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Transcontinental Railroad Beginnings-Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad

Historic Site or District
Placerville & Sacramento Valley RR's Skagit track car for rides on the original first California train line. – Ray Anderson

ADA Accessibility Notes

Track cars are not accesible.

"We have the right to claim all of the Oregon Territory. And that claim is by the right of 'Manifest Destiny' to occupy and posses the whole continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us." --- John L. O'Sullivan, "United Stated Magazine and Democratic Review", December 27, 1845.

America's westward movement was rationalized as our God-given right and 'Manifest Destiny.'
After the Mexican-American War, immigrants looked further west across the Rockies and Sierra Nevada for new land. In 1848, at John Sutter's lumber mill in Coloma, California, John Marshall discovered gold, and soon the California gold rush would be the catalyst for building the first railroad west of the Mississippi River; the Sacramento Valley Railroad (SVRR).

Theodore Dehone Judah was hired by SVRR as Chief Engineer to survey and design a track line from Sacramento to Placerville, also known as Old Hangtown. Judah's preliminary surveys of the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains convinced him it was feasible to build a train line across the Sierra. Through his efforts, along with local politicians and businessmen, would lead to the creation of the Central Pacific Railroad (CPRR).

Making the trek to be part of the California Gold Rush was a tough and laborious journey, especially from the east coast. Travel to California was usually made by ship, down the east coast, around Cape Horn, then dead into the wind on a rough beat north to San Francisco; often a trip over 6 months long. An alternate shorter trip was sailing to Panama, then catching a ship to San Francisco. Trekking by wagon was perilous, no dirt roads existed, and crossing the Sierra Nevada was considered practically impossible.

The inaugural run of the SVRR was on February 22, 1856, from Sacramento to Folsom. As the Gold Rush continued, Placerville desired to continue the rail line from Folsom to their busy heavy freight operations. The Placerville and Sacramento Valley Railroad was created in June 1862.

Today, the Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad connects us to our Gold Rush past, preserving our timeless heritage that defines the pioneering spirit of the Sierra Nevada.

For more information visit their website -

The Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad is reviving a portion of California's first train line, from Sacramento to El Dorado. The P&SV Railroad is operated by volunteers and currently runs weekend track cars on the original track line from Folsom to the El Dorado County line.

The public may ride one of two Fairmont Speeders, the Weyerhaeuser Skagit motorcar, or Howard Terminal #8 engine, from the Hampton Station in Folsom to the El Dorado County line. The speeders are open air 4 and 6 person track maintenance cars now serving as passenger carriers. The Skagit was originally used by Weyerhaeuser Lumber until 1960 for hauling workers, materials and equipment on their 26 mile logging line in Vail, Washington. The Howard Terminal #8 locomotive is a 45 ton diesel - electric engine built in 1943 and used by the U.S. Army in WW II.

Tickets to ride may be purchased online or at the station. P&SV Railroad's remaining summer schedule is from 11 am to 3pm on weekends from April through August, 2014. For excursions in 2015, check PSVRR's schedule at:

There are two excursions: County Line Limited - departs on each hour, 10 am to 3 pm from the Hampton Station and ends at Missouri Flat Road in El Dorado County; the White Rock Express - departs on each half hour, 10 am to 3 pm from the Hampton Station and ends at White Rock Road.

Hampton Station is located at 155 Placerville Road, Folsom, next to the Hampton Inn. Nearest cross streets are Iron Point Road and E. Bidwell Street, just east of Highway 50.

Time Period Represented



The Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad is open weekends, 10 am to 3 pm, from April through August, 2014.

Seasons Open

April through August, and the weekend of September 27 & 28th, P&SVRR will celebrate their 150th birthday with a Rail Festival at the Hampton Station.


Fee to ride track cars - $6 to $10

Nearby Places