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Ryan Ryan Ryan Thanks for visiting the site! ShastaRails has been a site I've been developing for quite a while now and finally it's a reality. This site is really a combination of many of my interests and hobbies. Where to start? Well how about the beginning.

First there were toy trains...

I was about four years old when I got my first train set for Christmas. It was an HO scale set with an Illinois Central Gulf engine and caboose. I quickly grew out of the standard circle of snap track and it wasn't long before I wanted to go bigger. So I graduated to the 4x8 sheet of plywood with a 90 degree crossing making a figure eight. I had hours of fun laying track, pulling it up and nailing it down again in different designs.

Then a camera...

A few years later, I received my Dad's old camera for Christmas which started my fascination with photography. Of course I didn't learn how to use it for a few years but when I did, my first subjects were trains. Starting when I was about 12, I took my camera with me to Mount Shasta for the summer. That's where I got to know the Southern Pacific Railroad, the Espee, with the familiar weathered gray and bright scarlet. I hiked along the tracks from Dunsmuir, north through Mossbrae Falls, Cantara Loop, Sawmill Curve and Azalea at one time or another. There's nothing like walking along the tracks in the Sacramento River Canyon and hearing the rumble of a train as it snakes up the 2.2% grade. In the summer of 1991, I was less than three miles downstream when the infamous tanker spill at Cantara occurred. That ruined the hiking along the tracks for the summer but I was given a new outlet for my interest in the Espee.

Model trains...

When I was fifteen, I moved to Denver, Colorado where I was introduced to a smaller scale of model railroading: N Scale (160:1). Caboose Hobbies, the largest model railroad store in the world, became one of my favorite places to hang out. I visited the Denver Area N Scale club in the basement of the Forney museum and really liked running 50+ car trains with 4 or more engines. Then I saw what NTRAK could do. The first show was at Southwest Plaza in Littleton and the layout was 80 x 16 feet. There was a coal train with +110 cars just like the prototype! Then next year, I built a 6' module and added it to the setup. From there, I started slowly buying Atlas and Kato engines and began doing some air brushing and decaling. My N Scale modeling slowed down as I went through high school but it was just in hibernation.

Finally I moved to California...

In 1997, I moved to Sacramento which put me within three and a half hours drive to Dunsmuir. I ended up taking a semester of school at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed, CA. My favorite class, by far, was photography. My teacher was new, just moved there from Rochester, New York. Ms. Jackett encouraged me to enter my work in magazines and contest so I finally did. I sent my first submission to CTC Board magazine for the Day in North America feature in the Fall of 2000. One of my photos was published and I owe it to her for encouraging me to shoot some slides and submit them.
The next semester I transferred back down to Sacramento to attend the California State University at Sacramento. I majored in Management Information Systems and learned a lot about information systems, including database-driven website design.

In my last semester of school, I met my wife Nancy. She is the best wife a railfan can ask for. We've been up the Feather River Canyon, to the Shasta area including Dunsmuir and Cantara Loop and even a trip to Seattle on Amtrak's Coast Starlight. I asked her to marry me on the McCloud Sunset dinner train and we have since started a family. We now have two boys and trains are part of their daily lives thanks to the N scale California Zephyr that circles around the ceiling of the kids' room. I'm closer than ever to building a layout where we can run more trains. I hope it will be a constantly evolving piece of work that the whole family can work on and enjoy.

Thanks again for visiting and enjoy the site.
Ryan Ryan Ryan Ryan
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