OADKALE — Windows on the Sierra Railroad dinner train were smashed by vandals over the weekend, but a quick response by a Modesto window company had the train operating before a Sunday afternoon departure.
Arriving at the South Sierra Avenue station early that day, Sierra Railroad President Chris Hart was excited about a television interview scheduled to promote the dinner train's seasonal Christmas rides.
He was devastated, however, when he found that six windows on one of the train's cars had been shattered.
He said it is the third time in about 18 months that vandals have broken windows on the train, which carries up to 300 passengers and operates several times a day.
Hart anticipated he would have to cancel the rides for the week while repairs were completed. But he got a nice surprise by the prompt response of Don's Mobile Glass in Modesto.
The company sent its entire fleet to the train station Sunday morning to replace every window before the Christmas train's 3 p.m. departure.
"It was almost like Santa's elves showing up," Hart said. He said Sunday's damage cost about $4,000 to repair, but in the past has cost as much as $10,000.
Hart said he caught two vandals smashing windows in February. One of them, a juvenile, was arrested and convicted.
"I caught him red-handed, but we were never reimbursed a dime," Hart said.
The company has hired private security in the past but it became too expensive.
Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2366.