Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Jamestown in Tuolumne County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Sierra Railroad

 
 
Sierra Railroad Marker image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, June 13, 2010
1. Sierra Railroad Marker
Inscription.  
California’s Mother Lode short line
Incorporated in 1897 by T.S. Bullock and W. Crocker. That first ran
35 miles from Oakdale to Jamestown
then north to Angels Camp and
south to Hetch-Hetchy.
 
Erected 1979 by Matuca Chapter E Clampus Vitus.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Railroads & Streetcars. In addition, it is included in the E Clampus Vitus series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1897.
 
Location. 37° 57.027′ N, 120° 25.021′ W. Marker is in Jamestown, California, in Tuolumne County. Marker can be reached from Sierra Avenue near 9th Street. Marker is mounted on the wall of the Roundhouse at the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. The park may be reached off of Highway 49/108 via 5th Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Jamestown CA 95327, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. “Railtown 1897” (within shouting distance of this
Sierra Railroad Marker image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, June 13, 2010
2. Sierra Railroad Marker
Click or scan to see
this page online
marker); Sierra Railway Shops (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Jamestown United Methodist Church (approx. 0.3 miles away); St. James Church (approx. 0.3 miles away); National Hotel (approx. 0.4 miles away); Ramirez – Preston Building (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Emporium – 1897 (approx. 0.4 miles away); Mark Twain Bret Harte Trail (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Jamestown.
 
More about this marker. This is a fee use site and the marker is located inside of the park area.

See Nearby Marker "Railtown 1897" for additional information.
 
Regarding Sierra Railroad.
The Sierra Railway Company

Incorporated on January 1, 1897, the Sierra Railway Company was the brainchild of Midwesterner Thomas Bullock. Bullock and his fellow investors – San Francisco banker William Crocker, Crocker’s brother-in-law Prince Andre Poniatowski, and others – had mining interests in the area. The development of a short-line railroad from Oakdale could replace horse-drawn wagons to bring
The Roundhouse image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, June 13, 2010
3. The Roundhouse
The marker is visible to the left of the doors.
lumber and mining materials to the growing Sacramento and San Francisco areas.

Bullock had owned a failed railroad venture in Arizona that left him with three steam locomotives and several miles of rail. With the addition of 15 new freight cars, the Sierra Railway was soon moving U.S. mail, passengers and freight.

The Sierra Railway Company also established working relationships with the Southern Pacific Railroad Company and several stage lines to serve mining, lumber and agriculture interests. However, as the costs of gold mining increased with the onset of World War I, the Railway’s profits decreased. Even worse, trucking companies had begun competing with trains.

The Sierra Railroad Company

During the Great Depression, the Sierra Railway Company went into receivership, a form of bankruptcy in which the company is allowed to reorganize without losing the value of its property. On April 1, 1937, it was renamed the Sierra Railroad Company and incorporated under the ownership of Crocker Associates.

In 1955, almost twenty years after regular passenger operations had ceased, the Sierra Railroad Company replaced the last
Rear View of the Roundhouse image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, June 13, 2010
4. Rear View of the Roundhouse
of its steam locomotives with diesel power and opened modern maintenance shops in Oakdale. Fortunately, the historic Jamestown shops and locomotives were left intact.
Source: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park Brochure
 
Also see . . .  The Sierra Railroad - 1955. An article regarding operations in 1955. (Submitted on June 28, 2010.) 
 
Additional commentary.
1. “The Movie Railroad”
As its freight-hauling days were ending, the Sierra Railway was still being used for Hollywood movie productions. It had everything - a ruggedly perfect “Old West” landscape, miles of tracks and a wealth of very old trains. Film producers the world over clamored to use this special location.

Between 1919 and the present, the Sierra Railroad would “star” in more than 200 motion pictures, television programs and commercials – including High Noon, Back to the Future III, Rawhide, and Death Valley Days. Even during tough economic times, Hollywood helped keep the railway afloat. If not for the vital
Sierra Locomotive #2 Returning From an Excursion Trip image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, June 13, 2010
5. Sierra Locomotive #2 Returning From an Excursion Trip
importance of these venerable locomotives and railroad cars to the film industry, many may have become sources of wartime scrap metal.
Source: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park Brochure
    — Submitted June 28, 2010.
 
Information On Display at the New Melones Reservoir Visitor Center image. Click for full size.
By Syd Whittle, June 13, 2010
6. Information On Display at the New Melones Reservoir Visitor Center
The Sierra Railway
The Angels Camp Spur of the Sierra Railway played a key role in transporting labor and materials into the area. The builders faced a formidable task in its construction. Here the train had to scale the 700-foot-deep Stanislaus River Canyon. The final solution included a number of switchbacks that kept the railroad grade gentle enough for loaded trains to climb out of the canyon.

[Click on photo to view photo and diagram]
The diagram below shows the route of the railway and the switchbacks. The photograph above depicts the bridge that carried trains across the Stanislaus River.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on June 28, 2010, by Syd Whittle of Mesa, Arizona. This page has been viewed 1,058 times since then and 12 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on June 28, 2010, by Syd Whittle of Mesa, Arizona.   6. submitted on June 29, 2010, by Syd Whittle of Mesa, Arizona.

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Jul. 29, 2021