All aboard ! Now this is a cool place!
This past weekend I was in Sacramento to see the Steve Miller Band. Our hotel was just a few blocks from Old Town Sacramento. Located in Old Town Sacramento is the California State Railroad Museum. I think the last time I was there was for my youngest daughter's third grade field trip. (maybe even second grade) She is well into her twenties now so that was a few years ago. I asked my girlfriend, Kelly if she would be interested in seeing the museum. I could tell that she wasn't really excited about seeing a bunch of trains, it was after all her birthday weekend, but she said sure let's go.
If you have never been to the California State Railroad Museum, you should check it out the next time you are in the area. This is a first class museum, one of the most popular railroad museums in North America. In addition to learning about railroading you will also learn some history of early California. The museum is staffed with several very well informed docents that are more than willing to tell you about the locomotives, passenger cars, railroad equipment and about life riding the rails.
One of the most interesting displays was the mail car and the gentleman hanging out in the mail car. His name was Lee and he had actually worked on mail cars back in the 60's. Now Lee could tell a story, and you could tell you loved telling it. We learned everything there was to know about working the mail car in the 1960's. Even why the postal employees that worked the mail train were issued handguns.
Another very cool display was the Southern Pacific Cab Forward Locomotive # 4294. This locomotive is MASSIVE. It is different from other locomotives in that the cab is in the front (forward). The reason for this was so that the crew did not suffocate in the many tunnels and snow sheds they traveled through in the Sierra Nevada. Did I mention that this thing was HUGE, the drive wheels alone stand just over five feet tall. Of the 256 Cab Forward Locomotives built for Southern Pacific this is the only one left in existence. SP 4294 was in service from March 19,1944 to March 5,1956.
For myself I was like a kid in a very large toy store. I have always like trains and the California State Railroad Museum is great way to spend a few hours in Sacramento. Now back to Kelly. While she did admit that she didn't at first think a railroad museum would be very interesting she had to admit that she thought it was Very Cool.