Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Coast Starlight Train - We Begin in Sacramento.

I started my vacation by flying to Sacramento with my daughter-in-law, where we met my train pal that went with me last summer.  We stayed at the Vagabond Inn Downtown which turned out to be perfect for us.  It was only a hop, skip, and a another hop through the under pass to Sacramento Old Town!  Which was a lot of fun!  And only another hop, skip over to the old Union Station where we would board our train.  Knowing that we would want to spend some time exploring Old Town Sacramento we gave ourselves a full day to do that.  The Vagabond Inn's location is so convenient if you are taking the train, it is an older style motel, but it's clean, the price is right, and the free breakfast was varied and certainly filled us up.  The Daughter-in-Law and Train Pal used their hot tub at the pool that evening but since it was in the low 60's I thought it was a tad cool for that!  But they enjoyed it.
You felt like you just stepped back into time except for the cars.  One could get a good feel for the way Sacramento must have been during the Gold Rush days.  It was similar to being a Hobbit coming out of his hole because after we walked through the pedestrian pass-way under the interstate you were IN old Town.  Magical!
This building on the right contained the Wells Fargo Museum and the Welcome Center to Old Town.  Both worthy of a stop!

Most of the buildings had quaint shops on the ground floor and boardwalk sidewalks.  I don't know what the upper floors were on most.  We ate supper at a Mexican restaurant on Saturday evening that was on the 2nd floor of one of the building.  Another interesting thing we learned was that when it was first founded, Sacramento would flood very badly every year.  Not to be deterred, the city founders simply raised all the buildings, including the capitol building, 15 feet and put fill in under them! Quite the engineering feat today but this was well over 100 years ago and done with real horse power.  Amazing!  A few of the buildings (probably some of the last ones raised) had left their ground levels the same with a lower 'courtyard' effect and then built on more stories.  At first that puzzled us until we found out the whole story.

Sunday morning we went to the California Train Museum located in one corner on the Sacramento River in Old Town.  They say it is one of the premier train museums in the United States and after spending all morning here, I do believe it!  Don't miss it if you are in Sacramento.  And don't miss Old Town either!

There were wonderful displays of all sorts of early locomotives, including some Diesels.

A Victorian Passenger Coach.  Isn't it beautiful!

They had an old sleeper couch from the 1940's with the old style pull down upper berths, and it moved and clacked as you walked through it.  Very Realistic.  This kitchen was in another coach, the dining coach and the man is a really a mannequin.  They had a the different tables in the dining area set with a variety of samples of the different china they used to use on the various lines.

Did you know that trains carried our mail right up to the 1970's?  They sorted the mail in the couches and this was a docent who was explaining how they did this to my Train Pal.  I do remember when they elminated the "Air Mail" Class of postage.  Apparently that was when they quit using the rails to move the mail.  From thence on, it was ALL Airmail.

A display of several rail cars.  One Mr and Mrs. Ronald Reagan had dined in when he was President.  It was then the private home on the rails for a couple of wealthy people for a number of years.  Very Rich paneling and amenities.  They had tried to furbish it like the old President of the South Pacific had furbished his private rail car.  I believe maybe that was Stanford?


  1. I have not been to Sacramento and this was a very interesting tour. When I was about 14, I took a Pullman car from Riverside, CA, to New Mexico, and I slept in one of the upper berths. Pretty neat experience for a 14 year old.

  2. Thanks for an interesting post. Have you seen all the train cars in Douglas, Wy? You can go inside most, but they are not fixed up like the cars you saw in Sacramento.

  3. Judi - yes I have seen the train in Douglas. Many years ago and we could go inside ALL of them then. It was a lot of fun and the Pullman cars with the individual bedrooms was interesting. How they fit all that in such a small space!! The Pioneer Museum in Douglas is also another favorite and I try to get there every couple of years, usually during State Fair.