Western Railway Museum

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Sacramento Northern Railway Historic District
Western Railway Museum.JPG
Western Railway Museum is located in California
Western Railway Museum
Coordinates 38°12′12″N 121°52′28″W / 38.20333°N 121.87444°W / 38.20333; -121.87444Coordinates: 38°12′12″N 121°52′28″W / 38.20333°N 121.87444°W / 38.20333; -121.87444
NRHP Reference # 12000402
Added to NRHP July 11, 2012
A view of the Western Railway Museum gallery

The Western Railway Museum, in Solano County, California is located on Highway 12 between Rio Vista and Suisun. The museum is built along the former mainline of the Sacramento Northern Railway. Their collection focuses on trolleys, as it is primarily a museum of interurban transit equipment.

The Western Railway Museum has the largest collection of Sacramento Northern Railway equipment in existence, and the museum also operates a line of the former Sacramento Northern as a heritage railway with scheduled excursions for visitors.

The museum is operated by the Bay Area Electric Railroad Association (BAERA), a non-profit organization.

History[edit]

The Birney and Magic Carpet cars
Key System 187 on the interurban track

The Bay Area Electric Railroad Association was started by a group of San Francisco Bay Area rail fans in 1946. The group was specifically interested in electric traction, more than main line railroads. Other groups such as the California/Nevada Historical Society usually had meetings and excursions on main line subjects. BAERA held monthly social meetings, frequently showing members slides and movies to the group. The BAERA also had excursions on the many street car lines and Interurbans in the Bay Area. As a result of an excursion over the Key System the Association purchased Key System 271 a wooden street car that had started out in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. Soon other cars were given by members or purchased for the Association. These included Sacramento Northern 62, a Birney street car built in 1920. The car ran local service in Chico, California until 1947 and had the last 5-cent fare in the State of California.

A number of passenger and work cars were obtained when the Key System abandoned operation of its last rail line across the Bay Bridge in 1958. But time, money and effort needed in constantly moving the equipment from place convinced the members that a permanent location for their railway museum was needed. Property was located at Rio Vista Junction, a former station stop along the Sacramento Northern Railway near Suisun, California in 1960. BAERA became a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational corporation in the 1960s, and created as its major project the California Railway Museum, later renamed to the Western Railway Museum (to avoid confusion with the California State Railroad Museum). Significant events at the Western Railway Museum include: purchase of 22 miles of Sacramento Northern in 1994, dedication of a Visitors Center in 2001, and starting in 2002, construction of the Loring Jensen Memorial Car House with attendant fire suppression system - officially opening May 2008.

The Association also publishes a newsletter called the Review.

Collection[edit]

The BAERA maintains a substantial archive of materials relating to street railway, interurban and rapid transit subjects - focusing, of course, on the Bay Area. The archive occupies a climate controlled space in one of the newer buildings.[1]

The Association owns about 100 pieces of railroad equipment, mainly from the electric railroads of the West, but also several Western Pacific Railroad pieces including two steam locomotives. Equipment is in a wide range of conditions, and some equipment is maintained fully operational. For example, Petaluma and Santa Rosa 63, Peninsular Railway 52, Salt Lake and Utah 751, and Sacramento Northern 62.[2]

The interurban car Sacramento Northern 1005 (originally Oakland, Antioch and Eastern 1005) has been a focus of restoration activity in the last 10 years. The BAERA operated many excursions in its early years, and this car was used quite frequently. It was often hauled around in freight trains to reach an excursion site, and sometimes suffered damage in these trips, including a badly bent frame in June 1962. The damage has been repaired and the car has been restored to its 1934 configuration.

The collection also includes a railroad line. This is a section of the original Sacramento Northern Railway from Montezuma (near Collinsville) north to Dozier, also a newer rail line west from Dozier to Cannon (near Vacaville). The railroad was acquired with rails and ties intact, however the electrification had been removed in 1953. The Association is reinstalling the electrification from Rio Vista Junction southward, currently reaching Bird's Landing Road, about six miles.

Interurban Car Condition Notes
Bamberger #400 awaiting restoration
Cedar Rapids & Iowa City #111 operational
Central California Traction Co #010 awaiting restoration body only
Key System #182 out of service bad traction motor
Key System #186 stored
Key System #187 operational
Oakland Antioch & Eastern #1020 operational former SN motor #1020 restored as trailer
Oregon Electric #1001 Champoeg cosmetically restored restored as trailer usable in train
Pacific Electric #457 awaiting restoration body and trucks only
Peninsular Railway #52 operational
Peninsular Railway #61 awaiting restoration
Petaluma & Santa Rosa #63 operational
Portland Traction Co. #4001 being restored
Richmond Shipyard Railway #561 operational
Richmond Shipyard Railway #563 under restoration
Sacramento Northern "Bidwell" awaiting restoration body only
Sacramento Northern #1005 operational recently restored
Salt Lake & Utah #751 operational
Salt Lake Garfield & Western #306 incomplete restoration
San Francisco & Napa Valley #63 awaiting restoration
San Francisco-Sacramento #1019 awaiting restoration former SN motor #1019
Interurban Electric Railway #358 awaiting restoration body only
Interurban Electric Railway #600 awaiting restoration body only
Interurban Electric Railway #602 awaiting restoration body only
Interurban Electric Railway #603 awaiting restoration body only
Tidewater Southern #200 awaiting restoration
Streetcar Condition Notes
Blackpool Transit #226 out of service bad traction motor
East Bay Street Railways #352 operational
Key System #271 out of service needs electric and brake work
Key System #987 Out of service bad traction motor
Market Street Railway "San Francisco" awaiting restoration body only
Melbourne & Metropolitan Tram Board #648 operational
Pacific Gas & Electric Co #46 awaiting restoration
Pacific Gas & Electric Co #63 awaiting restoration
Presidio & Ferries #28 awaiting restoration body only
Sacramento Electric Gas & Railway #14 awaiting restoration
San Francisco Municipal Railway #1003 operational
San Francisco Municipal Railway #1016 operational
San Francisco Municipal Railway #1153 awaiting restoration
San Francisco Municipal Railway #1258 operational
San Francisco Municipal Railway #178 operational
Stockton Electric #52 awaiting restoration
Locomotive Locomotive Type Condition Notes
Central California Traction Co. #7 electric box motor operational
Kennecott Copper Corporation #407 electric steeple cab displayed
Kenecott Copper Corporation #700 electric steeple cab displayed
Kenecott Copper Corporation #771 batter operated steeple cab stored
Key System #1001 electric steeple cab operational Example
Sacramento Northern #146 44 ton diesel under restoration
Sacramento Northern #602 electric box motor under restoration
Sacramento Northern #652 electric steeple cab cosmetically restored
Sacramento Northern #654 electric steeple cab operational
Salt Lake Garfield & Western DS2 44 ton diesel awaiting restoration
San Francisco & Napa Valley #100 electric box motor awaiting restoration body and trucks only
Visalia Electric #502 44 ton diesel operational
Western Pacific #94 4-6-0 steam locomotive displayed
Western Pacific #334 2-8-2 steam locomotive stored
Car Car Type Condition Notes
East Bay Transit Co. #1011 wrecker operational displayed
Key System #1014 wrecker awaiting restoration body only
Key System #1201 line car operational
Key System #1215 shop switcher operational
Key System #1218 line car awaiting restoration
Sacramento Northern #1 portable substation operational
San Francisco Municipal Railway #0109 rail grinder operational stored
Car Car Type Condition
Oakland Antioch & Eastern #2002 flat car restored
Central California Traction #1017 flat car incomplete restoration
Central California Traction Co #2001 box car restored
Central California Traction Co. #3001 box car restored
Denver & Rio Grande Western #63383 box car restored
Great Northern #X 344 caboose incomplete restoration
Pacific Fruit Express #20420 Refrigerator Car awaiting restoration
Richmond Fredericksburg & Potomac #2289 box car restored
Sacramento Northern Railway #1632 caboose under restoration
Sacramento Northern Railway #2314 box car awaiting restoration
Sacramento Northern Railroad #2136 box car awaiting restoration
Shell #SCCX 662 tank car restored
Southern Pacific #150340 gondola awaiting restoration
Western Pacific #10429 hopper car restored
Western Pacific #1025 tank car awaiting restoration
Western Pacific #741 caboose awaiting restoration

The museum today[edit]

Visitors can ride a street car or Interurban, picnic at the shaded grounds, browse in the Bookstore and view small exhibits in the Visitor center. Also in the Visitor center is the F. M. Smith Library and Archives which are open two days a month for research and browsing.

The museum is open on weekends throughout the year and for extended hours during the summer.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]