Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Special Guest Photos! California State Railroad Museum

Today I am presenting a SUPER MEGA-POST, featuring photos from the wonderful California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento! We have previously "visited" this museum months ago, thanks to Ken Martinez. All of the photos and descriptions were provided by GDB reader Alex Blasingame, and wow, did he do an amazing job! I asked him for a "few notes" about the pictures, and he wrote an extensive commentary that is considerably better than anything I would have done. I admit it. Be sure to check out Alex's web page,!

Alright, let's get started - again, all this detailed info is courtesy of Alex. He says:

These are some images from the California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacrament. Built from an old train roundhouse, the museum has an amazing assortment of locomotives, train cars, models, and other exhibits. If you love taking the Grand Circle Tour on the Disneyland Railroad (DLRR), this place will definitely be worth your time.

North Pacific Coast Railroad No. 12 Sonoma (the following two photos)

The Sonoma was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia in 1876. Here are some basic stats:

Stack Design: Diamond
Track Gauge: Narrow, 3ft. (36")
Wheel Arrangement: 4-4-0

This engine should look familiar to the average Disneyland Railroad fan. It's really the direct older sister to the CK Holliday, which was built by WED in 1954 and one of the first locomotives to ride around Disneyland. Both engines have the same 4-4-0 wheel arrangement with a characteristic diamond smokestack and filigreed square-shaped headlamp. 

For reference, 4-4-0 means the engine has 4 leading wheels, 4 drive wheels, and no trailing wheels. I've included a reference picture (below) of another 4-4-0 engine, the EP Ripley.

All of the locomotives on the Disneyland Railroad (other than the CK Holliday and the EP Ripley) were built by the Baldwin company after the Sonoma. Looking at this locomotive, you can see the design influences of this predecessor in these later engines.

Ward Kimball's Pacific Coast No 3 (36" gauge) N-C-O Shops 1910 Cupola:

This is a picture of a cupola caboose from Ward Kimball's Grizzly Flats Railroad, his personal backyard railroad complete with his own steam locomotives. He sold it to the California State Railroad Museum in 1979.

Atchinson, Topeka & Santa Fe No. 347C GM-EMD 1949 F-7A

This diesel-electric Santa Fe locomotive was probably still in service when Disneyland opened in 1955, the latest in engine technology at the time. It was donated to the museum in 1986, 12 years after Santa Fe discontinued their sponsorship of the Disneyland Railroad. Remember those Santa Fe signs that used to be on every DLRR, Viewliner, and Monorail station?

If you had a model railroad as a kid, you'll probably recognize the Super Chief war bonnet colors to which it was restored upon exhibition.

Image 9340 (below) has me (Alex Blasingame), my Dad (Kevin Blasingame), and my sleeping infant son (Jack Blasingame). It was a "guy's day out" kind of trip.

Lionel Train Exhibit

Speaking of models, upstairs at the California State Train Museum they have a gigantic Lionel train exhibit, complete with moutnains, tunnels, cities, and airplanes. And also model trains.

I knew about Walt Disney's personal love of trains, but what I didn't know what how a simple Mickey/Minnie handcar saved the Lionel Corporation from total collapse during the Great Depression. I also didn't know that Walt set up an entire Lionel train set in his office at Disney Studios before he built the Carolwood Pacific at home. There's a great article by the Walt Disney Family Museum about Disney's relationship with Lionel.

If you visit the museum in Sacramento, make sure to stop by the model train exhibit upstairs. You'll feel like a kid again.

Check out these two videos of the Lionel layout, courtesy of Alex!

Central Pacific Railroad No. 1 Gov. Stanford

The Gov. Stanford locomotive is named for Leland Stanford, former Governor of California and namesake of Stanford University. I didn't think this train had any connection to Disney, but after some digging, I found that I was wrong.

In fact, this is the engine taking on water at the same dingy depot where we meet the Tramp for the first time in "Lady and the Tramp". I'm not sure if Disney artists sketched the engine from a picture or made a trip to see the locomotive itself, but that's definitely it in the movie. One more piece of Disney ephemera in your pocket.


I included these pictures because they're pretty and seem to convey something Disney to me. I'll play a little "Kevin Bacon game" with each of them and relate each back to Disney.

Image 9344 (below) is a label for Sunkist Marvel brand oranges. The word Marvel immediately made me think about Marvel comics, which Disney now owns. Digging deeper, we can see an orange on the label. Disneyland was built from a bunch of orange groves. Deeper still, the Sunkist brand has long connections to Disneyland, wit the Sunkist Citrus House on Main Street, USA (now Gibson Girl's Ice Cream Parlor) and Sunkist, I Presume in Adventureland (now Bengal Barbecue).

Image 9356 (below) is a propaganda poster from 1885, convincing people to move to California and stake their claim. It immediately reminds me of the background story for Disney California Adventure's new-ish Buena Vista Street, where a young Walt Disney travels to CA in 1923 to make it big. The  colors, artwork, and message also remind me of the Carousel of Progress.

"There's a Great, Big, Beautiful Tomorrow out there, and it starts in California!"

(The next image) is a stained glass sign for the Southern Pacific Railroad. It's gigantic and beautiful in person. The sign reminds me of the dainty sophistication found in the very Victorian Plaza Inn. Nowadays, we'd have a gaudy, flashing billboard instead of t his gorgeous, handcrafted piece of art.

Alex included these next two photos with no notes, so I did a little bit of research so I could include them. If there are errors, it's my fault and not Alex's!

Southern Pacific 2467

This massive engine is one of 15 heavy 4-6-2 Pacific-type steam locomotives built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1921. 2467 was retired from service in 1958. It belongs to the Pacific Locomotive Association, and is on loan to the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. Out of these Pacific-type locomotives, two others survive - all are in California.

Virginia and Truckee Railroad No. 13 Empire

The Empire entered service in 1873 and hauled freight for many years. At some point its number was changed to 15 because engine crews thought that 13 was unlucky! It was retired in 1918, and after years of neglect and changing ownership, it was moved to the California State Railroad Museum in 1976, where it has been beautifully restored. In this photo we get a good look at the tender, which carries fuel and water for the locomotive.

Alex sums things up by saying: I guess that's part of what attracts me to most things at both the California Railroad Museum and Disneyland; they're both handcrafted pieces of art. Each locomotive, at either location, was built intentionally and by hand; each piece thought out, forged, and implemented. Where function allows, the trains are adorned with paint applied with an almost loving hand. It reminds me of Mary Blair or Mac Davis bringing inanimate objects to life with finely shaped curves and colors.

I couldn't have said it better myself! MANY THANKS to Alex Blasingame for sharing these wonderful photos and so much awesome information from the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. And once again, please check out his site,!


Nanook said...


Man 'o man - these are all just a swell bunch of images - and info.

(I wonder why California either abandoned, or never adopted, the "Cornucopia of the World" slogan). It seems so perfect.

And I want a more house-friendly sized Southern Pacific Lines sign. It's as beautiful as the engines.

Thanks so much for sharing.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Wow what an awesome post! Pictures and video to go along with detailed commentary. Sounds like a very fun (guys kinda) museum day. Thanks for sharing.

Steve DeGaetano said...

Thank you Alex for sharing these very nice photos and videos! Sounds like you guys had a great time. Your descriptions are much appreciated as well. The Sacramento Railroad Museum is so nice that even people with no interest in trains will have a great time.

A quick point: The locomotive in the Lady and the Tramp still is not based on the Governor Stanford. It is simply a drawing of a very-typical locomotive of the period. There are too many details that are different: The smoke stacks are different, the cab windows are different (the Stanford has a large side window with a smaller one towards the front); the domes and cylinders are brass on the drawing; and the air compressor (cylindrical device in front of the cab) is on the opposite side on the drawing. There are other differences as well.

I agree about the level of artistic embellishment on these engines. When one considers they were simply the heavy industrial machinery of their day, the amount of lovingly-applied striping and paintwork is astounding. But back then, the engines were often permanently assigned to their engineers—who took great pride in “pimping out” their charges!

Thanks again for sharing your trip with us.

K. Martinez said...

Wow!! This is one fantastic post. The ATSF GM-EMD F-7A loco is a beauty. I've always loved the war bonnet colors paint scheme on their diesel locos. I've been to this museum before and absolutely loved it and plan on going again soon. Your post has just motivated me to do so. Beautiful job, Alex! Thanks for sharing.

Chuck said...

Great research on a great topic, which further whets my desire to visit.

Thanks for sharing, Alex!

MRaymond said...

One day I would like to visit the museum. I've seen only a few live steam locomotives in action and most of those are Disney engines. I remember going to watch the Freedom Train wiz by in the 70's, and a trip to Durango CO in the 80's.
My dad and grandfather always told stories about the 'olden days' when steam was king. The sounds, the smells, etc. Great post and commentary.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nano, I’m guessing that developers who wanted to lure people to California didn’t want it to be known just for farming. Who knows! Yes, I love that Southern Pacific sign as well!

Alonzo, Alex made this one easy for me.

Steve DeGaetano, I looked to see if there was anything online about the Gov. Stanford being tied to “Lady and the Tramp”, and THIS PAGE does say that it “makes and appearance” in the movie. If the info is not correct, I wonder how it got out into the world? I also have to admit wondering why it would be based on a train way up in Sacramento, when they could have just walked over to Travel Town in Griffith Park to see all kinds of old locomotives.

K. Martinez, I agree with you; I am more of a fan of the old steam locomotives, but that diesel-electric is a beauty. The bold colors are just fantastic.

Chuck, I really do want to see that museum, as well as the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, CA.

MRaymond, the “Freedom Train”! My family visited it when we lived in Pennsylvania. The main thing that impressed me was the size of some shoes that belonged to a basketball player. And Lincoln’s hat!

Melissa said...

Now I've got the MST3K Train Song stuck in my head.

Anonymous said...

What an excellent post on a favorite destination.

When my kids were very small, this museum was on the travel route and made a good breaking point on the road trip up and down the Valley. We visited regularly for years until we moved and took different routes.

I've been thinking about a return visit, this is a long list of reasons why.

Thank you very much indeed!


Steve DeGaetano said...

It's a good question, Major! I often have to take a lot of what I read on the Internet with a grain of salt. You're right--there is an old 4-4-0 at Travel Town. Or they could have borrowed books from Ward. Heck, they also could have simply used the Lilly Belle!

I think if you showed a photo of the Gov. Stanford and that image from LatT to anyone with a working knowledge of steam locomotives, that person would find nothing but the most basic similarities in common (i.e., same 4-4-0 wheel arrangement). Of course, there were 25,000 4-4-0s built--and they very often had very similar features.

This is simply the case of someone thinking the two engines looked alike, and therefore the engine in LatT must have been based directly on the Gov. Stanford. This isn't unusual: A poster of Preston Nirattisai's drawings of the Disneyland locomotives is in use by Imagineering in order to help the Imagineers understand the differences in the engines--even Disney's own folks think all five DRR engines look alike!

Curtis_F said...

Very nicely written, though I have to say that I believe Steve is quite correct. The locomotive in the still from Lady and the Tramp looks like a very generic locomotive to my eyes as well. If I was going to venture any kid of guess I would look at, as has been noted already, the Stockton Terminal & East #1 at The Travel Town Museum. The locomotive was put on display there in 1953 and the movie came out in 1955 which means it would have been a readily accessible reference when the movie was being made.

After reading the article I'm more concerned with how the Holiday is compared to the Sonoma. It goes so far as to call the Holiday a direct sibling.

Nay Nay! I may catch flack from this, but it is my personal opinion that Sonoma is a much better designed locomotive. It sports the latest design know how of the Baldwin Locomotive Works of 1874. A design that was standard until 1880, but still built upon special order request into the 1930s. The Holiday is, again just my personal opinion, poorly patterned after 1850s & 1860s design standards. There is no relation between the two aside from being 36" gauge 4-4-0s built in the USA. They're more like cousins fourteen or fifteen times removed.



Alex Blasingame said...

Thanks to Major for posting these pics and for all the great comments! I don't know the real facts about the Gov Stanford/Lady and the Tramp connection, but it makes a good story. It's nice to hear that more people will visit the museum in the future.

Anonymous said...


Anything can be posted on the internet with impunity whether it be true or not. The most common internet fact bender is Wikipedia from which the unwary masses draw their conclusions. Case in point, Wikipedia currently points out Walt Disney was an 11th degree Mason and member of the Illuminati. It also states he was a Jew hater even though the animator who made that statement has recanted his statement. People still believe MMR and polio causes Autism due to a malcontent doctor in England who wants to bring back disease to the world. Wikipedia is so full of misinformation as to be unreliable. Go ahead and wipe out the Civil War from American history, just erase it and then say it never happened and watch the band wagon fill. Iran runs with the genocide of the Jewish people was not real. There is no filter on the internet and most sites don't require fact checking before posting. "it makes a good story". Yes it does, though possibly not factual and not as damaging to the world at false claims against medicine. Alex regardless, it is a very nice article.