198 Wool Street, Folsom, CA 95630 916-985-6001

Big Day of Giving 2022

Please help support all your local railroad history organizations in the Sacramento Region.   The month of May is our biggest push for fund raising for our organization.  We have the Folsom Handcar Derby Fundraiser on May 14th & 15th and Big Day of Giving on May 5th this year. Many of us have possible plans for the 5th of May and making a donation on that day may require a reminder.  This year skip the wait till May 5th and please use the early donation link HERE to make a small/medium/large donation before the May 5th BDG event. 
Thank you for all your past, current, and future donations.
Help get your local railroad history alive and kicking after the
last dull two years.
Just a minimum of $15 makes a difference. Thanks !!
https://www.bigdayofgiving.org/FOLSOM_RAILROAD_MUSEUM Give Now  

Supporting the Sacramento Southern Railroad

By Jim Matthews, with information from Phelps Hobart and Greg Lukenbill. Photo courtesy Kelly Huston.

This article will appear in the upcoming Spring 2019 FEDSHRA Newsletter.  It has been released now to provide notice for the upcoming Sacramento City Council meeting

You might have heard that the Sacramento City Council was planning some actions that would undermine the Sacramento Southern Railroad’s expansion plans.  Railroad supporters need to be at the March 26, 5:00 pm City Council meeting, at the Sacramento City Hall at 915 I Street. 

As seems to be the case with all railroad plans, this story is complicated.  Here is a summary.

The Sacramento Southern Railroad is operated by the California State Railroad Museum and now runs the excursion trains a short distance south of Old Sacramento, almost to William Land Park, on part of the former Southern Pacific Walnut Grove branch line.  The Sacramento Southern plans new excursion train operations further south on the Walnut Grove line, in the area of the delta communities of Freeport and Hood.  Hood is 16 miles from Old Sacramento. 

The area of contention is the four and one half mile Sutterville-Pocket segment of this line in a primarily residential area between Sutterville Road and Pocket Road.  Residents are concerned about train noise and esthetics.  This Sutterville-Pocket segment is itself in between the area of current Sacramento Southern operations and the planned Hood/Freeport excursion area.  Some points need to be clarified.

First, this is not a “rails-to-trails” proposition – at least not now.  The City Council’s plan is to put trails beside the existing tracks all through the proposed Sutterville-Pocket segment “greenbelt” corridor.  The City Council is, however, planning to sever the Sutterville-Pocket track in a few places, mostly where it crosses major streets.  They will argue that rails can be re-installed at these points when (or if) the time comes to commence excursion train operation south of Land Park.  We would want to oppose any such track severance including street crossings so as to hasten the day when expanded excursion operation begins.  As a side note, Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad has been safely flagging trains across busy streets in Folsom for several years.  It can be done.

Additionally, contrary to some circulating “alarmist” stories, there are no future plans to operate frequent, full-size, excursion trains over the Sutterville-Pocket segment.  Such excursion trains, according to plans, would operate south of Pocket Road, between there, Freeport, and Hood.  The Sutterville-Pocket segment track would only be used to move empty excursion train cars and locomotives from south of Pocket Road up to Old Sacramento for occasional maintenance and back.  This is an important function, but could likely mean no more than two trains (one in each direction) per week in the Sutterville-Pocket segment. And, such rare maintenance movements could be scheduled to transit the Sutterville-Pocket segment at convenient times, possibly mid-day on a weekday. And, all trains that do go through the Sutterville-Pocket segment would be powered by quiet, modern, clean-burning diesel locomotives.

So that’s the story.  Railroad enthusiasts will need a presence at this March 26 and future City Council meetings to support the railroad and have and understand the proper information.  Also, make your views known to the Sacramento City Council members, at the following addresses:

All Council Letters are Addressed to: 915 I Street, 5th Floor Sacramento, CA 95814

Remembering Dick Hulbert: Friend and Mentor (1931-2018)

By Eric Olds

On November 20th, 2018, FEDSHRA and P&SVRR lost a long-time friend and mentor Richard “Dick” Hulbert when he passed away due to complications from pneumonia. Dick was a founding member of both organizations.

Born December 29th, 1931, in Marshall, CA, he developed an early fascination and love of all things electrical. With an inquisitive mind, he spent much of his childhood learning how to harness electricity for practical use. Under the direction of his father, he became well versed in the intricacies of storing electricity in and maintaining batteries, born out of necessity to supply his family’s rural home with power from a small generator.

In addition, Dick learned at an early age a “can do” attitude as a result of growing up in a family that owned saw mills where workers met daily challenges with creativity and resourcefulness. Both of these traits would serve Dick well through his life including his time in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Upon learning of the unreliability of the electrical grid where he was stationed and finding there was a generator and battery bank available with no one to run and maintain it, Dick told his superior officer “I can do that” and henceforth was given only one task… “to keep the lights on.”

After the war Dick worked at the family’s sawmill in Cloverdale, CA just after they transitioned from steam powered donkey engines to diesel ones. Experience operating the diesel yarder would again prove helpful when Dick later moved to Roseville and hired on with Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) as a Diesel Electric Locomotive Electrician.

With extensive experience maintaining and repairing locomotives at the Roseville Shops and occasional work out on the line as a troubleshooter on malfunctioning units, Dick developed a skill set that ultimately led to his involvement on definitive diesel train restoration projects in California in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Dick was instrumental in assisting with the procurement of the Napa Valley Wine Train locomotives and cars from Canada as well as spearheading the restoration to operation of multiple historic diesels for the California State Railroad Museum (CSRM) that have for decades hauled millions of passengers on joyful rides into yesteryear.

After retiring from SP in 1993, Dick continued his volunteer work at CSRM until he was invited by Terry Stefani to have a look at the then dormant Placerville Branch as a possible candidate for excursion operations. Dick soon became a primary advocate for its restoration and he invited long-time friends and partners who he had worked with over the years like Frank Fuson, Hank Stiles, Robert Miller and others to join him in Folsom to make a go of it.

Dick and FEDSHRA volunteers pose with the Skagit motorcar during its restoration.

As the volunteer lead for FEDSHRA, Dick guided the restoration of the Skagit and other motorcars as well as the work opening up the dormant tracks removing brush, weeds, mud and debris that had begun to swallow up the line. When I joined FEDSHRA in 2004 and subsequently requested the opportunity to start weekend workdays for volunteers like myself who were not retired, Dick was quick to offer to mentor me and assist in over site until established.

Dick and FEDSHRA volunteers perform maintenance-of-way on the Placerville Branch.

In 2008, the inaugural year of the P&SVRR, Dick continued to mentor me in assessing and procuring the railroad’s first locomotive for donation, the PACTIV 25 tonner. By then, Dick was slowing down physically and not long after that he graciously passed on leadership to capable others who could continue the work but remained as engaged as health and life circumstances allowed, physically assisting when able and always available to share wisdom and insight and his creative “can do attitude” with those of us carrying on the work.

Eric and Dick (in cab) and other FEDSHRA volunteers work on the PACTIV locomotive.

All of us who had the privilege of knowing Dick personally and working with him are blessed to have known a great man who embodied a rare humility and wisdom and loved inviting others to work with him and to guide them. FEDSHRA and P&SVRR are forever indebted to men like Dick upon whose work we have and are building a community treasure for new generations to enjoy.

Dick and Eric pose during on a motorcar run.

Thanks for your friendship and your guidance Dick!