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Golden Gate Live Steamers Train Meet at Tilden Park

Steam Train Medley from multiple sketches
Steam Train Meet Medley from multiple sketches

A few weeks ago Cathy and I were sketching guests at the Spring Meet of the Golden Gate Live Steamers Club in Berkeley’s Tilden Park. The train people were as curious about us as we were about them, and they wanted to see what we were doing. I usually don’t care when people look at my sketches, but I was drawing their trains that they had lovingly built from scratch, designing and engineering everything from the wood-burning boilers to the screws that held them together. It was like drawing their children—one thing out of place and they would know it.

Train guys
Train guys

Many of their members maintain and operate trains that their fathers or grandfathers built and they are now apprenticing their sons in the craft. Over the years the club has built a complete course of tracks with trestles, tunnels, and small buildings to match the 1.5″-to-the-foot scale of the trains. You can see photos and videos on their website including this one below of me sketching at the meet (much to my surprise!)

Me sketching trains
Me sketching trains

They hook up seating on wheels to the engines and the powerful little beauties pull quite a load. The nice man below took Cathy and I on a wonderful ride on his yellow engine. The views are spectacular from way up in the hills above Berkeley and trains go surprisingly fast (and there are no seatbelts). Wheee!

Yellow engine
Yellow engine took us for a ride

But my favorite of the day was this gentleman who designed and built his train from a cartoon he liked in the 1930s, the Toonerville Trolley.

Tooterville Trolley
Tooterville Trolley

He named his the Tooterville Trolley. I found the original 1936 cartoon on YouTube (below) and laughed when I saw how much both the engineer and the trolley in person and in the cartoon resemble each other!

Trains: A futile attempt to draw them
futile attempt to draw/paint the trains and their train barn in the background

3 replies on “Golden Gate Live Steamers Train Meet at Tilden Park”

hey there! i have started a new blog to showcase portraits that people draw on the train or subway. i was wondering if i could feature your work with a link to your website / flickr stream / twitter or whatever you want?


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