California State Railroad Museum

by Joe Thompson

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California State Railroad Museum



California State Railroad Museum - 2001-2002

1915 at csrm/1 Locomotive 1915 in the lobby of the California State Railroad Museum. August, 2002.

19" Pacific steam locomotive 1915 sits in the lobby of the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. The locomotive never operated, but it was built by Louis MacDermot of Oakland, CA for the Overfair Railway at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. The line was not a success because of poor location, rubber-tired competition, and a steep 10-cent fare.

1915, along with fellow Pacifics 1912-1914 and 0-6-0T 1500 and all the other rolling stock, went into storage on the grounds of MacDermot's Oakland home. 1913 ran at the Oakland Zoo for a short time in 1941, but soon went back to storage.

When MacDermot died in 1948, the famous Billy Jones bought the locomotives for his Wildcat Railroad. He regauged his line from 18 to 19", but the Pacifics were too long for the curves on the line, so Jones only operated 1500. The locomotives passed through various hands.

1912-1914 and 1500 wound up at Al Smith's Swanton Pacific Railroad, where they are still operated by the students of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Smith donated 1915 to the California State Railroad Museum, where it has been on display since 1981.

Visit the Museum of the City of San Francisco's excellent web site to read "From Panama to Poly; The Saga of the Overfair Railway Pacifics" by Walter Rice Ph.D. and Karl Hovanitz.

We visited the museum in August, 2001. I couldn't get a good angle to take a shot of 1915. I managed to take a couple of shots in August, 2002. They were preparing to install a new exhibit about Walt Disney's backyard railroad, the Carolwood Pacific.
1915 at csrm/2 Another view of locomotive 1915 in the lobby of the California State Railroad Museum. August, 2002.

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2007

SP Mole sign This stained glass window was preserved from Southern Pacific's Oakland Pier ferry terminal. September, 2007.

After a pleasant stop at the Nut Tree, we continued up 80 to Sacramento. When we took the exit in West Sacramento, I was sad to learn that the Tower Bridge was closed for work. We took a long detour that led to 5.

Eventually we got to the California State Railroad Museum. We found that the exhibits had been rearranged and augmented quite a bit since we had last visited. I liked the way the sleeping car and the diner had been moved together. Visitors enter at one end of the sleeping car, then cross a platform at the other end to the diner.

Granite Rock 10 Granite Rock 10, a sturdy 0-6-0T Porter built for the US Army in 1942. September, 2007.

We went under the freeway to the K Street Mall for a late lunch, then went to the depot, where I was able to take photos and videos of the Sacramento Southern's Granite Rock locomotive number 10 taking water, switching, and leaving with the three o'clock train.

Granite Rock drinks Granite Rock 10 takes water from a tank car. September, 2007.

Locomotive 10 switches after taking water at the tank car in the background. (Adobe Flash is required. Some browsers will require two clicks to start the video.)

Locomotive 10 pulls out of the station with a Sacramento Southern train. (Adobe Flash is required. Some browsers will require two clicks to start the video.)

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2008

CSRM sign The sign out front shows the museum's symbol, the Central Pacific's bicycle locomotive, the Leland Stanford. November, 2008.

In November, 2008 we visited Old Sacramento and the California State Railroad Museum. On the way up, traffic was light except around Vacaville. It was cloudy all the way. There was not a big crowd at the museum. There was a nice exhibit of photographs taken around the Nevada Northern. The museum people appear to have finished the latest round of rearranging the exhibits.

CP Depot The reproduction of Central Pacific's arcade depot covers some of the equipment that won't fit in the museum. November, 2008.

We went under the freeway and had lunch at Panda Express in the mall. Then the family went shopping. It started to rain lightly. After, we went back to Old Sacramento and walked around a bit. Traffic was light on the way back except around Berkeley.

Lionel Lionel handcars with Disney and holiday characters, from the toy train area. November, 2008.

Lionel streetcar A Lionel open bench streetcar, from the toy train area. November, 2008.

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2009

CP depot The reproduction of Central Pacific's arcade depot covers some of the equipment that won't fit in the museum. July, 2009.

In July, 2009 we visited Sacramento. The California State Museum hosted the Library of Congress' exhibit "With Malice Towards None." It had many Lincoln-related items, some from the Union Pacific collection. My heart felt funny when I saw the draft of the Gettysburg Address. There were many documents I have read about, like the unsent letter to General Meade after Gettysburg. They had the contents of Lincoln's pockets when he was shot, and the family doctor's notes, spattered with Lincoln's blood. I had only two issues with the show. One was probably due to the space: it was hard to follow the exhibits in sequence. There were little arrows all over the floor. The other was that, to protect the documents, the lights were very low. An older lady told me it was killing her eyes to try to read anything. I was having a similar problem.

I enjoyed seeing the Bible used for Lincoln's first inauguration and for President Obama's.

Lincoln schedule A reproduction of an Erie Railroad schedule for Lincoln's funeral train. July, 2009.

After lunch at the mall, we went to the Railroad Museum to see "The Rail Splitter and the Railroads: Lincoln, the Union and the Golden State." The title tells all about it. It started with his interest in internal improvements, especially railroads, went on to his railroad-related legal cases, especially the bridge case, and the trains he rode on, including the funeral train.

Norris The Richard Norris & Son builder's plate on Central Pacific 1, the Governor Stanford. July, 2009.

REA sign A Railway Express Agency sign. July, 2009.

Chicago Park sign A sign from Chicago Park Station on the Nevada County Narrow Gauge. July, 2009.

WP 913 Western Pacific F7A 913. July, 2009.

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2010

CSRM The California State Railroad Museum. April, 2010.

We took a drive up to Sacramento. Traffic was bad in several places, including the Yolo Causeway.

We visited the California State Railroad Museum. Downstairs there was a nice exhibit of toy trains. There was also an exhibit called "The Migrant Project: Contemporary California Farm Workers." It was moving.

Locomotive 10 arrives at the station with a Sacramento Southern train. (Adobe Flash is required. Some browsers will require two clicks to start the video.)

Granite Rock 10 Granite Rock 10, which pulls the Sacramento Southern excursion train, takes water by the turntable. April, 2010.

Locomotive 10 leaves the station with a Sacramento Southern train. The last car is the El Dorado, an observation-lounge car. (Adobe Flash is required. Some browsers will require two clicks to start the video.)

NPC 12 North Pacific Coast 12, built by Baldwin in 1875, ran from Sausalito to the Russian River. April, 2010.

WP Western Pacific's Feather River Route herald from the nose of F7 913. April, 2010.

SP Southern Pacific's classic herald from narrow gauge boxcar 331. April, 2010.

Daylight A neon drumhead from Southern Pacific's premiere Coast Daylight between San Francisco and Los Angeles. April, 2010.

City of SF A neon drumhead from the Milwaukee Road/Union Pacific/Southern Pacific streamliner City of San Francisco between Chicago and San Francisco. April, 2010.

Golden State A drumhead for the Golden State Limited, operated by Rock Island and Southern Pacific between Chicago and Los Angeles. April, 2010.

Super Chief A Santa Fe Super Chief drumhead. April, 2010.

Grand Canyon A Santa Fe Grand Canyon Limited drumhead. April, 2010.

Pony Express Statue Thomas Holland created this statue to commemorate the Pony Express. Mail arriving from Saint Joseph, Missouri, was handed onto steamboats to San Francisco. It stands at Second and J Streets. April, 2010.

Firehouse 3 Sacramento Number 3 was built in 1853. It was used as a firehouse until 1921. It is now a nice restaurant. April, 2010.

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2012

CSRM The California State Railroad Museum. July, 2012.

In July, 2012 we took a drive up to Sacramento to visit the California State Railroad Museum.

Sacramento Depot The 1926 Southern Pacific Depot is used by Amtrak and Caltrain. July, 2012.

Sacramento Depot "Southern Pacific Lines" is still visible over the main entrance. July, 2012.

Lark Southern Pacific's Lark was an all-Pullman overnight train between Los Angeles and San Francisco. July, 2012.

NPC 12 North Pacific Coast 12, built by Baldwin in 1876, ran from Sausalito to the Russian River. July, 2012.

NPC 12 builder's plate North Pacific Coast 12's Baldwin builder's plate. July, 2012.

NPC 12 sand dome North Pacific Coast 12's artfully decorated sand dome. July, 2012.

NPC 12 cab North Pacific Coast 12's cab. July, 2012.

NPC 12 tender North Pacific Coast 12's tender. I like the 3-D effect of the lettering. July, 2012.

NPC 12 numbrt North Pacific Coast 12's number plate. July, 2012.

SN 402 Sacramento Northern EMD SW-1 402 was built in 1939. July, 2012.

SP 4294 head-on Southern Pacific's Baldwin cab-forward 4294 was built in 1944. July, 2012.

SP 4294 Another angle of Southern Pacific's Baldwin cab-forward 4294. July, 2012.

SP 4294 from gallery Southern Pacific's Baldwin cab-forward 4294 seen from the upper gallery. July, 2012.

Dominator fruit crate label The Pacific Fruit Express refrigerator car had a display of fruit crate labels. This Dominator Brand tomato crate label features an attacking fighter plane. From the general shape and the fire flaring from the propellor hub, I guess it is supposed to be a Bell P-39 Airacobra. July, 2012.

Red Car fruit crate label The Pacific Fruit Express refrigerator car had a display of fruit crate labels. I figure the Red Car label is supposed to refer to the Pacific Electric, but the car looks more like some streamlined car from the East or the Midwest. July, 2012.

Limited fruit crate label The Pacific Fruit Express refrigerator car had a display of fruit crate labels. The Limited label, from Limited Vineyard, features a streamlined locomotive, perhaps an EMD F unit. July, 2012.

Firehouse 3 Sacramento Number 3 was built in 1853. It was used as a firehouse until 1921. It is now a nice restaurant. July, 2012.

Boss of the Road Ghost signs for Morelo's Hotel and Boss of the Road Overalls, "The Watchdog of Quality," across I Street from the museum. July, 2012.

Brannan House A ghost sign on the Brannan House. July, 2012.

Brannan House A restored ghost sign for Booth & Co Wholesale Grocers. July, 2012.

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2013

CSRM Building America exhibit sign at the California State Railroad Museum. July, 2013.

Because we had to cut short our Disneyland trip, we decided to spend two nights in Sacramento. Traffic was good on the drive up.

Ho for California A notice in the Building America exhibit encourages people from the New York state town of Canajoharie (I had to look it up) to attend a meeting about migration to California. July, 2013.

SP ad A Southern Pacific ad in the Building America exhibit shows the newly built Golden Gate Bridge and explains that "Southern Pacific's Four Scenic Routes Meet at San Francisco". July, 2013.

We walked through Old Sacramento and had lunch at Johnny Rockets in the K Street Mall. Then we went to the state railroad museum. The upstairs gallery had "Building America: Abraham Lincoln, California, and the Union Pacific Railroad," a touring exhibit in honor of UP's 150th anniversary. It included documents, artifacts, histories of some of UP's acquisitions, and many advertising posters. We watched an Amtrack locomotive get pulled out the roundhouse doors.

Amtrak The Amtrak locomotive on the turntable. July, 2013.

UP Caboose Union Pacific caboose 25256. July, 2013.

What Cheer House A restored ghost sign on the What Cheer House. What Cheer House was a generic name in 19th Century California for hotels that did not serve alcohol. There was a What Cheer House at Sacramento and Leidsdorff Streets in San Francisco. July, 2013.

Booth and Co A restored ghost sign for Booth & Co Wholesale Grocers. July, 2013.

Booth and Co A restored ghost sign for Booth & Co Wholesale Grocers. July, 2013.

Ebner and Co A restored ghost sign for Ebner & Co. July, 2013.

The next day we had planned to go to the state fair, but it was too hot. We drove to Folsom and visited the outlets, then back to Sacramento and went to the California Museum. My wife thinks it would be a great place to take a field trip. We had not visited since the Lincoln Bicentennial. There was a small exhibit on the missions and one on Charles and Ray Eames. Many visitors headed straight for the Eames. My wife didn't remember them till she saw the chairs. The exhibit on Japanese-American relocation made me tear up.

rtd/1 A Sacramento Regional Transit District light rail train passes the California Museum. I believe it is a Siemens Duewag U2A. I like the high-mounted central headlight. July, 2013.

My wife's phone rang as we were about to enter the Museum, so I took some photos of Sacramento Regional Transit District light rail trains as they passed along transit-only O Street.

rtd/2 The same train continues after passing the Museum. July, 2013.

rtd/3 A train approaches from the other direction, crossing Tenth Street. July, 2013.

rtd/4 Another train approaches the Museum on O Street. July, 2013.

Then we visited the K Street Mall.

The next day we drove home, with a stop at the Nut Tree. Traffic was clear till we got to the Berkley city limits.

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2016

high speed mockup/front Part of a High Speed Rail mockup by Siemens. July, 2016.

Traffic was good on the drive up to Sacramento. At the Sacramento Southern ticket office, we picked up tickets for a first class train ride. Then we went to the museum.

high speed mockup/nose The nose of a High Speed Rail mockup by Siemens. July, 2016.

One of the features was a mockup of a High Speed Rail trainset.

high speed mockup/nose A view from the engineer's seat on the High Speed Rail mockup. July, 2016.

Debs The museum had an interesting exhibition on the effect of the 1894 Pullman Strike on Sacramento. After initially resisting it, Eugene V Debs became one of the leaders. July, 2016.

Granite Rock 10 Granite Rock 10 pulls into the station. It had recently returned after extensive servicing. July, 2016.

After visiting the museum, we had a little lunch and then rode in observation car El Dorado on the Sacramento Southern. It was a nice ride. The stewards served cookies, pretzels or peanuts, and soft drinks.

El Dorado Observation car El Dorado. July, 2016.

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Copyright 2002-2016 by Joe Thompson. All rights reserved.

Last updated 31-October-2016