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As the grandson of two railroad men, I was raised with a love of the rails that has remained with me long after their respective passings. The story of our railroads is inextricably intertwined with the colorful history of this beautiful area in which we make our homes. These days, I enjoy passing on to my own grandchildren the stories of their great-great grandfathers and the majestic, marvelous machines they created and maintained — which built our modern country — by taking them to railroad museums and on excursion rides.
I have watched with great interest the debate over what will become of the former line from Folsom to Placerville. I appreciate the newly completed walking trail from Missouri Flat Road to Forni Road and use it often with my family since it passes directly west of our home. It is a wonderful addition to the county, but I wonder why it could not have been built alongside an upgraded rail bed that could have been used for excursion trains, as well, as is now done in Folsom. With the Folsom, El Dorado and Sacramento Historical Railroad Association — FEDSHRA — already in place and the city of Folsom and County of Sacramento on agreement on the use, it seems a sad waste of a precious, historical resource to tear up the track and convert the section of line from White Rock to Shingle Springs into simply a walking trail alone. As a young man I watched with great sadness the incredible shortsightedness of the City of Sacramento, as they refused the generous offer from the Safeway corporation (which owned the rights) to sell the City the historic and beautiful Alhambra theater. After the City’s unbelievable rejection, Safeway tore the structure down and built their existing market at Alhambra and J, leaving only a “wailing wall” to mark what had been a cultural icon for the city and which could have become, with public and private community involvement, a renewed cultural gem … perhaps a home for the symphony and ballet, to name only two possibilities.
If civic leaders considered merely allowing the demolition of such an historic landmark today, they would be taken out and shot, for once historical treasures are gone, they are gone forever. I urge all to support a plan whereby the interests of all concerned parties may be met. There is no reason why a recreational, excursion rail line and a pedestrian trail cannot coexist and thereby enable the subject land to achieve its highest and best public use.
STEVEN C. SEITHER