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California State Railroad Museum

Exploring the California State Railroad Museum

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Do you have a train lover in your crew? Then you should head to the mother of all train museums without delay! Located just a short drive from Hilton Sacramento Arden West in Sacramento’s Old Town, the California State Railroad Museum houses an amazing and extensive tribute to the Golden State’s rich history on the rails.

This isn’t some animated character experience where a lesson on manners is conducted by Thomas and Friends on the island of Sodor. This museum’s exhibits examine the impact trains had on the Golden State during the Gold Rush and beyond, making it accessible and interesting to parents and kids alike.

Imagine the expressions of wonder and excitement that will come from your young ones while exploring beautifully restored train cars such as a Pullman-style sleeping car, a dining car, as well as a Fruit Growers Company refrigeration car and a Railway Post Office that visitors can actually board. There are also full-size steam locomotives, diesels, wooden cabooses, and so much more to check out.

California State Railroad Museum - Fruit Growers Express Company Refrigerator Car

Exploring the Fruit Growers Express Company refrigerator car at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento.

Railroads, if you think about it, were America’s first really big business. They transported bulk commodities like coal and stone as well as manufactured goods that didn’t require careful handling. The arrival of refrigerated cars meant perishables such as fruits, vegetables, and meats could be shipped to wider markets. California’s rapid development into the sixth largest economy in the world was largely made possible due to the ability to ship the state’s products throughout North America aboard trains. New settlers were also deposited into the Golden State this way.

The California State Railroad Museum really delves into the state’s history with the railways including the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. Visitors can roam 225,000 square feet of exhibit space illustrating how railroads shaped the lives of Californians, the state economy and its culture. Knowledgeable docents are stationed throughout the building, often in the train cars, ready to answer questions and share historical accounts.

If your family is interested in experiencing life on the rails firsthand, the California State Railroad Museum also offers excursion train rides. Visitors board the at the Sacramento Southern Pacific station in Old Sacramento and ride along the Sacramento waterfront.

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Kristine lives in Mountain View, California, where she is the mother of a gifted girl athlete and a special needs charmer. Like almost everything in her house,…

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