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Railtown 1897 State Historic Park

Sierra Railway #28 Steam locomotive at Railtown 1897

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, and its operating entity, the Sierra Railway, is known as "The Movie Railroad." Both entities are a heritage railway and are a unit of the California State Park System. Railtown 1897 is located in Jamestown, California. The entire park preserves the historic core of the original Sierra Railway of California (later reincorporated as the Sierra Railroad). The railway's Jamestown locomotive and rolling stock maintenance facilities are remarkably intact and continue to function much as they have for the last 100-plus years.

The California State Railroad Museum (CSRM), headquartered in Old Sacramento, assumed responsibility for Railtown 1897 State Historic Park on July 1, 1992.

The Sierra Railway served the West Side Lumber Company mill at Tuolumne. The West Side operated an extensive 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge logging railroad in the Sierras. It operated into the 1960s, and was the last of the narrow-gauge logging railways operating in the American West.[1][2]

Sierra Railway machine shop. Hand car and wheel press are in foreground. Shaper and engine lathes in background. Machines are driven by an overhead, flat-belt line shaft.

In addition to seasonal steam and diesel-powered train rides, the Railtown experience includes tours of the circa 1920s locomotive roundhouse and machine shop and related exhibits. Movie paraphernalia used in filming train sequences is on display.


  • Movie heritage 1
  • Proposed for closure 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Movie heritage

Since 1929, when The Virginian (the first talkie filmed outside a movie studio) was filmed with the Sierra No 3, the Sierra Railway properties have been a major resource to the motion picture industry. Sierra's tracks, locomotives and cars have long been seen on the silver screen; film credits include Go West with the Marx Brothers, High Noon with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly, 3:10 To Yuma (1957) featured #3 in the end of the movie, as well as Back to the Future Part III with Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. Television programs that regularly used the Sierra property include Wild, Wild West, Iron Horse, Tales of Wells Fargo, and perhaps most famously, Petticoat Junction.[3][4] The Sierra No. 3 locomotive and Sierra's coach number 5 were the Hooterville Cannonball.[3][5][6] Locomotive No. 3 was also used in Season 2, Episode 17 of Little House on the Prairie.

Tour guide and visitors in Sierra Railway roundhouse.

Proposed for closure

The Railtown 1897 State Historic Park was one of the 48 California state parks proposed for closure in January 2008 by California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as part of a deficit reduction program, though it did not close.[7]

In May 2011, California State Parks announced the closure of Railtown 1897 along with 69 other parks. The closing was anticipated in July 2012,[8] but due to the efforts of locals and enthusiasts, Railtown 1897 will be open indefinitely, and has received funding to make major repairs to the Sierra No. 28, a steam locomotive original to the Sierra Railway and a mainstay of passenger operations for the park.

See also


  1. ^ Ferrell, Mallory Hope, West Side: Narrow Gauge in the Sierra, pp. 1-32, 293-312, Pacific Fast Mail, 1979.
  2. ^ "West Side Lumber Company," Tuolumne City Memorial Museum Web site ( , Retrieved 9-22-2011.
  3. ^ a b Petticoat Junction at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ Bienick, David (July 1, 2010). "Movie Locomotive Restored To Old Glory". Sacramento, California (field report from Jamestown):  
  5. ^ Stein, Dave (2005). "Petticoat Junction Hooterville Cannonball". Retrieved 2012-01-28. 
  6. ^ "Railtown 1897 State Historic Park - Welcome". Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. Retrieved 2012-01-28. Known as "The Movie Railroad," Railtown 1897, its historic locomotives and cars have starred in hundreds of film and TV productions, including High Noon, Back to the Future 3, and Petticoat Junction. 
  7. ^ List Of Calif. Parks To Close In Budget Proposal
  8. ^

Warwick Frost (2009). 'Projecting an Image: Film Induced Festivals in the American West'. Event Management 12:2, pp. 95–103.

External links

  • websiteRailtown 1897 Historic ParkOfficial
  • California State Parks: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park website

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