Published in The Grapevine Independent on April 1, 2005.
Way off track
In the early days of the Old West, no outlaw was more feared or more aggressively pursued than the train robber. Fortunes carried by trains were often lost when a bandit climbed aboard to snatch the prize inside, and the tales of their exploits are part of the local lore.
But you have to wonder what kind of low-life of today rips up the aluminum rail of a miniature railroad, run by volunteers for nothing but the sheer enjoyment of children and their families out for a weekend walk in the park?
That's the question we're left with in the wake of yet another act of vandalism at the Sacramento Valley Live Steamers Railroad down in Hagan Park last week.
Thieves working under the cover of darkness have ripped up rail several times over the past year, but last week's theft was large enough to shut down the railroad that would normally be a highlight of Easter weekend activities at Hagan Park.
But the rip-off has done more than put a dent in an Easter Egg Hunt. Volunteers at the railroad say the theft is so large, even if they can raise the money to replace the rail, they will be hard-pressed to get it installed this spring.
For the first time in three decades, our little railroad needs more than a few coins tossed in the donation box. The tab to replace what was lost with new steel rail will top $7,100.
If you are among the thousands who, over the years, have spent a little slice of your life riding the railroad at Hagan Park, it's time to dig into your pocket. Send a few bucks, or maybe even more, to: Sacramento Valley Live Steamers, PO Box 273, Rancho Cordova, CA 95741. Your donation will help get them back on track - literally.
The loss of some track at our local hobby train yard does not match those great train robberies of yesteryear. Still, a part of us has been lost. And while we keep an eye out for those Hagan Park train robbers, we'll be richer for the effort of helping out those who have served us so long.
Page updated: Friday, April 1, 2005
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