Todd's Railfan Guide to

In General
Getting Here
Fire & Police


In General

Location / Name:
Sacramento CA

What's Here:
the California State Railroad Museum
former Southern Pacific RR Depot - now the Amtrak Sacramento Station (SAC)
former Western Pacific Rwy Depot
the California Corridor Amtrak Service (operated by Amtrak, funded in part by the state)
the RT Light Rail System
the Sacramento Valley Live Steamers
UP Sacramento Subdivision (north/south)
UP Martinez Subdivision (west/northeast)(ends at the Roseville Yard)
UP Fresno Subdivision (southeast)
the Placerville & Sacramento Valley RR (slightly NE of Sacramanto)
Industrial Switching in West Sacramento
the Sierra Northern Rwy (formerly the Yolo Shortline RR) (in nearby Woodland CA)
the Western Railway Museum (not local, about 35mi SW)
the California State Capitol
Old Town Sacramento

GPS Coordinates: below.
ZIP: as needed below.

Access by train/transit:
Amtrak Capitol Corridor
RT Light Rail - 3 lines

The Scoop:

Sacramento has got a ton of stuff to keep any railfan busy for quite a while.

One of the big claim to fame is that it was the western terminus of the Central Pacific RR - one of the two that took part in the race to complete the first Transcontinental Railroad in 1869.  Since then, the railroad was absorbed by the Southern Pacific RR, and then in 1985, by the Union Pacific.

Union Pacific is the major player in town, and three sub-divisions service the area.

Sacramento has one of the better known railroad museums in the country, the California State Railroad Museum, they have tons of stuff to see and offer excursions.  They are open 7 days a week except for holidays.

There are a couple of old depots still around, one from the Western Pacific and one from the Southern Pacific - now the Amtrak station.

Sacramento hosts a substantial light rail system, which three lines: Blue, Green, and Gold.

There are quite a number of yards around, many with good views and open access.  In West Sacramento, there is extensive operations to support the Sacramento Port.

On the northeast side in Hagan Community Park, we have the Sacramento Valley Live Steamers.

And don't forget the non-railroad items of interest, such as the California State Capitol Building and Old Towne Sacramento.

Denver Todd for helping with the research.

Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area:

Aerial shots were taken from either Google Maps or www.bing.com/maps as noted.  Screen captures are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it! 


Getting Here




  the California State Railroad Museum

GPS Coordinates: 38.585195, -121.504365
125 I Street, Sacramento CA 95814
Hours: 10am-5pm - 7 days a week except holidays
My webpage for the museum is located here

  the Amtrak Sacramento Station (SAC)

GPS Coordinates: 38.584165, -121.500681
401 I Street, Sacramento CA 95814
Hours: 4am-11pm
The platforms look like a good place to take signal pictures from.


  the Regional Transit Light Rail System

The RT Light Rail system has it's own page on my website here

  the Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad

http://www.psvrr.org/ or, it redirects you to: http://placervillebranch.blogspot.com/

From Wikipedia: The Sacramento Valley Railroad was the first transit railroad company in California to file papers of incorporation on August 4, 1852 although it was not the first to become operational. The railroad's gauge was 5 ft 3 1/2 in (1,613 mm), (7 inches (180 mm) wider than 4 ft 8 1/2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge) and was laid with 60-pound-per-yard (29.8 kg/m) Welsh iron "pear" rail.

The original plans called for the railroad to run from Sacramento to Marysville by way of Folsom.  These plans never fully materialized as the railroad was only built from Sacramento to Folsom.  On February 22, 1856, the first train operated over the entire 22.9-mile (36.9 km) line.  Thus the line is not the oldest working railroad in the state; the Arcata and Mad River Railroad had been operational since December 15, 1854.

On April 19, 1877, the Sacramento Valley Railroad was consolidated with the Folsom and Placerville Railroad to form the Sacramento and Placerville Railroad.  In 1877 the Placerville and Sacramento Valley Railroad was also deeded to the Sacramento and Placerville Railroad.  The new railroad operated over 49.1 miles (79.0 km) of track between Sacramento and Shingle Springs.

The railroad eventually came under the control of the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP); first under SP's subsidiary, theNorthern Railway in 1888, and then ten years later under the SP on April 14, 1898.

Today much of the original route still exists and was the former Placerville Branch of the Southern Pacific.  Today it is used by Union Pacific Railroad and extends to the Aerojet facility just west of Folsom.  The Sacramento RTD Gold Line light rail line parallels the route and uses the right of way between Sacramento and Folsom.

Most of SVR's planned route was built by subsequent railroad companies after 1869.  A notable historic section is still in operation today as Niles Canyon Railway that linked Sacramento to the San Francisco Bay Area through Niles CA.




  the Capitol Corridor Amtrak Service

From Wikipedia: The Capitol Corridor is a 168-mile (275 km) passenger train route operated by Amtrak in California.  Although state-supported, it does not operate under the Amtrak California brand.  Capitol Corridor trains operate between San Jose and Sacramento, roughly parallel to Interstate 680 and Interstate 80.  One train a day continues through the eastern Sacramento suburbs to Auburn, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.  The trains are administered by the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority and managed by employees of Bay Area Rapid Transit.  Capitol Corridor trains started in 1991.

History: The Capitol Corridor is named because it links California's first state capital, San Jose (1850), with the current state capital, Sacramento.  The rail route also travels near historical state capitals of Vallejo (1852) and Benicia (1853).  At the start of the 1990s three Amtrak trains operated in the Bay Area: the long-distance California Zephyr (Oakland–Chicago) and Coast Starlight (Los Angeles–Seattle), and the short-distance San Joaquin (Bakersfield-Oakland). Only the Coast Starlight ran between San Jose and Sacramento, and at inconvenient times.  The last local service between the two former capitals was the Southern Pacific's Senator which ran between Oakland and Sacramento until May 31, 1962.  In 1990 California voters passed two propositions providing $105 million to expand service along the route.  The new service, named Capitols, debuted on December 12, 1991 with three daily round-trips between San Jose and Sacramento.  Of these, a single round-trip continued to Roseville, an eastern Sacramento suburb.  The service was later renamed Capitol Corridor to avoid confusion with the Capitol Limited, which runs between Washington, D.C. and Chicago.  In 1998 there was one round trip train that ran as far as Colfax but poor ridership was unable to sustain the extension.









  the Sacramento Valley Live Steamers 

GPS Coordinates: 38.605344, -121.307116

We are a family organization dedicated to preserving the lore and history of American steam railroading with a scale fully functioning steam engine and a railroad for children and adults alike to ride on and enjoy.  We are a hobby club for the whole family.  Welcome to our railroad!

The Sacramento Valley Live Steamers Railroad Museum is located within the Hagan Community Park in Rancho Cordova, California.  The organization was started around 1965 and completed with a Golden Spike ceremony in 1973.  The main line is now over 6,300 ft. with many sidings and several yards.  The ride is scenic as the track passes through tree'd areas, as well as a fine view of the American River which passes within 100 ft. of the railroad.  The railroad also features wooden trestles, a 40ft truss bridge as well as a girder deck bridge.  The track is 7 1/2" and 4 3/4" gauge.



  the Sierra Northern Railway 

GPS Coordinates: 38.605344, -121.307116
341 Industrial Way
Woodland CA 95776
Phone: 530-666-9646

The Sierra Northern Railway was formed in August 2003 through the merger of two Northern California shortline railroads: the Sierra Railroad Company and the Yolo Shortline Railroad.  Sierra Northern currently operates approximately 75 miles of track in northern California, through the heart of a number of California's prime industrial areas, serving a wide variety of customers, and interchanging with both the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad.  Sierra Northern’s employees strive to help its customers with all their railroad transportation needs.

  former Western Pacific Rwy Depot 

GPS Coordinates: 38.576440, -121.480892
Currently home to the Old Spaghetti Factory (as of mid 2016)
910 J St, Sacramento CA 95811
Between H and J Streets, adjacent to the tracks between 19th and 20th Streets, east of the Capitol Building
Phone: 916-443-2862


  the Western Railway Museum 

GPS Coordinates: 38.206062, -121.875758

Being a traction fan, I had to include the WRM even though it is not local at 35 miles away, and that's as the crow flies.  Nonetheless, it is an interesting museum to visit, and seems to have many favorable reviews if one goes searching for information.




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Fire and Police



Floobydust and Historical

the California State Capitol Building

GPS Coordinates: 38.576653, -121.493668

Trains and Trolleys.....




Hotels n Motels.....


Sutter's Fort


Other Interesting Stuff.....


Historical USGS Maps

The 1888 and 1905 maps are courtesy of the University of Texas Library, click here for their index page.


I love trains, and I love signals.  I am not an expert.  "Doing" these guides is one of my hobbies.  Hobbies are supposed to be fun - this is something I have fun with while trying to help others.  My webpages are an attempt at putting everything I can find of the subject in one convenient place - they contain info I have gathered from all over the place.  The better ones have material contributed by other railfans such as yourself to help us all.  There are plenty of other good websites to help me in this effort, and they are listed in the links section on my indexa page, or as needed on individual pages.  Please help to make this guide better by contributing.

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this guide is correct.  Once in a while, an error may creep in, especially if restaurants or gas stations open, close, or change names.  Most of my maps are a result of personal observation after visiting these locations.  I have always felt that a picture is worth a thousand words", and I feel annotated maps such as the ones I work up do the same justice for the railfan over a simple text description of the area.  Since the main focus of my website is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  Since most of us railheads don't have just trains as a hobby, I have also tried to point out where other interesting sites of the area are.... things like fire stations (which many of us are into :-), neat bridges, or other significant historical or geographical feature.  While some may feel they shouldn't be included, these other things tend to make MY trips a lot more interesting....  

Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.  Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.

By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous and/or other stuff.

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given! BE NICE!!! Contact info is here

Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.


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NEW 01/01/2014
Last Modified 30-May-2016