Sacramento Southern Railroad (Images of Rail)

October 31, 2020
Sacramento Southern Railroad (Images of Rail)

The Sacramento Southern Railroad was born into a famous railroadfamily and a busy railroad town in July 1903. The mighty SouthernPacific, which controlled the new line from the outset, built southfrom Sacramento along the eastern bank of the Sacramento River intothe delta's rich farmland area. At its zenith, the line was about31 miles long, serving the communities of Freeport, Hood, Locke,Walnut Grove, and Isleton. Trains on what became known as theWalnut Grove Branch hauled pears, sugar beets, asparagus and otherproducts from the agricultural region's packing sheds andcanneries. Competition from trucking and damage from flooding tooka severe toll on the railroad, and the Southern Pacific largelyabandoned it by 1978, but a portion lives on as a labor oflove.Author Kevin W. Hecteman is a volunteer on the “new” SacramentoSouthern Railroad, assisting with operations of the steam-poweredexcursion trains that venture south from the capital city. Usingimages and ephemera from the California State Railroad Museum, hisown collection, and those of other rail enthusiasts, Hecteman showshere a vintage rail line that still carries freight, passengers,and—a rarity in the railroad world—even its original name.