SACRAMENTO – After being closed for nearly a year, the California State Railroad Museum recently reopened for indoor visitation at 25 percent capacity (or a maximum of 125 visitors at a time) and with safety measures and protocols in place.
While some of the exhibits remain temporarily closed – including the walkthrough train cars and hands-on children’s area – the world-class museum offers an amazing variety of exhibits and activations in addition to an awe-inspiring collection of large scale locomotives and historic rail equipment on display.
And, just steps away from the museum, the California State Railroad Museum Foundation continues to offer popular weekend excursion train rides on the Sacramento Southern Railroad that are perfect for families and individuals interested in enjoying a memorable and nostalgic outdoor experience aboard a historic locomotive. For those interested in visiting the historic district and Old Sacramento Waterfront, outlined below are a few must-see and must-do exhibits and activations offered by the California State Railroad Museum & Foundation.
Exhibit: “Bent to the Task: The Industrial Art of Ray Carrington” – First Floor
First debuted in January 2020, 35 intriguing sculptures are showcased in the visually impactful “Bent to the Task” exhibit, all created from repurposed scrap and rail materials – such as hand tools, railroad spikes and track plates – that local artist Ray Carrington (from Vacaville) collected decades ago from abandoned railroad logging and sawmills in Northern California. Capturing the force and spirit of the faceless millions who built America’s industrial past, the collection of spike figures comes from the Carrington Foundation for Public Art.
Exhibit: “Crossing Lines: Women of the American Railroad” – Throughout Museum
Originally debuted in March 2020 and now a permanent addition to the museum, the powerful “Crossing Lines” exhibit shares stories about the lives and roles of women associated with the railroad industry. With elements weaved throughout the museum, the goals of the exhibit are for Museum visitors to gain a heightened appreciation for the role of women railroad workers, and experience a sense of empowerment and inspiration based on the considerable contributions women made to the railroad industry and society in general.
Exhibit: “The Magic of Scale Model Railroading” – Third Floor
Presented and curated by the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA), the public debut of the all-new “The Magic of Scale Model Railroading” coincided with the reopening of the museum on April 1, 2021. A project first envisioned in 2004 by the NMRA and of appeal to all ages from children to the young-at-heart, the philosophy of the comprehensive and visually-exciting exhibit is designed to introduce and attract a new generation of scale model railroading enthusiasts. Visitors are treated to an impressive number of model train layouts and locomotives, information panels, a Timeline of Scale Model Railroading, and much more.
On Display: Central Pacific Coach No. 12 – in Roundhouse
On special display aboard a flatbed in the Museum’s spacious Roundhouse, is the Central Pacific Coach No. 12 that was originally built in 1868 by Sam Brannan. The rare and historic railcar has been at the Calistoga Depot for past 42 years and was carefully relocated to Old Sacramento for rehabilitation and display. The railcar is historically significant as it is one of only two passenger cars that traveled in the very first transcontinental train trip across North America. In fact, this “survivor” passenger coach was in attendance during the world-famous ceremonies at Promontory, Utah on May 10, 1869 before returning to Sacramento while attached to Gov. Stanford’s special train.
Weekend Excursion Train Rides – Outdoors on the Sacramento Southern Railroad
Weekend excursion train ride guests delight in the sights, smells, and sounds of an authentic, historic locomotive as it rolls along the levees of the Sacramento River for a six-mile, 45-minute roundtrip excursion. The experience offers guests the chance to enjoy train travel from an earlier era. Train ride experiences are available in open-air gondolas with café style chairs or in comfortable and cushioned enclosed coach cars. In addition to a deep clean each morning, train cars are cleaned in between each train ride with special attention focused on high-touch points such as grab irons and handrails.
The California State Railroad Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and ticket costs are as follows: $12 for adults; $6 for youths ages 6-17; free for children ages 5 and under. While subject to change, weekend excursion train rides depart at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.
And, starting on April 23, Friday departures will be added at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Due to the popularity of the rides, advance online tickets are recommended. Train ride tickets are sold in groups of four and priced according to the number of passengers in each group ($15 for one, $30 for two, $38 for three and $46 for four).
For more information about the California State Railroad Museum or Foundation or to purchase advance tickets for weekend excursion train rides, please visit www.californiarailroad.museum.