The California State Railroad Museum, located in Old Sacramento State Historic Park, houses small and big wonders! From a one-million pound vintage steam locomotive to a framed golden “lost spike”, they have it all. The trains of all shapes and sizes are displayed at North America’s most-visited railroad museum.The museum has had millions of visitors from all around the world throughout the 100,000 square foot space since opening over 30 years ago. With dozens of exhibits, the California State Railroad Museum (located where the first Transcontinental Railroad began) is busy with children, tourists, and train lovers alike who are searching for legends and ancient railroad tales.
Climb aboard one of the vintage steam trains or take a ride along the Sacramento River aboard the Museum’s Sacramento Southern Railroad. The locomotives and railroad artifacts will keep you engaged for hours. Tour a Pullman sleeping car as it moves through the night or admire the intricate glassware on the steel streamlined dining car to see what traveling on a train was really like. The realistic displays bring the past to life before your very own eyes. Children of all ages, myself included, will enjoy sitting in the cab of one of the largest American steam engines ever built. The tiny toy trains on the second floor of the museum were alive and colourful to the sounds of bells and whistles.
I could have spent my entire day at the California State Railroad Museum talking with the many volunteers aboard the trains. The wealth of knowledge (and unique stories) that each volunteer holds kept me entertained the entire time I was in the museum. Their excitement for train history spilled from their mouths as they passionately told me about the history of each locomotive. I was thrilled to tour a Canadian sleeper train at the museum: the Canadian National Pullman St. Hyacinthe. Pullmans carried millions of passengers a year. During their prime, they carried as many as 39 million passengers a year in the United States! That’s nearly one third of the population in the U.S. A museum volunteer on the train reminisced about riding on a sleeper train with his father, visiting Canada, and the glory days of the St. Hyacinthe.
The museum has over 20 restored locomotives and railroad cars, along with thousands of other artifacts. The award-winning documentary Evidence of a Dream showcases the railroad’s importance in developing California and the making of America. This 20 minute film is shown in the museum’s theatre; the film provided me with extremely valuable information before I even started walking through the exhibits. Right from the beginning, I had a wealth of information to support my museum tour. The museum also offers guided tours and volunteers to provide information during your visit (they will answer any question you throw at them). I was surprised by everything the museum offers. There is also the Railroad Museum Library (America’s best railroad-only library) which is located on the second floor of the Big Four Building in Old Sacramento.
Main Exhibit Hall:
1. The Transcontinental Railroad
2. Developing California & Making America
3. Railroad Work & Railroad Life
4. Travel by Train
5. American Icons
5. Small Wonders
Like the California State Railroad Museum Foundation Facebook page here.
I can’t wait to return! I’d love to take my brother here someday! He loves trains!
California State Railroad Museum
Corner of Second and I Streets
Sacramento, CA, 95814
24-hour Information: (916) 445-6645
Office (916) 445-7387
*Media coverage for California State Railroad Museum