It was a stroke of luck that I stumbled upon the original 1861 map of the Sacramento, Placer & Nevada Railroad (SPNRR) map in the California State Archives. With a digitized version of the original map, I could then compare the constructed rail line to modern roads and Folsom Lake shown on 20th century maps. While the 1861 and modern day maps don’t align perfectly, there are enough similarities to confirm suspicions of the route through the Folsom and Granite Bay areas.
I’m a typical history nerd who daydreams while driving about old trains or historical events that took place on the same road I’m driving over. The daydreams turn obsessive when I’ve read and researched about certain historical events and I can almost recreate them in my mind. A good example is the path the California Central Railroad took from Folsom to Roseville, California, in 1861. I’ve driven and walked over so much of the rail grade that is accessible, and thought about its construction and daily operations, that I finally made a video about retracing the long forgotten railroad grade.
On a warm autumn October day the Placerville and Sacramento Valley Railroad (PSVRR) ran special short excision train trips for members of the Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society. I was fortunate enough to be a guest and document the day’s activities. Just as the original railroad grade was cut by hand in the 1860’s, there are numerous volunteers that expend real physical labor to keep this historic rail line in operation. Video and photo gallery
I had always noticed Rose Springs and Rock Springs marked on maps that encompassed the south Placer county region we know today as Granite Bay. It wasn’t until Folsom Lake hit historically low water levels that what I think are Rose and Rock springs became apparent to me.
Virtually all visible signs of two dams on the Feather River along with thousands of feet of wooden flume and rock wall canal built in the 1890’s are hidden under the waters of the succeeding water project of Thermalito Lake in Oroville. Nonetheless, I was still drawn, like any amateur historian; to retrace the route […]
Sometimes the craziest ideas actually become reality. In 1870 one man proposed tunneling underneath the Sierra Nevada mountain range to ship Tahoe lake water to San Francisco. While that may seem like an audacious scheme today, similar projects were already underway in the 19th century and parts of the tunnel project under the Sierras have […]
Tunnel Engineering – A Museum Treatment by Robert M. Vogel is a brief history of engineered transportation tunnels published in 1964. The booklet was part of series that accompanied scaled model displays illustrating the advances in tunneling primarily in the 19th century. The short thirty-six page bulletin focuses on how modern engineering design evolved as […]
Even before Folsom Lake Dam was built and the reservoir filled, the north fork of the American River was supplying water to communities, farms and ranches in south Placer and northeast Sacramento counties. I recently found aerial photography from 1952 showing a free flowing north and south fork of the American River. Finally, I can […]
It was a political junket that inspired the 1865 map of the western United States and territories. In the summer of 1865 Samuel Bowles, editor of the Springfield Republican in Massachusetts, traveled across the territories of the United States to California with Speaker of the House of Representatives Schuyler Colfax. Specifically included on the map are the […]
Half the fun of a vacation is being pleasantly surprised by unexpected experiences. As we drove into the small hamlet of Forks, Washington, you could tell the local merchants had adopted the teenage vampire saga Twilight as their claim to fame. Even the Bed and Breakfast we stayed at was on a mission to incorporate […]