The Placerville Branch (Train): Beginnings Part 1

by Placerville Newswire / Mar 20, 2016 / comments

Picture, New New El Dorado Depot.  This blog is about the Placerville Branch in Northern California, east of Sacramento, owned and operated by the Southern Pacific, The branch has some interesting history, including being the first standard gauge line west of the Mississippi. Predecessors included the Folsom & Placerville Railroad Company, the Sacramento Valley Railroad Company and the Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad Company, all incorporated in the mid to late 1800's.. These railroads  ran from Sacramento, passed Folsom and up to Shingle Springs for a total distance of 49.1 miles.

In 1865 this group of railroads, now under a corporate umbrella of the Placerville and Sacramento Valley Railroad, or P&SV, was sold to the Central Pacific. Shops which had been constructed in Folsom were moved to Sacramento and the 5' gauge line was rebuilt to standard gauge.

The final push to Placerville was accomplished prior to 1888, as far as I can determine.

I've collected several Sacramento Division SP employee timetables from the 30's, 40's and 50's. They show that the branch was officially 59.9 miles long, starting in Sacramento and ending in Placerville.  Ruling grade was approximately 2%. In Placerville SP  interchanged with the Camino, Placerville and Lake Tahoe Railroad, (CP&LT) whose earliest function was to bring sugar pine lumber from the forests east of Placerville, in the area now known as the Georgetown Divide. The big sugar tree stands were mostly harvested by the Michigan - California Lumber Co. The Mich/Cal as it was commonly known, provided lumber by which many homes across the US were built. The trees were huge and millions upon millions of board feet of it were shipped down the Placerville Branch and out to Roseville for transfer to eastern markets.

In ending, I'd say I was taken by the branch because of  the many different industries that lined its main, sidings and stubs over the years. I knew that if I chose to model the branch, operations would be interesting, that I could hopefully recreate the feeling and scenes of the branch since I live close by. And lastly I thought I had a good chance to provide an entertaining model railroad for myself and others to enjoy.

More about that next time on