Sacramento Northern Online Banner


Part of the WPRM/FRRS Family of Web Sites

originally created by Garth Groff


Updated JULY 29, 2011

Ryan, Robert L. "The Sacramento Valley's First electric Railroad, the Northern Electric." SUTTER COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY NEWS BULLETIN, Vol. 14, No. 3. Yuba City, Calif., Sutter County Historical Society: July 1975. While mostly corporate history, an interesting local slant on the early Northern Electric Railway is provided in this article with a number of colorful anecdotes. Included are several low-quality photos, all duplicates of shots in the various Swett books (and repeating their textual errors). One map is also included.

Ryczkowski, John J. WESTERN PACIFIC PICTORIAL. Sparks, Nev., Steel Rails West: 1979. This work includes 18 pages of SN photographs and one map. Most of the electric-era photos have been seen in other books, but the diesels are largely new to this work. There are also several pictures of SN freight cars and cabooses. Photo quality is uneven, and there is no SN text other than brief photo cutlines. This book also contains many photos of WP diesels that later served on the SN as loaners, or under SN ownership.

Schafer, Mike, editor. "Sacramento Northern Interurban." TRACTION GUIDEBOOK FOR MODEL RAILROADS. Milwaukee, Wis., Kalmbach Publishing Co.: 1974 (also appeared in July 1960 MODEL RAILROADER). The centerpiece of this article is a finely-rendered drawing by A.E. Barker of ex-OA&E combine 1005. The text correctly identifies it as a Holman car, but then lumps the Wason and Cincinnati cars into the same group (each group was slightly different). Several photos are included, two of which are of Cincinnati-built 1017.

Shippen, Bill. "Sacramento Northern 44-tonner Number 146." WESTERN PACIFIC HEADLIGHT, Issue No. 14. Chico, Calif., Feather River Rail Society: spring/summer 1997. Extending over two pages, this brief article traces the general history of 44-ton GE diesels on the SN, with specific notes on 146. Of particular interest are details on the original painting and lettering. One in-service photo and a second contemporary shot at the society's Portola Railroad Museum round out the text.

Sims, Donald. "Island of Electricity." MODEL TRAINS. Milwaukee, Wis., Kalmbach Publishing Co.: March 1961. One of Sims' many interesting "Railroad You Can Model" features, this piece profiles the Marysville/Yuba City yards and industrial trackage. Included is a photo of the rarely seen icing rack.

Sims, Donald. "Sacramento Northern presents ... a railroad yard to model." MODEL TRAINS. Milwaukee, Wis., Kalmbach Publishing Co.: Fall 1959. This article is a photo essay on the tiny 40th and Schafter yard in Oakland.

Smiley, Charles, Jr. "Electric Railroading." RAILROAD MODELER. Canoga Park, Calif., Challenge Publications: December 1979. This is an eight page article on the history of SN operations in the Oakland hills during the 1950s with 13 photos and a map.

Staff, Virgil. D-DAY ON THE WESTERN PACIFIC; A RAILROAD'S DECISION TO DIESELIZE. Glendale, Calif., Interurban Press: 1982. One of the most scholarly works on the WP, this book is sure to make your eyes glaze over with statistics and minute details about diesel locomotives. Unfortunately, this book is a bomb for the SN fan. The text provides only six passing references to the SN and there are no SN-specific photos. The only solid piece of SN material is a very complete roster in the appendices.

Stephens, Kent. "Chico's Street Car Line, a Half Century of Service." DIGGIN'S, Vol. 15, no. 1. Oroville, Calif., Butte County Historical Society: 1971. This is a very complete 35 page article on all aspects of SN operation in Chico with numerous photos. Of special interest is a track plan of the Mulberry Shops.

Strapac, Joseph A. WESTERN PACIFIC'S DIESEL YEARS. Muncie, Ind., Overland Models: 1980. The best work yet on SN diesels, this book devotes 18 pages to the subject. About half is text, and the rest are excellent photos. A separate and detailed roster of all SN diesels is given, including dispositions up to that time. An appendix gives a similar treatment of SN electric freight locomotives, though without any pictures or additional text.

Swett, Ira. "Here's the Alabama." RAILROAD BOOSTERS SPECIAL REPORT, no. 10. Los Angeles, Calif., Railroad Boosters: undated. This very interesting six page monograph is a very complete history of Alabama, Henry Huntington's famous private interurban car, which later served as a parlor car on the Sacramento Northern. Includes six photos (only one from its SN days) and three drawings.

Tenny, William, and Reynolds, Richard. CALIFORNIA RAILWAY MUSEUM. [Suisun City, Calif., California Railway Museum: 1967]. This 24-page booklet contains numerous photos of SN and other northern California electric cars and locomotives in revenue service and at the museum. There is little text other than narrative descriptions of the photos. In addition to a 1940 shot of Rio Vista Jct., the book includes in-service and preserved views of SN 62, 1005, MW302/1020, 602, 652 and 654. There are a total of 12 SN photos. The book was intended to be a guide to the museum collection.

Trimble, Paul C. INTERURBAN RAILWAYS OF THE BAY AREA. Fresno, Calif., Valley Publishers: 1977. This book devotes 20 pages to the SN, including 26 photos and a map. Many of the photos are very small.

Waddington, David L., and Sebastian-Coleman, George. "Baldwin-Westinghouse Steeplecabs." MODEL RAILROADER. Milwaukee, Wis., Kalmbach Publishing Co.: June, 2000. This article presents a general overview of the B-W steeple cab locomotives, including a well-drawn plan. The article states the SN had eleven of this model, though the total was actually only seven, plus two earlier B-W steeple cabs of a different design. There are no SN photos with the article.

Wilson, Robert S. "Sacramento Northern's Dinkies." HEADLIGHTS, Vol. 10, No. 4. Hoboken, New Jersey, Electric Railroaders Association, Inc.: April 1948. A brief recap of the last Birney streetcar service in Sacramento and Chico. There are no photos of SN equipment, but the article shares excellent maps with the previously sited Jarrow article in the same issue.

Wilson, Robert S. TROLLEY TRAINS THROUGH THE WEST, VOL. 7, NORTHERN CALIFORNIA. Yakima, Wash., Wilson Brothers: 1979. Included among stories of other lines is a brief recollection of SN interurbans and streetcars with three (small) photos.


-----. "Trolleys everywhere: Bill Hoffman and his Sacramento Northern." MODEL RAILROADER. Milwaukee, Wis., Kalmbach Publishing Co.: January 1950. Three pages and 14 photos of Hoffman's O-scale cars.

Brown, Ralph. "Wood-sheathed Box Car." MODEL RAILROADER. Milwaukee, Wis., Kalmbach Publishing Co.: May 1958. This construction article is on building a model of SN's 2329-series boxcars. The model was good for its time, but really doesn't hold up well today. There are no prototype photos or data.

Hoffman, Bill. "Notes on Building Car 1009." MODEL RAILROADER. Milwaukee, Wis., Kalmbach Publishing Co.: October 1951. In a three-page article, one of the best known SN modelers explains his building passenger car building methods. Supported with four photos and four drawings. The model is O-scale, but the techniques could apply in most scales.

Middleton, William D. "Sacramento Northern: Line of Diversity." MODEL RAILROADER. Milwaukee, Wis., Kalmbach Publishing Co.: July 1970. A nicely done eight-page introduction to the SN, the article includes 13 photos, a map, a diagram of how one might build the car ferry Ramon, plus suggested model railroad track layouts for several stations.

Smiley, Charles, Jr. "Modeling the South End." RAILROAD MODELER. Canoga Park, Calif., Challenge Publications: December 1979. The author presents a general article on how to model SN equipment, including 13 photos.

Smiley, Charles, Jr. "Modeling SN's Freight Motors." RAILROAD MODELER. Canoga Park, Calif., Challenge Publications: February 1980. This piece includes suggestions for kitbashing SN steeple cab 661 from a Suydam Pacific Electric 1650. Nine photo are included.

Williams, John. "Sacramento by train . . . and by ferry." MODEL RAILROADER. Milwaukee, Wis., Kalmbach Publishing Co.: June 2009. A room-sized layout is devoted to the SN's line between Oakland and the ferry crossing. The track plan is excellent, though of course many compromises were made to fit as much as possible into the room without crowding. Includes three prototype photos (including a great shot of the ferry watchman's dog!), a track plan, and a map.


Cavalier, Julian. "WP Wood Bay-window Caboose." RAILROAD MODEL CRAFTSMAN. Newton, N. J., Carstens Publications: December 1973. This article is centered around a well-executed drawing of WP's home-built 644-683 and 694-700 cabooses, accompanied by a short text. Between 1961 and 1970 the SN acquired five of these cars (1640-1644).

Copeland, P. Allen. "All Time Roster of Western Pacific Caboose Cars." FREIGHT CARS JOURNAL. Monrovia, Calif., Society of Freight Car Historians: July 1986. This is one of the most complete and useful articles on WP equipment. It features a good text explaining the general history of WP cabooses, seven photos, five diagrams, a complete roster and an appendix showing all known dispositions up to the time of writing. The appendix lists 24 cabooses which went to the SN (including date of transfer and SN number), though it does not detail their fate after SN service. Mr. Copleland used records from the WP headquarters, and some car numbers do not match those listed in WP shop records now in the BAERA archives.

Nehrich, John. "Western Pacific Boxcar." MAINLINE MODELER. Mukilteo, Wash., Hundman Publishing: September 1993. Typical of Mr. Nehrich's excellent articles, this piece is on building a model of the WP 16001-18500 class cars. Some of these cars came to the SN as 2301-2328 circa 1948 (some ends varied from his model). A few lasted in maintenance service until the 1970s. Three SN and two WP prototype photos are included. The article could also be used to build models of 2329-2350 (ex-2129-2153), similar wooden-end cars purchased new by the SN. For more on SN's wooden boxcars, consult our feature SACRAMENTO NORTHERN'S STEEL-UNDERFRAME BOXCARS.

Providenza, Jim. "WP 642." RAILROAD MODEL CRAFTSMAN. Newton, N.J., Carstens Publications: December 1991. The author spliced parts from two Roundhouse HO caboose models to make a fairly accurate model of a WP single-sheathed cupola caboose. Includes a nice color photo of SN 1632 in green paint. The SN acquired ten similar cars between 1956 and 1958 (1630-1639).

Queen, Clyde, Jr. "WP Bay Window Caboose." MAINLINE MODELER. Mukilteo, Wash., Hundman Publishing: January 1994. This is a one page article with two photos of author's model. See comments with Cavalier caboose article above.

Ryczkowski, John J. "Modeling the Western Pacific Wooden Cupola Cabooses." WESTERN PACIFIC HEADLIGHT, Issue No. 6. Reno, Nev., Steel Rails Publishing, [n.d.]. This article has four pages on the WP's "Gould-standard" cabooses, with several photos and a drawing. No mention is made of this type of car in the SN. Nine cars from this series were transfered to the SN (1621-1629) between 1948 and 1953.


-----. SACRAMENTO NORTHERN LOCAL TIME FOLDER. Walnut Creek, Calif., Timetable Classics: 1981. Carl Blaubach reprinted the January 15, 1939, timetable exactly as it was originally issued, complete with map, list of off-line ticket offices and SN ad.

-----. CALIFORNIA ELECTRIC TRILOGY. Pentrex offers a nicely done tape which covers a number of electric lines in the Golden State. Included are two SN excursions from the 1950s and some freight switching.

Alter, Art, and Savage, Chuck. SACRAMENTO NORTHERN RAILWAY IN 1940. Oakland, Calif., Transit Gloria Mundi (36 E. 27th St., Dept. B-109, Baltimore, MD 21218): 1988 [?]. After an absence of several years, this excellent video formerly offered by Catenary Video Productions is finally available again. The film follows a train (actually a composite of several trains) from San Francisco to Chico. An interesting section on Ramon is included, with audio commentary by the former ship's captain. There a few shots of freight trains (many freights ran only at night in those days), and good coverage of the Woodland Branch. The originals were shot on 16mm film and are very sharp. The color is quite good. Narration is by BAERA member Fred Krock. This is a really outstanding tape, and a must for every SN fan!

Bartel, Dick, and Thomsen, Les. SACRAMENTO NORTHERN RAILWAY, 1939-1940, FINAL PASSENGER SERVICE. [S.l., s.n.]: 1998 [?]. This SN video tape features footage from the BAERA archives by Addison Laflin, Jr., Robert Hannah and Frank Mandel. It is 35 minutes of mostly black and white film taken in the line's last years of passenger service, including passenger trains, freight activity and streetcars. The initial release garnered much criticism for a poor script and bad sound synchronization, but the tape has been reworked and the new version is said to be much improved. Narration is again by Fred Krock.

Irion, Tom. SACRAMENTO NORTHERN ELECTRICS. Sacramento, Calif., Super Art Media (P.O. Box 163688, Sacramento, CA 95816-3688): 2007. After being out of production for many years, this audio recording is available again on CD-ROM. The disk presents the sounds of SN 654 switching at Marysville/Yuba City in 1964, and SN 1005 on a fantrip over the same track in 1962. Very complete liner notes explain the operation recorded on each track.

Smiley, Charles. ELECTRIC RAILS AROUND THE BAY. Thousand Oaks, Calif., Charles Smiley, In association with Catenary Video Productions: 2003. An interesting overview of the Peninsular Railway Company, Southern Pacific's Interurban Electric Railway, and the Sacramento Northern, this tape/DVD features excellent action shots (mostly in color), supplemented by still photos and some very nice maps. For those of you who want to skip right to the SN section, it begins at about 2500 on the tape version. The SN portion is around 30 minutes long, and concentrates mainly on post-war freight operation. Dozens of trains are shown in various locations between Oakland and Mallard. Nearly all the post-war South End motors are shown, as are many cabooses. Often the full consist of trains may be seen rolling past the camera. There is short section about the ferry Ramon, and rare Oakland Terminal Railway footage as well. Unfortunately, there are no trains on the Pittsburg section. I found two factual errors in the narration, and a few shots suffer from jerkiness caused by errors in processing. Otherwise, this is one of the best SN videos yet produced.


-----. REVIEW. Suisun City, Calif., Bay Area Electric Railroad Association, Inc. (5848 State Highway 12, Suisun City, California, 94585). The BAERA's monthly newsletter is mainly devoted to the current activities of the museum, however many of those activities are directed toward reopening the former SN mainline which runs past the grounds, as well as restoration of their collection of SN equipment. The REVIEW frequently has SN-related museum news, wild photos of SN equipment from the archives, and occasional historical features. The newsletter is a benefit of BAERA membership.

-----. SACRAMENTO NORTHERN PARKWAY STEWARDSHIP NOTES. Sacramento, Calif., Sacramento Tree Foundation (201 Lathrop, Suite F, Sacramento, California, 95815). The Sacramento Tree Foundation is building a linear park on the former SN right-of-way between Arden Way and Dry Creek. Their quarterly newsletter consists mainly of society news and gardening tips, and is short on SN history.