February 22

Train Stuff

Painting of Golden Spike Event

I haven’t posted on here for over a year and my six subscribers have been freaking out…probably. I bet they have all been sitting there for months, staring at their screens clicking refresh over and over waiting for something to happen. Well, six subscribers, today is the day you finally get your big payoff – a post about trains. Choo choo!

Why trains? Well, for starters, trains are how I get to Reno. That’s important when I’m itchin’ for a Picon Punch from Louis Basque Corner or an Awful Awful from the little Nugget.

Also, there are like a billion great songs about trains. Here’s one. And another. And let’s not forget this.

But those aren’t the reasons why I’m writing about trains today.

Today I’m writing about trains because the marketing department told me to. You see, Visit Sacramento is doing a monthly trivia contest for folks who receive the tourism industry “Travel Talk” e-newsletter…which has way more than six subscribers (at least 15).  If you are a member or the tourism industry – or just someone who likes to read about it for some reason – get in on the action here.

As you may have already guessed, our first trivia question went out last month and was about trains. Specifically, it was about who the main engineer was who designed the First Transcontinental Railroad and plotted its course over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Of course, his name was Theodore Judah and he lived right here in Sacramento. There is a monument to him in Old Sacramento over by the Subway sandwich shop. Maybe grab a six-inch Cold Cut Trio and check it out someday.

judah

The Transcontinental Railroad was a huge leap forward for our country and spurred drastic changes in science, culture and everyday life. And the whole thing was designed right here in Sacramento. Not a bad pull.

In fact, the course that the modern-day Amtrak follows is darn close to the original route of the railroad ol’ Ted Judah engineered. If you’re lucky enough to ride the rails from Sacramento to Reno like I do, you even get docents from the Railroad Museum narrating train history as you travel. They don’t even mind if you sit right next to them sipping a bloody mary and asking a million questions.

Sacrmaento’s train history runs deep and we are still one of the best train-connected cities in the country. We’ve got three Amtrak lines, the Sacramento River Train and the steam engine excursion train that runs from the Railroad Museum. That’s a lot of trains!

California State Railroad Museum

I should probably mention that May of this year marks the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad and there are all kinds of celebrations going on in Old Sacrmamento. And you can even see the original railroad map Judah made back in the 1860s.

Oh and there’s never a bad time to help share the story of the Chinese workers who came over a built the railroad, so here’s a link for that.

But back to that trivia question. The question was “Who designed the Transcontinental Railroad?” and the answer was Ted “Theodore” Judah….or just Theodore Judah for those of you who don’t get that reference. Anyhow, we got an overwhelming response (i.e. three people, we are easily overwhelmed). Congrats to Kathleen who won a gift card to somewhere real nice…I wanna say amazon.com. The next question is about to be sent out, so look forward to another moderately educational post soon!