The Steam Locomotive returns to Old Sacramento

Sureena Johl

GR 10 - Granite Rock Steam Looking Down SSRWe often forget that Sacramento was once the largest railroad shop east of the Mississippi River. Now after over 14 years of having an inactive steam locomotive, the California State Railroad Museum, located here in Old Sacramento, is excited for the return of the Granite Rock No. 10 beginning April 11, 2015 on the Sacramento Southern Railroad.

The No. 10 has called many cities home.  Originally built by H.K. Porter Co. of Pittsburgh, PA with the sole intention of going overseas, the No. 10 found itself in Tracy, CA at an Army Installation. Once the war ended, the steam locomotive was sold as surplus to a scrap dealer, and then in 1947 the Granite Rock Company bought No. 10. Under its new ownership, the Granite Rock No. 10 worked at Logan Quarry near Watsonville until about 1960. Then it sat unused and neglected for a number of years. Finally, on November 30, 1988, the Granite Rock No. 10 was transported to the California State Railroad Museum. And in 1995 the State of California (California State Railroad Museum) and Granite Rock Company entered in a contract to restore the Granite Rock No. 10 locomotive. It wasn’t until 1995 that the restoration of the steam locomotive began and in 1997 that it began operating in Sacramento. The Granite Rock No. 10 enjoyed 14 wonderful years operating in Old Sacramento until July 2011 when another round of extensive repairs were needed. Although it was no longer operational for the past four years, the steam locomotive was not far – all maintenance was performed at the Old Southern Pacific Shops by the California State Railroad Museum staff and volunteers.

Now, guests of the California State Railroad Museum have the opportunity to see a steam locomotive train here in Sacramento. There are only 1800 steam locomotives that survive in North America and less than 200 are operable. Take this opportunity to ride behind a steam locomotive while venturing down the Sacramento River on our historic railroad tracks.

Steam Engine

Special steam-related activities will be taking place inside the California State Railroad Museum – North America’s most popular rail museum – the weekend of April 11th as well. A few of the activities happening on both days include a steam locomotive passport scavenger hunt, Granite Rock No. 10 children’s book readings at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the East Theater, and “How a Steam Locomotive Works” presentations at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. also in the East Theater. Additionally, the Museum Store will be well stocked with Granite Rock No. 10 merchandise for steam lovers of all ages.

Once returned to service, Granite Rock No. 10 will pull the museum’s regular weekend excursion trains. Passengers will delight in the sights, smells and sounds of an authentic, vintage steam locomotive as it rolls along the levees of the Sacramento River for a six-mile, 45-minute roundtrip excursion. Periodically, Old Sacramento visitors can also enjoy special “Diesel Days” throughout the season when the excursion trains are pulled by two gracefully-styled and visually exciting streamlined diesel locomotives. Diesel or steam, excursion train rides offers guests with the chance to enjoy train travel from an earlier era. The train features a combination of vintage closed coaches with comfortable seats, and open-air “gondolas” with bench style seating. A First Class service is also available, with refreshments served aboard an air-conditioned, vintage lounge car.

Excursion train ride tickets are available to book online in advance at or can be purchased in-person starting at 10:30 a.m. the day of the train ride (based on availability) at the Sacramento Southern Railroad ticket office located on Front Street between J and K Streets.   All excursion trains depart from the Central Pacific Railroad Freight Depot in Old Sacramento (located on Front Street between J and K Streets). Departures are on-the-hour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the weekends the trains are running.

Effective April 1, 2015, regular excursion train tickets cost $12 for adults, $6 for youths (ages 6-17), and ages five and under ride free. Groups interested in reserving an entire first-class car for a regularly scheduled ride need to do so in advance by calling 916-322-8485. If summer temperatures reach 100 degrees or higher, trains may be cancelled for the remainder of that day. For more information about the weekend excursion train rides or the California State Railroad Museum in general, please call 916-323-9280 or visit