California State Railroad Museum

front of a train at the railroad museum

This fantastic institution, monument to the railways that built our great Nation, part of the State Park system and ever-popular attraction in the heart of colorful Old Sacramento had its origins in 1937, when a determined group of railroad enthusiasts in the San Francisco Bay Area formed the Pacific Coast Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society. The organization labored tirelessly at promoting the idea of a railroad museum, and donated 30 historic locomotives and cars to the California Department of Parks and Recreation to comprise the core of a State-operated exhibition in Sacramento. The Museum’s pioneer facility, the Central Pacific Railroad Passenger Station, launched in 1976; the Railroad History Museum saw completion in 1981. Steam-powered passenger train service on the Sacramento Southern Railroad began in 1984, and the Central Pacific Railroad Freight Depot opened just three years later. The Railroad Museum assumed responsibility for Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown- “The Movie Railroad” – on July 1, 1992. Today, the Museum features 21 painstakingly restored locomotives and cars, some circa 1862. The spectacular “Sierra Scene” exhibit recreates in large-scale mockup a construction scene high in the wild Sierra Nevada representing Donner Pass circa 1867; a wonderful array of fascinating permanent exhibits featuring an ever-changing arrangement  of photography, ephemera and artifacts assist in illustrating how the powerful influence of the railroads changed American Society forever.  Enchanting “excursion” train rides offer railroad aficionados in search of that quintessential experience relaxing 45 minute riverfront train rides in closed coach cars, open-air gondolas and a first-class observation car pulled by vintage diesel locomotives from the Museum’s extensive collection. Experience all the sights and sounds of  train travel of bygone days; enjoy lemonade and cookies served in the air-conditioned comfort of elegant 1920s observation lounge car El Dorado as you roll along the Sacramento River!


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