Reviving the Railroad
After years of disuse and with the encouragement of his wife, Tom Marshall began to rebuild the railroad line in 1992. To make the railroad once again safe to service passengers, many things needed to change. The wooden trestle, no longer safe, was dismantled, and fill was brought in to widen the bank. About half of the ties and some of the rail were replaced, and the whole track had to be re-ballasted and leveled. New 2 x 4 pressure-treated ties (on edge) were used instead of the “scale-model” 2 x 2 redwood ties of the earlier construction.
In February 1997, Tom Marshall hosted the first gatherings of the Steam Team, and while he emphasized the Marshall collection of Stanley steam cars, a number of early volunteers expressed interest in the railroad as well. Several volunteers soon became familiar with the little railroad, making it possible to expand the operation, rebuild more of the track, and plan for two trains to pass on the double-tracked portions of the line.
The railroad operation became more formal when the Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve (FAHP), a volunteer group formed to carry on in the future state park site Auburn Heights Preserve, was incorporated in 2004 and obtained its 501(c)3 tax-deductible status. As the organization continued to grow, so did the activities of the AVRR.