Dunsmuir Celebrates Trains and Community


Railroad Days is the biggest thing to happen all year in the southern Siskiyou County town of Dunsmuir, and the event returns this Friday through Sunday, June 10 through 12, with a full schedule of rail car tours, a parade, a footrace, music and more.

Railroad Days has been around since the 1940s, and last year’s version attracted between 2,000 and 2,500 people, according to Tim Holt, Railroad Days chair.

“Our core group is rail fans. We draw them from all over Northern California and Southern Oregon,” Holt said. “But it’s not just for rail fans. It’s for people who want to enjoy a country fair atmosphere, too.”

The train gets a rollin’, so to speak, at 5 p.m. on Friday evening with a “Meet the Trains” celebration that features locomotives and cars from the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola, music and dessert aboard the Silver Plate Dining Car. The Silver Plate was in attendance last year, but this year will mark the first time that food – including three meals on Saturday – will be served on the historic dining car during Railroad Days.

Saturday’s activities begin with a 5- and 2-mile River Run at 7 a.m. and continue into the evening. The parade through downtown Dunsmuir is scheduled for noon. Also on Saturday’s schedule are a walking tour of the historic downtown, tours of Hedge Creek Falls and botanical garden, and a talk about geology at nearby Castle Crags State Park. Shuttle rides will be available to Castle Crags and to the falls. Sunday’s activities run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Vintage trains and model trains will be on display throughout the event.

The railroad yard and Amtrak station on Sacramento Avenue in downtown Dunsmuir serve as the central gathering point for the three-day event. You’ll need to purchase a collector’s button for $1 to visit the trains; all other activities are free of charge. You may find a complete schedule and other information on the Railroad Days website.

“Obviously, we’re not the kind of railroad town we were in the ’30s and ’40s, but I would argue we still are a railroad town,” Holt said, citing the fact that Dunsmuir has Siskiyou County’s lone Amtrak depot and still serves as a railroad crew changing location. “It’s certainly part of our history.”

I should also note that Trains & Travel International (which is not formally connected to Railroad Days) is running a special charter train on Friday from Emeryville to Dunsmuir. The train will make stops in Chico and Redding, and will return on Sunday. Roundtrip and one-way tickets are still available, according to rail tours manager Chris Skow. The same outfit will run a train from Dunsmuir to Black Butte and back on Saturday afternoon. Two cars on that train will be dedicated to a dinner service. Visit the company’s website for details and to purchase tickets.

On today’s A La Carte menu:

An early Juneteenth … The annual Juneteenth celebration organized by the NAACP and Shasta Coalition of African/Black Americans for Community Health, Education and Empowerment is scheduled for 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 11, at the MLK Multicultural Center, 1815 Sheridan Street, in Redding. Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, is usually celebrated closer to June 19, the day in 1865 when Gen. Gordon Granger issued an order in Galveston, Texas, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. Redding’s Juneteenth event will have all the usual food, music and games. Everyone is invited.

Couldn’t do it without ya … The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office will host its annual volunteer appreciation luncheon this Thursday at the Veterans’ Hall in downtown Redding. Volunteers provide thousands of hours of time each year as chaplains, on lake and community patrols, for search and rescue operations, and even as clerical help. Shasta County residents thank you all.

A colorful blog … Artist Randall David Tipton recently completed his residency at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. Have a look at his watercolor and acrylic interpretations of the park on his blog. As Tipton reports, “This park is absolutely jewel like. Why it’s not better known is odd.”

The long run … It’s been many years – more than 20, I believe – since Chico hosted a marathon, but the Chico Running Club is planning to break the drought with the newly announced Almond Bowl Marathon in early November. I understand that the course will involve two loops on roads and trails through lower and upper Bidwell Park. There will also be a half-marathon for those who think one loop is enough. C’mon, there’s plenty of time to ramp up those long training runs for the full 26-miler.

shigley-mugshotPaul Shigley is a freelance journalist based in Western Shasta County, CA, and loves a parade. He may be reached at

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment.

has been a professional journalist since 1987. For 12 years, he served as editor or senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a statewide trade publication for land use planners, real estate development professionals and attorneys. Prior to that, he worked as a reporter or editor at newspapers in Redding, Grass Valley, Napa and Calistoga. Shigley's work also has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Planning magazine, Governing magazine, California Law Week, National Speed Sport News and elsewhere. In addition, he is co-author of Guide to California Planning, a college text and reference book, and is currently working on a book for the American Planning Association about the Bay Delta and California water resources. A graduate of California State University, Sacramento, Shigley has contributed to A News Cafe since 2009. He and his wife, Dana, live in western Shasta County.
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