.
Coach passengers will travel in Amtrak cars, dome passengers will ride in the Nenana and Silver Splendor cars and premium passengers in Silver Lariat and Silver Solarium cars.
Coach and dome class passengers will include boxed lunches Saturday and Sunday, while the premium passengers will be treated to first-class food and beverage service.
All passengers will be provided bus transfers to and from hotels in Oroville and Klamath Falls.
Those who plan to board the train before its arrival in Oroville may book their accommodations with the trip if they wish, which is recommended due to the limited availability at the destinations.
Train only tickets are also available.
Those who purchase the two-day trip that begins in Oroville will have to make their own arrangements for transportation from Chico back to Oroville on Sunday.
Tickets can be reserved with no obligation until railway approvals, pricing and other arrangements are finalized. Those who have reserved a spot will be notified when the prices are set and may cancel their reservation at that time, if they wish.
Members of the Central Coast Railway Club are organizing the Northern California Explorer excursion train, and Trains & Travel International personnel have been asked to help promote the trip and sell tickets.
To make reservations, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, call (800) 359-4870 or (775) 453-1004, or fax (800) 266-8751.