Wildflower Train: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park

I have always been fascinated by rail travel and just love riding a train any chance I get. That hasn’t been nearly as often as I’d like, though. I’ve taken the train from Los Angeles to New Orleans and the Coast Starlight from San Jose to Seattle. Rail travel is always an adventure and these two trips were no exception. I’ve also done lots of short trips from Santa Ana to Carlsbad or San Diego. Does the train at Disneyland count? I think it does! There’s just something about it that gets my blood flowing. And the nostalgia of a historic steam engine is even more exciting.

You can ride the train at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park every weekend April through October. The Wildflower Train is a special event in April.Last year, some friends went on a wildflower train ride and just raved about it. I tried to go last year but tickets sold out. The Wildflower Train only runs on two weekends in April, so when tickets went on sale this year, I jumped on them.

The Wildflower Train

So, what is this wildflower train? It is a special event at the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown. What sets the wildflower train apart from other train rides at the park is that naturalists and Interpretive Park Rangers from the nearby Bureau of Reclamation’s New Melones Visitor Center are on board to point out and identify the various wildflowers. They had to work hard on this ride searching since not a lot of flowers were blooming.

Waiting to board the Wildflower Train

We’ve had lots of rain and not much sunshine for the past several weeks. In fact, it was pouring the morning before our ride. Miraculously, it stopped raining around 2 pm (our ride was at 3 pm) and the sun came out a little. It made for a spectacular sky with beautiful, big clouds. We were in an open car and some of our seats were wet but we didn’t care. We were just grateful and happy that it wasn’t still raining.

On board the wildflower train in the open air carToasting our ride on the wildflower trainOur conductor We received a checklist of spring wildflowers common along the route so we could keep track of our sightings. We also got a booklet of wildflowers which has helped me identify some of the wildflowers I photographed on Electra Road. When we were given a packet of California poppy seeds, we were reminded that, as the state flower, it is illegal to pick, cut, mow or otherwise damage them.

Even though there weren’t many wildflowers, the hills and fields were an amazing green, like most of Gold Country right now.

Steam from the engineAmazing sky and green field

Woods Creek, in the photos below, was one of the richest streams in the Mother Lode. Early miners pried large nuggets from the rocks and one lucky miner found a 75 pound nugget.

A view from the train Woods CreekRailtown 1897 State Historic Park

You can take excursion train rides every Saturday and Sunday, April through October at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. There are four trains each day at 10:30, 12:00, 1:30 and 3:00. To be guaranteed a seat, buy your tickets in advance online. Tickets are available for pre-purchase online on weekdays only. Tickets must be purchased at the park on weekends on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for youth, and free for children under 5 and members. Tickets and souvenirs are available in the store.

Interior of store by ticket windowChild playing with train modelThe round trip ride is about 6 miles and takes 45 minutes to an hour. At the end of the line the train stops and the engine uncouples. It “runs around” the train on a side track and couples up at the other end for the return trip.

Getting ready for uncouplingEngine running around on the side trackClose up back side of engine

Below is our view before and after the engine switches ends. The engine is facing backwards on the way out.

Engine is facing backwards going out

After the engine uncouples

The park has several other special event rides, like the Polar Express train in December. There’s hot chocolate and cookies to enjoy while you ride along with characters from the story. Santa joins the train at the “North Pole” where he gives each passenger a silver bell. This sounds like such a fun ride and even the adults in my group said they want to do it.

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park
18115 5th Ave.
Jamestown, CA
(209) 984-3953

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You can ride the train at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park every weekend April through October. The Wildflower Train is a special event in April.In case you missed it:

The Electra Road wildflowers are spectacular this time of year and offer an added bonus to any hike along the road and the Mokulemne River.

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Until next time…



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3 Comments

  1. My little boy is absolutely obsessed with trains and would LOVE to do this. Looks like it was a lovely day out – definitely one to add to the to-do-list!

  2. Sounds like a good experience for families. After using NYC trains daily, I tend not to ride them on vacation.

  3. This sounds like such a great and fun family activity. I would totally love to do this, I am fascinated by trains. Especially with a nice sunny either spring day or fall.

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