Bertha moved to Portola in 1951 and a few years later, after completing courses in journalism and photography, began writing for the Sierra Booster, the Sacramento Bee and the Reno Evening Gazette, recording activities from 1954 to 1961. Neely has kept her negatives and newspaper articles in yearbooks covering that time.
1960 was a rather quiet year for Portola. Some of the local boys got in a serious fight with service men from Stead Air Force Base which put all the youth in town on a mandatory curfew. The big event for the year was when the California Zephyr paused long enough at the station to unload hundreds of Boy Scouts heading to the Boy Scout Jamboree. George Demery and a large crew fed the boys at the local baseball field and then the Scouts boarded the Zephyr and continued to their destination.
The book includes an endearing article A Railroader’s Young Daughter Realizes the Horror of a Forest Fire, written in August 1960 by Neely at age 17, which may have been where her writing began. She advised, “W P Railroaders can contribute to the cause by keeping watch for signs of fire and by reporting them promptly; by careful handling of fuses, matches, smokes; by keeping the rights of way clear of trash and underbrush; and by taking every precaution to prevent fires when camping or touring.”