A fine monument to the railways that built our great nation, the California State Railroad Museum had its origins in 1937 when a determined group of railroad enthusiasts in the San Francisco Bay Area formed the Pacific Coast Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society.
The organization labored tirelessly at promoting a railroad museum, and donated 30 historic locomotives and cars to the California Department of Parks and Recreation as the core of a State-operated premier exhibition in Sacramento. The Museum’s pioneer facility, the Central Pacific Railroad Passenger Station, debuted in 1976 and the Railroad History Museum saw completion and opened in 1981.
Steam-powered passenger train service on the Sacramento Southern Railroad rolled into town in 1894, and the Central Pacific Railroad Freight Depot opened just three years later. The Museum, today, features 21 meticulously restored locomotives and cars, some from 1862. A wonderful collection of fascinating permanent exhibits featuring an ever-changing layout of photography, artifacts and ephemera assist in illustrating how the influence of the railroads changed American Society forever. A spectacular "Sierra Scene" exhibit recreates a large-scale construction site high in the Sierra Nevada representing Donner Pass, circa 1867.
Enchanting train ”excursions” offer railroad enthusiasts a 45 minute riverfront train ride in closed coach cars, open-air gondolas and a first-class observation car hauled by vintage diesel locomotives. Revel in all the sights and sounds of train travel of days gone by while enjoying a frosty lemonade and fresh cookies served in the air-conditioned comfort of a 1920s observation lounge car El Dorado as you roll along the beautiful Sacramento River!