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Sacramento Northern Railway
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The Sacramento Northern Railway was once a critical interurban link between California s northern Central Valley communities, the state capital, and the Bay Area. Running through orchards, farmland, swamps, and cities, this electric railway began its life in 1905. Service eventually ran from Chico to Oakland, but after the Bay Bridge opened in 1939, the 186-mile route started in San Francisco s Financial District, crossed the bridge on the lower deck, ran through Contra Costa County towns like Moraga, Lafayette, and Pittsburg, across the Suisun straits on the massive rail ferry Ramon (which could hold an entire train), and into Sacramento, the halfway point. From there, the train continued through rolling hills and farms on to Marysville, and finally to Chico before making its return journey. The Sacramento Northern soldiered on until World War II, but eventually the growing car culture, along with competing diesel railroads, undid this splendid line. Interurban passenger service ended in 1941, and the various lines were gradually abandoned or dieselized. Today a 22-mile segment of the route remains in operation at the Bay Area Electric Railway Museum in Solano County."
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Title: Books in Print Publisher: Michigan Railfan Magazine Author: David J. Mrozek Date: July-August 2009 SACRAMENTO NORTHERN RAILWAY by Paul C. Trimble. Published by Arcadia Publishing, 420 Wando Park Boulevard, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464. 128 pages, over 200 illustrations, acknowledgments, introduction, 6 1/2 x 9 format, softbound. Price $19.95 plus shipping. Available from publisher at address shown above, online at www.arcadiapublishing.com, toll free at 1-888-313-2665, and through local bookstores. Like many interurban systems, the Sacramento Northern had an interesting and colorful past. But what really stands out about this company was the unique physical plant over which its cars and electric freight trains operated. Between the main terminals at Chico and San Francisco, a passenger making the 185 mile trip would have encountered the following: third rail power between Chico and Sacramento, with trolley pole operation through the cities; overhead wire power south of Sacramento, with power pickup by trolley pole and pantograph; an interurban car ferry trip across Suisun Bay, a 3,200 foot tunnel in the Contra Costa hills just east of Oakland, and a Key System ferry trip across San Francisco Bay (or starting in January 1939, direct rail service from Oakland to San Francisco over the new Bay Bridge). During its life as a going concern and even in its after life, the Sacramento Northern has been a favorite of rail enthusiasts. Its rich history has been well documented over the years through the efforts of Ira Swett and other authors, but those earlier works are now long out of print. This volume by Paul Trimble puts the Sacramento Northern story back in print and adds more than 200 unpublished images into the mix from his extensive collection of SN material. Of particular interest was an outstanding image, spread across two pages, showing a 3-car Concord local passing a crowded bathing beach at Lake Temescal (near Oakland) in 1940. Unfortunately, the talented photographer that made this image (and several others in the book) was not identified or was unknown. The action oriented photos of the Sacramento Northern contained here bring this fascinating railway back to life for all to enjoy."

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