Folsom in Sacramento County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Turning the Trains
From 1856 to 1971, Folsom was a railroad town. For most of those years, the Folsom depot was the last stop from Sacramento.
Before the trains could return to Sacramento, the locomotives had to be turned around. Until 1913, they rotated on railroad turntables. Several turntables operated on this site. The first one, built in 1856 by the Sacramento Valley Railroad, was the first turntable in the West.
The turntable in front of you was erected in 1999 from the original plans for a turntable built here in 1891.
Only the locomotive and their tenders were turned. Operating the first turntable required the strength of several men, but the later A-frame turntables – which this one is – were perfectly balanced that one person could turn the engine and tender in less than a minute. That was no small feat: Locomotives with tenders could weigh 70,000 pounds.
It was rare that a single person turned an engine. The daily arrival of the train drew crowds to downtown Folsom, and townsfolk and passengers eagerly volunteered to help.
In 1913, the railroad built a Y-shaped track at Bidwell Street to reverse the trains, and the turntable was dismantled. Its foundation lay buried until the site was excavated in the 1990s.
[Captions of the Artwork on marker:]
Until the mid-20th century, most locomotives were powered by steam. Their tenders carried water and fuel to heat it. Early western trains burned wood rather than coal.
One of the finds when the turntable site was excavated was the granite pivot stone from 1856. The rebuilt turntable rests on that original stone.
Location. 38° 40.597′ N, 121° 10.755′ W. Marker is in Folsom, California, in Sacramento County. Marker is on Sutter Street near Decatur Street, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Folsom CA 95630, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Wells Fargo and Company (within shouting distance of this marker); Folsom History Museum (within shouting distance of this marker); Folsom Pony Express Terminus (within shouting distance of this marker); J. Clifton Toney (within shouting distance of this marker); Ashland Station (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Folsom Terminal Leidesdorff Plaza (about 400 feet away); St. John the Baptist Catholic Church (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Folsom.
More about this marker. Historic Sutter Street is undergoing a complete renovation and photos on this marker page will be updated upon the completion of construction.
Categories. • Railroads & Streetcars •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 20, 2010, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California. This page has been viewed 873 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on October 20, 2010, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California.