Santa Cruz by Historic Rail



A great way to spend the day with friends and family involves riding some rails in, near and to Santa Cruz. The Roaring Camp Railroad is just a few miles from the Santa Cruz waterfront, but it feels far away. As you'll see in the video, a little train will grunt and gasp and wind you slowly and steeply into a beautiful redwood grove. I took both of my boys to Roaring Camp several times each when they were young and they and I always had very good times. The open cars of the train that you can ride from Roaring

Camp to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk offers a soft and gentle cruise on a sunny summer's day. The Big Dipper rollercoaster on the Boardwalk cranks up the definition of "riding" a few notches. My boys and I have hung on to that rollercoaster dozens and dozens of times and we never tire of it. It's an historic piece of well-maintained amusement architecture. We love the way the thrill is choreographed, from its swift, dark and scream-inducing start, through all its creaks and groans to its fast and furious finish. The Giant Dipper has been revving up the adrenaline of generations of visitors since the 1920s. Our video recounts one of my warmest memories along the Open Road. I had the privilege, as you'll see, of riding with Ollie Tyra whose only previous Big Dipper trip was on the very day it opened to the public. Well into her 80s, Ollie consented to go one time with me. I couldn't have asked for a better date. Ollie passed away a few years ago but I'll never forget her warm smile and enthusiastic spirit and her willingness to throw caution to the wind.


Roaring Camp continues to make big noises, the pleasant sounds of three steam engines (the Dixiana, Sonora and Tuolomne) chugging up a steep hill on their one-hour and 15-minute narrow gauge tours of the redwoods. The standard gauge train rides to the beach and back takes 3 hours. Check Roaring Camp’s website for schedules and special events. Meanwhile, the Giant Dipper roars on as it has since 1924 and this year, I believe, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk itself turns a forever young 100 years old.


Steaming through the redwoods and screaming by the beach, it's all on the rails in and around Santa Cruz.
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