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Railroad Festival has full head of steam

Musicians Don Lampson and Peter Morin will perform railroad-oriented songs at the Central Coast Railroad Festival.


The Central Coast Railroad Festival is highballing its way through concerts, family events, excursions, model train layouts and lectures after leaving the station Thursday for points throughout the Central Coast.

A few of the paid events have sold out, but most activities and exhibits are free, and some new attractions have been added in recent weeks, a festival spokesman said.

Highlights of today’s events include Dennis Pearson’s operation On30 Pacific Coast Railway layout and a diorama of Harford Pier, created by SLO modelers Andrew Merriam and John Marchetti, on display at festival headquarters in Quality Suites, San Luis Obispo.

The Santa Maria Valley Railway Historical Museum will display its new three-car railroad exhibit — the Union Sugar No. 1 locomotive, a Sacramento Northern boxcar and a Santa Maria Valley Railroad caboose — in its temporary location at Engel & Gray Trucking, 

745 W. Betteravia Road. 

The exhibit will be open from 4 p.m. until dusk today and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and the museum will hold an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. today, Saturday and Sunday at its home on the second floor of the Santa Maria Town Center.

A number of events are offered in the South County, including a Train Party and Family Excursion on the Pacific Surfliner on Saturday, starting in Grover Beach. 

The Train Party will start at 11 a.m. at the Grover Beach Amtrak platform at West Grand Avenue and Highway 1, where a DJ and Ballooney the Clown will entertain and Amtrak will provide gifts and snacks. 

The Surfliner will depart Grover Beach at 12:26 p.m., and riders will spend an hour at the SLO Amtrak station and Rail Celebration at the Freight House, the spokesman said.

The celebration from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. will include speeder rides, tours and displays, with musicians Don Lampson, Peter Morin and Charlie Kleemann performing railroad-oriented music at noon and 2 p.m.

Surfliner riders will reboard at 2 p.m. for the return to Grover Beach. 

Tickets must be purchased in advance directly from Amtrak or that morning at the Grover Beach platform, the spokesman said. 

Fares are $17 for adults, although a variety of discounts are available, and $8.50 for children 15 and younger. 

An open house is set for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Oceano Depot, where the San Luis Obispo Model Railroad Association will display operating layouts from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

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Also on Sunday, the 14th annual Price House Historical Park Ice Cream Social in Pismo Beach will offer kiddie train rides and a look at railroad history.

Lampson and Kleeman will be joined by Bob Liepman and Julie Beaver for another round of railroad music from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday at SeaVenture Resort in Pismo Beach.

Sunday’s Train Fest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Bitter Creek Western Railroad, a layout of 7.5-inch-gauge miniature trains in rural Arroyo Grande, is sold out.

However, a few tickets to ride trains around the 1.2-mile landscaped layout may become available at the gate at 2 p.m., the spokesman said.

A total of 15 model railroad layouts will be open to visitors in Arroyo Grande, Oceano, Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo, Lompoc, Atascadero and Paso Robles.

Arranged by Model Railroads of Southern California, the layouts are in G, N, O, Ho, Fn3, Sn3 and On30 scales.

For a complete schedule of events and more information, visit or call the festival office at 773-4173.