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Stateside: National Train Day

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

National Train Day


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The first annual National Train Day fell on a weekend. So I took a little trip on the Capitol Corridor, which runs from San Jose to Sacramento and is the third-busiest passenger line in the USA.


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As in other states, Amtrak—the national rail company operated by the federal government—partners with the state Department of Transport to operate what is essentially a commuter train service. The station in the photo above is at the Oakland Coliseum.


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Sacramento is the capital of California. Old Town features wooden boardwalks, and a frontier feel.


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The rail museum is just a short walk through a parking lot from the Sacramento train station.


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National Train Day is held on May 10, commemorating the day in 1869 when the golden spike was driven into the final tie (sleeper) that joined 1,776 miles of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railways, completing the first transcontinental railroad. The diorama above shows Chinese workers preparing to blast through a section of the Sierra Nevada east of Sacramento.


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The museum has several examples of the splendor that was rail travel in its heyday. Besides a Pullman sleeper car, there is a dining car from the Atcheson, Topeka, and the Santa Fe Railroad—made famous by the song of the same name sung by Judy Garland.


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The trip itself isn’t exactly scenic. Northeast of San Francisco Bay, the railroad crosses a bridge over San Pablo Bay and heads up the Sacramento Delta. In the photo above, the mothball fleet—aging decommissioned naval vessels—leak toxic substances into the bay. In the foreground is a combustion of new cars, each with white vinyl covers on its top surfaces to protect them from the California sun.

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rosalea.barker@gmail.com

--PEACE—

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