Friday, January 27, 2006

Question about Sacramento Railyards

From: TBedros765@aol.com

Can you direct me to a concise history of the Central Pacific railyards in Sacramento? I have just spent two hours looking at all of the logical websites for CPRR history. I can find a wealth of information about the construction, but nothing about the railyards themselves.

—Tod Bedrosian

16 Comments:

Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Wendell Huffman" wendellhuffman@hotmail.com

I'm unaware of any history of the Sacramento yards, let along a concise one. (The shops are a different matter.) It would be a lot easier to answer specific questions than to try to write a whole discourse on the history of the yards. Too, you'd probably learn some things if you'd post your questions to the Yahoo group "sacramentovalleyrailhistory".

—Wendell.

1/27/2006 11:47 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: KyleWyatt@aol.com

The Sacramento Shops are often referred to as the Railyards these days.

Google Southern Pacific Sacramento Shops. A number of good items come up, including a draft history of the shops done for the Historic American Engineering Record a couple of years ago – one of the three historians that worked on the project.

—Kyle Wyatt

1/28/2006 12:41 AM  
Anonymous Mark French said...

I don't know if this will be of help, but I have an old copy of a hard to come by booklet intitaled "Golden Notes" by the Sacramento County Historical Society. It's Vol. 13, No 2 from Decenber 1966. It a brief history of Sutter Lake or what we all know better as China Slough. This is the area which the CPRR and later the SPRR finally filled in completely. I don't know if a copy is still available. It's does make for interesting reading though.

Mark

2/04/2006 7:13 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Thank you for your kind offer. I was able to dig up most of what I needed for the article on the CPRR website and others.

—Tod Bedrosian

2/06/2006 10:42 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: Hsweetser@aol.com

Unfortunately, the topic of the Sacramento SP yard, other than the shops, has been completely neglected by SP historians. The usual scenario of history writers up to now is that the Roseville yard, which opened in 1907, replaced the yard at Rocklin but two newspaper references I've come across indicate or suggest that Roseville primarily replaced the Sacramento yard for both switching and the changing of crews, with Rocklin being little more than a helper station at the time:

September 30, 1907 Oroville Daily Register - orders have been received by the Southern Pacific officials in Sacramento that hereafter all freight for East and South will be made up into trains at Roseville and not in Sacramento, as heretofore.

October 31, 1907 Placer County Republican (Auburn) (p.1) – official bulletin states that beginning tomorrow all freight trains will be run through Sacramento to Roseville, freight crews will be brought there and trains made up at that point. Helper engines will be kept at Rocklin and attached to eastbound trains at that point. [the Rocklin helpers were moved to Roseville in April of 1908]

To get factual information about the Sacramento yard before the time of the above articles would require a long, tedious look at decades of Sacramento newspapers (the Record-Union and the Bee) on microfilm. I can't think of any other route to go.

If info is wanted about the Sacramento shops, there was an article on the shops in the Fall 2003 (#77) issue of SP Trainline, the magazine of the SP Historical & Technical Society. Go to their website for ordering information.

—John Sweetser

2/16/2006 8:06 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: KyleWyatt@aol.com

Good question about the Sacramento yards. They often get overlooked and overshadowed by the shops.

For many years the locomotive "Gov. Stanford" was one of the Sacramento switch engines. It even shows up in an un-numbered Hart photo taken in front of the CP Passenger Station about 1869.

I do think that Rocklin was more than just a helper station in the years before Roseville was built. I note your newspaper article comes from after Roseville opened. That said, now that you mention it, there isn't much room for a sizable yard at Rocklin.

By the way, the Sacramento yard office finally closed down about 2 or so years ago. Until that time, the yard was still active, as the base for Sacramento area switching work.

—Kyle

2/16/2006 8:12 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Wendell Huffman" wendellhuffman@hotmail.com

> September 30, 1907 Oroville Daily Register – orders have been received by the Southern Pacific officials in Sacramento that hereafter all freight for East and South will be made up into trains at Roseville and not in Sacramento, as heretofore.

> October 31, 1907 Placer County Republican (Auburn) (p.1) – official bulletin states that beginning tomorrow all freight trains will be run through Sacramento to Roseville, freight crews will be brought there and trains made up at that point. Helper engines will be kept at Rocklin and attached to eastbound trains at that point. [the Rocklin helpers were moved to Roseville in April of 1908]



I believe – but do not know with certainty – that this 1907 date corresponds with the SP's finally moving through trains from R street (Brighton Jct to Front Street) to the East Levee (Brighton Jct to Elvas). They had tried to institute this change in the 1890s but were sued (successfully) by a property onwer at the east end of J street who maintained that he had given a deed for a levee (back in 1867-8) not a railroad. While the railroad was built on the East Levee during the course of its construction, those tracks were only used for levee repair, car storage, and for a time to serve a sugar beet mill. Much was made of this fact in various government reports--presumably to explain the use of foreign-made rail on that levee track. Because the old SVRR line from Front & K to Brighton Jct was used as a portion of the Pacific railroad (connecting the CP with the Western Pacific at Brighton Jct), the foreign SVRR rail was replaced with American iron.

THe lawsuit dragged on for some time, with the plaintiff always wining. However, since – last time I checked – trains were using that East levee, the railroad must have paid off the property owner to his satisfaction. Since this was out-of-court I have never been able to determine exactly when the railroad finally got the right to use the East Levee for their through trains. However, the use of Roseville yards for trains – rather than Sacramento – is a pretty good indication that the SP had secured the East Levee right of way and upgraded the track by that 1907 date.

—Wendell.

2/16/2006 8:16 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: TBedros765@aol.com

Thanks to you all for this great information regarding the Sacramento Rail Yards. My original writing assignment has been completed, but I am keeping your information on file. I may contact you in the future if I need more "Rail Yard Experts."

—Tod Bedrosian

2/16/2006 8:17 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: Hsweetser@aol.com

In a message dated 06-02-13 12:28:55 EST, Kyle Wyatt wrote:

> I note your newspaper article comes from after Roseville opened.

The October 31, 1907 Placer County Republican indicated that trains will run through Sacramento to Roseville on November 1, so this date could be considered an official date the Roseville yard was placed into operation. John Signor, however, wrote on page 27 of "Donner Pass, Southern Pacific's Sierra Crossing" that crews were "called out Roseville commencing November 4, 1907."

Actual use of Roseville began earlier than this. The October 9, 1907 Truckee Semi-Weekly Republican reported: The SP is rushing work at Roseville. Although not complete, the yards are used daily and for the past year many trains have been made up there.

A little-known fact (maybe "unknown fact" might be a better term) is that the original town of Roseville had to be moved out of the way for the SP to build the yard. The September 6, 1907 Ashland Tidings had a report (on last page) that the SP was buying Roseville.

Both the Sacramento and Roseville yards are ripe subjects for future research.

—John Sweetser

2/16/2006 8:21 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: Hsweetser@aol.com
Subject: Roseville and Sacramento rail yards

On the subject of Roseville replacing the Sacramento yard, here are excerpts from an advertisement in the October 19, 1907 Vacaville Reporter for the new subdivision of Roseville Heights:

"The railroad needed more terminal and switching facilities than Sacramento afforded." "All trains to be made up at Roseville." "Two immense roundhouses and a machine shop are in the course of construction."

Kyle Wyatt wrote:

I do think that Rocklin was more than just a helper station in the years before Roseville was built. ... now that you mention it, there isn't much room for a sizable yard at Rocklin.

In the 1903 map of the Rocklin yard on pgs. 82-83 of Signor's Donner Pass book, I see just three tracks that could have been used to hold freights, so I doubt that Rocklin had much of a role in the switching and making up of freight trains on the Overland Route.

—John Sweetser

2/16/2006 8:28 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: Hsweetser@aol.com Subject: Sacramento roundhouse

I'll mention the Sacramento roundhouse. Even though the roundhouse was part of the shops complex, it probably was important in the day to day maintenance of the locomotives assigned to Sacramento.

A report in the Bakersfield Californian of July 27, 1959 stated that the Sacramento roundhouse was going to be razed. Also, The Western Railroader in 1959 reported the demolition of the roundhouse (off hand, I don't know the month the issue came out. The California State Railroad Museum Library has back issues).

I wasn't able to find any reports in the Sacramento Bee around July 27, 1959 telling about the razing of the roundhouse, which I thought was sort of odd.

Bob Pecotich wrote in a photo caption on p. 10 of the article about the Sacramento shops in the Fall 2003 issue of SP Trainline that the roundhouse was demolished in 1943. In view of the reports in the Californian and The Western Railroader, this is a questionable claim. Also, in the technical drawings collection of the Calif. State Railroad Museum Library, there are two SP drawings (nos. CE 9737/3 and CE 9737/4) for a roof for stalls 21-28 of the Sacramento roundhouse that are dated June 1945. I suspect that the Sacramento roundhouse was only partly torn down in the 1940s.

—John Sweetser

2/16/2006 8:40 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Wendell Huffman" wendellhuffman@hotmail.com
Subject: Sacramento roundhouse

While not actually inside the Sacramento roundhouse on my third grade field trip about 1953, we stood at the edge of the turntable and watched a locomotive turned. The roundhouse standing behind it at the time was brick – and I am certain it was the original McCoy. I do recall an article in the Sacramento Union about its demolition, but my folks took the Union for a time – it may have been in that paper.

—Wendell

2/16/2006 8:45 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: Hsweetser@aol.com

Perhaps related to what Wendell describes (I am not that familiar with Sacramento-area tracks) is an October 1907 news report that indicated the SP would reduce freight trains on the Cal-P line with the opening of the Roseville yard:

October 28, 1907 The Humboldt Star (Winnemucca, NV) – "The construction of an immense terminal station by the Southern Pacific company at Roseville, Cal., with a 42-stall roundhouse and light repair shops almost completed, will perfect a freight transportation system that is a great improvement over the old way. Freight bound west from Reno will be made into trains at Roseville, for San Francisco. Leaving Roseville, the cars destined for the tide-water terminal will go through Elvis, a station east of Sacramento, and proceed to Tracy. The west Oakland yard will receive the shipments finally.

"Service across the bay at Port Costa on the ferryboat Solano will be adandoned for freight. The ferry is not large enough to handle the freight. So none of the through shipments from the north will pass through Davisville, but will come down on the east side of the Sacramento valley going through Davisville."

I think the last reference to Davisville in the above is an editor's typo and it should have been "Roseville." Whether or not these changes were actually implemented, I don't know (the article only stated these things "will" happen). Regarding the possible discontinuance of the ferry Solano for freight, it might be a good idea to look up verification in Solano County and Contra Costa County newspapers of the time.

When the Sacramento yard was still the terminal, these changes could not have been implemented because they would have resulted in most freight traffic bypassing the yard.

—John Sweetser

3/04/2006 2:51 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Wendell Huffman" wendellhuffman@hotmail.com

John, I agree that Roseville must have been intended. What this article is indicating is that freight from Oregon for the Bay would move over to the old C&O/CC line into Roseville – and then on south via Elvas and Tracy – rather than down the westside line to Davis and the port Costa ferry.

Very interesting information. Actually, trying to figure out just how trains were worked through the Sacramento area was one of my long quests, and this 1907 date is clearly important in marking a significant change.

—Wendell

3/04/2006 2:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Community Unites Behind Chinese History Museum for Sacramento Railyard
Friday, June 29, 2007
Senate API Select Committee holds hearing on future of railyard redevelopment

SACRAMENTO – At a hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Asian Pacific Islander Affairs yesterday, several historians and community leaders testified in support of building a Chinese American Museum at the downtown Sacramento railyard. The railyard, which is the same area of Sacramento’s first Chinatown, is a 240-acre site set for redevelopment.

“From the levees to the railroads, Chinese immigrants have significantly contributed to major developments in California,” said Senator Leland Yee, Chair of the Select Committee. “This hearing gave me and my colleagues an opportunity to hear the emotional stories of Chinese American history in California and demonstrated the need to build a museum to recognize the accomplishment and contributions of Chinese Americans.”

California is home to the largest Asian population outside of Asia itself. The rich history, culture and contributions of Asian Americans have played a large role in building this state. Because of this long history, California is a natural ally to most countries in Asia and a place of predilection for immigrants.

Representatives from the Sacramento Archives, California State Library, Ethnic Studies Department of the Sacramento State University, Chinese Culture Center of Locke, Chinese American Museum of Northern California, Sacramento API Chamber of Commerce, Union Pacific Railyard Company, Organization of Chinese Americans, and San Francisco State University, gave emotional testimony at the hearing.

Those testifying spoke about how Chinese immigrants, one of the earliest populations coming from Asia to locate in California, have been instrumental in the development of cities such as San Francisco and Sacramento.

Beginning in the 1850’s, Chinese immigrants settled on the Sacramento river banks along I Street from Second to Sixth streets. The newcomers called Sacramento, “Yee Fow,” or second city. This area along the river banks, also called China Slough because of the concentration of Chinese encamped along its shore, became the center of the Chinese Community.

“There was also a dark period in America’s past – originating in the late 19th century – where Chinese were treated as the scourge of the earth,” said Harvey Dong, UC Berkeley Professor of Asian Studies. “Viewed as the ‘Yellow Peril,’ every avenue was taken to make sure that they were driven out of mining, lumber, manufacturing, agriculture and even laundry work. In 1879, the California State Legislature sanctioned these acts be delegating ‘all necessary power to towns and cities for the removal of the Chinese.’”

“For too long the rich history and contributions of the Chinese have been forgotten,” said Linda Ng, President of OCA Sacramento. “The museum will highlight and celebrate these contributions as well as help educate the public on how the Chinese transformed California and our nation.”

“The railyard has the potential to be Sacramento’s crown jewel,” said Steve Yee, Chair of the Friends of the Yee Fow Museum. “California would be remised not to find a means to incorporate a Yee Fow Museum.”

In the coming months, Senator Yee, along with Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Assemblymember Dave Jones (D-Sacramento), will work with community members, the City and County of Sacramento, the State Parks department, and the railyard developer on specific plans and funding for a museum.

###

Contact: Adam J. Keigwin,
(916) 651-4008

7/08/2007 8:33 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Note: Adam J. Keigwin is Communications Director for California State Senator Leland Yee, Ph.D.

7/08/2007 8:53 PM  

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