Tea and Trains: Riding the Niles Canyon Railway
Sunday, August 18, 2002

The Sunol Depot was built in the 1880s. On Sunday, August 18, 2002, visitors may have thought they slipped through a hole in time and were back in the 1880s. The platform at the Sunol Depot was filled with a group of 40 well dressed ladies and gentlemen from the Greater Bay Area Costumer's Guild.

Gentlemen tipped their hats to ladies wearing beautiful bustle gowns. The array of beautiful jewel toned colours in the period fabrics was worthy of any gathering of peacocks.

Theresa Eacker and Lisa Swehla wait at the for the train to arrive. Take a look at Theresa's wonderful vintage parasol and Lisa's perfect perky bonnet.


Brad and Theresa Eacker (in the rear seat), Lorraine Carson and Patrick White (center) and Eric Lemmons and Virginia Phelps.

The history of trains in Niles Canyon dates back to before the building of the original transcontinental railroad. The first Western Pacific Railroad Company (formed in 1862) started construction in San Jose towards Sacrmento. It built twenty miles of track that reached into Alameda Creek canyon in 1866. The first passenger excursion entered the canyon on October 2, 1866.

Virginia Phelps and Eric Lemmons enjoy the scenery.

The train travels through Niles Canyon; a beautiful area that remains much as it was in the 19th century.

Lorraine Carson, Lisa VandenBerghe and Mike Wolf plan their croquet game.
The history of croquet can be traced to the 14th century. Lawn bowlers developed an indoor form of their sport to be played during the winter, adding hoops and mallets to make the game more challenging on the much smaller playing area. This indoor version of lawn bowling them moved back outdoors and became known in France as paille-maille (ball-mallet).

During the 1830s, a French doctory developed a new version of paille-maille as a form of outdoor exercise for his patients. He named it 'croquet' from the French word for a crooked stick. It was widely played at spas in the South of France. English and American visitors discovered it there and brought it back to their countries. In an era when women were regarded as 'delicate flowers', croquet was an acceptable form of decorous exercise.

We all know than Victorian men tended to underestimate the will of women. Naunghty Lorraine can't stand to lose at croquet. Mike had better watch his .... back!

(L to R) David Easter, Chris Swehla, Lisa VandenBerghe, Lorraine Carson, Lisa Swehla, and Virginia Phelps gather after the train ride in the Sunol Park. Lorraine and Lisa Swehla provided tea and scones for everyone.

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