Father’s Day on the Feather River!

Hey There!

Wow, I thought I had blogged about the convention, but it seems that I posted it on my Facebook page instead. Sorry about that!  Let me tell you about my Father’s Day Special up the Feather River Canyon.

It was a ‘trip of a lifetime’ for me and now, in looking back, was so much more than that. This was the third rail charter trip that Barb and I have made, and while all of our trips have been special, this one was just amazing. It was five hours each way and four of those hours (each way) were in the Feather River Canyon! We traveled at only 25 miles an hour, which is the posted speed for the area, and we were all so delighted.

The day began with word that our train left Oakland late because Amtrak was slow in getting the engines to our consist. But that did not dampen any spirits. Each of the four cars had a staff to make sure each guest was very comfortable, well fed, and happy so once ‘on board’ we were greeted and served breakfast immediately.

As we wound our way up the canyon, I could not help but think of all the books and photos I have seen of the California Zephyr on these tracks.  It was like we were transported ‘back in time’ to the sixties when this train made a trip everyday with each day reflecting the canyon walls. If only we were being pulled by the classic Western Pacific F Units, it would have completed the picture.

We were chased by rail-fans and blessed to have a retired UP engineer and published rail photographer, Kirk Baer, chase our train up the canyon. Kirk knew all the great spots and would be there, to capture forever, this trip of dreams.  Thank you, Kirk!  Once in Portola, we enjoyed a welcome reception by the WP Railroad Museum. Their crew drove out on the mainline with the orange and silver WP GP-9 to grab our cars and push them to the museum ‘track one’, where we could get off and enjoy their collection, and it was a GREAT collection!

Later, as we returned, our now westbound train actually headed into the setting sun and the long shadows came through the canyon, lighting our way. Dinner was served and all were very happy with the great food our chef had prepared. As we reached Oroville, the sky was barely light, and the gentle-rocking motion put many a tired traveler to sleep. Were they dreaming of the next trip? Barb and I knew this had been a trip ‘not to happen again’ and so thankful that 115 people joined us, making this possible.
See the footage

See the full gallery on our Facebook page HERE.
Next years trip will be a smaller group to Glacier National Park for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Get in line, and ‘on board’ now!

Lowell Smith

A native of Portland, Oregon, Lowell Smith married his church choir sweetheart Barb in 1978. After a lifetime of rail-fanning, Lowell and Barb ventured out in 1992 to launch a new business in Portland, Oregon. Read more

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What They Say:


I just received the “The Great Locomotive Chase” set from the Walt Disney Family Museum. Very nicely done!


Thanks for all the great trains – it’s nice to have such wonderful rolling stock on the layout.

Charlie S.

Thank you for producing such well researched quality offerings.

Dan & Nina D.

So glad our big Alaska trip happened when it did.  It was the trip of a lifetime for me and Nina, thank you so much for organizing it.


You know I’m always looking forward to the next release and its arrival with great anticipation. I treasure my Lowell Smith Signature collection.


My kids absolutely love the Christmas cars! The C.K. Holiday, along with the Carolwood and Disney cars makes a wonderful Christmas train. It made many a loop under our tree this year.


Lowell, thanks to you and your company SP&S modelers (myself included) are having a much easier time modeling the North Bank Road. Thank you for your hard work!

Rad J.

Lowell, I am very pleased with the N Scale Ferdinand Magellan Presidential car. As a retired US Secret Service agent I have conducted security advances for the president and his family traveling by train. I have done a lot of research on the Ferdinand Magellan and the model has excellent detail. It will be an…


Ferdinand Magellan is great! This really fits your mission of offering significant cars that otherwise wouldn’t be produced.

M. Magliaro

I received my #99 business card in the mail today. It looks superb. Thank you for another wonderful job. You are really filling a niche.