Roseville Amtrak Station and nuggets of railroad history

Amtrak Roseville Station

Amtrak Roseville Station

Boom, Boom, Boom

My first introduction to the Roseville switch yards was in the spring of 1973 when several train car loads of munitions bound for Vietnam started igniting. From our house you could see the big mushroom clouds, hear the blasts and feel the ground shake. Years after that, I can still remember traveling up Hwy 65 and seeing the carnage of destroyed train cars waiting to be scrapped.

Almost 40 years later I find myself at the Roseville Amtrak Station picking up my son who is returning from a trip to Chicago with Grandma. Since I am slightly smitten with history and trains, it is fun to poke around and soak up the atmosphere. People come to this refurbished train station without a clue of what passed before them.

70 years old and still needed

Upon my arrival I quickly spot the big Rotary Snow Plows. These huge fan blade mounted snow blowers are only pulled out in the worst of snow accumulation conditions over the Sierra Nevada’s. It was February 1990 when my girlfriend was taking the train to visit me in Reno during one of those storms of the century. Her train got stuck in the snow and they had to wait for the rotary snow plow to get up the hill and clear the tracks so they could continue.

A train ran through it

People are also unaware that Folsom Street, on the other side of the tracks running in an odd diagonal fashion to intersecting streets, was the original line for a set of tracks that ran from Folsom to Roseville. Built in the 1860’s, the Folsom to Roseville railroad went through present day Orangevale and Citrus Heights. Another legacy of the Folsom line is the curved portion of South Cirby between Rocky Ridge Rd. and Old Auburn Blvd. I have a map of the train route and some notes that I need to prepare for a blog post

Not a swimming hole

The current Union Pacific J.R. Davis switch yard handles most of the traffic in northern California and I had heard was the largest switching yard west of the Mississippi. Completely upgraded in 1999 it was nice to see that they drained the large used oil lake. It was literally a huge pond, 100′ x 100′, with bermed sides that held black stinky used oil from the engines.

They made it out alive

It is unfortunate that the Amtrak train station is disconnected from old town Roseville. While it may not fit in with the modernization they are doing down town, the station has its own charm and reinforces the connection to the history of Roseville. When the Amtrak train arrived, I could see my son and his Grandmother now have their own history after 2 days on the train. At least they both step off the train alive.

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