Grab your conductor’s cap and train whistle as we tour one of the most remarkable railroad museums in the country: the California State Railroad Museum…
Located in historic and charming Old Sacramento, the California State Railroad Museum tells the story of how the entire state was dramatically impacted by the rise of rail travel and transport. From the Gold Rush to the glittery days of post-war luxury rail travel, it’s all on display in this massive 225,000 square foot museum, and we just had to see the 20+ locomotives and rail cars displayed throughout the complex.
After paying our reasonable $10 to get in the door ($5 youths ages 6-17; children ages 5 and under are free.), we were greeted by a beautiful steam locomotive, the Gov. Stanford. The Gov. Stanford is not only beautiful, but also quite historic. The 1862 locomotive was the very first engine of the Central Pacific Railroad, pulling their very first excursion train, freight train, and passenger train.
From the Gov. Standford, we wandered through the exhibits as we worked our way to the main hall, a massive space filled with tens of locomotives and railcars. From the old steamers to the diesel locomotives of the 20th century, there was a new historic engine to explore at every turn.
Just as interesting as the massive locomotives were the railcars on display. The California State Railroad Museum’s collection spans a century and covers about every purpose for a rail car from hauling the mail to taking people cross-country in style.
And, of course, a caboose!
For us, what make the California Railroad Museum well-worth a stop was not only the number of locomotives and railcars on display but their openness to visitors actually walking through the cars and climbing aboard the engines. More than once we were surprised by a museum worker sitting in a railcar, just waiting to tell us more about what we were seeing.
Whether you’re a train buff or just someone fascinated by history or engineering, the California State Railroad Museum will keep your interest and have you pining for an adventure on the rails.
Speaking of which… The museum offers that too. For as low as $12, you can climb aboard the Sacramento Southern Railroad, now in its 33rd season of giving 45-minute train rides alongside the scenic Sacramento River. You’ll enjoy access to closed coach cars, an observation car, and open-air gondola cars all pulled by one of their diesel locomotives or the trusty Granite Rock No. 10 steamer. (To learn more and buy your train ticket, click here)
If you’re stopping by Old Sacramento, be sure to save plenty of time for the California State Railroad Museum and a ride on the Sacramento Southern Railroad.
Read more about our trip through Old Sacramento here.