View Full Version : Northern California steam engines?

Nature Photo
11-Feb-2004, 19:24
Can anyone please point me towards a site in Northern California (I live in the SF Bay Area) where I could take pics of steam engines or period carriages.

It doesn't matter if they run or if they are basically left to rot (the latter would in fact be better).

Leonard Robertson
11-Feb-2004, 20:16
I don't know if by steam engines, you include locomotives, but here are a couple of sites I have bookmarked: http://www.steamlocomotive.com/lists/ http://www.ribbonrail.com/rrpro/database.html You may be able to contact someone via these sites who may help you. Leonard

Darin Cozine
11-Feb-2004, 21:20
Your in luck, the California State Railroad museum is located in Sacramento.

You can get full info at:


John Kasaian
11-Feb-2004, 21:50
Theres the "Blue Goose" in Yreka. Any farther North and you'd be in Oregon. Theres also the old Sierra Railroad which is now a museum in Georgetown, the "Skunk" in Willits, too. For NArrow Guage theres a railroad in Felton by Santa Cruz, and another just outside of Oahurst on the way to Yosemite. The Stockton Terminal and Eastern also has a steam locomotive they run on special occasions. -Cheers!

John Kasaian
11-Feb-2004, 22:08
Come to think of it, most of the larger towns along the SP line have donated locomotives or rolling stock rotting away in a municipal park. Across the border in Nevada(which is closer to you than Yreka or Willits) is the Virginia and Truckee. There is a museum in Carson City and a short line in Virginia City. Sorry for not making it clear, but the ST&E's locomotive is standard guage.

Steve Nieslony
12-Feb-2004, 10:58
A couple more options....

In Jamestown (near Sonora) is Railtown 1897, small rail shop and at least one steam locomotive. This location was used for many TV shows (Petticoat Junction) and Movies when a steam locomotive was required. I believe they are affiliated with the State Museum mentioned above, but they are photo friendly... I would imagine even more so during the week and off season. Scenic Gold Rush area... rolling hills and oak trees.

Outside of Bishop just a few miles up highway 6 (if I recall correctly) is the town of Laws and they have a small museum and an old steam locomotive.

I was fortunate enough to get to Ely, Nevada and was able to get permission to shoot the locomotives in the work shop 3 years ago. This is a longer trip from the bay area but makes for great opportunities, especially in the offseason. Don't have an URL for the Northern Nevada Railroad... sorry.

12-Feb-2004, 17:46
You should have no problem in the state of California if it is steam locomotives you seek. That state has the largest number of surviving steam locomotives in the union. Try this address. www.steamlocomotive.info/california.cfm

Hope this helps.

James: ex-locomotive engineer and 8X10 photographer.

Nature Photo
13-Feb-2004, 22:11
Thank you all for the great tips !!

Ivan Locke
17-Feb-2004, 16:33
Portola also has a nice museum - Highway 70, maybe an hour from Truckee if you are heading up there. Also I believe a couple steam locomotives do a few runs up and down the Feather River Canyon every year.

20-Feb-2004, 10:10
There's also a railroad museum right in San Francisco itself, out at the old naval shipyard in Hunters Point (no apostrophe on Hunters). It's called the Golden Gate Railroad Museum (www.ggrm.org). It has limited hours, due to the odd location and the fact that it's all volunteer run.

They have a gorgeous restored steam engine, and I think they're working on restoring another. Taking photos off the museum site is supposedly verboten because it's a former naval base, but you can work inside the fenced area with no problem. They also have a lot of other engines and passenger cars from different eras, in various stages of repair and decay, in paved areas in in the weeds. Very striking.

John Kasaian
22-Feb-2004, 21:32
FWIW, I just got back from Railtown, the old Sierra Railroad now state park in Jamestown on 120. The park isn't operating trains until April, but the shops and roundhouse are open and there are plenty of locomotives, rolling stock, and railroad "stuff" in delightful stages of repair/disrepair and rust. Off season and hardly anyone around----nice!

We had dinner at Josephine's Cafe Europa in Sonora(wonderful cream of red bell pepper soup on a rainy evening) preceeded by margaritas and Patrone shots at the mexican cantina just up and on the same side of the street from Josephine's(sorry, I don't remember the name of the place after shooting the Patrone!)