• California State Railroad Muesum

    This is something like the 12th Railway museum I have visited on this trip and this time I actually went quite a bit out of my way to get there, making my journey from San Francisco to Fresno via Sacramento, purely in order to visit California’s State Railroad Museum, which I hadn’t even known existed until a volunteer at Portland’s tiny Railroad museum mentioned it to me a few days earlier!

    Close up of Union Pacific 4294

    Close up of Southern Pacific 4294

    But I’m glad I did as it really is a cool museum. Located just outside the Amtrak Station and close to the start point of the Western end of the United States first trans-continental railway line, its full of a number of interesting locomotives and coaches. The loco’s are with one exception, steam, but the exception is a good one, a gleaming silver and red engine from the Santa Fe railroad from the 1950’s when it hauled their flagship “Super Chief” service from LA to Chicago. The steam on display also has good pedigree, with the polished brass decorations of early locos from the 1860’s and an enormous and rather unusual front cabled driven Union Pacific steam locomotive.

    Super Chief Loco!

    I think this is my favourite looking diesel. And yes, it’s sad that that is now a category in my mind…

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    View from above

    View from above

    view from above

    Looks like a toy!

    Doesn't look like a kettle from this angle...

    Doesn’t look like a kettle from this angle…

    Steam engine with cab at front end

    Its backwards looking!

    large tender from front driven steam loco 4294

    The tender

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    From up on high...

    From up on high…

    sacramento railroad (14)Other exhibits include a lot of information on the building of that first trans-continental link, including a short film explaining the transformational affect this had on the United States and California in particular.

    1860's locomotive with polished brass  and cattle grid.  Like in the Westerns!

    Several of the locos are presented in little (well large I guess) dioramas

    sacramento railroad (6) sacramento railroad (16) sacramento railroad (12) sacramento railroad (15) sacramento railroad (18)

    Carriages include an old refrigeration wagon and a post office carriage together with a Pullman Sleeper car that you can walk-through and which moves as you walk through it to simulate train movement (very cool) and a 1930’s stainless steel dining car from the aforementioned Super Chief. The vintage carriages look very nice but I did enjoy reading a discription from a 19th Century magazine about the difficulties of trying to sleep in a seat in Coach class – things are not much different on Amtrak!

    “He endeavored to sleep by putting his heels in one seat and his head in another.  The seat got the best of the bout in ten minutes.  He then placed his carpet sack between the seats, and sat down on it, with his legs on top of the seat ahead, and his head laid back on the seat behind. The seat won this round in 12 second. He then took the cushions and stretched them on the frames of the seat parallel with the cars.”

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    Old carriage

    Old carriage

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    Kitchen from the dining car of the Santa Fe Super Chief

    Kitchen from the dining car of the Santa Fe Super Chief

    In short, it’s an excellent museum. I probably have a preference for falling apart abandoned locos rather than gleaming pristine engines in modern museum environments, but the California State Railroad Museum does the latter very well, helped by an excellent collection, and runs short steam trips on weekends (alas I was their on a Wednesday). I was even for the first time tempted by the museum gift shop into buying a cool T-shirt with three streamlined locomotives on it (ok “cool” is a subjective term).

    IMG-20150624-WA0009 (Custom)

2 Responsesso far.

  1. Andy Holt says:

    Somewhere else worthy of a visit. Nice photographs too.

  2. […] It was though, totally worth the money. Whilst the weather during the day was not fantastic, with a frequent layer of haze in the air compared to the bright blue of my Mexican visit, which resulted in much of the famous colour of the canyon looking rather washed out, the magnificence of the size of the canyon was still very much apparent. I also got to see it from multiple places thanks to the tour and it was also nice to travel in a group for a change. There were 4 of us on it, and we had all met for the first time that morning and this seemed to be just the right size of group to enable lots of conversation but still feel like we were travelling independently. There was even a girl from NYC who was in the middle of crisscrossing the states on Amtrak! (Although despite her professed train fandom I did note she wasn’t rocking a train related T-shirt which is what all the cool kids do) […]

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