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Alternative Energy? How About Human-Powered Railcars?

Published Sep 26th 2008, 4:38am by Jody DeVere in Articles Featured Articles

handcar regattaAskPatty came across something, er, unusual for train fanatics as well as those who seek out-of-the-ordinary entertainment. Each year, Erasmus P. Kitty's Hand-Car Regatta blends art and science into one gigantic experience of moving parts, sounds, and people. The Hand-Car Regatta supports art as an experience by taking art out of the gallery, into a public space, and incorporating science, math, and human ingenuity. The Hand-Car Regatta offers up an easily accessible, all-inclusive, creative experience for all who attend.

lumbering contraptionHere is an example of just one of the entries being produced for the event: Called "The Lumbering Contraption," the team at has created this human-sized hamster wheel to compete in this year's event. You can even watch video of its initial testing - complete with human hamsters inside - here at

The railcar races at the center of the Regatta highlight innovation and human ingenuity to devise cheaper, viable, and hitherto undreamed-of methods for transport beyond the standard notions of today. As commuter rail transport has become a highlighted alternative method of transportation in our era of rising fuel prices, the annual Handcar Regatta provides a platform for playfulness and sustainable concerns within the realm of human powered transportation. Examples of such contraptions can be viewed here at the Regatta's Railcar Videodeon.

The event is scheduled THIS WEEKEND: Sunday, September 28, 2008 from 11 am to 6pm, with the much ballyhooed races at 1 pm. The Hand-Car Regatta takes place on the railroad tracks and around Depot Park on Wilson Street between Third and Fifth streets in Santa Rosa's historic West End neighborhood and Railroad Square.

Admission is free, and if that's not enough, there are even free hand-made felt moustaches to all Regatta attendees who so wish to partake! Besides the fantastic machines, gadgets and gizmos that will be featured, the family friendly festivities will also include live musical performances, roaming musicians, balloon animals, fortune tellers, and magicians.

Brandy Schaffels, EditorBy Brandy Schaffels
AskPatty Editor

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