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Trains Provide A Window To Nature

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By Joseph Kreiss, Web News Editor

Springtime in the Mother Lode offers nature lovers a bounty of flora and fauna.

A fun way to view the foothill´s wildlife for the tourist and local alike is by train.

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, and the Sierra Railroad´s Golden Sunset Dinner Trains from Oakdale and Sonora, offer a relaxing and enjoyable chance to view the Mother Lode´s springtime beauty.

During a ride on the Sierra Railroad´s special Sonora to Chinese Camp lunch trip, naturalist and Sonora resident Therese Hudon kept a keen eye out large picture windows. She pointed out various native plants, wild flowers, birds and animals to interested passengers.

“Right now the Gold Fields are out. The California Poppy, and the mustard flowers are starting to bloom,” Hudon said.

Hudon said since the trains travel through many areas not accessible by roads, chances are good to see things not normally caught from behind the steering wheel of a car.

A natural resources major at Columbia College, Hudon said on the previous train trip, passengers were treated to glimpses of coyotes, deer, and hawks.

“Sometime you might get lucky and see a bob cat. You just really don´t know, it depends on what they are doing,” she said.

She mentioned that some of the animals native to the region are nocturnal, but they can always surprise a watchful passenger.

“Every now and then, they´ll sneak out during the daytime and surprise you,” Hudon said.

Railtown 1897 in Jamestown will begin their 2002 season of steam train excursions Saturday, March 30, beginning at 11 a.m. Trains leave on the hour through 3 p.m.

For ticket and schedule information, call (209) 984-3953, or visit their web site at:

The Sierra Railroad Golden Sunset Dinner Train can be reached at their Oakdale depot office at (209) 848-2100.