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BLM California News.bytes 
News.bytes Extra, issue 552

Rails to Trails Festival 2012

Susanville area residents and visitors swarmed the city’s historic railroad depot Saturday, Oct. 6, to celebrate the 20th annual Rails to Trails Festival. Events included railroad handcar racing, a popular chili cook-off, live music, and vendors offering food, beverages and regionally-produced crafts.  Among the participants were competitors in the annual Bizz Johnson Marathon and associated races, held Saturday and Sunday on the Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail.

two teams work hand-powered rail cars on tracks, past spectators
Handcar teams are neck and neck as they near the finish line at the Susanville Depot, the eastern terminus of the Bizz Johnson Trail.

chefs serve up their chili to visitors
Chili cooks from the Susanville Symphony, top, and the Lassen County Cattlewomen, bottom, offer chili styles as diverse as their organizations’ interests.  The musicians’ “Dragon Slayer Chili” was slightly smoky, with beans;  the Cattlewomen countered with a traditional all beef (no beans) variety. A dozen competitors including businesses, community service organizations and political candidates competed.

a man and woman dance in the street
Despite the intense competition, opposing team cooks find time to celebrate.

young men inspect a mountain bike
Visitors check out the latest in mountain bikes displayed by a local vendor.

runners pas a Bizz Johnson sign
Marathoners near the final 300 yard stretch after a 26.2-mile race between the communities of Westwood and Susanville, as a runner passes a historic railroad bridge near the finish line (lower photo).
a runner on a path near an old railroad bridge

The festival celebrates the conversion of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s Fernley and Lassen Branch into the Bizz Johnson Trail, an undertaking led by the BLM Eagle Lake Field Office beginning in the late 1970s. The Lassen Land and Trails Trust, a key partner with the BLM and Lassen National Forest in trail management and promotion, organizes and hosts the annual celebration.

The runs, including a marathon, two half-marathons, and 10K and 50K events, are organized yearly by a private organization and held under a special recreation use permit.  The marathon is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon and annually attracts runners from across the country and some foreign nations.  Nearly 600 runners participated in the events this year.

- Jeff Fontana, Public Affairs Officer, BLM Northern California District (October 2012)

BLM California News.bytes, issue 552 -- To subscribe to News.bytes, send an e-mail to: mailto:Join-Newsbytes@List.ca.blm.gov OR visit our News.bytes subscription page.

Last updated: 10-10-2012