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November 29, 2012
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Nevada County railroad museum dresses up for the holidays

The Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum will be decked with decorations for the annual Christmas party Saturday, offering a host of holiday family-fun features.

“The package brings history home in a fun way,” said event chairwoman Annette Murphy, who has worked for the museum for about 10 years. The Christmas party itself has been celebrated the past eight years and began as a way to raise the museum’s profile.

“It was a way of getting us on the map in order to make the public aware of us,” Murphy said.

Among the many fun facts and highlights of the holiday party, the museum has a celebrity steam engine, which was featured in more than 30 movies and television shows in Hollywood, according to museum curator Brian Blair, who has worked for the museum about 10 years.

“Locomotive engine No. 5 was procured by (current restoration manager) John Christianson,” Blair said. “An 1875 Baldwin with an original function of hauling lumber that was sold to Universal Studios and brought back to Nevada County in 1985.”

The museum also hosts the first car ever built in Nevada County, a steam engine built by Richard Jeffery in 1901. A three-quarter scale replica of the original Chicago Park Depot is also featured in the museum.

“We had a good photograph of it to determine the dimensions of the building,” Blair said.

The museum is operated by about 30 volunteers, many of whom helped stage Saturday’s annual Christmas celebration. The volunteers who run the museum also operate and work on the train cars in the railyard, according to Blair.

“This railyard and all the equipment was built and maintained by volunteers, most by guys over 60,” Blair said. “All rails were hauled in by hand, bent by hand, and the only power tools used were at the end of the track, which was cut off with a power saw.”

The gift store is also going to be offering a variety of souvenirs, including books, toys and clothing.

“We have a wide variety of items for kids and adults,” said gift store volunteer Arlene Siprelle, who has worked for the museum for six years.

Admission is free and Santa Claus will be on hand Saturday, offering a chance for children to share their Christmas wish lists, as well as an opportunity to enjoy refreshments, door prizes, a silent auction, and photography is allowed.

According to Siprelle, last year’s event had more than 1,000 visitors, which is the typical turnout for the celebration. Siprelle said the museum is an ideal place for a rainy day, which is the .

“You can stay inside and celebrate Christmas with the railroad museum,” Siprelle said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email jterman@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4230.


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The Union Updated Jan 4, 2013 10:44AM Published Dec 13, 2012 07:43AM Copyright 2012 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.