On Saturday, September 10, 2005, the California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento will officially open a newly revamped permanent exhibit that includes many life-sized figures and adds a “human face of railroading.” The new concept replaces a number of static displays with ones that are both dynamic and educational. Early indications are that admission may be free on opening day. Normally the adult fee is $6.00.
One of the major renovations is the c.1860’s surveyor camp exhibit. Formerly the camp consisted of a white canvas tent located in a forest setting. The new display will feature four surveyor figures actively engaged in making field measurements. Two will be employed in transit work while the other pair will be chaining along a granite ridge. The surveyor manikin located at the transit portrays Lewis Clement, chief surveyor for the Sierras crossing. Additional instruments and tools can be viewed in showcases that are seemingly inside a large fallen tree. Several period instruments were obtained by donation from the collection of the late Cecil E. Hanson, formerly a surveyor with the Los Angeles County Flood Control District.
The exhibit is located in the Sierra Scene room, which is the visitors’ grand entryway into the museum. Displayed in the room are representative examples of the most important elements in the building of the transcontinental railroad. These are the initial task of locating and surveying the route, the Chinese construction workers, the snow sheds that permitted winter passage across the Sierra Nevada Range, and the Central Pacific locomotive No. 1, “Gov. Stanford.”
This new exhibit will become one of the highest attended surveying exhibits in the country. The museum website reports over 500,000 visits annually, with guests traveling from throughout the world to experience this world-renowned facility.
The museum is located in Old Sacramento at the corner of 2nd and “I” Streets. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. All-day parking is available in large public garages for a nominal fee.