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Sacramento RiverTrain

UPCOMING EVENTS

The Sacramento RiverTrain rail line spans 28 miles from West Sacramento to Woodland, through open farmland, over the Fremont Bridge, and through the Yolo County Wildlife Refuge. At a leisurely 10 to 15 miles per hour, the round trip can take as long as three hours, which gives us plenty of time for a cozy dinner, social wine or beer tasting event, or even an entertaining show. We hope you’ll find something new to try in an unexpected place.

 

Kids have an instinctive love for adventure, and we love to host them as much as they love to ride our trains. So we’ve crafted many of our experiences just for them, making memories each season with our smallest passengers. If you’re looking for new things to do with little ones, take them on a one-day vacation in their own hometown.

 

Life is all about the journey, not the destination, so sit back and enjoy the ride.

 

We’ll see you soon!

Launched in July 2005, the Sacramento RiverTrain is one of the nation’s newest dinner trains. Trips aboard our train feature food and entertainment while you roll through the countryside. While the RiverTrain is new, the equipment and railroad have a long history.

 

The Sacramento RiverTrain operates on the 16-mile “Woodland Branch” between Woodland and West Sacramento, CA. The Woodland Branch was constructed in 1911 by the Northern Electric Co. as the Sacramento and Woodland Railroad to link the fertile farmlands of Yolo County with the developing city of Sacramento. The Northern Electric was integrated into the Sacramento Northern Railway and the line was operated for transit and freight for many years. At its peak, the Woodland Branch offered eight roundtrip passenger trains daily from Woodland to Sacramento. The line was electrified by third rail, except in Woodland where overhead power was used.

 

In 1940 passenger operations came to an end with the advent of World War II. Powered now by diesel locomotives, the Sacramento Northern Railway continued to move a high volume of freight over the line up until the early 1960’s. Slowly, the various railspurs were torn up along the route and eventually only the industries in Woodland remained. Soon those started to disappear as well, until the Woodland Branch became a mere shadow of its former self. The Sacramento Northern was acquired by the Western Pacific Railroad which in turn was merged with the Union Pacific in 1984.

 

The Yolo Shortline Railroad Company was created in 1991 and purchased the Woodland Branch from the Union Pacific. The newly formed railroad was managed by its president and primary owner Dave Magaw. The Yolo Shortline was named after Yolo County in which it serves. " Yolo" is an Indian name for the area. In addition to the Woodland Branch, the Yolo also purchased an 11-mile Clarksburg Branch between West Sacramento and Clarksburg . A portion of this line was originally developed around 1910 by the Oakland Antioch and Eastern Railway, which was an interurban railroad. It was later acquired by the Sacramento Northern Railway and extended to Oxford , CA in the 1920's for freight hauling. In 1985, the portion of this line from Clarksburg to Oxford was abandoned and removed. The remainder stayed in service to an industrial customer in Clarksburg.

 

The Yolo Shortline is primarily a freight hauler and the primary products transported are agriculturally related. While some freight traffic is intra-state, most of Yolo Shortline's freight traffic originates or terminates out-of-state. The railroad also managed rail traffic for the Port of Sacramento and McClellan Air Force Base. For several years, the Yolo Shortline operated an excursion train with trips on both the Woodland and Clarksburg Branches. Among other trips, the train had a popular Great Train Robbery with a big shoot ‘em up and picnic lunch by the Sacramento River.

 

In 2003 the Yolo Shortline merged with the Sierra Railroad Company under the Sierra name. Dave Magaw stayed with the merged company as Vice President. The Sierra Railroad was a railroad similar in size to the Yolo and located 70 miles south in Oakdale , CA . In addition to freight, the Sierra operates the Sierra Railroad Dinner Train. Later that year, the merged railroad was selected to save and reopen the famous Skunk Train on the North Coast . Now with the support of two sister tourist trains — the Skunk and the Sierra — it was decided to improve and expand the Yolo excursion train.

 

The excursion train is renamed the Sacramento RiverTrain and features three open-air cars and three enclosed air-conditioned coaches. Two of the coaches were from the previous train. The third coach was provided by the Sierra Railroad Dinner Train that sent one of its two high-level 80-seat dining cars. The Skunk Train provided three open-air cars with a curved roof, bench seating and patio bar. All six cars were painted with a sparkling gold exterior, reflecting the area’s rich Gold Rush heritage, and 1,000-feet of distinctive blue waves, a colorful tribute to the mighty Sacramento River that closely follows the train’s route. The new makeover is not just skin deep. Complementing the new look exterior, the Dining car, Passenger coach and Club car will have newly decorated interiors. The train offers a relaxed ‘ Plantation ’ style look, featuring plantation-style ceiling fans, comfortable rattan furniture, wood paneling, carpet, paint, interior and exterior lights, new windows, and an upgraded sound system.

 

After a long and storied history, we're proud to continue to add new experiences to our repertoire each year while continually learning more and improving the experiences we've offered for years. Each ride on the Sacramento RiverTrain will bring you something new!

We board from one of two locations: one in West Sacramento, and one in Woodland. Most of our trips depart from our West Sacramento boarding location, but please be sure to check the information specific to your trip. The boarding location will be noted in the event’s details.

 

Sacramento RiverTrain — West Sacramento Boarding

Our boarding location is a ½ mile North of the West Sacramento IKEA shopping center. We board at 400 North Harbor Blvd., sharing a parking lot with a water facility.

400 N. Harbor Blvd.

West Sacramento, CA  95605

 

Get directions »

 


 

Sacramento RiverTrain — Woodland Boarding

341 Industrial Way

Woodland, California 95776

 

Get directions »

 


General FAQ

Why the name “Skunk Train”?

The nickname “Skunk” originated in 1925 when motorcars were introduced (today sometimes referred to as railbuses or railcruisers). These single-unit, self-propelled motorcars had gasoline-powered engines for power and a pot-bellied stove burning crude oil to keep the passengers warm. The combination of the fumes created a very pungent odor, and the old timers living along the line said these motorcars were like skunks, “You could smell them before you could see them.”

The railroad's historic name is California Western Railroad.

 


 

Do we need a reservation?

While you can travel certain times of the year without having booked in advance, we always encourage a reservation.

 


 

Do you accept credit cards?

Yes, we take Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. For purchases made on the train or at Northspur, we accept cash only.

 


 

Are pets allowed on the train?

Dogs are the only pets permitted on board. We do ask that you be considerate of your canine though – they simply may not like trains. Please bring whatever they need to be comfortable (food, water, dishes, a leash, etc.). Starting in 2013, there will be a charge for canine passengers.

 


 

Is the train handicap accessible?

Yes – but there are limitations, given that our railcars were built in the very early 1900s. We strive to make every guest feel comfortable and will do our very best to accommodate your visit.

 


 

Can we bring food on the train?

Only if you have dietary restrictions or are traveling with a child. Concessions are available on the train.

 


 

Can we bring alcohol on the train?

Absolutely not. We have a wonderful selection of wine from beautiful Mendocino County – which by the way is America’s Greenest Wine Growing Region – and local beers, including our very own Skunk Beer (bottled for us by Anderson Valley Brewing Company), plus a full bar on board the train.

 


 

Do your trains leave on time?

Without question we try to maintain our schedule. If you miss a train we will issue you a gift certificate for a future ride or book you on the next available departure. We will not, however, issue a refund because you’ve missed the scheduled departure.

 


 

How should we dress?

Comfortable and casual layered clothing is suggested to keep warm in the chilly months. If you plan on riding the Open Air Observation Car then we suggest dark clothing, because sometimes lighter clothing can get soot spots on it.


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Boarding Locations

Fort Bragg Boarding

Fort Bragg is located on the rugged Northern California Pacific coast.

 

100 W Laurel St

Fort Bragg, CA  95437

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Frequently Asked Questions

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General FAQ

Why the name “Skunk Train”?

The nickname “Skunk” originated in 1925 when motorcars were introduced (today sometimes referred to as railbuses or railcruisers). These single-unit, self-propelled motorcars had gasoline-powered engines for power and a pot-bellied stove burning crude oil to keep the passengers warm. The combination of the fumes created a very pungent odor, and the old timers living along the line said these motorcars were like skunks, “You could smell them before you could see them.”

The railroad's historic name is California Western Railroad.

 


 

Do we need a reservation?

While you can travel certain times of the year without having booked in advance, we always encourage a reservation.

 


 

Do you accept credit cards?

Yes, we take Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. For purchases made on the train or at Northspur, we accept cash only.

 


 

Are pets allowed on the train?

Dogs are the only pets permitted on board. We do ask that you be considerate of your canine though – they simply may not like trains. Please bring whatever they need to be comfortable (food, water, dishes, a leash, etc.). Starting in 2013, there will be a charge for canine passengers.

 


 

Is the train handicap accessible?

Yes – but there are limitations, given that our railcars were built in the very early 1900s. We strive to make every guest feel comfortable and will do our very best to accommodate your visit.

 


 

Can we bring food on the train?

Only if you have dietary restrictions or are traveling with a child. Concessions are available on the train.

 


 

Can we bring alcohol on the train?

Absolutely not. We have a wonderful selection of wine from beautiful Mendocino County – which by the way is America’s Greenest Wine Growing Region – and local beers, including our very own Skunk Beer (bottled for us by Anderson Valley Brewing Company), plus a full bar on board the train.

 


 

Do your trains leave on time?

Without question we try to maintain our schedule. If you miss a train we will issue you a gift certificate for a future ride or book you on the next available departure. We will not, however, issue a refund because you’ve missed the scheduled departure.

 


 

How should we dress?

Comfortable and casual layered clothing is suggested to keep warm in the chilly months. If you plan on riding the Open Air Observation Car then we suggest dark clothing, because sometimes lighter clothing can get soot spots on it.

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