Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum


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By Dana Scanlon

A number of years ago, there was a man that had a small model railroad shop in "Old Town" Folsom.  I am not a model railroad person, but we found that we were both interested in local history.  When he discovered our mutual interest, he excitedly went to retrieve some snapshots of his project.  He had estimated the approximate position of the turntable for the Sacramento Valley Railroad (California's first railroad, completed in 1856).  The area was a parking lot at the time.  He got permission to dig, and that he did.  His snapshots showed the original foundation for the turntable.  He rallied the city fathers to promote the development of this historic site.  Sadly, he died before his project was completed.  The project is now complete.

The SVRR project was the reason for Judah being in this area.  One could surmise, that the SVRR was the genesis for the CPRR.

The turntable serviced the first passenger carrying railroad (SVRR) in California, and the west as far as I know; therefore, the turntable mechanism is relatively early, if not the earliest in the west. The discoverer of the turntable, now deceased, told me that the mechanism was essentially the same, and used many of the same parts and castings as does the the original turntables in the San Francisco Cable Car System.  He had planned to use parts from the SF system to reconstruct the SVRR turntable.  The "Turntable" now belongs to the City of Folsom, California.

Photographs courtesy Dana Scanlon.

> SVRR laid out by T D Judah. Organized June 1852; May 1854 Judah arrives in California to build it; Feb. 1855 grading begins; Aug. 8, 1855 first tie laid; Aug. 9, 1855 first iron laid; Aug. 17, 1855 first engine fired; Aug. 20, 1855 first excursion train; Feb. 1, 1856 completion Sacramento to Folsom. The Pony Express rode the train west bound when it, and the train, were on time. Have newspaper to validate: Sacramento Union, Thursday Aug. 9, 1860: "THE PONY EXPRESS arrived yesterday by the cars, about one o'clock ... The ceremony of breaking ground on the Eastern end of the great Pacific Railroad took place in Kansas, on the 25th of July ... " —G.J. Graves

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