Railway Pages Index


California - nevada circle tour

This circle tour was run by Trains Unlimited in June 2006. There were a few long days on the bus but the railways visited were well worth the trip. Our bus driver owned the whole bus company -- he was alos a great train fan on a genuine busman's holiday. Ever raced a fast freight in a bus? We did!!

There was no shortage of standard and narrow  gauge venues, both ancient and modern. In particular, the integration of mainline Amtrak, suburban rapid transit,  streetcars, and cable cars in San Francisco is a lesson for many younger cities which haven't figured out that autos are not the solution.

The tour started and ended in Santa Clara, California. I broke this travelog into four phases, roughly eastbound to Nevada, northbound in Nevada, westbound back to the coast in California, and finally southbound along the coast back to Santa Clara. A back and forth from Stockton to Bakersfield finished the tour.

Well worth the time and effort.


Niles Canyon Railway, Niles Canyon (east of Freemont)
Standard gauge train ride, diesels at both ends of excursion cars, 70 minute round trip from Niles to Sunol, CA on ex-Western Pacific / Southern Pacific mainline.



Sierra Railroad, Jamestown, CA
Standard gauge, originally a logging and mining railway built in 1897, Short steam train ride, shop tour, turntable operations.





Sierra Railroad Dinner Train, Oakdale, CA
Standard gauge, originally a logging and mining railway built in 1897. Sunset dinner train to Warnerville and return. Unfortunately it was June and the sun set on the tail of the train, no great photos from the train windows. Photo from website.


Yosemite National Park, Yosemite, CA
The standard gauge Yosemite Valley Railroad ran to the park from Merced to Los Banos and Yosemite Valley (1905 to 1946). Good website but no place to visit.

We visited the park en route to Carson City, NV. Waterfalls, big trees, and elk using crosswalk skills are common sights.

YVRR photo from website


Continue to Nevada Northbound