From the first moment you behold the handsome, fully-restored and full-size Budd RDC Railcar centerpiece, through your fascination with displays populated by genuine SP artifacts, to your breathtaking journey in miniature from San Francisco to the Great Salt Lake over might Donner Pass — the SP Railroad History Center will delight railroad fans, families, kids, folks who still remember the great Southern Pacific Railroad, and a new generation who will experience the excitement of discovery!
Click here for some of the highlights of the SPRHC experience!
THE BUDD CAR
As you approach the dedicated structure of the SP History Center day or night, you’ll see our centerpiece posing proudly from the corner windows — SP-10, Southern Pacific’s veteran Budd streamlined self-powered railcar. It’s bright scarlet “face” wears the famous “Rails to the Sunset” herald of the SP, and its gleaming stainless steel fluting calls for a closer look!
A veteran of the first round of “downsizing” SP’s famous fleet of locomotive-hauled passenger trains, SP-10 eventually found a home shuttling hunters, fishermen, and local residents from Willits to Eureka, California on the SP’s subsidiary Northwestern Pacific. The SPRHC recently succeeded in returning “The Budd Car” to California, after an epic cross-country rescue and return journey over the rails of the BNSF Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad.
As you move around the Budd Car, you’ll be surrounded by well-presented displays of SP historic artifacts — from timetables and dining car menus, to railroad switchgear, uniforms, photographs, even to the bells, headlights and whistles from famous SP locomotives.
Continuing into the brand-new 35,000-square-foot History Center building, and moving past the entrance to the well-stocked and SP-themed Gift Shop, interested SP scholars will be able to take advantage of the large Public Archives, Reading Room, and Conference Room. The SPRHC Archives represent one of the most significant and comprehensive publicly-accessible collections of Southern Pacific data.
THE DONNER LAYOUT
Near the SPRHC entrance, you’ll come upon the beginnings of a world class model railroad, starting with a complete scale replica of the former mission-style Third & Townsend Passenger Station in San Francisco. This fantastic structure, razed and replaced in the 1970s, once was home to famous SP trains such as the Daylight and the Lark, as well as being the beginning and end of a Commute journey to and from work for tens of thousands of Bay Area residents
With an available space of 120 by 180 feet, the highly details HO railroad in 1:87 scale will delight viewers of any aga with operating SP trains, serpentine tracks, familiar local railroad and topographical scenes, and impressive floor-to-ceiling Sierra Nevada mountain scenery.
Provisions for simply sitting to enjoy the scenes, passing through at your own pace, or viewing from a platform above the perimeter will allow the experience to be enjoyed by folks of all ages and abilities. The railroad is progressing under the accomplished direction of skilled and lifelong model railroad experts, and the track plan stretches from the Bay Area, up and over Donner and into the Palisade Canyon and deserts of Nevada, then across the Great Salt Lake to SP’s eastern Overland Route terminus of Ogden, Utah.
THE GIFT SHOP
After enjoying this extraordinary immersion in the scope and history of the Southern Pacific in miniature, you’ll exit through the Gift Shop, where you can bring home books, DVDs, apparel, miniatures, and more — meaningful souvenirs, and indisputable proof that SP Lives!