Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Delta KING and the Sacramento Train Depot - ALL ABOARD!!

We ate lunch at the Crab Shack on the River in Old Town Sacramento (Joe's?? it was some chain type of thing) and I ordered crab.  MY WORD, that is a lot of work for one little mouthful I must say.  It seemed like it took me all afternoon and we threw our 'trash' into a galvanized pail that was in a hole in the center of the table!!  Fine Dining at it's best?  I didn't take any photos here, I was afraid of permanently buttering up my digital camera!

After Lunch we went down to the Old Train in Old Sacramento for a 3 mile trip down the Sacramento River. It was a nice train ride and fun to see.  It was really inexpensive.  
The Car we went on. They all looked like maybe 1940's era cars?

The Conductors.  They said everyone, including the engineer, were volunteers.  The kids were having a lot of fun, so were the adults!  Well most of us anyway.  We rode in the car (above) on the way down but moved into the open air touring car on the way back.
The Delta King Stern Wheeler River Boat
Supper that evening was on the DELTA KING paddlewheeler.  It is the sister ship to the Delta Queen that now runs up and down the Mississippi River.  It was sunk in the Sacramento Harbor and quite the mess until the current owners purchased it, spent years refurbishing and repairing it.  It is now harbored permanently to the Sacramento Wharf and it has 62 hotel rooms on it plus the restaurant.  Maybe next year I will feel particularly rich and we can stay on the Delta King.  Note in the picture I am standing ABOVE the canvas tarped wharf.  Remember I said they had raised Sacrament 15 feet to prevent flooding?  Well my guess is I was taking this shot from about 15' above the water.

The ramp onto the Delta King.  Remember all those old civil war photos of riverboats and the slaves pushing bales of cotton UP a ramp to the deck?  Must have been about 15' to the deck because here it is pretty level and that's to 2nd level on the boat.

The Dining Room.  I asked, and yes this is how it looked in it's heyday.  Pretty neat huh?

C had a window seat and the river was pretty fast and rising when we were there.  They say the current is very strong and swimming in the Sacramento River is really not safe because it has a strong current off the Sierras out to the ocean.  Every year there are several drownings.  C was on a swim team in college and she said she was almost one of it's victims.  She never went back in the Sacramento River after that.

A Happy Customer of the Prime Rib (or maybe that red wine?)

The Sacramento Southern Pacific Train Depot

The Sacramento Depot was the originally built by the Southern Pacific Railroad.  In 1929, they commissioned John McQuarrie to do the the mural you can see in the upper right corner.  I'll tell you more about it later.
On the left, the blue screens are the departures and arrivals of over 40 trains a day plus numerous buses and the local public transportation system for Sacramento.  The Sacramento station is the 2nd busiest station in the  State of California and the 7th in the nation.  Of course, today it is used by Amtrak but is owned by the City of Sacramento.  There was one big waiting room.

Details of the arches in the ceiling with the windows.  They lined the waiting room area.
Here is L taking a picture with C looking on.  And what was L taking a photo of?

The Mural of Course!
Like I said before, the mural had been commissioned in 1929 by the Southern Pacific Railroad (which I am also assuming was the year they were completing it's building).  One corner you could see it was starting to Deteriorate and peel away from the wall.  I asked several Amtrak employees who had painted this lovely painting and they all said it was 'just old wallpaper'.  WHAT????  I knew that wasn't right and finally someone told me to ask the man in the baggage area.  He did not remember who painted it but at least he knew it was painting and there used to be a plaque but someone STOLE it. Now why on earth would they do that?  Sometimes the stuff people will do makes NO sense at all.

The Mural commemorates the laying of the first rail of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1863, which began in Sacramento.  An email to the Sacramento Historical Society revealed that a major upgrade (similar to what is taking place in Denver at Union Station) is planned to begin next year which will significantly change this old station, making it a modern transportation hub for the city.  Renovations do include the Mural but it is way down the list after much needed code upgrades to the electrical, plumbing, structure etc.  Everything it seems is important but I sure hope they do not forget this mural.

The benches were interesting with the Southern Pacific logo carved in the ends and HEAT Registers in the backs.   Now that was welcome on a cool rainy morning when we left! Another feature I hope they keep are these benches.  In fact I hope they do not change much at all.  I am SO glad I took the train out of Union Station in Denver, and now out of Sacramento so I got to see them BEFORE the renovations.

The Baggage area.  Be forewarned, few Amtrak stations have 'checked' baggage so the rule for the train is pack light because YOU will most likely be packin' your stuff your little ol' self.  I learned me lesson last year on that little tidbit and this year was much much easier as I had about 1/2 the stuff.  Like 20 pounds LESS.

"I'm Leavin' on a Jet Plane.....NO I'm Not.  I'm leavin' on a TRAIN.'

Next Blog, the Coast Starlight!!! to Santa Barbara.


  1. Thanks for the info and photos. The Sacramento station is really picturesque. I particularly liked the heat registers in the back of the seats. I have a high school friend who took AMTRAK from Oregon to Nevada and back and her connection included a 9 hour layover in Sacramento. Her memories of the station are not as fond as yours! Looking forward to the Coast Starlight run.

  2. I am so envious. I'd love to make this trip. Thanks for the photos and allowing me to dream.

  3. Rebecca - 9 hours on those seats would be torture! So I can see why she had no fond memories. She had enough time - I hope she got out of the station and over to old Town. it was only a block away.