Road Trip

North Pacific Coast Railroad No. 12, Sonoma.
North Pacific Coast Railroad No. 12, Sonoma.

It’s been a busy month on the road to see younger family members receive their graduate and undergraduate college degrees. It was wonderful traveling from coast to coast and spending time with friends and family in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and California. I did squeeze in a little railfanning and I even got to ride Amtrak around the Horseshoe Curve!

Although the fire was extinguished in this loco many years ago, hidden audio speakers played the hissing sounds of a steam loco at rest. The best part was the smell of grease as you neared the display.
Although the fire was extinguished in this loco many years ago, hidden audio speakers played the hissing sounds of a steam loco at rest. The best part was the smell of grease as you neared the display.

While in California, I spent most of a day at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. The facilities are top notch and the presentation was outstanding. They have a wide variety of equipment displayed that stretches across decades of railroad history. Steam locos are a big attraction for me and this museum had them in large and small sizes.

While it doesn’t have the size of the Cab Forward on display, this Union Pacific 0-6-0 was a welcome sight with easy access to examine lots of detail. It’s this size locomotive that I need to build for my Wheeling Freight Terminal operation.


At railroad museums, I like to stroll through the displays to see what is there and make a second pass to review some equipment in greater detail. High above the main floor, a narrow gauge train was displayed on a neat wooden truss bridge. A walkway beside the train enabled an easy view of the smaller equipment that once plied three-foot gauge rails. One car had an interesting K brake installation amid the truss rods, so I attempted an image or two for future reference. I could only access one side of the car, so the above photo is the best I could capture.


Several displays illustrated the work of various railroad occupations and a few docents were eager to explain more. A refrigerator car was used to show a typical packing house dock scene with vintage crates. Viewers were invited to see the inside of the car, which had a display on packing house crate labels. Being a certified freight car nut, various interior details captured my eye.


If you visit the California State Railroad Museum, I encourage you to stroll around the Old Sacramento  waterfront area. The architecture and signage is worth the walk around the multi-block area. Some additional rail equipment seemed to be on display in the old passenger station train shed, but it was not open on the day of my visit.


The museum also has a research library in a nearby building. I was tasked by a friend to dig up some 1950s Southern Pacific employee timetables for his local railroad club. I could have easily spent a week in this library. There were so many car builder cyclopedias and dictionaries, official railroad equipment registers, and many more vintage books and periodicals to sift through. One title caught my eye and I had to page through to see what was there. A 1921 Materials Handling Cyclopedia was most interesting to browse through. I was unaware of this book. An image from one of the pages can be seen above. Fortunately, it’s available as a PDF out there on the internet! If you need details on 1920s era conveyors, trucks, cranes, and more, then download a copy for your reference.

As much fun as it was to travel, it’s good to return home. I haven’t worked on many model railroad projects this year and I’m itching to return to the workbench.

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5 thoughts on “Road Trip”

    1. Sorry, Dave. We were in Philly and only did the trek to Pittsburgh by train. Maybe next time. – Eric

  1. Old Sacramento and the railroad museum is a lot of fun. I’m really glad you finally got to see them. Lots of Nevada RR equipment too.

  2. Material handling publication is interesting but even more interesting is that it does not appear to deal with liquids such as oil or chemicals. I was particularly interested to see what they would have to say about tank car unloading facilities for non-petroleum tank cars, but doesn’t seem to cover that industry. Hmph.

    1. Hey Joe! The Materials Handling Cyc does cover lots of topics, but not the liquids you mentioned. It seems to be an odd omission, unless there is a Liquid Materials handling book of the same era. – Eric

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