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Trains just for fun

This page highlights excursion and model rairoad locations in the Contra Costa/Alameda area or accessable by an automobile day trip or overnighter from this area. Links to more comprehensive directories are provided below.

Tilden Park Steam Trains.

Passenger rides on a large miniature railway are provided for fee to the public. In addition, a nearby private club sometimes provides rides to the public on small gauge equipment. Smaller gauge equipment not suitable for passenger riding is also operated and exhibited.

Close by you will also find the Lawrence Hall of Science and the Tilden Park merry-go-round.

Niles Canyon Railway.

Pacific Locomotive Association, a private railroad historical society, operates standard gauge steam and diesel rail equipment over the right of way of the First Transcontinental Railroad through Niles Canyon.

Passenger rides are provided to the public every Sunday during the Spring and Summer and on the first and third Sundays of the month during Fall and Winter seasons. Trains depart form the 1886 Sunol Depot for their 13 mile round trip excursions between to Niles and back.

For current accurate information from PLA click here.

Telephone (925)-862-9063

P.O. Box 2247 Fremont, CA 94536-0247

Roaring Camp and Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad.

This site is a half mile walk from the picnic grounds at Henry Cowell State Park, located just south of Felton on State Highway 9.

Golden Gate Railway Museum.

Located at Hunter's Point in San Francisco. Limited access. Visits only by appointment at the time of this writing. Club is seeking members interested in restoration of rolling stock.

California State Railroad Museum.

Located in the Old Town area of Sacramento, California, their collection includes an articulated cab forward, one of the world's largest steam locomotives, used to haul heavy freight over the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Western Railway Museum.

(Link takes you to the California Railway List for current info)

5848 State Highway 12
Suisun City, CA 94585

This is located on a pleasant excursion from central Contra Costa. Drive out highway 4 to 160, then north to cross the Sacramento River at Rio Vista. Take highway 12 west and then north. Rolling stock includes some interesting self propelled diesel railcars, trolleys, and interuban cars that once rolled through the bay area.

(800)900-RAIL (Reservations only) Classification: Operating trolley museum and railroad museum with diesel excursions Location: On route 12 between Fairfield and Rio Vista.

Comments: Operates trolley cars on weekends on a 4 mile circle of track. Operates diesel excursions trains in Spring and Winter from Rio Vista Junction to Dozier station. Reservations are required for the excursion trains.

Portola Railroad Museum.

P.O. Box 608 Portola, CA, 961222 (916)832-4131 Many significant diesel locomotives, including a Union Pacific Centennial - 6600 horsepower in two engines on a sixteen wheel drive frame! Short loop public excursions around the yard are offered. It is also possible to get instruction and hands on experience in locomotive operation. Mostly of interest to the serious railfan and operating hobbyist, but worth dropping by if you are in the upper Feather River region.

A railfan's view of a trip to Portola and the Portola Railroad Museum, pictures, where to stay, etc.

Some lists of full size railroad information:

Golden Gate Railway Museum information about other organizations.

California Tourist Railroad and Railroad Museum lists.

Railroad-related Internet Resources - a big catalog of full size and model railroad links.

Thomasland Virtual Theme Park (TrainLand) - a great list of internet sites - check out the last run of N&W 611.

Model Railroading

Walnut Creek Model Railroad Society Home Page.

Located in the southeast corner of Larkey Park, their huge layout is operated for public viewing one day each month and several additional times during the November and December holidays. See their web site for schedules. This is a very impressive layout, with scenes and equipment modeled on the 1950's, when both diesel and steam locomotives were operated. Standard and narrow gauge railways, urban trolley cars, and an Alweg-style monorail are operated in a detailed scenic environment, with both night and day operation. Outstanding viewing access is available to the public. Available brochures map the layout and suggest interesting scenes to look for.

Vallejo Model RR Club (Current information maintained on this list - search for "Vallejo". )

California model railroad club list

Watch this space for more train and model train sites.

If you have comments or questions, mail me with subject "PlayTrains" at the address shown below in the graphic (this is to foil spambots, net spiders that collect e-mail addresses for mass mailings). Note that our politicians won't stop spam (they could) - why not?