Western Railway Museum
Sacramento Northern Railway Historic District
|Added to NRHP:||July 11, 2012|
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.
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 63, 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.
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.
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.
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.
|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||out of service||bad traction motor|
|Peninsular Railway #61||awaiting restoration|
|Petaluma & Santa Rosa #63||operational|
|Portland Traction Co. #4001||next car to be 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|
|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|
|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||awaiting 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|
|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|
|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
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
Summer hours: 10:30am-5pm Wed-Sund Schedule: Wed-Fri only interurbans 45 mins running every 90 mins from the track. Sat-Sun Interurbans (see above) and 15 minute streetcars around the property running (every 20 mins) Interurbans go out past pumpkin patch stop (gum grove) and towards (but not directly to) the river.
Regular School season hours: 10:30 am-5:00 pm Sat-Sun Everything running+tours (1 of carhouse 3 at 1:15 and 1 of carhouse 1 at 2:45).
- Exceptional notice: Tract maintenance on Saturdays during school hours are expected, note that trains will be cut short****
 See also
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Western Railway Museum|
- Official Western Railway Museum website
- Forty four color photos of WRM museum collection
- Information regarding Holman Car Company of San Francisco
- Petaluma & Santa Rosa, Combine no 63