Farm

Monday, December 19, 2016 - 08:00
$15.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm between 8pm and 8:30pm.

Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for, simply show up at the Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an Attendant will help you find a spot to park. After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge where you will need to show a current ID and you will receive wristbands for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Monday, December 19, 2016 - 06:00
$15.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm between 6pm and 6:30pm.

Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for, simply show up at the Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an Attendant will help you find a spot to park. After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge where you will need to show a current ID and you will receive wristbands for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Saturday, December 10, 2016 - 06:00
$17.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for, simply show up at the Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an Attendant will help you find a spot to park. After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge where you will need to show a current ID and you will receive wristbands for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Friday, December 9, 2016 - 06:00
$17.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for, simply show up at the Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an Attendant will help you find a spot to park. After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge where you will need to show a current ID and you will receive wristbands for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Thursday, December 22, 2016 - 06:00
$17.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for, simply show up at the Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an Attendant will help you find a spot to park. After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge where you will need to show a current ID and you will receive wristbands for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016 - 06:00
$17.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for, simply show up at the Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an Attendant will help you find a spot to park. After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge where you will need to show a current ID and you will receive wristbands for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016 - 06:00
$17.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for, simply show up at the Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an Attendant will help you find a spot to park. After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge where you will need to show a current ID and you will receive wristbands for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Sunday, December 18, 2016 - 06:00
$17.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for, simply show up at the Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an Attendant will help you find a spot to park. After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge where you will need to show a current ID and you will receive wristbands for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Saturday, December 17, 2016 - 06:00
$17.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for, simply show up at the Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an Attendant will help you find a spot to park. After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge where you will need to show a current ID and you will receive wristbands for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Friday, December 16, 2016 - 06:00
$17.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for, simply show up at the Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an Attendant will help you find a spot to park. After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge where you will need to show a current ID and you will receive wristbands for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Saturday, December 3, 2016 - 06:00
$17.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for, simply show up at the Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an Attendant will help you find a spot to park. After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge where you will need to show a current ID and you will receive wristbands for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Friday, December 2, 2016 - 06:00
$17.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for, simply show up at the Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an Attendant will help you find a spot to park. After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge where you will need to show a current ID and you will receive wristbands for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015 - 06:00
$16.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for, simply show up at the Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an Attendant will help you find a spot to park. After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge where you will need to show a current ID and you will receive wristbands for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Built?

 

Monday, December 21, 2015 - 06:00
$16.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for, simply show up at the Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an Attendant will help you find a spot to park. After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge where you will need to show a current ID and you will receive wristbands for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Sunday, December 20, 2015 - 06:00
$16.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for, simply show up at the Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an Attendant will help you find a spot to park. After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge where you will need to show a current ID and you will receive wristbands for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Website Updates Nov 2015>>

We've been showing some love to our website over the past couple of weeks. Here's a short list of updates.

Farm: Pictures added to the Pumpkin Patch, Christmas Tree and Blossom Trail pages.

Railroad: A complete Roster of Equipment has been added along with a Google Earth map of the track layout as it is today, and some future additions.

Shops: Updated the Locomotives page with more photos and information. Finally, put up the 5" scale / 15" gauge standards that we build our 15" gauge equipment to. Under Rolling Stock is a photo page showing the construction of some cars.

MOW (Maintenance Of Way)  The "way" of course is the ROW (Right Of Way) of the railroad, or more commonly known as the Track.

Every Railroad needs to maintain their track whether it's a standard gauge high-speed Union Pacific Railroad, or an electric HO track in someone's basement. And almost every railroad has MOW Cars. Even those electric HO guys often have MOW cars specifically for cleaning the rails to power their models.

On our railroad we have two MOW cars. Both are basically 4 wheel "Jimmy" or "Bobber" flat cars, though the MW-21 has a gas powered air compressor permanently mounted to it.

 

As many of our track laying and maintenance tools are air powered the MW-21 is an essential car to our railroad and never far away from any spiking job.

 

Here's a picture of MW-21 on the ATT&NW railroad in Steelville, MO. working on laying their mainline.

 

That's the MW-21 sitting on top of a 24" gauge flat car for relaying the Nut Tree Railroad in Vacaville, CA.

 

To the left is a semi-truck loaded with new 15" gauge track ties. In the center is the MW-21 and Ballast Car #103. A week later 800 feet of beautiful band new rail graced the ground at this testing facility for the ARES North America Project in Tehachapi, CA.

 


 

The MW-22 is sometimes put into service as a sprayer car for weed control, mostly it spends it's life hictched to the Speeder # 03 as a flat car ready for any kind of service we throw it into to. Carring tools, touring guests, switch maintenance, trimming trees, track inspections, waxing the curves, moving potted trees, hauling the dog, etc.

Trimming trees along the ROW.

 

 

With their own railroad ballasted long ago the Glenwood, South Park & Pacific let us loan their Ballast Car #15 for laying new track on our railroad.

It's a great piece of equipment for dumping large amounts of rock on unballasted track. For our own maintenance needs we built Ballast Car #103, which is much smaller and has square drop-down chutes that allow for better control of where the rock lands when it exits the car.

These two cars are rarely seen apart from one another even if one or the other is not in use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 03 is a speeder built for us by Ken Kukuk of the West-Side Locomotive Works. It's a very elegant gas-hydraulic machine built for track inspections and tours. Usually it hauls around a 4 wheel "Jimmy" flat car and our air compressor car for doing odd jobs around the railroad. Certain times of the year the Jimmy flat carries a spray pump for weed control along the ROW (Right Of Way). 

 

 

 

 

 

Designed and built in the late 1950s by Jim "Homer" Holms and his brother for use on their private "Glenwood, South Park and Pacific" railroad in the hills above Santa Cruz. Originally a one-cylinder steam engine ran it, but in the 1960s when a two cylinder Stanley Motor Car ("Stanley Steamer") 20 hp engine was found in a scrap yard the brothers upgraded the 1 Spot with the bigger engine.

 

 

 

 

Like with the GSP&P #13 the #5 is on a long-term loan to the Hillcrest & Wahtoke from the Glenwood, Southpark & Pacific. We get to use the locomotive in exchange for all maintenance costs and the GSP&P Gang has full access to run the locomotive anytime they want to.

While the #5 is similar in size to the #13, it's a much lighter locomotive and as such has less Tractive Effort / Drawbar Pull. We estimate it has about 80% the power of it's larger sister.

 

 

 

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS:

 

  • Whyte Class: 2-6-0 "Mogul"
  • Bore: 4-1/4"
  • Stroke: 5-1/2"
  • Boiler Style: Straight
  • Boiler Dia.: 18"
  • Boiler MWAP Pressure: 200 psi. / Operating Pressure: 175 psi.
  • Drivers: 12-1/2" dia.
  • Engine Lead Truck Wheel Dia.: 9"
  • Driving / Rigid Wheel Base: 37-1/4"
  • Total Wheel Base: 64-1/4"
  • Tractive Effort / Drawbar Pull: 1,000 lbs.

 

A view from the Engineer's seat.

 

 

Built by Ken Kukuk at the West-Side Locomotive Works (aka Ken's 1 car garage). The locomotive is scratch built with the only purchased components being the cylinders, boiler, wheels and gears.

  • Cylinders are from Reduction Engineering of Beulah, ND and are for a 1/3rd size (4" to the foot scale) live steam model of a Case steam tractor.
  • Wheels are Redwood Valley / Hillcrest Shops standard 10" diameter car wheels.
  • Gears are 3:1 ratio Ring and Pinion set from Boston Gear. (this is a VERY slow locomotive)
  • Boiler was built at Bay City Boilers to ASME codes.

Pretty much everything else is weld fabricated from scrap steel and sawed from scrap lumber.

 

 

 

As with any of our projects it begins with a drawing. Sometimes the drawing is on a napkin, hotel stationery, a sticky note that was handy, or something similar. Next we put the design into a CAD program to work out the size of car and as many details as needed to built it.

In the case of our Gondolas we started with the standard Redwood Valley Railway design by Erich Thomsen and William "Bill" Daney. We then adapeted a few bits of the frame to be fabricated from standard size structural steel rather than require special castings or complex formed parts.

 

Raw lumber is where every car begins it's life.

 

Rough sawing the lumber is done on whatever is available and what the boards will fit through.

For these 5" scale / 15" gauge cars a 10" table saw and 13" planer are more than enough to get the job done.

 

After rough sawing the board are fed through a planer to final dimension.

 

We design all of our cars around standard sizes. Such as all side and end sills are, per RVRy standards, true 2-1/2" x 4-1/4".

Instead of using Mortis & Tenon joints as was common in the late 1800s and early 1900s we use wooden dowel pins.

No glue is used in the assembly of the car. This allows the chassis to flex with the level of the track and reduces the risk of derailment.

 

The brake system on the cars is not complex but does have many parts to make it work. These are enough parts for 20 cars.

 

These are the Body Bolsters which bolt to the wooden frame, and the Body Center Bearings that bolt to the Body Bolsters.

The Body Center Bearing mates with the Center Bearing on the Trucks to keep the wheels under the car.

 

The wooden End Sills, Side Sills, Center Sills, and Intermediate Sills are dowelled together, then the long Truss Rods and the Body Bolsters are bolted in to hold the Sills in place. The cast iron Draft Gear Housing goes on the ends for mounting the Couper and it's Draft Gear.

 

It's at this stage the final decision needs to be made as to what kind of car is being built. As shown these could be Flat Cars, Gondolas, Stock Cars, or Tank Cars.

The chassis shown in the photos on this page became a mix of Gondolas, two Tank Cars, one Stock Car, and one was cut down for a Caboose.

 

The chassis to become Gondolas are painted and the sides are build in-place on top of them. As each car is hand built and slightly different, each set of tops is specific to each car.

 

The chassis to be a Stock Car has a permanent superstructure built onto it.

 

Most of our cars have these standard Arch Bar Freight Trucks with the brake beams between the wheels, aka "Inside Hung Brakes", underneath them.

Depending on the requirements we have trucks with Outside Hung Brakes or Caboose trucks and Passenger trucks with Elliptical & Coil Springs for a smoother ride.

 

Here's a photo of Step-Through 12' Gondola #203, 10' Gondola #204, and Stock Car #301

 

 

Most of our train is comprised of these 12' long "Step Through" Gondolas.

 

 

 

 

All of our passenger cars have Automatic Air Brakes. Once we open up the Wahtoke Division in 2017, with it's 1800' of 1.25% grade, this brake system will become very important.

 

CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW THESE CARS ARE BUILT

 

 

 

The #57 was the first locomotive completely designed and built by the Hillcrest & Wahtoke Railroad Shops (later renamed Hillcrest Shops). It was out of sheer need for a workhorse to help build the first major expansion of the railroad.

Hauling the work crew in for dinner.

 

Ballasting the new track.

 

All of the drip irrigation in the new area was laid using the #57.

 

And this is where is all started.

An LGB model. There is an existing similar prototype in Colorado, however, it's only an 0-4-0 version.

 

The decision was made early on to make it a Diesel-Hydraulic powered locomotive. This would allow for flexibility in the drive system to fit the small outline of the hood, along with providing copious amounts of power and very fine control.

 

The frames were cut from solid slabs of steel plate.  Unlike planes or automobiles, locomotives need to be heavy. The more weight a locomotive has, the more work it can do, thus our Davenports are built with industrial grade and very thick structural steel parts. Weighing in at just over 5,500 lbs. the #57 among the heaviest 15" gauge locomotives in the USA, and it's 1,400 pounds of Tractive Effort / Draw Bar pull ranks it among the most powerful as well.

 

Likewise the Drive Wheels too were cut from rounds torch cut from 3" thick steel plate.

 

Drive wheels assembled including gearbox. One of our mantras in building this engine was "NO CHAIN DRIVE". We wanted it to be bulletproof and powerful. Chain drive would have been cheaper, but, it would have been cheaper.

 

The frame going together.

 

Time to fit up the engine and mounts.

 

Wood and cardboard were used to mock-up the hood and cab to make sure everything was going to fit.

 

The first "run" was with the locomotive was with it still on the test stand. Blocks were put the frame to lift the wheels a little off of the rails so they could freely turn. The system worked great. Sometimes success deserves beer.

 

First test run on the rail for #57. After testing a tweaking on the stand the chassis was lowered onto the rails for it first true tests. It ran better, and faster, than expected. There's a High-Low switch as we found the "High" was much too fast for our little railroad. The cab was a little breezy though.

 

Testing complete the locomotive was torn apart and the painting began.

 

Installing the hydraulics into the painted chassis.

 

Anti-vibration tape was applied before the deck was put down. Not using it would have been cheaper, but, again, it would have made for a cheaper locomotive, not a quality one.

 

With the drive system & chassis working, the erecting of the hood and cab began.

 

Engine mounted onto the painted chassis.

 

Cleco's were used to fit and hold the sheet metal for riveting. There are NO FAKE RIVETS anywhere on the locomotive. Even the frame was hot riveted together.

 

Cab on working on the dashboard electronics and controls.

 

Final Installation of the dashboard and controls. The Throttle, brake valves and the Displacement (Forward-Reverse) lever are positioned identical to our steam locomotives so that engineers trained on the #57 can get into the cab of a steam locomotive and know instantly what's-what and how to control the locomotive. This is also a safety matter as the brake valves on all engines, steam or diesel, are identical for fast action by the engineer without having to stop and figure out which is the train brake and which is the locomotive brake.

 

Artisan Chris Allen volunteered to hand paint the lettering onto the cab. From 2007 to 2015 that lettering is still on the cab. Vinyl lettering would not have held up that well.

 

A view of the access doors open for regular maintenance. For more extensive work the whole hood can easily be removed.

 

The locomotive is overpowered for passenger service as it will pull every car on the railroad with the diesel engine in idle.

 

 

The #13 locomotive was built in a one car garage by West-Side Locomotive Works aka Ken Kukuk in Culver City, CA., and the tender by Jim "Homer" Holms in San Jose, Ca., for the Glenwood, South Park & Pacific Railroad located in the mountains above Santa Cruz, Ca.

 

Ken standing next to the #13 fresh from erecting shop (his garage)

 

The locomotive is patterned after the South Pacific Coast Railroad locomotive No.13.

Photo Courtesy of the Los Gatos Library

 

Upon completion, the locomotive and tender were brought together for the first time on the Hillcrest & Wahtoke for a break-in and testing run. As with any never-before-run locomotive, there were a few kinks, though overall the locomotive performed in grand fashion. After a weekend of testing, and seeing some tweaking needed to be done, Ken and Jim left for their homes telling the Hillcrest Gang, "Let us know when you've got it running."

While the locomotive has been to both the Hetch Hetchy & Yosemite Valleys Ry (private, Jamestown, CA.) and to the Redwood Valley Railway (Tilden Park, Oakland, CA.) it has never been to it's "home road" the Glenwood, South Park & Pacific due to bad water at the property. After the 1989 earthquake that interrupted the Baseball World Series, collapsed a bunch of freeways, and dropped a section of the Oakland Bay Bridge, the water table around Santa Cruze was shaken up and the quality went from "marginal" to downright "bad" for boilers. There has been very little steam on "The Hill" since then.

Since coming to the H&W it has been our primary workhorse hauling passengers around the railroad. The deal with Ken and Jim is that Hillcrest Shops maintains the locomotive at our cost, and is available for any of the Gleenwood Gang to run 365 days a year. As it is the Glenwood Gang comes out two or three times a year to run their equipment, and it's always a party when they're here.

 

Among the engineers here at H&W and engineers from the RVRY the #13 is generally considered among the most comfortable of 5" scale / 15" gauge locomotives to drive. As such it has become the standard by which we design and build all new locomotives.

 

Leaving Hillcrest Station

 

At the water tower.

 

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS:

 

  • Whyte Class: 2-8-0 "Consolidation"
  • Bore: 4-1/4"
  • Stroke: 5-1/2"
  • Boiler Style: Extended Wagon Top
  • Boiler Smallest Dia.: 18"
  • Boiler MWAP Pressure: 200 psi. / Operating Pressure: 175 psi.
  • Drivers: 12-1/2" dia.
  • Engine Lead Truck Wheel Dia.: 9"
  • Driving / Rigid Wheel Base: 47-1/2"
  • Total Wheel Base: 72-1/4"
  • Tractive Effort / Drawbar Pull: 1,200 lbs.

 

Out on the line.

 

Daily lubrication points

Below are the standards as set down by Erich Thomsen and William "Bill" Daney in the late 1950s. From these standards was born the Redwood Valley Railway at Tilden Park in Oakland, CA. and the Paradise & Pacific in McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale, AZ.

The partnership struck was for Erich to design the locomotives and Bill would design cars. The designs and patterns these two men made back in the 1950s and 1960s are still used today to build new 5" scale / 15" gauge equipment.

Since inception these standards have been adopted by many other railroads including, but not limited to; Glenwood, South Park & Pacific (private), Joshua Tree and Southern Railroad Museum, Hetch Hetchy & Yosemite Valleys Railway (private), Reedyville Railroad (private), Trinity Apls Railroad (private), Arborway TT & North Western Railroad, Coyote Valley Railway (private),  Orland-Newville & Pacific, and of course our own Hillcrest & Wahtoke Railroad. Equipment can be taken from any one of these railroads and put on another and they will couple up and work fine together.

 


Here are the basic standards as laid down by Erich and Bill:

 

An optional, much simpler to machine, flange profile was added to the standards in the 1970s by Erich:

 


This is the track standards sheet we use for our own railroad which covers details needed for working with earth movers and soils engineers. The notes on the compaction of the subgrade are very important as they directly relate to maintenance costs. Laying track directly on the ground is a great way to save installation costs and to get the railroad up and running in short order, however as the track settles over time regular and labor intensive maintenance will be required. A well-compacted subgrade with provisions for drainage will save a lot of labor in leveling track and replacing ties rotting from water damage.

H&WRR Track Specs - 2015-12-31.PDF

In Jan 2016 the average price for track laid to the standards outlined above was $50 per linear foot. That's rail, joiner bars, bolts, spikes, ties, compacted subgrade, ballast, fully installed and ready to run on.

A DETAILED HISTORY

of the

HILLCREST & WAHTOKE RAILROAD AND HILLCREST SHOPS

 

Hillcrest Christmas Tree Farm is the oldest in the San Joaquin Valley. Founded in 1960 by Ed and Bonnie Toews (pronounced Taves) it has been at its current location ever since. The history of the railroad began with Ed if “fake” trains count.

Some years back before we owned the place old Ed began building a train to move people about the farm. It featured his only and therefore his favorite, tractor with some serious decoration to make it look like a locomotive. Ed built some cars and a caboose on trailers and the first Hillcrest train became operational.

 

 

(Left) Ed’s train; A Kubota tractor in costume, near the present front gate.

(Right) Same under construction

 

This train wasn’t limited to tracks and began running around the whole farm and was featured in some local parades. On the weekends, during the Christmas season, people could enjoy a train for a small fee.

 

In February of 1992 we purchased the farm from the Toews. A year after purchasing the farm we began to explore the idea of adding a “real” train. Wouldn’t it be cool to lay track to the different fields of Christmas trees and Pumpkins and use the train to bring the trees, pumpkins and guests back to the parking areas? This began our unquenchable thirst to find a train. Several questions needed answering first:

 

  • How big does it need to be?

  • What gauge should the track be?

  • Will it fit on our land?

  • How wide do the turns need to be?

  • Should it be scale to larger trains?

  • Should it be real steam of fake?

  • Where does one buy steam trains?

 

In 1984 while stationed in Texas with the Air Force we discovered an old steam train in an abandoned amusement park in Carlsbad New Mexico. It was straight out of a “Scooby Doo” cartoon mystery. This was some years prior to owning Hillcrest, as a matter of fact this was some years before owning much of anything!

We had inadvertently camped next to the parks back fence the night before. The train was a “Winton” (built by Winton Brown of Oakland CA.) It was two foot gauge of approximately 6” scale. The owner, (we tracked down through asking the locals in the bar across the street) was Pete Pelletier, he had commissioned the building of the train and wanted to sell it to us; on the spot; for a very good price. He told us of its history and how it never ran correctly under steam, he even hired the builder and relocated him to New Mexico just to run it, but the locomotive never performed well so they eventually converted it from steam to diesel/ hydraulic. Being militarily poor we couldn’t afford the $40,000 he wanted for the locomotive, 5 cars, caboose and 1.5 miles of track. It was a bargain even back then, but we just couldn’t spend two years income on a train we had no place for.

 

  

(Left) Melissa next to the “Abe Lincoln” locomotive; discovered in the abandoned amusement park. The actual name is Presidents Park, in Carlsbad New Mexico, 1984.

(Right) Lis sitting on the porch of the caboose.

 

Jump forward now; beginning in 1992, after purchasing the farm, the idea of putting a real train on the property was agreed to. When considering the question of where does one buy a train, we chased the Abe Lincoln down first. It had been years since we talked to the owner. He had since passed away and the train, along with the park, had gone through another owner. The city now wanted to make a go of it and didn’t want to sell. This closed the door to the possibility of having the “Abe Lincoln” run at Hillcrest.

It was probably a blessing that it didn’t end up here. We wouldn’t know so many very nice 15” gauge railroad folks and the Abe had a 200’ minimum turn radius. The curves would be excessively large for our property.

Later that same year while continuing the research (where does one buy a train?) we found a very helpful video titled “Big Little Railways” initially purchased for landscaping and excavation ideas, it became a Bible to finding the right size train for our needs and the experts who could help us with this quest. One of the train men mentioned was Erich Thomsen . After watching the video 100 times, I called up Tilden Park Steam Trains and Eric answered the phone! It was like talking to a movie star, I was humbled. The family went up to visit the park and meet Erich and our long term friendship began. Erich taught us so much over the years, like how to spike track, build switches and he advised us on the purchase of our very first train. Unfortunately Eric passed away in 1995. Since then his daughter Ellen has taken over the railroad and still operates it to this day. Our relationship with the Thomsen family has grown, even after Erich’s untimely passing.

 

In 1994 after so much searching and bugging people like Erich, Ken Keagy and others, we bought our first “real train.” It was a “Crown” locomotive with 4 cars that had been owned by Jim Adams, Dave Harms and a group of guys in Illinois. We saw the ad for it in the classified section of a railroad preservation magazine. Funny what you can find in a bookstore at the Railroad museum in Jamestown.   

This little train had been in several parks over its life time and was sitting on concrete in a barn when we first saw her.

 

 

(Left) The Crown before we owned her, notice the high cars. The top to these cars was removed once the train arrived here.

(Right) The first look at the Crown, in the barn in Illinois, it looked like space junk.

 

The locomotive was manufactured by the Crown metal works company of Wayano, PA. It was their first ever built (serial number 001) and launched them into business manufacturing steam trains, ours was 15” gauge, the smallest size they built.

Melissa and I both broke out laughing when we first saw the engine sitting there. It looked like a piece of space junk that had burned up while reentering the atmosphere and crashed through the barn roof. I think our laughter offended the sellers. We weren’t laughing at the train, or the guys, but at ourselves. The journey to find this “real” steam train had taken some time and many turns, and now here it is, right before us.

“That’s all there is?” I think came out of my mouth. We were laughing at ourselves.

So we bought it. Actually, for the price, it allowed us to get started with the track and layout and begin building the

 

Hillcrest & Wahtoke Railroad

 

The locomotive came with 4 cars and 7500 feet of rail. We had to straighten the old rails that had been bent and curved from somewhere in their past. Likewise, we used hammer and anvil to straighten over 4000 used spikes that came with the track materials.

When this project started we knew next to nothing about track installation, so we contacted Erich and the education began. Our first five feet took almost 8 hours to assemble and spike. The going was tough at first. Laying track is loud, hard, dirty, exhausting work. There is no way around it. Each rail weighs 120 lbs and is 30 feet long. All the track curves are pre-bent; all the ties are pre-drilled before spiking. After the ballast is applied and the track lifted, every tie is tamped by hand in 8 places.

 

  

(Left) The first rails: starting from the South end of the current tunnel, heading south ward. Notice there’s no ballast and no shop spur.

(Right) The trestle under construction. Note: The driveway had to be lowered 4 feet to allow vehicles to pass under the new structure. The wood came from Cotton Center where we dismantled old olive tanks and is true dimension, heart grain, redwood.

 

As a mater of fact, our crew flew up to Tilden Park and helped Erich with his trains and track in exchange for advice and the oozing of his great wealth of knowledge. Every time we encountered a hurdle, we went up to Redwood Valley Railway soaked up some priceless information and returned to track lying. The actual track spiking began in July of 1994 and the 1200’ of Hillcrest Loop was completed on November 20, just before we opened for the Christmas season. With Erich’s help and our own experience, we invented some new tools and techniques that greatly sped up the spiking process. By the end of the loop our spiking speed had increased to over 100’ per hour.

This entire time we knew nothing of operating the steam part of a locomotive. None of us had ever done more than put water in a tea kettle. Rolling down the track while building the layout was easy, we propelled the locomotive by putting air from a portable compressor into the boiler and cylinders. Operating a real steam engine was another matter. We turned to Erich who advised us to get in contact with some local enthusiasts to help us learn how to fire up the boiler.

 

  

(Left) Crown #1 first steam-up at Hillcrest.

(Right) New livery, headlight and tender trucks for opening day of the H&WRR, Christmas season ‘94

 

Not being happy with the original red, green, white and black livery of the Crown, we stripped the old paint and repainted her between Thanksgiving Thursday and Saturday when we opened for the season. That almost caused a divorce. I can’t remember the number of passengers that rode the train that opening weekend but I think it wasn’t much over 100. Thus began “real” railroading at the Hillcrest & Wahtoke Railroad.

The Crown had a lot of problems and couldn’t haul more than two cars full of passengers. We used to hide employees in the Christmas trees to help push the train up the hill as it went by. Funny no one ever noticed the first “helper engines”.

Later we completely overhauled the Crown; this necessitated having a machine shop on hand, SOOOO, we began collecting machine tools and making our own parts. The old flocking shed had to be moved and the space used for the lathes and milling machines needed for the farm and railroad.

Installing a railroad is no easy task especially when you are committed to doing it yourself. We realized we needed heavy equipment to just get the dirt ready. A dump truck and Backhoe would be required along with some rentals of skip loaders and bulldozers. I wish it were as simple as the Lionel track I used to assemble as a kid.

Like the old story of the general who lost the war for need of a pen, installing and maintaining a steam railroad required investing five times the work and price of the actual track, cars and locomotive.

 

  

(Left) Original flocking shed walls coming down.

(Right) New walls up, note flocked tree in doorway

 

We never really liked the proportions of the Crown and its cars nor the train’s performance. We began to feel the need for larger equipment, especially with future plans of track expansion. The train is to eventually go from the top of the farm (Hillcrest Station) to the bottom of the farm (Wahtoke Station).  Hence the railroads name.

We wanted to build something along the lines of Erich Thomsen's Redwood Valley Railway, scale narrow gauge logging trains in 5” (5 inches to the foot) scale. By scaling narrow gauge locomotives to 5” scale  and 15” gauge track, we actually shrink them less than if we were to scale full sized locomotives to 15” gauge. The cars are more comfortable to ride and the locomotives are much larger and can pull more cars.

 

After 4 years of operating the Crown, a fellow named Clint Green mailed us some artifacts from the trains past. It included old coal clinkers and ballast, newspaper articles, etc. Then he showed up one day. He came all the way from Illinois and offered to buy the engine and cars to send back to Flora, his home town. The Crown (or Little Toot” as they called her) first ran at Flora Illinois back in 1955 in “Charlie Brown” park when Clint was just 5 years old. Now that he and the city managers were all grown up, they wanted the train back in the park where it all began. The price was right so we had to say “goodbye Crown.” Parting was tough, with so much time, sweat and money invested. The Crown had got the H&W going.

With the proceeds from the sale of the Crown we began designing and fabricating the tools necessary to make our own cars. We decided to make all the similar parts interchangeable in case we ever decided to sell these to potential customers.  Little did we know then what would eventually develop and this proved to be a smart move. Hillcrest Shops was born! (See shops history) The development of the tooling and construction of the first car began in 1997 and finished in 1999.

With no locomotive to pull the new cars, we needed an engine before Christmas. Just as things happen, another railroad of 15” gauge and 5” scale lent us their “Shay” for a year if we would repair her boiler and firing issues. The engines boiler needed to be re-flued and the burner needed to be a bit larger so we made the required repairs and started operating the Glenwood Southpark and Pacific’s #7, a two cylinder, two truck, class A, Shay locomotive. The engine was built by Ken Kukuk of Los Angeles and is a real beauty.

We can’t thank him and the Glenwood gang enough for all their help!

 

 

GSP&P Shay #7 on the left with the Crown on the right just before it left the H&W

 

Construction continued on more new cars and by 2001, 5 fresh cars existed including # 301, the new stock car. This car was unique because it was our first designed with automatic air brakes, or any brakes for that matter. Because we started by making all car parts interchangeable, we were able to retrofit the previous built 201 and 202 cars.

 

 

(Left) Our computer rendition of the 301 car.

(Right) building the car in the shop with the train night gang.

 

 

(Left) The  finished 301 car, note the brake hoses.

(Right) Cars 201 and 203. All cars (except high cars) convert to flat cars if needed. #203 is carrying the wheel sets for next series of cars to be built.

 

We returned the Shay to Glenwood and inherited the #2 “Shaun” from Bill Fahey. This engine is one of the oldest ever used at Hillcrest. Its history prior to 1938 is vague. From what we know it began life around 1917, was reboilered in 1938, overhauled in 1996 and came to Hillcrest in 1999.

 

 

(Left) Bill Fahey’s #2, the “Shaun” pulling our new cars with a full load up the tree house grade.

(Right) New gondola chassis being assembled upside down.

 

This engine is an “American” 4-4-0 wheel configuration, like the Crown. It featured a “Briggs” dry firebox boiler and a working steam pressure of only 100psi. Though small in stature it pulled hard and we ran this locomotive until 2001 when the 2-8-0 Consolidation arrived. Currently the Shaun locomotive is awaiting shop overhaul and outfitting.

The late Frank Allen from Orland, CA who built the beautiful “Sonoma” orchestrated the loan. He knew we were in need of a locomotive and the maintaining of two steam engines was too much for him. Frank brought the locomotive all the way down on his custom locomotive hauling trailer.

 

  

(Left and Right) Pictures of Frank Allen’s “Sonoma”. This was modeled after the narrow gauge locomotive featured in the lobby of the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento.  A regular at the Reedley Rail Fest for the last two years, it now belongs to the State Museum.

 

Not long after receiving the #2, Ken Kukuk of the Glenwood South Park & Pacific railroad finished building his 2-8-0 “consolidation, the #13. 7 years in the building, the locomotive was ready for testing. Not having a loop to continuously run on he asked if we would bring the locomotive to our track for its initial fire-up and test run.

There were the usual gremlins and quirks to fix, like its tendency to light the track on fire. We worked on it all day and into the night. Ken left that evening saying “let me know when it’s a good engine” He had really built a beauty and in a very short time she was running great.

We told him his locomotive was perfect, but the engine has never made it to its home track. It has lived here ever since. Ken is very generous! What a guy, without him we never would have been able to grow.

The Glenwood gang can often be seen here, especially come October during Reedley Rail Fest.

 

 

(Left) The Glenwood #13 loading passengers at Hillcrest Station.

(Right) GSP&P crew meet Engineers from (a famous theme park in Anaheim CA.) Bill Trail and Jim "Homer" Holmes from GSP&P are on the left, Dale and Craig are on the right. Picture was taken at Reedley Rail Fest.

 

The #13 is equipped with a steam powered air compressor to operate both locomotive (independent) and train air brakes. After building the 301 to be compatible with air, we retrofitted the #13 to match the type of airbrakes (automatic) we built into the 301 car. The new system proved so successful that we retrofitted the previous built 201 and 202 cars. All cars built since then have the automatic air brake installed.  The system works backwards of what most people think normal. If the air in the brake pipe is lost, the brakes will automatically activate, and they apply using the same air. The system has only one moving part and no springs! It’s almost bullet proof.

After 201, 202 and 301 were built we finished the 203 and the 204. The cars are numbered for the series or type of car and the specific sequence in which they are ordered. For example; all Gondolas are 200 series cars. 201 may be built after 204, but it was ordered to be built first. 203 was our prototype “step through” gondola car. It too was a hit, especially when getting in or out of it. # 204 was built for the GSP&P but, like the #13 has yet to make it there. It too is special because it is the only remaining prototypical gondola (normal sides) and it is a ten footer, two feet shorter than a typical gondola. All the gondolas built since 204 for the H&W are step through “gons.”

Gondolas 205 through 208 went to a customer in southern California in kit form, 209 went to John Ray near Gilroy, was bought back later in partial kit form and was actually built here. Cars #210 and 211 went to the ATT&NW Railroad in Missouri. #212 through 215 were built by us for the H&W. #216, 217, 209 and 220 were the latest built in 2008, again, for the growing needs of the H&W. # 218 and 219 were built for another customer in Arizona.

 

 

(Left) The 219 gondola in Arizona. Note the link and pin couplers and no brake hoses.

(Right) the LGB model of the Davenport 0-6-0, outside frame switcher, kit bashed to represent the future #57 locomotive for the H&W.

 

It wasn’t as though we spent all of our time building gondolas and running Kens engine around the 1200 original feet of track. We had BIG DREAMS with greater men and women dedicated to making them come true.

We began designing a switcher locomotive back in the early days to be a backup to the Crown and a general all-purpose work engine. We liked the 0-4-0 Davenport locomotive of the Denver and Rio Grande R.R. fame, but since this type had been built in 5” scale already, we wanted something more unique.  Davenport locomotives had elements of both the new diesel world and the old steam era. We found that they had exported 6 wheel locomotives much like the beloved 4 wheel locomotive; but with some newer refinements and 6 wheels. We couldn’t find any drawings, just a few photographs were all that existed so we modeled ours using Davenports original full-size drawings of the #50 locomotive and an LGB, “G” scale, electric train engine for proportioning.

What started as a simple switch engine became a full-fledged diesel powered monster. The locomotive took three years to build, weighs over 5000 lbs and features a 4 cylinder, Nissan 40 hp diesel engine, hydrostatic drive, working sander, both independent and automatic air brakes, and a working air supply for track and bridge maintenance.

 

   

(Left) Wheels, axles and gearbox are finished and partially assembled.

(Right) Wheels sets are finally assembled with counter weights and side rods. All are machined from billet steel. Note the engine, pump, suspension and chassis are in place.

 

 

(Left) Chassis reassembled after paint.

(Right) Rodney in the cab, # 57 under construction. Note no headlight or bell

 

 

Chris Allen is busy lettering the #57. It takes a steady hand!

(Right) The finished product after years of work. Note the bell, whistle, headlight and side rods are all of the steam era.

 

In 1999 negotiations began with our neighbor Fred Smeds to purchase the adjoining 20 acres of land immediately to the south of our 5. Ten of these had been leased by us for years. Even before we owned the farm, this land had been leased and much of what the public knew to be Hillcrest Christmas Tree farm actually belonged to the neighbors. This sale provided the opportunity to expand the railroad and the tree farm. First things first; we needed to get track past our driveway

 

 

(Left) The grade crossing tracks for the main driveway are pre-built at the shop.

(Right) The crossing installed across the main driveway. This allows the Railroad to cross the driveway onto the new 20 acre land. The crossing was installed by a crew (or better a party) of dozens. Great preparation and a large gang make work seem easy. It took about an hour including the paving!

 

...and onto the new land.

After the crossing was in place the rails had to be joined from the existing Hillcrest loop to the crossing and eventually beyond. New switches necessary to tie in the track had already been cut in by the “train night gang” some time before. The amount of work needed to get to this point was immense. For example, half the trestle had to be dismantled and rebuilt to accommodate one switch.

 

 

(Left) Under the Walnut tree; Ken Kukuk and Vic aligning the new track from the crossing back to Hillcrest loop and the new switch.

(Right) Mike Morosolli pushing out the vines to Make room for the railroad and Christmas trees

 

After the purchase was finalized, we pushed out the existing vines and began the grading for the “CUT” and the new road bed, two 30 yard scrapers, a bulldozer, a road grader and two water trucks went to work. The dirt removed was used to build the 4 foot high berm surrounding the property and the 18” high berm lining the cut itself. All the top soil went to the bottom of the farm to back fill the large circular planter that will become the road bed for the return loop of track at Wahtoke station.

 

Why make such a huge hole in the ground? The “cut” is necessary to get the track to the bottom of the farm. Trains typically don’t like steep grades. The grades that automobiles consider normal (5%+) are excessive to a train. The design we came up with is a compromise. The decision is between the ability to haul the greatest number of cars with the least amount of maintenance versus the cost of removing that much dirt. The breakeven point was to keep the grade to the bottom at 1.5% or less if possible. In order to keep the grade this low, the descent needs to start at the far Western edge of the upper property and  continue all the way until reaching Reed Avenue at the south part of the bottom land.

Over 1500’ in track length is necessary to descend the 24’ in altitude between Hillcrest station, up top, and Wahtoke station, down below.

  

(Left) Grading begins on the upper ten acres for the large 10,000 cubic yard “Cut” Several crews worked for weeks to finish the work.

(Right) Looking from East to West, the Cut is getting deeper. This reminds me of the beginnings of the American cut of the Panama Canal.

 

 

(Left) Still the cut gets deeper. Though not near finished you get the idea. After the first section was excavated, the bottom of the drainage portion was removed leaving the elevated roadbed shelf that the track is laid on.

(Right) The lower parking area and beginning of the road bed for the Wahtoke loop. This will be the future lower terminus for the trains.

 

10,000 cubic yards of material were removed from the fields and used as berms for landscaping and flood control. The “train night gang” began the design of the railroads extension on napkins and placements during dinner. Soon we had the entire project converted to digital with topographic features included.

With the field cleared of the old vineyard and the earth removed it was time to grade the roadbed and the train barn pad. Work began in earnest and even the neighbors came over with their tractors to help. With the road bed prepared we began the long process of laying new track. Our plans were on a large scale.

 

 

(Left) Digitized version of our napkin drawing showing the track layout in green. This design wasn’t used, but shows all the topo features of the farm.

(Right) Dave Kope and the #03 Speeder on the crossing, between the old original Hillcrest Loop and the new 20 acres. Note the vines are gone and the tracks stop at the end of the asphalt. The cut hasn’t started yet.

 

As with any big idea project, either you need to have a lot of money, or other people willing to invest their money, or a lot of friends that like to work hard. This railroad wouldn’t exist without the later.

To help get dreams realized, car projects built, track expansion, repairs and training accomplished we organized “train night” and work weekends. Train night happens one night a week, usually on Wednesdays, while work weekends occur once a month. Friends come from as far away as Oregon and Los Angeles to help on these weekends.

Before progress could be made on the other (south) side of the crossing, switches would be needed. Like the proverbial question where do you buy locomotives and cars, where do you buy switches?

I remember buying switches or “turnouts” as they are technically called, when I was a youngster, for my family’s HO train set. You could just go into the hobby store and pull the size you needed off the shelf. They had numbers associated with them, which I didn’t understand then. A number 4, for example, means that the turnout deviates at a ratio of 1:4. Similar to how house roof pitch is numbered. The turn deviates out from the straight portion at a ratio of 1 inch deviation for every 4 inches of run. The new track required that we calculate the turnout number needed and build the switches to suit.

With no switch stores available, we began fabricating the custom (non rail) components of the switches. In front of the shop an assembly line was created and production started on the turnouts.

We began building the new switches in earnest. The predominant sizes are #6’s, #8’s, and one number 12. The first thirteen were for the H&W and another 40 or so for customers and friends. Ours were stacked on a trailer, pulled by tractor to the new field and then were literally placed on the ground, where they were to go in the lay out. Because the train night gang (TNG) had digitized the project, the switches could be located very accurately in the new field.  Track was then laid to connect the switches and before you knew it, the railroad expansion was off and running.

 

  

(Left) New track, the beginning of the expansion., The crew is tying in the new track to the existing loop by laying the track from the crossing backwards to the switch. Note: The crew pictured is a mix of Hillcrest, Glenwood, and Redwood Valley railroads.

(Right) New switches, #6 and #8, preassembled at the shop for the track expansion, are being fork lifted to a trailer before setting them into the field.

 

Between work weekends and train nights the track was laid all spring and summer through the new field. We began in February when it was cool, but it was not uncommon to go through 10 gallons of “gator aide” in one evening while spiking track in 105 degree heat during the summer. Grand Scales Quarterly Magazine wanted to have a convention on the West coast in October of 2003. Greg Robinson, the then owner and editor called and asked if we would host it here at Hillcrest. With that deadline approaching (of course we accepted) we were busy all the way up to the opening morning working on the track and the new train barn.

The weekend before the convention we had set a spiking distance record, which I believe, still stands to this day. The work weekend crew laid 1500’ of track in a single, very long day.

Along with the track, many other things needed to be designed and built including the train barn, with its special three-way stub switch, two new bridges and the switch throw mechanisms (or harp stands.) for all the new turnouts. This added work to the already busy schedule.

Once the track was spiked and aligned, the crew covered it to the top of the rails with crushed rock (ballast.)  Then the rails, ties and switches are lifted through the rock a couple of inches and the ballast is tamped under the ties. This is how the track is leveled both length wise and side to side. Following the tamping (remember at 8 places per tie, the rock is packed, by hand) the track is dressed with shovels and brooms to look nice. The Hillcrest gang with the help of many other railroads were tamping track up to the last second.

 

First rails of the new track being spiked. This section is the mainline track through “Pine Tree”. The switches at the West end are already in place and the crew is connecting this track between sets of switches. Notice the cut on the left. Spikes are driven in using air hammers

 

 

(Left) Work weekend crew finishing up the details on the train barn.

(Right) The train barn from across the cut. Note the track isn’t spiked in the actual cut.

 

A golden spike ceremony was held at night when the final spike was driven into the new track extension. Melissa being the real boss was given the honors.

 

 

 

(Left) New switch is on the ground and rails re-joined to it in preparation of spiking. All rails have to be pre-bent before spiking due to our relatively tight turn radiuses and large seasonal temperature variations.

(Right) Work Weekend crew is ballasting the “wye” and the beginning of the Wahtoke division.

 

Following the convention of 2003, work progressed on the railroad to bring the much-needed irrigation to the new property. This allowed both landscape and Christmas trees to be planted. Our goal has always been to reach the Christmas tree fields with the train and bring back the cut trees on the train with the guests. The railroad extension was designed to facilitate this plan. Hillcrest Shops became busier also and new track of larger gauge needed to be added. In 2005, 800’ of three foot gauge track was installed at the south end of the property. In 2006 a single rail was added to a section of this, making it dual gauged with both 2 and 3 foot gauges.

In 2005 The Grand Scales Quarterly asked if another convention could be held here. This time things were different and a lot of new ideas were incorporated that have become part of our regular season attraction. In October our Pumpkin season opens with a special event called “Reedley Rail Fest”. This is a carryover from the GSQ conventions . It coincides with Reedley’s Fiesta celebration. The railroad invites people and their trains from all over the western USA to participate. Add in live music, good food, antique tractors, cars and stationary engines and the railroading fun begins! Because of the added dual gauge track larger locomotives participate as well. It is not uncommon to see 10 steam trains running, at the same time, on the same track plus diesels, speeders, stationary steam and gas engines from G scale to three foot gauge.

The new layout design required some other less tangible improvements. This size of layout, being essentially single track, with the number of sidings, wye’s, switches and the long steep grade illustrated the need for additional crew training. We used to operate without train brakes (this is not uncommon, even at public parks) but the long grade required that we install them. None of our crew members were familiar with automatic train air. Whistle signals and hand signals all have specific meanings, radio procedures and switching cars needed to be standardized.

 

  

 

 

Pictures from Reedley Rail Fest, opening Pumpkin season weekend in October.

 

Beginning back in 1994 after our Christmas season was over, Michael Freidenberg, one of the original Hillcrest engineers, developed the idea of adding another season to help utilize the farm and the new railroad. Fresno County was developing the “Blossom Trail” as a tourist attraction to help spawn “Ag-tourism” and “Value Added Agriculture.” At the time and Hillcrest became a featured stop on the trail and a poster farm for both.

With spring fever a lot of folks are looking forward to getting out of the house. Blossom trail is our third season for opening the farm and railroad to the public. Many social clubs, car clubs and tourists stop here on their outings along the Blossom Trail.

 

 

Pictures from Blossom Trail in March. Custom cars from one of the many clubs that stop to ride the Hillcrest & Wahtoke

 

Through the help of John Bishop, our resident professional engineer, the Hillcrest & Wahtoke Railroad began an extensive training program overhaul. Though invisible to the guest’s eye, this was the largest, most extensive improvement to the railroad in its history. Training syllabuses had to be written. Rules of the railroad had to be published; maintenance logs had to be started. Standardization of evaluators, tests and performance guidelines all had to be created. The process to become a fully rated steam engineer through the H&W system is a serious and lengthy process. To date there are 10 certified steam engineers and 2 diesel engineers that can haul the public.

 

 

(Left) Diesel 101 training during a work weekend.

(Right) Switching training using two trains. Notice Mike to the right with his hands in the air. He is signaling the green diesel locomotive. Cars are set out all over the railroad and crews have to put them together in specific sequences using standard operating procedures.

 

More is on the way as we continue to develop the history of the railroad. This text may change as we update and revise the railroad. Coming Soon will be the finishing of the cut and the installation of the riveted bridges. And the building of the tipple.

 

2015

 

It’s been a few years so time to catch up with the goings on of the Hillcrest and Wahtoke Railroad.

 

5 more acres were added to the site in 2010. This incorporated the old Smeds packing shed, cold storage and homestead. The facility for making trains moved to the revamped packing shed. The roof was raised 4 feet, walls were erected and a new crane and service pit were added. Now we finally had the space to build our trains properly.

 

THE NEW SHOP

 

 

 

(Left) Finished concrete over the crane piers.

(Right) The holes are 7 feet deep, those bolts at the base are 5 ½ feet long and a cage of heavy rebar surrounds each. These columns are 12x12”, steel and 5/8” thick. Tese support the runways that the bridge crane travels on.

 

MORE HISTORY COMING SOON (FALL 2015)

 

Saturday, December 19, 2015 - 06:00
$16.00
0.00

<h3 class="rtecenter">Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.</h3>

<h3 class="rtecenter">A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.</h3>

<h3 class="rtecenter">&nbsp;</h3>

<h3 class="rtecenter">Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.</h3>

<p>&nbsp;</p>

<h2 class="rtecenter">When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for, simply show up at the Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an Attendant will help you find a spot to park. After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge where you will need to show a current ID and you will receive wristbands for the night.</h2>

<p class="rtecenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.hillcrestreedley.com/sites/default/files/pages/images/Maps-Pa..." style="height:800px; width:700px" /></p>

<h3>&nbsp;</h3>

<h3 class="rtecenter"><u>This is a&nbsp;<strong>rain-or-shine</strong>&nbsp;event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.</u></h3>

Saturday, December 12, 2015 - 06:00
$16.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for, simply show up at the Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an Attendant will help you find a spot to park. After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge where you will need to show a current ID and you will receive wristbands for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Friday, December 18, 2015 - 06:00
$16.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for, simply show up at the Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an Attendant will help you find a spot to park. After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge where you will need to show a current ID and you will receive wristbands for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Friday, December 11, 2015 - 06:00
$16.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for, simply show up at the Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an Attendant will help you find a spot to park. After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge where you will need to show a current ID and you will receive wristbands for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Sunday, December 21, 2014 - 06:00
$16.00
0.00
Sunday, December 14, 2014 - 06:00
$16.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for simply show up at the Main Gate with a current ID between 6 PM and 9 PM and you will recieve a wrist band for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Sunday, December 14, 2014 - 06:00
$16.00
0.00

Classic "Grand Scale" Locomotives

 

Pricing for these industrial grade Live Steam locomotives starts at $240,000

Proven designes with parts on hand will take 1 to 2 years to build.

New or heavily modified designs may take longer.

All locomotives are hand built to exacting specifications meant for 60+ years of nearly daily service earning their keep.

Typical Payment Schedule: 50% Down Payment. 30% At First Fire-Up. 20% Upon Delivery

prices subject to change without notice.

 

2-4-2

Bore: 4¼" or 4½" x Stroke: 5½" or 6"

Driver Diameter: 12½ or 14"

Boiler Pressure: 125 to 200 PSI

Minimum Radius of Curve - Back Tracks: 35'

Minimum Radius of Curve - Mainline: 50'

 

 

Pre 1890 style 4-4-0

Bore:4¼" or 4½" x Stroke: 5½" or 6"

Driver Diameter: 15" or 16"

Boiler Pressure: 150 to 200 PSI

Minimum Radius of Curve - Back Tracks: 45'

Minimum Radius of Curve - Mainline: 60'

 

 

Post 1890 style 4-4-0

Bore: 4¼" or 4½" x Stroke: 5½" or 6"

Driver Diameter: 15" or 16"

Boiler Pressure: 150 to 200 PSI

Minimum Radius of Curve - Back Tracks: 45'

Minimum Radius of Curve - Mainline: 60'

 

 

2-6-0

Bore: 4¼" or 4½" x Stroke: 5½" or 6"

Driver Diameter: 12½" or 14"

Boiler Pressure: 150 to 200 PSI

Minimum Radius of Curve - Back Tracks: 55'

Minimum Radius of Curve - Mainline: 70'

 

 

4-6-0

Bore: 4¼" or 4½" x Stroke: 5½" or 6"

Driver Diameter: 14" or 15"

Boiler Pressure: 150 to 200 PSI

Minimum Radius of Curve - Back Tracks: 55'

Minimum Radius of Curve - Mainline: 70'

 

 

Standard Locomotive features:

 

Frames are Flame or Water-Jet Cut, Stress Relieved, Blanchard Ground and CNC Machined.
ASME Code 200 PSI Boiler.
Brakes - Automatic Train Air with Independent on Locomotive.
Sanders for added traction on steep grades or wet rail.
Fully equalized suspension, and cross-suspension, for increased traction and stability.
Electric Head Lamp for nighttime running.
Redwood Valley Railway standard Automatic Knuckle Couplers.
Fuel: Atomizing Burner & Controls for #2 Off-Road Diesel

 

 

 

 

Optional Locomotive features:

 

Lighted Cab & Gauges.
Steam Driven Air Compressor.
Wood or Steel Riveted Cab
Wood or Steel Pilots.
Choice of Smoke Stack: Straight, Cap, Tapered, Diamond, Radley Hunter, Bonnet, Rushton, etc.
Oil or Kerosene burning Head Lamp.
Atomizer Pressure Gauge.
Steam Chest Pressure Gauge.
Grates for burning solid fuel; Coal, Wood, etc.

The Davenport Diesel - Hydraulic
# 57

 

A Sturdy Workhorse!

All photos by Dave Derfelt

 

 

 

 

Locomotive features:

Power plant - 4 Cylinder Industrial Diesel (various manufacturers).
Drive system - Hydraulic with direct gear drivebox on Main Axle - Two Stage Displacement for high / low speed range.
Weight - 5500 lbs.
Driver Diameter - 14"
Rigid Wheel Base - 36"
Minimum Radius of Curves - 45'
Brakes - Automatic Train Air with Independent on locomotive.
Air Sanders for traction.
Spacious cab with dome light and lighted gauges.
Additional air line on each end for air tools or auxilaries.
Available in 6-wheel or 4-wheel versions.
Flame-cut stress relieved & Blanchard ground plate steel frame and end buffers.
Sturdy hood and cab construction with thought-out access for oil filters, etc.
Fully equalized suspension.

UPCOMING EVENTS>>

HILLCREST & WAHTOKE RAILROAD
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Come enjoy a 15 minute tour of the farm on an exquisite half scale LIVE STEAM  narrow gauge railroad for only $4.00 per person, age 2 and up.  Also enjoy children’s play areas, trails & picnic areas. Snacks and drinks available, Hot food on weekends seasonally.

Hillcrest Christmas Tree Farm at Reed
and Adams, in Reedley, CA.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Open  seasonally, with the train running on the weekends
From 10 am to 5 pm:
Blossom Trail: First 3 weekends in March
Reedley Railfest:Third weekend in March
Pumpkin Patch: Open Every Weekend of October, and November 1st, 2015
Christmas season: Opens the Saturday after Thanksgiving, through the weekend before Christmas with Steam Trains running on the Weekends.
Pajama Night: Nighttime train rides every Friday & Saturday night in December before Christmas

AVAILABLE  FOR  TRAIN  BIRTHDAY PARTIES  BY APPOINTMENT!

Friday, December 2, 2016 - 06:00
$17.00
0.00

To purchase tickets: Use the pull-down menu to select which night you would like tickets for, then click ADD TO CART. Next, Go to MyCart and type in the number of tickets you want and hit UPDATE CART. Then continue to the CHECK OUT and follow the payment instructions

You should receieve a confirmation e-mail. Please let us know if you do not.

If you want to triple check you can always log on and look at your purchase history.

Tickets are $17.00 per person 2 years and up.

 

Hot food and Photos with Santa are handled by outside vendors and subject to their own pricing.

 

2016 Dates:

Even if a date is listed as SOLD OUT there may be tickets available if there were cancellations.

Friday, Dec. 2nd : Saturday, Dec. 3rd

Friday, Dec 9th : Saturday, Dec 10th

Friday, Dec 16th : ;Saturday, Dec 17th

Sunday, Dec 18th:

Just Added:  Monday Dec 19--Special "Split" Night

6:00PM-7:30PM or  8:00PM-9:30PM

Tuesday, Dec 20th : Wednesday, Dec 21st

& Thursday, Dec 22nd

New for 2016--1 Night only!!

Special $15 Split Night on Monday, December 19

6:00PM-7:30PM  or  8:00PM-9:30PM

Enjoy a more intimate setting with limited crowds--Only 250 per session.  This night is ideal for those who can only experience the Pajama Christmas

for a short while but don't want the higher crowd numbers of our regular night!

 

When you make a purchase your name will be added to the guest list for that night. You will receive an order number for that purchase and are good to go. You should receive a confirmation email also--Please check your spam folder if it does not come thru. The order will say "Pending" until the event date. On the date you have reserved tickets, simply show up at the Hillcrest Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an attendant will help you find a place to park.

After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge.  Please bring a current ID and check in at the kiosk to receive your wristbands for the night.  We look forward to seeing you there!

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

 

Saturday, December 20, 2014 - 06:00
$16.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for simply show up at the Main Gate with a current ID between 6 PM and 9 PM and you will recieve a wrist band for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Friday, December 19, 2014 - 06:00
$16.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for simply show up at the Main Gate with a current ID between 6 PM and 9 PM and you will recieve a wrist band for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Saturday, December 13, 2014 - 06:00
$16.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for simply show up at the Main Gate with a current ID between 6 PM and 9 PM and you will recieve a wrist band for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Friday, December 12, 2014 - 06:00
$16.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for simply show up at the Main Gate with a current ID between 6 PM and 9 PM and you will recieve a wrist band for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Saturday, December 6, 2014 - 06:00
$16.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for simply show up at the Main Gate with a current ID between 6 PM and 9 PM and you will recieve a wrist band for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Friday, December 5, 2014 - 06:00
$16.00
0.00

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Check in at the front gate for arm bands, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

A night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

 

When you buy a ticket your name will be added to the Guest List for that night. On the day you purchased tickets for, simply show up at the Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an Attendant will help you find a spot to park.

After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge where you will need to show a current ID and you will receive wristbands for the night.

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

Pumpkin Patch 2013 Photos>>

Pumpkin Patch 2013 Tree Farm Family Hay Ride Steam Train

A couple of photos from Pumpkin Patch 2013!


Hillcrest_BT2015_Slider_IMAGE.png Hillcrest_PP_Square_Small.png BLOSSOM TRAIL - MARCH 2015 http://www.hillcrestreedley.com/node/5

Welcome to the new website>>

Please pardon the dust as we finish off the new website.

For more updates please like the Hillcrest Reedley Facebook Page

Pajama Christmas is the only time of the year when we're open to the public after dark. It's the only way to experience the magic of moonlight steam train rides. The glow from the locomotives' fire flickers across the ground and the occasional sparks from the smokestack swirl up into the air before burning out. Steam hangs in the air to take on the appearance of riding the train through the clouds.

Tickets are limited and had by advanced sales only so there won't be the usual crowds seen during the day. Making for a much more cozy and relaxed atmosphere.

Don your snuggliest pajamas and come to the farm after dark (6pm). Parking is in the lower parking lot lit by white Christmas lights hung in the trees. Enter at the front gate, park your car, and follow the lanterns to the Stone Bridge where you will check in and get your armbands, then head up the stairs up to Hillcrest Station.

Unlimited steam train rides through the redwood trees and across the farm in the crisp December night air with lights and displays. Fire bowls ablaze to warm yourself by while listening to live music. All-you-can-eat yummy cookies and a fun hot chocolate bar.  Hot food also available for purchase. Plus a little more.

It's a night of family, friends, music, and holiday cheer with a touch of magic.

 

Santa makes an appearance to talk with the children (ages 1 to 100+). Santa's personal photographer will also be there for purchasing a photo with Santa.

ALL PAJAMA CHRISTMAS NIGHTS 2017 WILL GO ON SALE --SEPTEMBER 30 

This Year's Dates: 2017

10 Nights

Dec. 1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th 6to7:30, 19th 8to9:30, & 20th

$17 a ticket (ages 2 and up) except Dec. 19 (see below)

includes admission, parking, train rides, cookies, hot cocoa, live music, and more!!!

2017 Split Night--1 Night only!!

Special $15 Split Night on Tuesday, December 19

6:00PM-7:30PM  or  8:00PM-9:30PM

Enjoy a more intimate setting with limited crowds--Only 250 per session.  This night is ideal for those who can only experience the Pajama Christmas

for a short while but don't want the higher crowd numbers of our regular night!

 

When you make a purchase your name will be added to the guest list for that night. You will receive an order number for that purchase and are good to go. You should receive a confirmation email also--Please check your spam folder if it does not come thru. The order will say "Pending" until the event date. On the date you have reserved tickets, simply show up at the Hillcrest Main Gate between 6 PM and 9PM where an attendant will help you find a place to park.

After parking, follow the hanging lanterns to the Stone Bridge.  Please bring a current ID and check in at the kiosk to receive your wristbands for the night.  We look forward to seeing you there!

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS

 

This is a rain-or-shine event. A couple of times we have tried to cancel it due to heavy rain, but everyone came out anyway and had a grand time.

 

Air Pump

 

We will be open to the public daily, November 25th until Dec. 17th for

Christmas Tree Sales.

Steam Train rides

and  Hot food vendors are available on weekends, Sat and Sun.

Santa is here most weekends from 11-3 or so.

This year we have Monterey Pines that you can cut yourself at $55 each no matter how tall. (That way we save the smaller ones for future years)  We have saws or you may bring your own.

We also have Noble, Douglas and Fraser Firs that will not grow here, (too hot!) shipped in from snow country that range from $28-$228 depending on species and size. Our tallest Firs are 10/11' but not too many available.

 

 

 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

CHRISTMAS SEASON

THIS YEAR Hillcrest Farm will be open for Christmas Tree Season from 10-5 daily from:

Nov. 25 – Dec. 17, 2017 

                                             Cut down your own Monterey Pine, or choose from pre-cut Noble, Douglas and Fraser firs. Full Tree Services available (shaking, drilling, flocking, etc.)

Steam Train Rides and Hot Food on Saturdays and Sundays.

Train tickets $4 ea, age 2 and up.

 

Pajama Christmas Tickets go on sale Oct 1st, 2016

$18 age 2 and up.

Pajama Christmas will go on rain or shine

December 2017 PJ Night Schedule:(approx)

Dec.1, 2, 8,9,15,16,17,18,19,20

6 PM to 9 PM

Sorry, our insurance no longer allows customers to bring dogs on Hillcrest property.


Hillcrest Christmas Tree Farm is the oldest in the San Joaquin Valley. Founded in 1960 by Ed and Bonnie Toews (pronounced Taves) it has been at its current location ever since.

Get the full story here: Hillcrest Tree Farm & Shops - A Detailed History

PH: 559.638.2762

FAX: 559.638.2762

Email: HillcrestShops@aol.com

 

Hillscrest Tree Farm & Shops
6943 S. Reed
Reedley, CA 93654

The Arch Bar Car Truck

 

click to enlargeclick to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge

Specifications:

5" Scale - 15" Gauge

Wheels- 10" Diameter - 4140 Alloy Steel or Gray Cast Iron available.

Wheelbase- 20"

Bearings - Timken Needle

Differential axles of heat treated alloy steel.

Fully sprung.

SKF Roller side bearings.

Available in machined kit form or fully assembled.

Customized journal lid designs available, please inquire.

Cost per single truck kit (steel wheels) $2648.00 subject to change. Assembly extra charge. FOB Hillcrest Shops.

Please contact us for availability and pricing.

Available as Ready-to-Roll only.

CLICK HERE FOR "THE BASICS OF BUILDING CARS"


12' Flat

The Basic 12' Flat Car


12' Gon

The 10' or 12' Rider Gondola


The Stock Car

The 12' Stock Car

Stock car construction photos below:


The Disconnect

The Disconnect Truck - sold in pairs.


The Jimmy

The “Jimmy”- a great all purpose car.


more to come...

 

The Davenport Diesel - Hydraulic #57

A Sturdy Workhorse!

 

 


 

Hillcrest Shops is authorized to build new Erich Thomsen designed

Redwood Valley Railway locomotives.

Pricing for these industrial grade Live Steam locomotives starts at $240,000

Proven designes with parts on hand will take 1 to 2 years to build.

New or heavily modified designs may take longer.

All locomotives are hand built to exacting specifications meant for 60+ years of nearly daily service earning their keep.

Typical Payment Schedule: 50% Down Payment. 30% At First Fire-Up. 20% Upon Delivery

prices subject to change without notice.

 


 

Custom Locomotive Designs

Using Redwood Valley Ry Standards and parts

to meet your business needs and/or private desires.

GLENWOOD, SOUTH PARK & PACIFIC #13

 


HILLCREST & WAHTOKE #57

 


GLENWOOD, SOUTH PARK & PACIFIC #5

 


GLENWOOD, SOUTH PARK & PACIFIC #7

 


GLENWOOD, SOUTH PARK & PACIFIC "1 SPOT"

 


HILLCREST & WAHTOKE 03

 


12' GONDOLAS

HILLCREST & WAHTOKE #203, #209, #212, #213, #214, #215, #216, #217, #220

 


10' GONDOLAS

GLENWOOD, SOUTH PARK & PACIFIC #204

 


12' STOCK CARS

HILLCREST & WAHTOKE #301

 


12' D&RGW STOCK CARS

D&RGW #5482, #5521, #5727

 


CABOOSES

GLENWOOD, SOUTH PARK & PACIFIC #0305

 


BALLAST CARS

HILLCREST & WAHTOKE #103

GLENWOOD, SOUTH PARK & PACIFIC #15

 


MOW (Maintenence Of Way) CARS

MW-21 & MW-22

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On April 18th the cranes arrived to place the new riveted steel bridges into the cut and onto the footings and the hot riveting commenced to place the cross beams.  While the cranes were there we  utilized them to finally get the new giant donkey engine off the trailer and into place near the road crossing. It took both cranes to lift the weight of the  donkey! Thanks to all the Hillcrest Gang for showing up to help with this milestone event.

HILLCREST & WAHTOKE RAILROAD
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Come enjoy a 15 minute tour of the farm on an exquisite half scale LIVE STEAM  narrow gauge railroad for only $4.00 per person, age 2 and up.  Also enjoy children’s play areas, trails & picnic areas. Snacks and drinks available, Hot food on weekends seasonally.

Hillcrest Christmas Tree Farm at Reed
and Adams, in Reedley, CA.
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Open  seasonally, with the train running on the weekends
From 10 am to 5 pm:
Blossom Trail: First 3 weekends in March
Reedley Railfest:Third weekend in March
Pumpkin Patch: Open Every Weekend of October, and November 1st, 2015
Christmas season: Opens the Saturday after Thanksgiving, through the weekend before Christmas with Steam Trains running on the Weekends.
Pajama Night: Nighttime train rides every Friday & Saturday night in December before Christmas

AVAILABLE  FOR  TRAIN  BIRTHDAY PARTIES  BY APPOINTMENT!

BLOSSOM TRAIL TRAIN

 

 


FIRST THREE WEEKENDS OF MARCH   10-5  

FREE PARKING. FREE ADMISSION

 

BLOSSOM TRAIL TRAIN TICKETS- $4 PER PERSON AGES 2 AND UP.

 

REEDELY RAILFEST (3rd WEEKEND IN MARCH) TRAIN TICKETS $5 PER PERSON AGES 2 AND UP.

 

 

 


 

 


 

HILLCREST & WAHTOKE RAILROAD

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Come enjoy a 15 minute tour of the farm on an exquisite half scale LIVE STEAM  narrow gauge railroad.

Free Parking. Free Admission.

Train Tickets only $4.00 per person, age 2 and up.

(For Reedley Railfest the tickets are $5.00 per person, age 2 and up.)

Also enjoy children’s play areas, trails & picnic areas. Snacks and drinks available, Hot food on weekends seasonally.

Hillcrest Christmas Tree Farm at Reed and Adams, in Reedley, CA.

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Open  seasonally, with the train running on the weekends
From 10 am to 5 pm:
Blossom Trail: First 3 weekends in March
Reedley Railfest:Third weekend in March
Pumpkin Patch: Open Every Weekend that touches October
Christmas season: Opens the Saturday after Thanksgiving, through the weekend before Christmas with Steam Trains running on the Weekends.
Pajama Night: Night time train rides every Friday & Saturday, and some Sundays and weekday nights in December before Christmas.

                                 ( By reservation only, tickets go on sale first week of October.)

                               

 

AVAILABLE  FOR  TRAIN  BIRTHDAY PARTIES and WEDDINGS  BY APPOINTMENT! Check out Parties tab.

Private Parties / Weddings at Hillcrest
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Hillcrest Tree Farm and the Hillcrest and Wahtoke Railroad is available for parties with group sizes up to about 300.  Reservations can be made with or without the Train running and the prices vary with the number of people expected and the services provided.

Rules:

  1. No alcohol of any kind allowed on the premises. No bounce houses. No mylar confetti (lasts about 100 years!)
  2. No unattended children on the farm
  3. Party hosts will be responsible for cleaning up everything afterwards so that farm is left as clean or cleaner than upon arrival.
  4. Sorry, our insurance no longer allows customers to bring dogs on Hillcrest property
  5. Amplified music off by 10 pm per Fresno County.
  6. Please ask if you would like to leave rental tables and chairs, etc, overnight. It's normally OK, but Hillcrest is not responsible for it.

Party Rates:

For parties without a train running: Cost is $2.00 per person with a $200 minumum charge.  Party placement is subject to availability and by reservation. The use of picnic tables and BBQ is included if available, along with play areas for children. All set up and clean up will be the day of the party, timing will be subject to availability and other events that day.

For parties with a train running: Cost depends on if farm is open to the public or not:

When not open to public:

For up to 60 people attending: $400 minimum for 2 hours of unlimited diesel train rides ($550 for steam) and at least 3 hours use of the farm and picnic areas. Picnic tables and BBQ included if available.

From 60 and up charge is $400 minimum plus $2.00 per person over 60 guests. Picnic tables may be available for up to 130 guests.

When open to the public:

(Oct, Dec, Mar)

There is a $50 charge to reserve the Tree House party area on weekends. Parties are 10-1 or 2-5. There is no charge for use of other areas, and all areas and tables are subject to availability. Only 2 tables per customer is allowed on public weekends.  If customer would like party guests to have unlimited train rides for the 3 hours of the party, the charge is $8 per guest, and guests will have wrist bands to indicate unlimited rides for those hours.

 

Weddings at Hillcrest:

BASE FIXED PRICE:  This includes setting up the day before event, if desired and available, the day of the event, and pick up of rental items the day following the event.  This price is for up to 100 people present at event. All additional people will be charged at $2 per person over the 100. Base price includes use of all restrooms at Hillcrest and 20 picnic tables (holds 6-8 each)  if desired, and use of parking lot and parking lot lights. You are expected to haul in, set up, haul out everything and clean up farm to previous condition. You provide your own security and extra bathrooms if needed. Fee due upon event set up.   Price: $1000.00

DEPOSIT:  Due on date reservation, can be used to cover extra guests or damage, refundable until 4 weeks prior to event. Price:  $100

TRAIN:  To add a train to the event, pick the 2 hour time slot that train will run and if you want diesel or steam. Price:  $400 for Diesel,  $550 for Steam

LIGHTS/POWER: If the event goes beyond daylight hours, you may need lights and we will set that up for a fee, depending on what is required. Ask about what lighting is needed for what locations.There is power in certain areas available... some areas not as much so you may need extension cords.

ACCESORIES:  We have a fair amount of farmy things you can use, some for a fee, such as a wooden stage, wooden arbor, wood and steel old farm wagon, lighted "LOVE" hollywood sign, wood fruit bin ice chests for large amount of drinks, barrels, crates, etc.

     

 

 

 

 

 

Open to the public all October Weekends, beginning Sept 30,2017... from 10am-5pm!

Entry fee $5 per car load on the first, second, and last weekends,

and $10 per car load on premier weekends--October 14-15, and October 21-22.

PLEASE NOTE: This is not a parking fee, but an entry fee, charged if you drive in or walk in...so

pack everyone in less cars!!

 

 

Teachers, please scroll to the school flyer at the bottom of this page for details on field trips!

 

 

We'll be open again for Christmas season November 25th, 2017

(first Saturday after Thanksgiving)

 


 

Hillcrest & Wahtoke Railroad will be open to the public

with the steam trains running

every Saturday & Sunday in October

from 10am - 5pm during Pumpkin Patch!

 

We will have pumpkins and all types of harvest products on hand
$4 Steam Train Ride  

$3 Hay Rides

Hot Food, Snow Cones
Nature Trail, and Play House Areas available

Hillcrest Tree house Party area is available by reservation on weekends for an additional fee, see website for detals or call (559)638-2762 for info

Sorry, our insurance no longer allows customers to bring dogs on Hillcrest property
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Teachers, feel free to print out the flyer below!

School Pumpkin Patch Flyer