May 31, 2004

Imagine, gliding along the railroad tracks through the Sierra Madre Mountains in the deepest part of Copper Canyon at 50 miles an hour. No wait, that's 15 miles an hour but it feels like your traveling faster when you are sitting in a "speeder". What's a speeder you may ask? Also called railroad motorcars, inspection cars or putt-putts, these little cars were used for maintenance by railroad track crews before they converted to using standard pick trucks with special wheels to traverse the rails. Niles Canyon Railway's Chief Station Agent Al McCracken has traveled many miles in his speeder since purchasing his first after retirement in 1996. Al was lucky enough to travel to Copper Canyon in Mexico with his group from the Southwest Railcar Ltd. where they put their speeders on the rail and traveled through the canyon. Copper Canyon is located 400 miles south of El Paso, Texas. Al says Copper Canyon is similar to our Grand Canyon but is 10 miles longer, 1 mile wider and 1,000 feet deeper and the best part is that there is a railroad track that runs the entire length of the canyon. The canyon has 87 tunnels, 37 bridges and a loop rail and the entire excursion took them a week to complete.

Niles Canyon Railway is now excited to offer you "a thrilling railroad experience" on a speeder this Sunday, June 6 at the Sunol Depot. Members of the Southwest Railcar Ltd. are loaning Niles Canyon Railway 7 to 10 speeders that will run throughout the day. Each ride will last approximately 10 to 15 minutes and you will be traveling approximately 2 miles each way. Niles Canyon Railway promises to "give you the chance to take the trip of a lifetime". The cost for this fundraiser is $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for children (with a signed release) and all proceeds will go towards the Niles Canyon Railway.

Last week I mentioned the great success of Sunol Glen Schools tri-tip dinner and the numbers have finally been tallied. There were 187 served that evening and approximately $770 was raised towards the seventh grade students Washington DC trip. Parent, Kelly Capilla says, "Everyone teamed up very nicely for this event and it really turned out to be a lot of fun". Kelly said the class has also begun another fundraiser called "Step Up to the Plate for Education". Sponsored by the Oakland A's, the students will sell field level tickets to select games and the A's will return a portion of each ticket sold back to the students. Look here for more information soon.

The Oakland A's will be a big hit with Sunol Glen sixth graders as two lucky kids get to accompany teacher Georgette Whitbred onto the field before the game on June 1. The students participated in the "Home Run Readers" program sponsored by the A's. They were challenged to set a goal for how many books they thought they could read in a certain amount of time and the reward for accomplishing the goal was a trip to see an A's game. Wow! These 18 bookworms read over 180 books combined in approximately 3 months. Mrs. Whitbred was one of four teachers chosen to go onto the field to meet the players and she requested that each of her students write an essay describing why she should pick them to accompany her. She said, "This is a great encouragement of the importance of reading. I am very excited for them to be doing this and I can see them being excited about it, too".

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