On November 10, 1897, nearly 5,000 people turned out in Jamestown to celebrate the arrival of the first steam engine train. Jamestown served as the headquarters of the Sierra Railway transporting lumber, merchandise and people all over this region called Gold Country. Diesel engines took over the hard work of hauling freight for the Sierra Railroad in 1955 while steam engines took on a new life–offering passenger excursions.
Known as “The Movie Railroad,” Railtown’s survival has had a major assist from Hollywood. The first known filming was in 1919, for a silent serial called “The Red Glove.” Railtown 1897, the historic locomotives & railroad cars preserved here have appeared in literally hundreds of films, television productions & commercials. Still a popular Hollywood location site, Railtown 1897 has been called “the most photographed railroad in the world.” “Petticoat Junction,” “The Wild, Wild West,” “High Noon,” “The Virginian,” “Unforgiven” & the railroad sequences in “Back to the Future Part III” were all filmed here.
Railtown 1897 opened as a historic “living” museum in 1971 and now is an official operation of the California State Railroad Museum Foundation. For further train information or reservations, call (209) 984-3953.
Steam trains leave on the hour from 11am to 3pm weekends & holidays from the first weekend in April through October. In November: Saturdays only. Trains do not operate from December through March except for several holiday trains in December. The park is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Years.
Visitors can park free & check out the railroad gift shop & tour the adjacent passenger waiting room/loading depot. Fares for the 6 mile, 40 minute train ride are $6 for adults, $3 for childrenages 6 through 12 & free for those 5 & under. There is a fee ($2 for adults, $1 children) to tour the grounds & roundhouse.
Historic Railtown 1897 is located in equally historic Jamestown, California. For more on line information about Jamestown, please click here.