California State Railroad Museum
Railroad Museum exterior
Map showing the location of California State Railroad Museum
Map showing the location of California State Railroad Museum
Map showing the location of California State Railroad Museum
Map showing the location of California State Railroad Museum
Location111 I Street, Sacramento, California
Coordinates38°35′5″N 121°30′16″W / 38.58472°N 121.50444°W / 38.58472; -121.50444
Governing bodyCalifornia Department of Parks and Recreation

The California State Railroad Museum is a museum in the California State Parks system that interprets the role of railroads in the West. It is located in Old Sacramento State Historic Park at 111 I Street, Sacramento, California.[1]


The museum features 21 restored locomotives and railroad cars, some dating back to 1862. The "Sierra Scene" shows a large scale mockup of a construction scene high in the Sierra Nevada representing Donner Pass c. 1867, featuring the locomotive Gov. Stanford. Other exhibits show how the influence of railroads changed American society, influencing travel, commerce and daily life, as well as the lives of railroaders and the diversity of people who work on railroads. Changing exhibits featuring photography, ephemera, and artifacts from the museum's collection, add depth and incidental information to the overall story of railroad history. The museum has an extensive educational program for elementary students from across the region to help them learn about railroad history using re-enactments, costumed docents, and including train and handcar rides. The roundhouse area of the museum features a rotating display of locomotives and equipment belonging to the museum. When not on display, these items are stored and worked on at the nearby Sacramento Railyards in the remaining buildings that were part of the original Southern Pacific Shop complex. A large 3-rail O scale model train layout is also located in the museum.

Virginia & Truckee RR 13, "Empire," (before restoration). Its last owner was the Pacific Portland Cement Company in Gerlach, NV, in the 20th century.
Virginia & Truckee 13, "Empire," (after restoration), at the California State Railroad Museum. Its restoration includes numerous design elements from the engine's early years in the 1800s.

Adjacent to the main museum building is a reconstruction of the 1870s-era Central Pacific Railroad passenger station and freight depot on Front Street, which houses historic and contemporary railroad equipment. In early 2011, the interior remained closed to public use, but is occasionally open for special events. Between April and October, the Sacramento Southern Railroad, operated by the museum, takes passengers on a 40-minute, 6-mile (9.7 km) roundtrip route along the Sacramento River on a portion of the Walnut Grove branch of the former Southern Pacific Railroad. The Sacramento Southern Railroad owns the Walnut Grove Branch right-of-way that extends south from Sacramento along the eastern bank of the Sacramento River. Past plans for the excursion ride included expansion on its former right of way to Hood, CA, but were scrapped in favor of a mixed-use paved recreational trail known as the Del Rio Trail project.[2]

In 1992, Railtown 1897 in Jamestown began operating under the museum.

In recent years the museum has begun expanding their digital resources. Of note, the museum has several digital exhibits and a museum podcast Roundhouse Crosstalk.

Library and Archives

In addition to the rolling stock and exhibits on display, the California State Railroad Museum collects material relating to railroading in the West. The museum's library and archives contain:


Virginia & Truckee RR 12, "Genoa," in its 20th-century configuration (e.g., straight stack, round headlight, etc.), before restoration.
This is the Virginia & Truckee RR 12, "Genoa," which was built in 1873, after its restoration, which incorporated many of its 1800s design features.

The museum has its origins in 1937, when a group of railroad enthusiasts in the San Francisco Bay Area formed the Pacific Coast Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society. This organization worked for years to promote the idea of a railroad museum, donating 30 historic locomotives and cars to the California Department of Parks and Recreation to be the nucleus of a State-operated museum in Sacramento. The museum's first facility, the Central Pacific Railroad Passenger Station, opened in 1976. The Railroad History Museum was completed in 1981. Steam-powered passenger train service on the Sacramento Southern Railroad began in 1984, with the Central Pacific Railroad Freight Depot opening three years later. Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown was added to the museum complex during 1992. The museum became a Smithsonian affiliate in June 2017.[4]

Notable locomotives

Steam locomotives

Museum interior

Diesel locomotives

Southern Pacific #6051 EMD E9 painted in Daylight color scheme

See also


  1. ^ Addresses- Sacramento Railroad Museum
  2. ^ "City of Sacramento Del Rio Trail".
  3. ^ "Search Our Catalog". Library and Archives Collections. California State Railroad Museum. Retrieved February 23, 2024.
  4. ^ "It is Official! the Railroad Museum is Now Recognized as a Smithsonian Affiliate". June 5, 2017. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  5. ^ Joslyn, D.L. (March 1956). "Steam Locomotives of the Southern Pacific". The Railway and Locomotive Historical Society Bulletin (94): 155–169. JSTOR 43517808 – via Jstor.(registration required)
  6. ^ Diebert, Timothy S.; Strapac, Joseph A. (1987). Southern Pacific Company Steam Locomotive Conpendium. Shade Tree Books. p. 33. ISBN 0-930742-12-5.
  7. ^ "Exhibits - Central Pacific Railroad No. 1 Gov. Stanford". California State Railroad Museum. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  8. ^ "# 4294 Cab-In-Front Articulated Locomotive" (PDF). May 7, 1981. Retrieved January 1, 2020.