Despite cloudy skies and intermittent spritzing of warm rain, the 2011 Dunsmuir Railroad Days celebration was judged a success by organizers, merchants and a horde of button-buyers roaming the Union Pacific yard, and free to climb aboard a variety of trains.

Despite cloudy skies and intermittent spritzing of warm rain, the 2011 Dunsmuir Railroad Days celebration was judged a success by organizers, merchants and a horde of button-buyers roaming the Union Pacific yard, and free to climb aboard a variety of trains.

A one-dollar 2011 Railroad Days button, featuring another colorful design by local artist Shery Larson, was all the purchase needed to participate in any and all of the weekend’s activities.

They began before the Dunsmuir Shasta Daylight arrived from Emeryville Friday afternoon. By the time the special excursion train pulled in, with its Amtrak engine and four vintage Zephyr passenger cars, tourists had already begun clambering all over the exhibits parked in the yard.

Early Saturday, 65 contestants showed up for the River Run, brought back after nine years Railroad Days absence by popular demand. Most ran in the 5-mile race, though 20 opted for the 2-miler, including the youngest entrant, 4-year-old Jessa Walker. First finisher in the 5-mile race was Redding teen Blake Zufall who hit the finish line at 30 minutes, 23 seconds.

The Railroad Days parade registered over 60 entries, which were cheered by throngs of spectators clumped mainly on the four corners at the Ave. and Pine. Five awards were bestowed: on the New Mountain Gypsies float, for Best Group; Gary’s Pizza Factory, for Best Business; Dunsmuir Youth Softball, for Best Kids; the mini-train, for Best Railroad Theme; and the Honorable Mention went to Liza Wilson’s immaculate, singly-owned ’57 Chevrolet.

On a tempering note, word soon reached the streets that Vic Petrovics, who was credited by some as the originator of Railroad Days, but was recognized by all for promoting it, had passed away this day at age 95. According to Harriet Alto, Petrovics daughter Vicki Newfield said that he died at 10:45 a.m, Saturday, June 11, while the entrants in Dunsmuir were beginning to stage more than an hour before the parade.

Alto said that Newfield had quipped, “He didn't want to wait in line.”

Replied Alto, “I told Vicki her dad was having his own special parade this morning.”

The newest Railroad Days activities, three tours, drew audiences of 20 to 30, some of whom were shuttled in vehicles rounded up mostly by Railroad Days committee member Mike Wright. No transport was needed for the walking tour of historic downtown, led by author Deb Harton. But buses were coordinated to get folks to Hedge Creek Falls and to Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens, for a combined tour guided by horticulturist Candace Miller.

The third tour was a virtual on-site geology course taught by COS instructor Bill Hirt. A group of 30 enthusiasts hiked from a parking area to two places on the river’s edge, where Hirt lectured on the makeup of the rocks upon which they stood. The tour finished three hours later in Castle Crags State Park.

Saturday evening, the Dunsmuir Shasta Daylight transformed into the Black Butte Daylight, which took a sold-out passenger load up the grade for a dinner excursion. Due to technical difficulties, it didn’t return until 10:30 p.m, by which time it had transformed yet again, presumably into the Black Butte Cloudy Moonlight.

Sunday was indeed a sunny day, with much warmer temperatures, but the crowd had peaked and the attendance was noticeably lighter. Yet a quick survey of downtown merchants revealed that the historic railroad town’s annual train festival had achieved its goal.

“Yesterday, it was non-stop,” exclaimed Boxcar Gallery owner Linda Price. “And they were spending. The best day so far this year.”

The town’s newest gift shop, First Stop Dunsmuir, also reported brisk sales. Spirits reported a good weekend, and a very long line formed in Gary’s Pizza Factory after the parade.

The final tally will not be in for a while, but Railroad Days committee chair Tim Holt had an estimate for the size of the crowd. Following the raffle drawing in the closing minutes of the town’s annual celebration, he commented, “You can safely say we sold more than 2,000 buttons.”