A brief history of the
Sacramento Valley Railroad
The Sacramento Valley Railroad was organized on August 4th 1852 and the land survey completed in 1854. Construction began on February 12th 1855 with grading on the levee at Front and L street in Sacramento.
The first rail was laid on August 9th 1855 and track reached Alder Creek on January 1st - a distance of 18 miles from Sacramento. By January 22nd track had reached Negro Bar and the first train arrived in Folsom on February 22nd 1856 - a distance of 22.9 miles.
From inception to completion in under 4 years!
This first section of railroad proved its worth, and other rail lines were built; Folsom to Lincoln (1861), Folsom to Latrobe (1864) and the Central Pacific Railroad coming out of Sacramento over the Sierra Nevada (1864-1868).
Back in 1856, the newly completed Sacramento Valley Railroad brought railroad shops, a depot and a turntable, to Folsom. The turntable was used to turn locomotives around for return trips to Sacramento.
The turntable's platform, or deck type table, was forty feet long in a five to six foot deep pit. The walls of the pit were reinforced with bricks made locally. The table was used to turn the locomotives for approximately eleven years when it was replaced with a longer "A" frame or gallows style of table. The new table was fifty-six feet long.
Doug Hays rediscovered the Folsom Turntable pit in 1975 but it was not until 1995 that it was properly unearthed, following the official incorporation of The Folsom, El Dorado and Sacramento Historical Railroad Association on January 1st of that year. To the delight of members and volunteers, a second turntable wall was discovered!
A replication of the 1867 “A” frame or gallows style turntable was completed in September 1999 with the help of Mr. Wendell Huffman and Mr. Kyle Wyatt of the Nevada Museum who supplied information and patterns, and Mr. Carl Borgh, owner of the Knight Foundry in Sutter Creek who kindly completed the castings of the iron parts.
This is the turntable that sits proudly today in its original position on the railroad block in Historic Folsom.
Although Southern Pacific discontinued use of their line from Folsom to Placerville in the 1970's, and for more than 30 years the line has been in a state of decay and disuse, it has never been abandoned.
The right of way is now owned by ‘The Sacramento - Placerville Joint Powers Authority,’ a public entity formed in 1991 for the purpose of purchasing 53 miles of the Placerville Branch right of way from Southern Pacific (SP). There are four member agencies of the JPA: County of El Dorado, City of Folsom, County of Sacramento, and the Sacramento Regional Transit District (RT). The JPA is funded by each member agency contributing an equal share towards an annual Operating Budget approved by the JPA Board.
The JPA purchased the right of way from SP in September 1996, it is an ongoing agency with the purpose of preserving the corridor for transportation uses and overseeing property management.
Ultimately, FEDSHRA envision both community and excursion rail services linking the Historic Railroad Block in Old Town Folsom to Latrobe and beyond.
We will continue to work in partnership with the JPA and with its support create a new and exciting future for this significant part of California heritage; with the same enthusiasm and commitment shown by Theodore Judah in the 1850s!
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