We don't have any events planned for the first three months of 2020 and in general will be in "winter hibernation" mode. We generally have caretakers on site daily. It is best if those interesting in visiting can contact us in advance to make sure it is a good time for a visit. We have very limited indoor/heated space for our cold winter nights in the mountains so be sure to check in advance if you want to stay overnight. Thanks!
We do have a series of exciting events in the planning stages for 2020. Here is what is confirmed so far:
April 6, 2020 — Fourth Annual Merle Haggard Tribute show at the Grey Eagle in Asheville, North Carolina. This is a benefit for the BBCRC and in 2019 raised almost $2000 for the ongoing restoration of the Shasta Car. There is a great line-up this year and if you are anywhere near Asheville in early April, try to make this event! This event is again organized by BBCRC board member Brody Hunt with musicians donating their time all on behalf of the BBCRC. Thanks to the Grey Eagle nightclub for again being willing to host this event and to donate proceeds.
April or early May (date to be announced) — Reefer Roof Repair mini-work party. We're going to need a few people to help us make permanent repairs to the roof of our PFE reefer car, damaged in the "bomb cyclone". Let us know if you are interested in helping out and we will let you know when we set a date for this project.
May 22-25 — 3rd Utah Phillips Flanger Car gathering and BBCRC Spring Work Party. This will be a combined event featuring music, storytelling, socializing, and work on many projects — both the flanger car and at the BBCRC. We have a lot of work to do, including prepping our space for the June Railroad Days/Moniker show. For more info on the Utah Phillips gathering see "thelongmemory.org".
Saturday, May 23 — BOXCAR MUSIC SHOW. As part of the weekend's events, there will be a music show featuring HEARTS GONE SOUTH, (heartsgonesouth.bandcamp.com) country/honky-tonk from Asheville, NC and FIRE YOUR BOSS from Cave Junction, OR.
May 30-31 — Handmade Signpainters Convergence. Following up on their April, 2019 meet-up, the BBCRC will again be hosting a group of professional handmade signpainters, spearheaded by Heidi Tullman and Ken Davis, to continue their amazing volunteer project of getting our railcars painted and lettered along with lots of other signage around the property. As you can see if you have visited BBCRC recently, their work is transforming our site and is highly appreciated! Please be in touch with Heidi, Ken, or BBCRC if you are interested in participating.
June 12-14 — Railroad Days and "End of the Line" Moniker show at the BBCRC and the Siskiyou Arts Museum in Dunsmuir.
January 27, 2020 — We are excited to announce a a major collaboration between BBCRC and a group of amazing people who have been living and breathing railroad culture and documenting monikers, some for many decades, some more recently. In collaboration with the Historical Graffiti Society and the Siskiyou Arts Museum. This large show, featuring hundreds of photos and items collected from around the country, will be on display at both the BBCRC and at the Siskiyou Arts Museum June 13 - July 31. We are planning lots of related activities — films, zine releases, and live music, it is going to be an action-packed weekend. Other collaborating artists include North Bank Fred, Photo Bill, Toby "Flanged Squeal", Shemp, Brad W, Sparkledazy, Pete, Southbound Smith, Andy, and others. Please be in touch with any of these organizers if you would like to contribute material.
December — In 2019 we had some great events and progress on our projects and also some setbacks. In April a sign-painters convergence, organized by Heidi Tullman of Handsome Hand Signs, brought a dozen talented artists to Black Butte to paint and letter a number of our railcars and signage around the property. We hosted a larger than normal number of music shows and events this year. Those, as well as our Spring and Fall work parties, were very well attended — the BBCRC's central function as a community-building meeting place was reaffirmed as we hosted hundreds of visitors over the year.
We saw work move forward in many ways. Restoration work began on the exterior of our PFE reefer car, which houses the BBCRC library and art space. The ambitious project is replacing all of the cars exterior siding after which it is being repainted and re-lettered into its original 1920s appearance. We also did some exterior work on the boxcar, replacing deteriorating boards and other spot repairs. Painting and some interior restoration work took place on "Dorris", our 1926 ex-Great Northern caboose. Painting, lettering and additional roof work took place on the Shasta car as well.
We had a very successful Railroad Days event in June which included an art show opening of Fiona Bearclaw's amazing linocut prints, participated in the Dunsmuir RR Days parade and festivities, and hosted a tribute for Guitar Whitey, a long-time friend and well-known hobo who passed away last year. In late July we hosted another art show — a collaborative photo show curated by Beau Patrick Coulon, "Nowhere Near", which featured over twenty photographers. Other BBCRC projects flourished as well. Our library received many donations and our online hobo bibliography, the most comprehensive one anywhere, was expanded considerably, with many additional listings. Much effort was put into ecological restoration work, with invasive weeds put on the run, many native tree seedlings planted, and ongoing fuels reduction work in our forested areas.
On November 26th an extreme weather event, what the National Weather Service called a "bomb cyclone", hit the BBCRC — with winds of 70 to 80 mph and over two feet of snow dropping within a few hours. The wind ripped the metal roof right off of our PFE reefer car, the car housing our beloved library and art space, an ironic development given all the ongoing restoration work put into the car this year. This left the car vulnerable to moisture with another huge storm on the way. There was also damage to other BBCRC structures including busted windows, the destruction of our greenhouse, destroyed fencing and more. Fortunately, a group of friends were able to come to the rescue and were able to make emergency repairs. The reefer car, and its irreplaceable contents, are safe for now. However, a permanent roof rebuild will need to take place next Spring.
The repairs required by this weather disaster, at a time when we are already in the middle of an ambitious program of renovation for our fleet of unique and vulnerable wood railcars, adds up to serious logistical challenges and financial needs for us in 2020. In December we also lost our long-time caretakers, Lauren and Logan, who after five years at Black Butte, during which they made invaluable and long-lasting contributions, decided to move on and get their own place. Great thanks to Lauren and Logan, and to all who helped make our project flourish in 2019! For some photos of our activities this year see our Images 2019 page.
September 8, 2019 — Over the Labor Day weekend supporters, friends, and family members of the Utah Phillips Library/Flanger Car gathered at Black Butte to put a sorely-needed new roof on the car, play music, and socialize. On Saturday evening Dawn Riding, Mark Ross, and others entertained in the boxcar. Our local newspaper covered the event: www.mtshastanews.com/news/20190908/effort-to-rehabilitate-rail-car-in-weed.
April 7, 2019 — The BBCRC would like to thank to the 200+ people who came out to our very successful Songs of Merle Haggard tribute and BBCRC fundraiser at the Grey Eagle in Asheville, North Carolina last night! Especially to all the awesome musicians who donated their time, the Grey Eagle which provided the perfect venue, and our BBCRC boardmember Brody Hunt who organized the whole thing and belted out some great songs! We raised a significant chunk of change which will go towards the ongoing restoration of Southern Pacific car #109, the "Shasta".
January 30, 2019 — Black Butte Springs and Forest Receive Permanent Protection! Many visitors to BBCRC have enjoyed a hike up to Black Butte Springs across the tracks. Thanks to a new conservation project, the Springs, and in all over 5000 acres of forest across the tracks from us, have received permanent protection through an agreement between Pacific Forest Trust and the landowner, a lumber company. This means the land can never be sub-divided for development. Some logging with continue but much of it will be fuels reduction oriented and the area around the Springs will be totally protected.
Between ongoing and new projects, several major events and our normal flow of short-term and longer-term visitors, 2018 was another busy, fun and productive year at the BBCRC. In May, on the 10th year anniversary of Utah Phillips death, we hosted a major celebration in cooperation with The Long Memory — welcoming the arrival and initial restoration of the 1893 Central Vermont flanger once lived in by Utah. It was a memorable musical event with musicians, friends, family, and fans all gathered for the weekend, sharing music and stories from the stage and around the campfire. Just two weeks later was Dunsmuir Railroad Days. We had a major art show in Dunsmuir featuring six BBCRC-affiliated artists, rode in the parade and hosted a six-band music show in the boxcar.
Shortly after RR Days our eighth rail car, a 1926 Great Northern caboose, arrived at Black Butte and was placed on a newly constructed section of track. A major focus was ongoing work on our Southern Pacific Pullman car #109 the Shasta. In a major push, siding was milled and installed on the car and the exterior painted. We had a number of boxcar music shows over the summer and fall and a successful Fall Work Party. A major concern, as fires seemed to break out all around us, remains wildfire. We suffered smoke impacts for months with one fire stopped just a few miles south of Dunsmuir. We ended the year with another round of forestry work, focused on protection of our historic wood railcars, brush clearance and some additional tree thinning.
In the coming year we have a number of projects and events in the works. A major focus will be work on our wood rail cars, especially our boxcar and reefer, which are both at the point where they will need major preservation work if they are going to withstand the elements at Black Butte for the long-term. Before that can happen we are raising funds for this work, any help with this would be appreciated!
July 5 — We are sad to report the passing of Guitar Whitey on the evening of July 3rd. He died at age 97 while walking to the park in his hometown of San Luis Obispo. Whitey was one of the last of the "bridger" hobos who rode behind both steam and diesel. He is featured in the PBS documentary "Riding the Rails" which describes the lives of teenagers hopping freights in the 1930s. He was the only one of those interviewed still hopping trains in the 1990s! He was an intelligent kind soul, a great musician and good friend of the BBCRC, attending our Railroad Days celebrations the last few years (often unannounced, he just walked up the road from the South Weed bus stop after coming up on his own from Dunsmuir). His 2002 autobiography "Ridin' Free" is in the BBCRC library and worth a read. In June 2015 we took him out for a spin on the "Bindlestiff Express", possibly his last of many illicit railroad rides over a long career of habitual trespassing!
June 11 — The BBCRC had a large turnout for Railroad Days this year. While we got rained and hailed on during the parade we again won a prize for the best railroad themed parade entry. Our art show opening in Dunsmuir at the Siskiyou Arts Museum was packed and very well received. Thanks to all the artists who participated. The show runs in the gallery in Dunsmuir into early July.
June 4 — We would like to thank everyone who attended the grand opening party for the Utah Phillips flanger car. It was a very enjoyable weekend of music, remembrances and camaraderie!
May 1 — The BBCRC is happy to report that we have just been awarded a grant of $4000 from the Great Northern Railway Historical Society to assist with the move to our site and initial stabilization of historic Great Northern caboose X630 recently donated to us. For info on this organization dedicated to preserving and documenting the history of the Great Northern, check out their website (and consider joining and supporting their efforts if you are a GN fan): www.gnrhs.org.
March, 2018 — We have just confirmed the donation of Great Northern caboose X630 to the BBCRC! Built in 1926, the wood caboose is in good shape with many of its original fixtures. It is a rare "heavy-duty underframe" caboose which allowed it to stay on the back of the train in front of pusher locomotives taking trains over GN's mountain grades. We plan to move it to our site in June.
December 26, 2017
Dear BBCRC supporters,
We would like to thank you for your contributions to the Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture (BBCRC) in 2017. It was an exciting and productive year filled with impressive progress on many fronts. Our key projects moved ahead by leaps and bounds, and we were also able to organize a series of events which brought many people together and helped build our community. We couldn't have done it without our network of key supporters — both those who donated their time and effort on site as well as those who made financial contributions towards our efforts.
Early in the year, our solar power project, made possible by the generous response to a special appeal to our supporters, came online. Since February, we have been generating all of our electricity through our solar array — contributing to our region's move towards renewable energy and virtually eliminating our monthly power bills. The challenging restoration of our historic Southern Pacific business car #109, the "Shasta" made great progress, thanks to dedicated volunteers who donated hundreds of hours to the effort, as well as those who contributed to its significant monetary costs. While much work remains, the Shasta now has a totally rebuilt roof and has been transformed into a car able to withstand Black Butte's winter winds, rain, and snow.
In early October, a year-long effort of fundraising, logistical coordination, and other preparation culminated in the arrival at the BBCRC of a historic 1893 flanger/caboose car, once owned by famed folk singer and rabble-rouser Utah Phillips, shipped all the way from Vermont. This is the first step in an exciting new initiative — the establishment of the Utah Phillips Memorial Library at Black Butte. In this endeavor, the BBCRC is collaborating with The Long Memory, an organization set up by Phillip's family and supporters, to honor and commemorate his musical and social legacy.
In addition to the above three high profile projects, we moved forward on several other projects, and we organized a number of fun and inspiring events, throughout the year. Several years of forest restoration work, facilitated by federal and state grants, have resulted in forested areas on our property that are healthier, more diverse, and better able to withstand the acute fire danger we face every summer and fall. Our large vegetable garden received several infrastructure improvements, including new fencing. With the help of our dedicated caretakers and others it produced large quantities of our own food to help feed our volunteers, caretakers, and other visitors. Other infrastructure at the BBCRC, including the kitchen facilities, were also improved, allowing us to better host visitors and volunteers. We also benefitted from ongoing support from a number of local businesses which continue to donate food, coffee, and materials to us.
Thanks again for your contribution. We hope you can visit in 2018. We have a number of exciting events in the planning stages, including the "caboose warming" for the Utah Phillips library on Memorial Day weekend and our annual Railroad Days event during June 8-10th.
All the best,
The Board of Directors
Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture
October 7 — A year in the making, the Utah Phillips rail car arrived in Black Butte and was craned into position on Saturday, October 7th, right on schedule, almost a year to the day that the idea was first conceived of last October. Read more about it in the Weed Press.
Here is a link for making a donation — all those who donate will have their name on the plaque which will be placed on the caboose wall for all to see.
April 28 — The Hobo Bibliograpy has now been completely revised and updated after considerable effort by Arianne Hermida and North Bank Fred, and can be accessed from the main Bibliographies page.
March 10 — BBCRC to cease hosting music events Despite the fact that the BBCRC is an all-volunteer organization which makes no money from the musical performances (the vast majority of which involve original music) that have taken place at our site, we were recently targeted by the music industry, specifically ASCAP, which demanded we pay them high fees for allegedly allowing songs to be played at our site that they claim to own. As a result the BBCRC has been forced to terminate our sponsorship of public music events. We hope that other organizations with the capacity to assure proper licensing are able to host music in our area in the future but this will not be organized by the BBCRC. We regret to have to take this step, it is not our choice. For more info on this situation feel free to contact us.
December 31 — 2016 Summary During 2016 we took on two new ambitious projects. In late April, a new railcar arrived at the BBCRC — Southern Pacific #109 "The Shasta", a wooden Pullman business car built in 1888 and donated to us by the California State Railroad Museum. The car was in very poor shape and its restoration will be a multi-year project. See our Shasta page for more information on this project. The second major project involved the installation of a solar power array at the BBCRC, completed in December. The BBCRC now runs 100% on renewable solar energy! More info on this project can be found on our solar power page. Thanks to our generous supporters who helped fund both of these major projects! Over the course of the year we also moved forward with a number of other site improvements, including the completion of the upgrading of our indoor and outdoor kitchens and further work on our searchlight signals. Late in the year we received a forest restoration grant from CalFire and began another major round of thinning and fuels reduction in our forest areas. We hosted three major work party events — in May, July and October — as well as a number of other gatherings and shows. Through all of this the BBCRC has continued to grow as an institution increasingly well-known and appreciated both locally and within the wider community of those interested in railroad culture. For more info on our 2016 activities see our Images 2016 page.
December, 2016 - We are happy to report that Cal Fire has awarded a $21,500 grant from the California Forest Improvement Program (CFIP) for forest management on the land where the BBCRC is located. We got started right away and are thinning and pruning up trees, burning slash and needle piles, and creating areas for replanting other species like oaks and aspens. The grant goes through 2017 and builds on the earlier federal grants we have had from the Environmental Quality Incentive Program of the National Resource Conservation Service. The result will be a healthier and more fire resilient and wildlife friendly forest at the BBCRC!
September 27 - Added a page describing and documenting the development of our new Solar Power Project.
July 15 - Help Black Butte Go Solar! This month we launched our new Solar Power for Black Butte project! We are working to convert to 100% solar power this yea — for all the rail cars, our office, our shop and outdoor kitchen! We are building mounts for a big solar array out behind the boxcars and will be ordering panels and all the related materials over the next few months and getting it all hooked up as funds become available. To accomplish this really ambitious project we need the help of many friends and supporters. Please check out our online fundraising campaign and consider helping us out with a donation! Note that you do not have to pay the suggested administrative fee to Generosity and also that we have a bunch of perks available for contributors. Thanks! www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/help-bring-solar-power-to-black-butte
July 18 We would like to thank the Pacific Coast Chapter of the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society for the very generous donation of $3800 we received today for restoration work on our Southern Pacific business car #109 the "Shasta". This is a long term and expensive project and this donation is a big boost to the effort and will allow us to move forward with getting a new roof on the car this season.
April 30 Today we took delivery of our sixth railcar, Southern Pacific #109, the "Shasta", a historic 1888 wooden business car based in Dunsmuir in the early 1900s. The car was donated to the BBCRC by the California State Railroad Museum. Thanks to Carlton Crane, LH Trucking, Benson Roofing, Union Pacific, Solano's Building Supply, Swenson Excavating, Pacific Coast Chapter of the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, and the Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society as well as all the individual volunteers who came together to make this happen! The Weed Press covered the story of the car's move to Black Butte.
April 25 Added a page describing our acquisition and future restoration of the 1888 Southern Pacific Pullman business car #109, the "Shasta"
March 7 Over the last year and a half we have hosted the "Black Butte Then and Now" show of historical railroad photos in our PFE reefer gallery. That show has now been expanded and moved online.
After a period of transitions and various ups and downs, 2015 was a year in which the BBCRC flourished in a number of ways. New caretakers/volunteers brought renewed energy and creativity to our organization, we had significant progress on a number of major projects and hosted a series of well received musical and other events. Our music program started off with BBCRC favorite Tim Barry making a return appearance to the boxcar on March 26th. See our You Tube page for an excerpt from this memorable show. In April, Minnesota based folk-blues legend Charlie Parr returned to Black Butte, for another stellar performance. Also in April we were saddened to learn of the death of BBCRC friend and supporter, Jerry Miller (see below). During our Spring Work Party in May, we moved forward on a number of key projects, including the initiation of major upgrades to our outdoor and indoor kitchens as well as lighting up, for the first time, two of our main searchlight signals and connecting them to solar power. We carried out a major creek restoration project using a Bobcat and a group of 6-8 people all carrying boulders and root balls and making a series of weirs along the creek. We had demos of the new blacksmith forge in the shop, built more trails and wildlife habitat structures, hauled and processed firewood, completed plumbing on two cabooses, and carried out all sorts of other repairs, maintenance, and painting. The weekend also featured really good music including a honky tonk night with Jeannie Reno from Ashland and Hearts Gone South along with Pat Reedy, all the way from Asheville, NC. The following night including a rocking punk show with Something on the Wing, The Shlurs, Hens Teeth, and Black Rainbow. We had a great turnout, both of those who came in on the rails and by car, lots of good food, including a pizza party using our new wood-fired cob oven!
We had more good music for Railroad Days in June and the BBCRC participated in the resumption of the event in Dunsmuir, as we rode our "Bindlestiff Express" railbike "float" in the parade. We were honored to have Guitar Whitey, at 92 years old America's most well respected hobo, again join us for the event. Then in n July, the BBCRC sponsored four evenings of music and films. The event was covered in our local newspaper. The event included a performance by the New Orleans jazz band Tuba Skinny in our newly refurbished outdoor kitchen, a movie night at the California Theatre in Dunsmuir featuring Long Gone and Rail Kings, a metal oriented show featuring Speed of Darkness and Zelosis, and a couple days later, the band Wildcat from Minneapolis.
At our Fall Work party in September, we had a major push on processing firewood, worked towards finishing up our indoor and outdoor kitchen upgrades, prepped for Fall forest restoration activities, reaped the benefits of our large vegetable garden, and completed a number of other maintenance and various activities. Music included Divers from Portland, Hera Has a Heart from Humboldt, Powers from Santa Cruz and Lara Buckley from Buffalo. In November, we had good news on the railroading front: after being closed since May, 2008, Central Oregon and Pacific resumed operations on the ex-SP Siskiyou Route between Black Butte and Medford, Oregon over Siskiyou Pass. This is leading to an increase in rail activity and switching at Black Butte, something that is likely to further expand in 2016. On November 11th the BBCRC hosted the Joe Hill Road Show, a tribute to the IWW labor activist, song writer and hobo, on the 100th anniversary of his execution. Later in November we carried out a round of forest restoration work, thinning out more pines in the area right behind the compound and carrying out our first controlled burn on the forest floor.
June 7: Added a new Searchlights page which documents our Searchlight Signals project.
April 28: RIP Jerry Miller. We are sad to report that BBCRC friend and supporter Jerry Miller has passed away, due to complications suffered from his exposure to Agent Orange during the US war in Vietnam. Jerry was a long-time Southern Pacific conductor (his RR handle was "Poopdeck") and he was among the group of BBCRC friends who helped bring our BN caboose to Black Butte. He was a good man and a good railroader and will be missed by all of us.
In 2014 we had good progress on many of our projects and hosted a number of good events. See below for descriptions of our Spring and Fall work parties. A major development was the donation of a large number of historic "searchlight" signals from Union Pacific to the BBCRC. See our Searchlights page for details. On the less positive side, we lost a couple of key volunteer/site caretakers who moved out of the area. Then in September our local community of Weed suffered a major disaster when a fire swept through town destroying a large number of houses and local institutions. While our land was not directly impacted, many local friends were. The BBCRC responded by channeling financial donations to the rebuilding of our local food bank and library and by donating 29 cords of firewood to a local heating assistance program.
November 17: WANTED! The BBCRC would like to acquire a specific type of intermodal double stack well car (Thrall, "Husky stack" 48 foot, stand-alone square wheel well car) for preservation at our site. These cars were common on railroads in North American from the late 1980s through the 1990s and early 2000s. In recent years they have become increasingly rare as many have been converted to 40 foot cars or possibly scrapped. In November, 2014, the BBCRC board of directors reaffirmed our interest in moving forward with preservation of one of these cars and designated it one of our highest priorities for acquisition. Please let us know any of our friends and supporters can connect us with a possible source for a sale or donation of one of these cars to the BBCRC. Below is a photo of the type of well car we want to acquire:
November 13: The BBCRC is happy to announce that we will be donating a significant quantity (estimated 25 to 35 cords) of firewood to residents of the City of Weed through the Great Northern heating assistance program. The wood will go to those impacted by the Boles Fire as well as other lower-income, senior and disabled people. A work crew will be picking up and processing the firewood during the first week of December. The wood is coming from trees on our 50-acre property in the City of Weed where we have been thinning out overstocked forest areas and conducting fuels reduction work. Our forestry work has been funded in part by the Environmental Quality Improvement Program of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. For more info on our forestry restoration work see "www.bbcrc.org/forest.html".
September 15: During September 12-14 we hosted our annual Fall Work and Music Party. We had a great turnout and made good progress on a number of projects — including the wiring and lighting of our first searchlight signal! We completed most construction on our new accessible restroom facility, hauled logs and cut tons of firewood, cleaned up old junk, finished the exterior painting of our office depot building, and built a shelter for our new cobb oven. Plus lots of other projects. On Friday evening we had a rocking Boxcar Music Show featuring Something on the Wing, Sharkpact, Hens Teeth, and all the way from Kansas City, Nature Boys. Saturday evening was Lance Schroeder's Pest Habitats art show opening which featured both photographs and a walk around the land to look at the habitat sculptures Lance has built at Black Butte over the last six months. We then inaugurated the new oven with a pizza party, baking 17 pizzas! This was followed with more music by the Rail Yard Ghosts, Ryb Re, Firewitch, and Hera Has a Heart. Thanks to all the musicians who played and everyone who helped out over the weekend!
September 2: SEARCHLIGHT PROJECT UPDATE: Black Butte's Indiegogo fundraising campaign for our searchlight signals project was a huge success! We raised almost $4000 to fund the mounting and installation of the signals as well as the wiring and electronics, including using solar power for some of the signals. We'll be working on this over the next year and it is going to add a lot to the railroad ambiance around our compound. Thanks to everyone who helped contribute to the campaign! If you missed the opportunity to contribute to the campaign but would like to help out with our many other projects, you can do so by making cash contributions while at the BBCRC, by sending us a check, or via PayPal here on our website "www.bbcrc.org/helping.html". Thanks so much to all of our supporters!
June 20: Our Railroad Days gathering during June 13-15 was very successful. We would like to thank everyone who came and helped out with the events, including all the musicians, cooks, photographers, the 'Bo-Lympics Committee, and all the other people who made this a memorable event. We will be posting photos and links to the Images section of our site in the coming days.
May 19: Our Spring Work and Music Party held during May 15-18 was very successful. We would like to thank everyone who helped out, a huge amount of work was accomplished! This included moving forward on our outdoor cob pizza/bread oven, installing mounts for our searchlight signals, building the foundation for our office depot window expansion, firewood gathering and processing, trail building, initial work on the construction of a wheelchair-accessible porta-potty, getting our veggie garden up and running for the season, construction of gates for access roads on our property, installation of the antenna mount for our new ATCS train monitoring system, installation and modification of our new outdoor kitchen food storage cabinet, as well as a variety of other projects and activities. We would also like to thank all of the amazing musicians who helped entertain us over the weekend, including Hen's Teeth, Pert' Near Sandstone, Did is Dead, Healers, Something on a Wing, and Tallgrass. We will have some photos of the event up on the Images section of our site soon.
April 8: Today was the "cut-over" day for the new signals on Union Pacific at Black Butte. The classic searchlight style lights, which have been at Black Butte since the early 1960s, were taken down and more modern signals compatible with the coming "Positive Train Control" system were put into operation.
April 2: We completed almost three weeks of intensive forestry restoration work today. This was mostly on the land north of Black Butte Creek. You will note quite the radical transformation in some areas when you walk around the property. The work we are doing will improve wildlife habitat, restore the density of trees to something more appropriate to our dry location and make our land less vulnerable to fire. Thanks to everyone who helped out on this massive effort! We'll be back at it later in the year and also be doing some activities in support of this work at our Spring Work Party.
July, 2013: The new documentary on our Forest Restoration Project at Black Butte, filmed and edited by Kevin Citta, can be seen on our BBCRC You Tube channel at "www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOdTGF1ADTE".
July, 2013: Added a page in the Images section with links to BBCRC-related Videos.
June 15: New BBCRC publications now available: We now have copies of Baltimore Red's new booklet "Boxcar Sing-Along" (a compilation of railroad, labor, and traveling songs) available on site for $10. As well as Brakeshoe's "Speaking of Trains" for $5 (also available by mailorder through the Gloo Factory or Microcosm Press).
June 10: Thanks to everyone who came and participated in Dunsmuir Railroad Days and the 'Bo-Lympics! Our parade entry was awarded a first place prize for best Railroad-themed entry by the Dunsmuir RR Days committee judges! The 'Bo-Lympics held on Sunday, June 9th was very successful. Cody, Grizelda and Brandon 88 won the Gold, Silver and Broze medals respectively. We will be posting photos and links to videos of the events shortly.
May 20: We would like to thank everyone who participated in our very successful Spring work and music party. In just a couple of days a huge amount of work was accomplished. We moved ahead on our office expansion, renovated the garden and greenhouse and began Spring planting, further restored our PFE reefer car by welding on replacement rungs for an exterior ladder that had been cut off years ago, build a burly new fence along the cabooses (using donated railroad ties and wood milled right on our land), stocked up the firewood supply, refurbished our stable of loaner bicycles, rebuilt and improved hiking trails, hauled out and crunched up dead brush and, using a rented "forestry masticator" unit, made fire breaks and cleared dead brush from several acres of land as part of our forestry restoration activities. We had a great crew of volunteers helping out, including with food donations and cooking up tasty meals for everyone. We'd also like to thank the musicians who put on the excellent boxcar music show on Saturday night including New Happiness, The Dirty Pluckers, Upside Drown, and St. Lorena.
November 21: BLACK BUTTE MERCH! We have a new order in of BBCRC t-shirts [shown below], including ladies cut styles, available now in our boxcar. XL, L, M and S sizes in green, grey and black. We'd prefer you stop by and pick out the one you want when you are here — $10+. Double that if we gotta mail you one. Thanks to our friend and BBCRC supporter "Ozol Kid" at East Bay Screenprinting (www.eastbayscreenprint.com) for again giving us a good deal on high-quality t-shirts and printing! Also available on site Slingshot 2013 organizer calendars as well as our union-made BBCRC patches and stickers.
October 12: The BBCRC would like to thank everyone who came and participated in our Fall Music and Work Party last weekend. We had over 60 attendees and everyone was really into helping out! We accomplished a tremendous amount of forest restoration work, made progress on our office/caretaker building expansion, made improvements to our boxcars and cabooses, rebuilt a trailer, prepped the garden for winter, and completed a bunch of other projects. Thanks especially to Claude (our "crumb-boss") who oversaw the kitchen and everyone else who helped coordinate meals and contribute food. Also thanks to the "Bucket Brigade", Robbie and all the others who played music in the boxcar on Saturday night.
July 9: Restructured the Great Northern X746/McCloud River #34 caboose.
June 2012: Siskiyou Rail Line to Reopen? According to news reports, a "federal grant has been approved to fund trackage improvements to the Siskiyou Line between Black Butte and Medford, allowing the line to reopen". The timing on this is not clear but it seems likely for sometime in 2013.
May 24 - In addition to the many individual contributions we receive from our supporters, we would like to thank the following local businesses who are making ongoing donations to the BBCRC: Northbound Coffee Roasters, General Produce, Mt. Shasta Resort, and Weed Building Supply.
May 20 - Thanks to all of our supporters and friends who showed up for our Spring Work Party. We accomplished a great deal of project work, including a huge push on fuels reduction/forest restoration. Thanks also to all the bands who performed (Kicker, Sneakin' Out, Did is Dead, Surfshit, RVIVR, Dog Jaw, and the Hobogoblins), as well as the artists who contributed to one of our most successful art shows ever (Pokey, Emily, Miss Max, and Joey Alone). Thanks also to Vanessa Renwick (www.odoka.org) and Dani Leventhal who organized a showing of their own amazing films during the work party. Despite some logistical issues due to the number of people who showed up, it was a very successful event.
May 19 - Today we release a new zine, "Forest Restoration at Black Butte", which details our efforts to improve the health of our forest area. Contact a BBCRC board member or stop by the BBCRC if you would like a copy (suggested $2 donation to cover copying/production costs).
This was been an event-filled year at Black Butte with the arrival of a new caboose, many gatherings, music, art, and zine release events and much progress made on all sorts of projects. Our renovated boxcar and PFE "reefer" art and performance space are now complimented by a 65 foot long "loading dock" — and have been hosting more events than ever before.
In February we were the venue for the second annual "Hot Winter Nights" gathering for the Weed community which included music by "Gopher Snake", "Cheatin' Hearts", and "Coffin Hunter", as well as many other performances, bringing a large local crowd to the Center and a mention from our local newspaper. In early April the "Resourced" Art Show (by the Just Seeds Screen Print Collective with Roger Peat and Kevin Kaplicki) opened in our reefer gallery. The show was accompanied by music from New Orleans-based band "Crackbox." Later in April we hosted the Minneapolis band "Dark Dark Dark" along with "Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship?" (from New Orleans) and "Y La Bamba" (from Portland).
In mid-May our third caboose, BN #10772, arrived at its new home at Black Butte. This resulted from the collective efforts and contributions of a group of active and recently retired railroad workers who all plan to help with its restoration over the coming year. For more info and photos of this car visit this page.
Our Spring Work and Music Party, over the weekend of May 20-22, was in conjunction with the "Awesome Future" Zine Release and art show by Robnoxious. Written while Rob was here as caretaker, it is published by Microcosm and even features a long illustrated story about the BBCRC watch dog, Maxx!
We had a good turn-out and lots of great music, including performances by "Livid", "Honey Bath" (both from the Bay Area), "Missoula Flood" (from Chico), and "Rye Wolves" (from Eugene). The extended cold in the Spring made for a late start for our garden but once in, it raged and provided a huge amount of food over the course of the summer and fall. In mid-June we had our annual Railroad Days and railworker gathering in conjunction with Dunsmuir RR Days. This included a well-attended boxcar music show with "The Bindlestiffs" (from Reno), "Pick n' Holler", and an acoustic traveling band who also busked down at Dunsmuir RR Days.
The weekend featured the appearance of a classic 1950s streamliner passenger train which came up and turned on the wye at Black Butte. We made sure to get it a good welcome and send-off at Black Butte! Other boxcar music shows included "Brute Heart" (from Minneapolis) on June 15th and "Snarlas" (from Ohio) and others in early July. In mid-July we hosted an art show installation, "Nobody's Home", by Oakland-based artist Bekey Kaye. The weekend event included a metallic oriented music show featuring "Into the Rhine" (from Vermont), "Embers" (from Oakland), "Speed of Darkness" (from Humboldt), and "Aranya" (from Portland).
In mid-September our annual Fall Music and Work Party took place, along with the opening of an art show featuring drawing, paintings and photographs by BBCRC members Shannon Knox and North Bank Fred. We also had acoustic music in our boxcar with "Amelia". The event was very successful. Projects included repainting our Black Butte trainorders office, re-roofing our shop building, completing a "loading dock" along the boxcars, erosion control work, rebuilding the garden shed and greenhouse wall, harvesting and processing produce from the garden, further fuels reduction/forest restoration work, firewood cutting, infrastructure work on the two steel cabooses, maintenance and improvements to our office and other outbuildings... and even the construction of a tree house!
Later in September we took the BBCRC railbike, the "Bindlestiff Express", on the road to Santa Rosa for our second appearance at the "Handcar Regatta" where our team raced in front of thousands of people. We were even mentioned on the front page of the Santa Rosa "Press Democrat". See our Handcar Regatta page for photos of the race. In mid-October we had a well-attended "Zine Release Party" for Joey Alone's zine "Raw Deal" that also featured music by O.M.G.S. (from Tacoma) and Crackbox, back for their second show of the year at Black Butte. Copies of Raw Deal are available at the BBCRC.
Thanks to all of the artists, writers and musicians who contributed to making these shows happen and also to all of the others who donated time, money, and materials to making the BBCRC flourish in 2011! The BBCRC is a growing collective effort and our progress couldn't have happened without the contributions of our large community of friends and supporters! For more photos from the BBCRC over the year, see our Images 2011 page.
November 4: We've added lots of new photos to several of our pages on the site, including a major new "Images 2010" section. Thanks to Alyssa, Rosin, Toby, Joey, Fred, Jet Set, Rob and others who have all contributed photos and artwork. We have also added new "Garden" and "Library/Art Space" pages and also have updated several other pages including the "Local Ecology/Forestry" section (which now includes a Forest Restoration page) and the "Helping Out/Visits" page.
As the end of the year approaches, we are trying to raise some more funds to help with the acquisition of some new infrastructure, including a heating system and projector for the reefer car. If you are able to consider making a financial contribution please check out our "Helping Out" section for how you can send us a check or make a contribution via Paypal. Thanks!
October 23: Amidst high winds, with gusts approaching 50mph, and driving rain we pulled off a very successful Fall fundraiser boxcar music party. We were honored to have the presence of PIERCED ARROWS featuring legendary rockers Fred and Toody Cole along with their awesome drummer Kelly Haliburton as well as Erick and Ivy (Black Rainbows) and Dirty Marquee. We barely contained the mass of people who showed up within our creaking boxcar walls! We'll be putting up a page of photos of the show on our site in the next few days.
September 27: After spending time in our repair shop and getting fixed up at our Fall Work Party, we brought our six-person railbike, the "Bindlestiff Express" down to the 3rd Annual "Handcar Regatta" in Santa Rosa. Much to everyone's surprise (including our own) we won the speed competition, beating out 21 other human-powered rail contraptions and bringing home the "Zephyr" trophy (for "blinding speed") to Black Butte. And we only crashed twice!
Several days after the race we were informed that due to a rules infraction (having six pedalers when there is an obscure rule limiting the number of participants to four) we didn't get the Zephyr trophy after all! But in its place the judges have awarded us the "Nimble Sleight of Hand" trophy, so all is well...
September 9: We had a surprisingly large turn-out (over 50 people in total, both those coming in from afar by road and rail as well as many local people seeing the BBCRC for the first time) for a great Zine Release Party and Boxcar Punk Rock Show. Thanks to Robnoxious for his great new zine "Shut Up and Enjoy the Rain" (available for purchase at the BBCRC or through Microcosm Press) as well as the three traveling bands who played: Frozen Teens (from Minneapolis), The Nature Boys (from Kansas City) and Hello Shitty People (from Chattanooga). Thanks also to all who contributed food and drinks for the show including our friends at the Weed Brewery!
August 18: After a very long winter, summer finally reared its head around the butte. A foot of snow fell on May 31, and the Black Butte Cinder Cone was not free of snow until halfway through June. It was indeed a long, cold, and wet spring, and many tomato plants were lost (AH!). Finally now it's 95 degrees again during the day and the humidity is back down to 25%... Summer at last! We've got a good number of events coming up in the fall, and have a steady crew of dedicated people keeping things up during the summer and waiting for the cooler weather to arrive. Luckily we had been doing a good amount of fuel-reduction in the surrounding forest and old pine-plantation before the weather got so hot and dry. We'd like to thank everybody who has helped us recently and look forward to seeing more of you around here soon... but be careful, it's hot out there!
May 17: We'd like to thank everyone who participated in our May 13-16 Spring Work and Music Party. We had well over 100 people attending, our largest event yet. Great music in the boxcar and bus on Friday and Saturday nights. We also made huge headway on a large number of projects. We'll be posting photos of the gathering on the Images section of our site soon.
The past year was very successful for the BBCRC, both in serving as a gathering spot and resource for our community and in moving ahead with many of our infrastructure and other projects. After moving our historic wood boxcar and reefer car to our site in late 2008, we began a process of extensive rehabilitation of both cars. Then early in 2009 a second caboose arrived on-site. By May we had the boxcar fixed up to the point where it was able to function as a show space during our Spring Music/Work Party. Over the weekend nine bands played. This launched a new role for the BBCRC as a venue for traveling bands coming through the area. By the end of 2009 we had hosted almost 20 bands for shows in our boxcar or outdoors on our kitchen stage. In July we even hosted a play about water issues on our outdoor stage. We also saw the development of a substantial garden able to help feed our supporters and volunteers this year and the initiation of a related greenhouse project built around the re-use of an old cinder block structure adjacent to our barn. BBCRC members participated in a number of local community events as well, including the Weed Carnivale town parade in July. We accomplished further fuels reduction and forest restoration work and planted many new tree on our site. We also had a late summer music/work party that brought many new people to our place helping to increase our network of friends and supporters.
November 4: A very rare fern, Pumice Moonwart (Botrychium Pumicola), thought to be extinct in California (a small population exists near Crater Lake in Oregon), was recently discovered near treeline in Diller Canyon, on the slopes of the Shastina side of Mt. Shasta. This location is only about 4 miles or so east (and another mile up!) from the BBCRC. Apart from lumber company land, our site is one of the closest private pieces of property to the area where the fern grows. This discovery is further evidence of the unique ecology of this area.
October: The BBCRC now has it's own My Space page, in part to help stay in touch with bands and musicians who may be coming through and able to play some music at Black Butte. Check it out at www.myspace.com/bbcrc.
September 3: Over the last week we had a very successful work and music party with over 50 people visiting, helping out with projects, and playing music. Traveling bands that played in our boxcar included GRUK (from Chico), THE HOBO GOBBLINS (from the Bay Area), SHAKES and THE WALK HOME (from Seattle), as well as BAD BLOOD REVIVAL and STUPID PARTY (from Brooklyn, NY). Unfortunately MOTHER OF FIRE had to cancel its planned show but a couple members visited later in the week. During the week we got both the boxcar and the reefer weather protected, built skylights for the reefer hatch openings, started building a greenhouse for the garden, and did more work on both cabooses. Thanks to everyone who helped out!
May 20: Over the extended weekend of May 14-17, the BBCRC hosted our first major Spring work/music gathering. Over fifty supporters and friends came together and helped out with many projects including rebuilding and upgrading our bicycle shop space, initiating rehab activities on the reefer car, working on our garden, and many other activities. Nine bands played including Dirtyard (from Minneapolis), Dandelion Junk Queens (Port Townsend), Fat Sack of Bluegrass (Weed), Fugitive Kind and Living Daylights (Bay Area), Brody Douglas Hunt (Port Townsend), and Pipsqueak and Glue (both from the Pacific Northwest). Thanks to everyone who helped out over the weekend!
March 27: Today a second caboose, ATSF #999028, arrived at Black Butte. This is the fourth historic railroad car to come to our site. Check out pictures of the caboose, our site preparation work and the move on these pages.
February 10: We now have the ability to accept online Paypal donations on this site. And if you contribute $10 or (preferably) more, we'll send you our new BBCRC patch! See our "Helping Out" page for details.
2008 was another year of accomplishment at Black Butte, we initiated projects that exceeded all of our expectations. It was again a huge group effort. Among the many projects that moved forward during the year:
Most interior rehabilitation work on ex-Great Northern X746 caboose was completed, including a new ceiling, new sub-floor, re-upholstery of interior seats and benches, cabinetry, insulation, interior wall repairs, and the re-installation of a caboose stove.
We acquired two additional historic rail cars, a boxcar and a reefer car, did site preparation, and moved the cars into place. These cars will house a future library/resource center and an art space/gallery.
We proceeded with forest restoration work, removing fire hazards and restoring a more natural and diverse forest to the areas around the compound. A variety of other environmental projects were also initiated.
We experienced a major loss with the unexpected passing of our caretaker "Gonzo" in November. From the beginning he was a central figure at Black Butte and he will be greatly missed by all of us.
Among the many people and organizations who helped us out in 2008 and whom we'd like to thank are: Gonzo (R.I.P!), North Bank Fred (jack of all trades and webmaster), Jacquelyn, Rick and the dog pack, Hobo Lee, Wrong Way Dre, Coffey, "Santa Cruz Trash Orchestra": Jason, Wes, etc, Broke Toe Rezo, Toby "Flange Squeal", Kurt, Leonie S, "Billy Gott Craig", The "Grinch", Photo Bill, Josh, Quentin and the "Bike Church" in Santa Cruz, CA, Baltimore Red, Shade, Jared, "Polka Madre", No Doubt Dave, Bob Miller (sound system), Angela, Aralia, Waffle, Roseville Melissa, Crazy Angel, Silver Miner Larry, Kimberly, Dutch, Cat, Sara Rose, Elyss, McKenzie, Chris R, Widerstand, Jeff from the trailer park, Carltons, Matteapolis, local crew from the "Central Oregon and Pacific Railway", Michael I "Train on Fire", Vanessa R and Montana from PDX, Swash, Lark and Sam from NYC, Cherry, Erick, Darby & Chevy, Sophie, Dumpy, Trainman Mark, Lily, No Nuts (R.I.P!), Stephanie, Boots, Billy, John and Reggie ("Fat Sack of Bluegrass"), Jeff Forbes and the "McCloud Railway Co", Dougie, Joey Alone, Derek and "Made For Glory" signs"," Safe Trails Chris and his buddies, Don, Ian, "Golden West Service", "Something's Wrong", Vanessa S, Molly Molasses, Gnell, Shannon, Meredith, Leann, Bill, Buddy, "Heritage Junction Museum" in McCloud, Jack Flash, Dr. Ed, Cody "the Hub City Kid", "Black Bear Ranch" crew: Justin, Mouse, Jaxon etc, Eden, Britt, Alex, Potter, Joe, Poio, Josh, Croatian Mike, Holly from Cambodia, Espee Riders Josh, Elvis and his fisherman buddy, Feral, Grace and Pepper, Brakeshoe, C-Line, Amy from "Freewheelin' Farm", Nora, Pondscum Matt, Xarik, Keeeth, Bogus Rendition Justin from Maine, Auberry Steve & Linda, "Uncle Pete", "Weed Arts Council", Jack Flash, the Bechans, Meg, Z Wooden Spike, Liz, Patrick, Rob Menzies, "Ray's Market", "Weed Building Supply", Valerie, Dave Wall (welding), Max, and, as always, the "Black Butte Dump". And anyone else we might have missed — let us know who we've forgotten to include!
November 4: Today we had sad news at Black Butte. Our caretaker, Walter "Gonzo" Lemanski passed away of natural causes. He was 54 years old, a retired tramp who loved the Black Butte area. Originally from Detroit, Michigan, he lived in Odgen, Utah, Roseville, CA, and Santa Cruz before coming to the Dunsmuir/Black Butte area where he was our caretaker for the past two years. He was a good friend to us all and will greatly missed. An informal memorial service was held for him on Saturday, November 15 at noon at Black Butte.
October: This month we successfully moved our two newly acquired historic railcars to Black Butte. We have located these steam-era wooden cars right in our main compound on some newly laid track segments. The cars will form the basis of a library/resource center/info shop project that we plan to develop in 2009 and beyond. See our Railcar Preservation project page for more details.
August 15: Added a page showing caboose rehab work done during our second summer, 2008.
July 27: BBCRC makes agreement to acquire historic railcars in McCloud
In mid-July the BBCRC made an arrangement with the Heritage Junction Museum in McCloud to acquire two historic pieces of rail equipment — an ex-Sacramento Northern wood boxcar and an ex-Pacific Fruit Express iced refrigerator car. Both cars date from around 1912 and are in reasonably good condition. We plan to move both cars to Black Butte later this year. The boxcar is intended to become a resource center/library/info shop and arts/project space for visitors to Black Butte. To make this happen, we need to raise several thousand dollars over the next 2-3 months.
May 20: Added a page devoted to Railroad Tattoos!
April 6: In early 2008 the Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture received our official designation as a US government recognized 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. This means we are now eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions from the public, corporations and other grant-making institutions. Let us know if you have any potential contributions (books, films, 'zines, artwork, historical photographs, cash, etc.) related to our mission of documenting nomadic railroad culture and the railroading history and local ecology of the Black Butte area. Also, we are looking for a boxcar or similar railroad car that could be brought to our site for use as a resource center/art space.
January 31: Bad news on the local railroading front. In mid-January the CORP line began phasing down its south end operations. By mid-April the plan is to completely shut down the route over the Siskiyous from Black Butte to Medford. This follows on CORP's shutdown of its Coos Bay line late last year. It's all due to CORP being taken over by the greedy "Fortress" investment company, a company that appears to have as its only agenda squeezing out short-term profits for its investors. It is a blow to the workers who have worked hard to keep the CORP line going as well as to our local community. Hopefully another operator, one with a little more integrity and a longer term view than Fortress, will be able to take over the south end and resume operations. In the meantime, we will see CORP reduce its operations (local customers around Weed will still be switched) and, most likely, fewer UP trains stopping for work at Black Butte.
January 1: Added a page showing photos of the rehabilitation work done on the caboose during the Summer of 2007.
December 15: A unique six-person railbike, donated to us by the WP Museum in Portola, has now arrived at Black Butte. Thanks to everyone you helped facilitate this donation. Check out a photo and description on our bike project page.
December 12: During our first year of operations we had an large turn-out of volunteers and contributors from our extended network of friends, local people around Black Butte, Dunsmuir, Mt. Shasta, and Weed, and some folks who just sort of came out of the bushes (literally)... and ended up helping out for a while. Thanks to everyone for making it happen!
Over the course of the year we rebuilt the main fence and cleaned up the site — going a long ways toward turning what was a local eyesore into a positive addition to the area:
We built track:
moved the caboose:
...and started its rehabilitation process including completely replacing the roof:
We built a large outdoor kitchen for feeding visitors and volunteers:
We completed rehabilitation of the yard shack:
...fixed up the barn and added a tool shop, got our stable of loaner bicycles going, did a lot of basic infrastructure work:
...adding plumbing, electrical connections and environmentally friendly recycling and greywater systems:
We acquired the semaphore and other historic items. We did restoration work on our pond and Black Butte Creek and did major trash pick-ups in the area. We removed invasive non-native vegetation from our site and planted some new trees. We drank buckets of beer, swapped tons of stories, played music, hosted lots of visitors, and had a great time!