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California State Railroad Museum 20th Annual Trainmaster Reception

California State Railroad Museum

20th Annual Trainmaster Reception

November 8, 2008

By Carl Morrison,
California State Railroad Museum turntable and roundhouse, November 8, 2008

The Invitation:


With Invitation in hand, and having taken care of the RSVP days trainearlier, we walked from the Vagabond Inn, Old Town Sacramento, through the parking garage directly to Old Town.  The first sight was the horse and carriage (below) and Old Town Sacramento to set the mood for this evening's rail excursion, banquet, and dance.

Sacramento Southern 1240 sat idling, ready to pull the "Champagne Train" (my name for it) on our 3 1/2 mile round trip, as the Invitation (below) says:

5:45 pm Travel down the Sacramento River and enjoy a glass of champagne.

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The Champagne Train ready to head south.
California State Railroad Museum turntable and roundhouse from the last car in the Champagne Train.
Volunteers helped us board before 5:30 after our check-in the Museum Entrance.
Upon entering the coach of our choice, we were issued a commemorative champagne glass.

Ample, comfortable seating welcomed us in the 3 coaches, and before long we had our glasses filled with either champagne or sparkling apple juice and we were underway through Old Town an south along the Sacramento River, and back.


During our return, we were invited to view the dining car in the consist.

Sacramento Southern 1240 had run around the consist to pull us back to the Museum.  It was perfectly planned that we detrained very close to the Museum, with 1240 and the first coach on the turntable.  Guests walked around the turntable and into the large round house locomotive doors to find a table for the evening's program.

Sacramento Southern 1240 on the turntable.
John Skinner Orchestra, with daughter at the microphone, singing Chattanooga Choo Choo.


6:45 Buffet Dinner in the Roundhouse.

Guests enjoyed Prime Rib Buffet Dinner in the wonderful setting of the Museum's Roundhouse with Western Pacific 913 and Southern Pacific 2467 as background.

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Buffet setup in front of the Refrigerator Car.

Yours Truly after the excellent buffet.
Paul Hammond, Museum Director, with the Museum Update for the year.
Pam Horan, Foundation Director gave an update as well.
Carl Bradley

Paul Hammond had news from the previous day, that a historic find of a trestle of the original transcontinental railroad that crossed China Lake and slough inlet to the Sacramento River. 

Challenging news in the past year including wind storm damage, proposed state park closures, I-5s sub sea level work closed the Interstate in June and July from the north causing the closure of steam operations on some weekends.  Also of concern were rising gas prices and the economy meltdown causing the legislature to meet now to make decisions about the deficit.

Positives news is that the Museum has 500+ dedicated volunteers on staff.  They have completed their 25th year of continuous excursion trains.  They have a successful display, "Women in Railroading," which will be open, upstairs, after the banquet, Community Outreach programs, and the Polar Express later this year.

They are planning a new museum combining science and railroad technology

Pam Horan acknowledged the helpers as well.  She noted that the Polar Express is already sold out.  The refurbished locomotive should be finished by Fall 2009, mentioned on their website.  The Museum now has 11,000+ members.

Carl Bradley thanked the museum's engineers who on this day were asked by UP to help start their locomotive for their local excursion.  Carl was proud that the Museum's 3 1/2 mile railroad's engineers were able to help the 40,000 mile UP railroad get moving.

Out of pure luck, we sat at the same table as Ralph Domenici, who has his collection of railroad depot and waiting room paintings and photographs on display upstairs at the Museum.  The Museum's press release about this exhibit reads:

This new exhibit specifically highlights original photos taken along the Southern Pacific’s “Coast Line” (Los Angeles-San Francisco) and “Shasta” (San Francisco-Portland) routes circa 1890-1910. When first hung in depot waiting rooms and ticket offices, these photos (some color-tinted) likely created quite a stir! Related photos were reproduced by the railroad in souvenir booklets and as postcards, encouraging friends and family “back home” to head West. The relatively new concepts of “tourism” and “vacation” were becoming a reality with rich and middle-class alike, and Southern Pacific responded by positioning itself as “The Road of a Thousand Wonders.” These images were an important part of the railroad’s marketing message.

Among the photographers of these images were William Henry Jackson, renowned for his magnificent images of the West, and Howard C. Tibbitts, employed for over 40 years by the Southern Pacific Railroad. (Tibbitts’ credits include Sunset magazine—itself started in 1898 by the SP’s Passenger Department). Among the more fascinating views is one featuring President “Teddy” Roosevelt and naturalist John Muir together in Yosemite National Park; also of interest are several views of California Missions in disrepair, prior to restoration efforts being launched.

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"Every time I find one of these classic drawings or photos, it is as exciting as when I found the first one."


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"The photo on the right shows the chimmneys, the one on the left they are missing because of the 1906 earthquake."


On our wall out, we passed the excellent Lionel o-gauge display



I was especially excited to see the 2008 Winners of the photo competition at the Center for Railroad Photography & Art.  Press release at right:

Beginning on Monday, September 1, the California State Railroad Museum will proudly display 42 award-winning photographs recently given prestigious Gold, Silver or Bronze Awards as part of an annual competition organized by the Center for Railroad Photography & Art. The theme of the 2008 competition was “a sense of place” as it related to the railroad environment and a total of 15 photographers located around the world were honored, virtually all with multiple entries.

Olaf Haensch from Hanixbeck, Germany, received the Center's 2008 Gold Award for Creative Photography. Four photographers from California were honored in the competition this year and include the following: Alex Ramos, Berkeley; Phil Brahms, Novato; Elrond Lawrence, Salinas; and Dave Styffe, Fullerton (Photos, Left).

In addition to being showcased in the special exhibit at the California State Railroad Museum through May 31, 2009, the award-winning photographs are featured in the September 2008 issue of Railfan & Railroad magazine.

The Center for Railroad Photography & Art ( is a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to the preservation and presentation of significant images of railroading. It publishes a journal, Railroad Heritage, hosts a web portal for railroad images, (, as well as hosting conferences on the subject. The Center collaborates with other institutions and scholars to produce public programs, promoting an appreciation for railroading’s place in America’s visual history and culture.


Cab Forward 4294

With a good view of the Cab Forward 4294 from the upper level, we concluded an excellent evening the California State Railroad Museum's  20th Annual Trainmaster Reception.

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