Media Life: ‘Ghost train’ due to materialize on historic bridge

Mysterious lights seen in vicinity of Foresthill Bridge. Sammy Hagar wows at new Roseville eatery with Georgetown, Golden Sierra connections
By: Gus Thomson/Media Life
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AUBURN CA - Things are going to get eerily historic soon on the Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge. Plans are to use some temporary railroad tracks to position a 30,000-pound, oil-fired steam engine on the span over the American River in the canyon near Auburn – something that hasn’t been seen since the early part of the last century. But this particular steam engine isn’t just any old steam engine. It’s the last surviving locomotive from the days when limestone was mined at the Cool quarry and then shipped by narrow-gauge rail across the river and up to Auburn. Engine No. 22 was located at a Clarksburg farm after being stored for several years and is ready for its reunion with the century old bridge on Sept. 29. The engine will be placed in the middle of the bridge and be the center of attention during a 1 p.m. ceremony that wraps up centenary celebrations. Parks Sector Superintendent Mike Lynch of the Auburn State Recreation Area says to expect an update on efforts to upgrade the bridge’s historic designation. Access to the event will be froM the confluence area off Highway 49. It’s about a quarter of a mile walk. A shuttle will be available for those needing assistance. One of the original six Engine 22 is the survivor of six Mountain Quarries Company engines and was employed for years as a “yard goat,” moving cars around the mining area to be loaded for the trip up the canyon to Auburn. The limestone would be shipped by rail from there to the town of Cement in Solano County, to be used in roads and buildings throughout the state. Vestiges of the old rail line can still be seen along the trail to Auburn from the confluence that passes over the bridge. The steel rails were removed during World War II and melted down to be used in equipment as part of the war effort. But columns and timbers can still be spotted along the seven miles that once held a small railroad. Engine 202 proved the ultimate survivor, serving time over the years as a tourist train before ending up at Silver Bend Farms in Clarksburg. And now it’s coming back for a short stay on the picturesque Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge – evoking the ghosts of a time when the sounds of the steam whistle and the clink of machinery broke through the stillness of the American River canyon. Mysterious lights What was going on in the night sky Monday night in the Sierra? Media Life has received a couple of reports of strange lights over the mountains that could be seen from the vicinity of the Foresthill Bridge. Joseph Jasso was driving from Cool to Auburn on Highway 49 around 7:30 p.m. Monday when he saw the lights seemingly hovering to the east of the span, over the mountains. The lights changed colors every few minutes and seemed to be moving in impossible ways, Jasso said. Jasso was so fascinated, he stopped at the Highway 49 bridge at the confluence to have a longer look. Was it something to do with the BASE jumping activity that night that resulted in one skydiver hung up in a tree for hours? Or something more other-worldly? We have at least one other person reporting the mysterious phenomenon. If you or anyone else saw the lights, contact Media Life and we’ll try to get some answers. Rocker Hagar keys in Roseville The Georgetown Divide area on the other side of the American River canyon from Auburn can claim a connection to the rocker Sammy Hagar and the Roseville eatery that bears his name. Sammy’s Rockin’ Island Bar and Grill opens Saturday on the steadily improving Vernon Street and Gretchen Yip, a graduate of Golden Sierra High School, is spouse of Jon Yip, one of the partners in the venture. Golden Sierra grads may remember Gretchen by her maiden name of Schwinck. The Yip’s were part of the invitation-only celebration last Saturday, when Hagar took to the stage to perform some Red Rocker classics. Making things even more special, Sammy Hagar Day was declared in Roseville and the former Van Halen and Montrose frontman left town with not only the promise of success for a popular dining spot – but a key to the city. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at Also hear Thomson most Fridays at 6 p.m. on Dave Rosenthal’s drive-time radio show on KAHI 950 AM. And you can catch up with Thomson on Twitter at AJ_Media_Life.