The Western Railway Museum has had a busy summer, and shows no signs of slowing down with the annual Pumpkin Festival on Oct. 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 and 28, and a contest to help name a new stop on its historic electric rail line.
Name that Station Contest
In late June, the Western Railway Museum added a new 1-mile segment of track to its interpretive ride on the historic Sacramento Northern right-of-way. Now, the museum is reaching out to the community to help name its new station stop.
With the new extension, the train ride now ends near Birds Landing Road, and the museum has built a boarding platform that looks out on the Suisun Marsh. Also visible are Suisun Bay, Mount Diablo, Mount Vaca, 50 modern wind turbines, the cities of Pittsburg and Benicia, and even Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, some 40 miles away.
“We used to stop just south of Shiloh Road. With the new track extension, we’ll get around a curve where the views of the Suisun Marsh and Mount Diablo really open up. It’s a great opportunity to improve our interpretation of the human and natural history in our area, from the native Patwin people to the first settlers, and to talk about what people see, what’s changed, and why,” Board Chair John Coleman explained.
In the “Name that Station” contest, people can vote for one of 12 choices, and can also suggest names for consideration. Everyone who votes before Sept. 14 is eligible to win four tickets to the museum’s popular annual Pumpkin Festival in October.People can cast their vote online at the museum’s Website wrm.org.
The museum opens at 9:30 a.m., and the first electric express train leaves the museum at 10 a.m. with departures every half-hour until 4 p.m. The ride on a historic life-sized electric train takes visitors back in time on a scenic 5-mile trip to Gum Grove Station, a wooded glen far from the trappings of modern life.
Local Rotary club members from Fairfield-Suisun, Cordelia and Dixon are rallying together to make the event a success, providing a hay bale fort, food, tractor rides, music, games and of course, pumpkins for sale, just in time for Halloween.
Admission to the museum during the Pumpkin Festival is $12 for adults, $11 for seniors (65 and up) and $9 for children (ages 2 -14). Prices include admission to the museum and to the Pumpkin Festival, unlimited train rides, use of the museum’s spacious and shaded picnic grounds and free parking. Please note that there are no advanced reservations.
National Register listing
The Sacramento Northern Railway Historic District was officially placed on the prestigious National Register of Historic Places on July 11, 2012, as well as on the California Register of Historical Resources. The district covers 277 acres, including the Western Railway Museum itself, as well as the 21-mile segment of historic railroad right-of-way on which the museum operates its historic trains.
Museum volunteer Stephen Greger spent nine months preparing the application, which is something like writing a scholarly graduate-level term paper. Historical research, scholarship, and a detailed inventory of historic and cultural resources along the 21-mile stretch of railroad were inventoried and described.
State officials have praised Solano County’s newest addition to the National Register. Milford Wayne Donaldson, the State Historic preservation officer wrote, “Placement on the National Register affords a property the honor of inclusion in the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation and provides a degree of protection.”
In a congratulatory letter sent to the museum, Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada wrote, “I believe this recognition will allow the museum to gain more public interest in the history of electric railways. The museum gives visitors the opportunity to understand the importance of different transportation needs in the past and present day.”
Senator Lois Wolk added, “This outstanding privilege highlights the extraordinary efforts made to preserve California’s railway history. I am proud to represent an organization as hard-working as the Western Railway Museum. The museum is truly an invaluable resource in maintaining and teaching history in California.”
The Western Railway Museum is located at 5848 State Highway 12 in Solano County, halfway between Fairfield and Rio Vista, and 15 minutes east of Interstate 80.
Regular admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors 65 years and older, and $7 for children 2 through 14, and includes unlimited train rides, picnic grounds and free parking. During the Pumpkin Festival in October, a $2 surcharge is added to benefit the local Rotary clubs.
The museum is open Saturdays and Sundays all year long from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Every day the museum is open, visitors ride authentic historic electric trains on an 11-mile round trip ride. The trip starts at the Western Railway Museum on rural Highway 12 in Solano County, originally known as Rio Vista Junction.Trains run at 11 a.m., 12:30, 2 and 3:30 p.m.
For more information visit wrm.org or call 707-374-2978.