Railroad Technology Museum
at the Southern Pacific Sacramento Shops
Behind The Scenes Tour
Invitation-Only Membership Event
Saturday, May 14, 2005
The below information below is from the printed guide provided for the
"Behind the Scenes Tour" of the Southern Pacific Sacramento Shop
on May 14, 2005 by the California State Railroad Museum.
The photographs were added by the TrainWeb staff.
Click on below links to view each set of photos:
Set #1 /
Set #2 /
Set #3 /
Set #4 /
Movie clip of a short ride on the new Transfer Table
A REMARKABLE PAST
Begun in 1867 - as construction of the Transcontinental Railroad
was under way - the Southern Pacific Sacramento Shops
were, for a time, the West's largest industrial complex. The
facility eventually grew to encompass 240 acres, all of which
were reclaimed from the marshy, swampy land just north of
For some 80 years, the Sacramento Shops (also known as the
"Central Shops" because they were the railroad's main repair
facility) were the Central Valley's largest employer. The City
of Sacramento's neighborhood's, its housing stock, and even
its public spaces have been influenced by the Southern Pacific
Railroad and its thousands of employees.
Steam locomotives, passenger cars, freight cars, bridges,
buildings, and all sorts of smaller items -- even engines and
machinery for the railroad's fleet of San Francisco Bay
ferryboats -- were engineered, manufactured and repaired at
the Sacramento Shops. The Shops' long legacy of industrial
innovation came to an end in 1999.
The complex in which you are now standing includes the only
remaining structures standing at the time of the 1869 Gold Spike
Ceremony, which commemorated the completion of America's
first transcontinental railroad. These shops, along with the
current Amtrak (former Southern Pacific) passenger station to
the south, are the only original railroad structures, standing in the
vicinity of Old Sacramento.
THE REMAINING STRUCTURES
The Boiler Shop was the location for heavy maintenance
and repair of locomotive boilers. The work of the boiler shop
ranged from resetting flues and caulking leaks, to installing
new fireboxes and totally rebuilding the boilers. A portion of
this shop was used as the Tank Shop for fabrication and heavy
maintenance of locomotive tenders. This building was completed
in June of 1888, replacing the old wooden boiler shop which was
slightly to the east (where the transfer table is today).
As with most of the buildings at the Sacramento Shops complex, the
Boiler Shop was expanded over time as more space was required.
Originally, it was 90 feet wide and 282 feet long. Extensions of 110
feet and 50 feet were completed by 1892, bringing the total length
to 442 feet. During the 1905 enlargement of the Machine Shop, the
Boiler Shop was also expanded, to its current width of 152 feet.
By 1917, the entire center of the Boiler Shop was torn out
and rebuilt to allow for installation of overhead cranes. Over
the years, parts of the shop were used as a Carpenter's Shop,
Locomotive Paint Shop, and in the diesel area, for locomotive
truck fabrication and repair. Today the Boiler Shop serves as the
California State Railroad Museum's Restoration Shop.
A transfer table permits the lateral movement of locomotives or cars
onto parallel tracks. These were typically used only in the largest
of railroad shops, where they replaced what otherwise would have
been a space-consuming and often bewildering array of tracks and
switches. Transfer tables permitted simplified track plans and allowed
for closer spacing of buildings. Here at the Sacramento Shops, two
different transfer tables once were in operation, connecting the Boiler
Shop with the Erecting Shop and the Car Shop with the Paint Shop.
Unlike a turntable, transfer tables do not permit the reversing of
directions for railroad equipment. This transfer table allows the
movement of cars between the Boiler Shop and the Erecting Shop, and
provides a connection with tracks leading to other tracks. The original
transfer table at this location was sold by the Southern Pacific Railroad
in the mid 1990s, and subsequently removed. The current transfer
table was constructed by the California State Railroad Museum. It was
completed and placed in service in May 2003.
This is one of the few remaining, original Central Pacific Railroad
buildings. Construction began in 1867, and the first portion of
the structure was completed in 1869. Here, heavy repairs were
performed on locomotives that were taken out of service. Finish
machining was also performed here on iron parts that came from
the Rolling Mill, Foundry, and Blacksmith Shop. (This structure ws
originally referred to as the Locomotive Machine Shop, as heavy
machine work was performed herein.)
In the Erecting Shop, steam locomotives would be disassembled
as far as necessary, including down to the future. The various
components were then either sent to other shops for work, or
repaired using the many machine tools set up within this structure.
Once this work was completed, the locomotives were reassembled
and sent back into service. Following the changeover to diesel
locomotives from steam, the Erecting Shop continued to be used for
major locomotive rebuilding.
Over the years, the Erecting Shop was expanded from its original
dimensions of 98 feet by 204 feet, to its current, massive size of 182
feet wide by 516 feet long. The exterior appearance of this structure
has changed little since its last expansion in 1905. The Erecting Shop
will become the primary display and exhibit gallery space for the
planned Railroad Technology Museum.
TURNTABLE & SITE OF ROUNDHOUSE
A turntable is usually associated with a roundhouse or an engine
house. The turntable is used to position the locomotives coming
off a single lead track onto one of several tracks radiating out from
the turntable into the circular roundhouse. The primary function
of the roundhouse is to provide storage and to serve as a place
for cleaning and performing light running repairs to locomotives.
As such, the roundhouse is the basic maintenance building for
locomotives while they are in daily service.
The original 1869 brick roundhouse -- which was located here -- was
removed in 1959, although today you can still make out the
"footprint" of the structure. An architectual rendition evoking the
theme of a roundhouse is planned to serve as part of the entry area
to the future Railroad Technology Museum.
OTHER REMAINING STRUCTURES
The Boiler Shop, Erecting Shop, Transfer Table, Turntable and
former Roundhouse site comprise the facilities that are currently
slated for inclusion in the planned Railroad Technology Museum.
However, several additional structures also remain at the site, all
of them slated for preservation and re-use as part of the overall
Sacramento Downtown Railyards Redevelopment.
Just to the east of the roundhouse and turntable is the Car Machine
Shop, which was used to make up car wheelsets. This involves the
pressing of the individual wheels onto the axles and attaching the axles
to the trucks. In addition, the outer, machined bands of a locomotive's
driving wheels, referred to as the "tires," were expanded over the
inner cast portion of the wheels here, and then trued on giant wheel
lathes in the lower floor of this building. The upper floor served as the
Upholstery Shop, making and repairing textiles used in the passenger
car fleet of the railroad. These included seats, bedding, carpeting, and
curtains. In addition, the Car Machine Shop also saw use for a variety
of woodworking and carpentry activities over the years.
Beginning in 1870, the General Master Mechanic of the shops
was A.J. Stevens. He held this position until his death in 1888.
Stevens designed and developed new inventions and innovative
components for locomotives in the early days of railroads in the
West. Plans call for an "A.J. Stevens Plaza" to be created in the
area between the Erecting Shop, Car Shop, and Blacksmith Shop,
as part of the entry area for the planned Railroad Technology
Museum. This area was once the location of the Power Plant for
the Shops complex. This steam-operated plant drove an overhead
lineshaft extending through the various shops, providing power
via mechanical transfer to the various tools by way of leather
connecting belts. A highlight of the future A.J. Stevens Plaza area is
the Three Story Brick Privy, built exclusively for the use of men.
The Car Shop was used for the construction, repair and heavy
renovation of passenger and freight cars that were taken out of
service. Cars would be disassembled down to the frame, and iron
and wood components repaired, replaced, and reassembled. To the
east of the Car Shop was a small transfer table for the movement
of cars between the Car Shop and the Paint Shop. Newly completed
cars were often photographed on this transfer table, whereas
locomotives were generally photographed on the turntable after
their tenders were attached.
The Blacksmith Shop, recognized for its concrete walls, was
built in two portions circa 1869 and 1872, with each portion
being a different width. The original brick walls were replaced
with concrete, in the late 1920s for the south half of the building,
and in the late 1930s for the northern half. At this time the
building was modified to become the same width throughout its
entire length. The original roof trusses were retained during this
process, therefore portions of the structure are believed to date
from the transcontinental railroad's completion.
THE RAILROAD TECHNOLOGY MUSEUM
BENEFITING THE COMMUNITY
The Railroad Technology Museum (RTM) was envisioned in the
very first planning documents created to guide development of the
California State Railroad Museum. Planning for the RTM began
in the mid-1980s, following completion of the 100,000 square-foot
Railroad History Museum in Old Sacramento (opened in 1981).
Intended to complement that facility, this adaptive yet historic
re-use project would benefit the Museum's commercial and
residential neighbors -- including Old Sacramento, the Union Pacific
Railroad, and the City and County of Sacramento -- and help spur
redevelopment of the Downtown Sacramento Railyards in a
positive, historically appropriate manner.
The Railroad Technology Museum will occupy the two
largest structures at the site, and benefit the community in
numerous ways. It will create an urban museum complex
contiguous with the Old Sacramento Historic District, itself
internationally known, and its location and appeal will help
foster surrounding transit-oriented development.
A WORLD CLASS MUSEUM
As the region's largest employer for many decades, the Southern
Pacific Sacramento Shops fundamentally influenced the development,
concentration, and growth of many ethnic groups in Sacramento and
the Central Valley. Cultural diversity and community pride will be
highlighted with engaging exhibits at the Railroad Technology Museum.
The spacious railroad shop buildings will house CSRM's collection of
historic locomotives and railroad cars, with formal museum exhibit
galleries included to interpret railroad engineering and technology.
Children will have the opportunity to explore fundamental physics
and engineering principles through hands-on, interactive exhibits.
Guests will have the opportunity to view ongoing restoration work at
the Railroad Technology Museum. To date, this important and unique
aspect of the California State Railroad Museum's work has been publicly
inaccessible. The facility could support curriculum-based educational or
vocational training programs for teenagers and young adults.
PRESERVING OUR PAST
A part of California State Parks, the California State Railroad Museum
is uniquely equipped to foster the preservation and appreciation of
California's rich railroading heritage. The Museum's primary mission is
to preserve key railroad heritage resources, and make them available
to the widest possible audience. Assisting the Museum in its mission is
the CSRM Foundation, a non-profit "cooperating association" chartered
to raise and manage funds on behalf of the Museum.
Currently showing at the Museum is "Cathedrals of Labor: The
Industry Legacy of the Southern Pacific Railroad's Sacramento
Shops." This exhibit includes a variety of artifacts, photographs,
drawings, and maps that together help to illustrate the architectural
legacy, unique heritage, and multi-faceted operations and products
of the Southern Pacific Sacramento Shops complex.
Additional information is available from the CSRM Library about
the Southern Pacific Railroad Sacramento Shops. Information and
photos about the history of transportation in the Sacramento region
is available online at
24-HOUR GENERAL MUSEUM INFORMATION
MUSEUM MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION
WIDELY REGARDED AS ONE OF THE FINEST AND MOST-VISITED
railroad museums in the world, the California State Railroad
Museum is actually a complex of historic structures and
attractions. Located at Old Sacramento State Historic Park, the
first Museum facility -- the reconstructed Central Pacific Railroad
Passenger Station -- opened in 1976. Just five years later, the
Museum's flagship exhibit facility opened: the 100,000-square foot
Railroad History Museum.
Attracting over one-half million guests annually, the Museum
has gained international fame through innovative exhibits,
community outreach, and its highly acclaimed "Railfairs," held in
1981, 1991, and 1999. Today, the Museum also looks to its future,
with plans well along for the new Railroad Technology Museum
at the historic Southern Pacific Railroad Sacramento Shops.
Operated by California State Parks with financial assistance from
the nonprofit California State Railroad Museum Foundation, the
California State Railroad Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5
p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. Widely
regarded as North America's finest and most-visited interpretive
railroad museum, the complex of facilities includes the 100,000-
square foot Railroad History Museum plus the reconstructed
Central Pacific Railroad Passenger Station and Freight Depot,
1849 Eagle Theatre, and Big Four and Dingley Spice Mill
buildings in Old Sacramento.
RAILROAD TECHNOLOGY MUSEUM
Behind the Scenes Tour 2005
Registration & Breakfast ... 10:30 a.m.
At registration, all attendees will be given a name
tag for a guided tour of the S.P. Shops which must
be worn at all times for identification and safety.
Your group designation is denoted by the colored
dot on your name tag. Please stay with your
Russ O'Day / Bernie Brown ... Blue
Brian Kanegawa / Bob Orr ... Yellow
Presentation ... 11:00 a.m.
Welcome by Paul Hammond, Director of Public
Programming and Pam Horan, Foundation
Director. Learn about the future of the Southern
Pacific Railroad Sacramento Shops and the
Museum's plans for the new Railroad Technology
Walk to Shops ... 11:30 a.m.
Tour the S.P. Shops ... 11:45 a.m.
Return to Old Sacramento ... 12:45 a.m.
Event Concludes ... 1:00 p.m.
Consider taking a steam train ride on the Museum's
Sacramento Southern Railroad today.
Safety -- Please keep in mind that we are visiting
a railroad yard and safety at all times is of the
utmost importance. You must pay attention to your
California State Railroad Museum
Click on below links to view each set of photos:
Set #1 /
Set #2 /
Set #3 /
Set #4 /
Movie clip of a short ride on the new Transfer Table
to see photos of the Sacramento Shops, inside and out, from the 2003 "Behind The Scenes Tour"! Further information about
the shops can also be found by following the link to the 2003 tour.