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California State RR Museum

California State RR Museum
Prakash Tendulkar June 01, 2008


I had not met Shri Bisht till June 01, 2008, although we had conversed over phone and communicated by e-mail several times.

I was supposed to visit LKO to visit RDSO and enjoy Nawabi meals before visiting DLW last February. The biggest question I had in my mind was, even though tasting Nawabi food was a mouth watering idea, will such restaurants let me in after looking at my dress.

Looking at my dress, even beggars (and TCs too) shun away from me thinking that I am not a right "Bakra" for them.

Anyway, Uncle Murphy stepped in and I did not make it to LKO.

Then one day, I received e-mail from Shri Bisht that he is in San Francisco Bay area and thus "nearer" to me. Well, "nearer" is superlative term. He is about 165 kms. in Rohnert Park from San Jose. Certainly nearer compared to his home in LKO.

California has plenty of tourist attractions, Golden Gate, Yosemite, Disney Land, Knott's Berry farm, 17-mile drive, Sea World, to name a few.

But for die-hard rail fans, California State RR Museum is a place to go. It is like visiting Kaashi, especially when the properties leased by UPRR are open to members.

So I suggested that we visit CSRM and he agreed.

With sky rocketing gas prices, my 8-cylinder gas-guzzler cars were out of question. So I borrowed 4-cylinder Toyota Corolla from my son for this trip. 

I left home at 08:15 AM and reached one hour and 45 minutes later to his son's place at 10:00 AM. On the way, I slowed down to see Amtrak trains at Jack Landon Square in Oakland and I was not disappointed.

Five minutes later, we headed for Sacramento where all major political players in California mess up our lives. Ninety minutes later, we were at CSRM. The clock at CSRM with Shri and Smt. Bisht posed for picture shows 12-noon. It was showing time correctly and was not malfunctioning clock.

On our way to Sacramento, we conversed a lot about railways in India and US. I am a good listener, something that I learnt after driving with my wife on next seat for 30+ years.

Entry to museum was a breeze. Just show your card and announce that you have two guests to zip past the California Park Ranger station.

The first item we saw was a painting made out from original B/W picture when two segments of transcontinental RR met to install golden spike. The copy of original picture taken in 1865, is mounted on podium next to it with each head assigned to a number and list of names corresponding to every number. Very remarkable indeed.

Next was SP # 4294, 4-8-8-4 cab forward, AC-12 loco. Most people think it is Mellet but it is not. It is simple loco. Ex-SP employee in cab was glad to meet ex-GM from IR. He answered all his (and my) questions.

Mrs. Bisht liked Engineer's seat but fireman Shri Bisht became curious to know who is disturbing an Engineer.

One thing we agreed upon is, NRM should consider covered area to display her repository. This will ensure that weather does not take a toll on display units.

As I had said earlier, it is unfair to compare NRM with CSRM. CSRM was formed and is managed by die-hard rail fans and not government body. Although a part of California State Department of Parks, it is fully independent, receives services form CA state Park Rangers, pays no taxes and has hundreds of volunteers and donors.

NRM is doing a great job considering the resources allocated to her. She is like, Dhobi Kaa Kuttaa, naa ghar kaa naa ghaat kaa".

Shri Bisht has agreed to convey our thoughts to Shri Tewari who heads NRM today.

I offered him a deal, please send members of Railway Board to visit CSRM and I'll ensure that they get Red Carpet treatment. They can meet my acquaintance, Matt Rose, Chairman of BNSF and understand how rail fans care preserve history. Incidentally, Matt started his career as a brakeman and switchman for the Missouri Pacific Railroad.

We went to take a ride on excursion train, normally hauled by ST steam loco. Again, tickets were for free as a member. As the train entered on platform, I was disappointed to see a diesel hauling it.

I checked with crew and was told that steam power had some minor mechanical problems and should be back in two weeks or so. I really missed that spectacular show by steam as seen at 

Most of our discussion on the way back home was, instead of re-inventing wheel, what NRM can do improve her display units.

Shri Bisht, although from Traffic Branch, is very knowledgeable person who has spent his career in RR and is familiar with technical things.

The only question that I could not answer, how was I able to drive with so may checks in system to prevent unauthorized travels in driving cab. The secret remains with me.

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