Long lost railroad found
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
Satellite tracking has given history detectives the opportunity to plot out
the route of the fabled but short-lived Sacramento Placer & Nevada Railroad.
The line lasted only from 1862 to 1864, running out of steam and financing
after reaching Loomis from Folsom. Plans to link Auburn to Folsom never
reached fruition and the Central Pacific Railroad - which did reach Auburn -
became the preferred route.
Railroad history buff Chris Graves of Newcastle said the recent re-discovery
of a copy of the original Sacramento Placer & Nevada Railroad maps from
1861, with surveyor information on grades and turns, allowed a modern-day
survey with a global positioning system.
With the information from the 1861 map locating the old railbed's twists and
turns, historians and surveyors were able to overlay the old railway onto a
modern-day map. Not surprisingly, much of the route traveled along or near
what is now Auburn Folsom Road. Part is also underwater, inundated by the
"The railroad ran 11 miles and except for a 750-foot gap in what is now
Hidden Lake Estates, we now know where every single foot of it is," Graves
Graves said he will be donating copies of the map to the California State
Archives, as well as local historical societies and archives to ensure a
long-buried portion of the area's railroading past continues to be
The actual plotting of the rail route took four days, using photocopies of
maps that Graves said are, at best, temporarily inaccessible. The state
archives were the original source of the copies. Graves said the man who
copied the map from the archives died six years ago and he was able to
locate them in his estate, with the help of the man's daughter.
"But the archives no longer has a record of them," Graves said.
The rail route ends near King Road and the now-buried site of a quarry used
by Griffith Griffith before he located his operation in Penryn. Rail
historian Lloyd Johnson said the routing effort provides a modern-day link
with a rail route that served agricultural as well as mining endeavors. The
train also provided passenger service.
Graves has written a history of the Folsom-Loomis railroad. The effort began
in earnest in 1859 when engineer Theodore Judah - who would later map out
the difficult Sierra Nevada crossing for the Central Pacific Railway -
bought 550 tons of rail and shipped it from the East Coasts. But Judah was
unable to find financing for a Lincoln to Auburn route. The rail sat in San
Francisco until purchased by entrepreneur Lester Robinson, who brought it to
the area to be used for the Auburn-Folsom route - a distance of 19 miles.
When construction funding ran out, the line had reached Loomis at the
current intersection of Auburn Folsom Road and King Road.
After the Central Pacific Railroad reached Newcastle, the Auburn-Folsom line
was abandoned and the rail route dismantled, starting in June 1864.
Many of the sections of railbed still provide flat pathways for a walk
through history. The rails were dug up in the mid-1860s, with most going to
a railroad-building effort to Placerville.
"As you walk down these alignments, you get a feeling for an era now
long-gone," Johnson said.
With no photos that Graves knows of showing the Sacramento, Placer & Nevada
Railroad, there is little now to link what was there then to the
The new map helps draw past and present together, Graves said.
"It's been lost since 1864 but the grade is still there," he said.