A Western Regional Electric Railway - 1930's - 1940's
Sacramento Northern Railway


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The Sacramento Northern Railway (SN) began as two separate independent sections. The northern segment, a 91 mile third rail powered electric interurban railway system, the Northern Electric Railway linking the California state capitol Sacramento with Chico, California, with branches to Oroville, Colusa and Woodland. The southern segment, a 93 mile trolley pole powered electric inerurban raailway, the Oakland and Antiach Railway, later the Oakland, Antiach and Eastern ran from Sacramento to Oakland, across the bay from San Francisco.
The SN operating under that name between 1918 and 1983 (previously "Northern Electric" from 1904-1918). It was a subsidiary of the Western Pacific Railroad from 1921.
The "South End" was merged into the Sacramento Northern in 1928. Its name at that time being the San Francisco-Sacramento Railroad or Sacramento Short Line (SSL) (and before that the Oakland, Antioch and Eastern Railway). The merged portions used different electrical standards, and only some cars could traverse the entire route.
The line was one of the longest interurban runs in the nation, and was built and operated to very high standards. As with most interurban systems, passenger service, which was thriving in 1931, became increasingly unprofitable, even after the rail cars entered San Francisco itself via the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge from 1939. All passenger service was discontinued in 1941, except for Chico Street Cars which lasted until 1947. Freight service was increasingly the lifeblood of the railroad, keeping it in service long after passenger service ceased. Western Pacific could generate more income by accepting or delivering freight using Sacramento Northern reducing the costs of transfer from one railroad to another. WP also owned a sister company to SN named Tidewater Southern which operated south of Sacramento.
The SN was all dieselized by 1965. In 1983 the Union Pacific bought the WP and the SN ceased to exist as an entity.
Sac No
Sacramento Northern
January 15, 1939

History of the Sacramento Northern Railway

The Northern Lines.
1906 - Northern Electric Railway starts by buying Chico Street Railway.
1906 - In April the NE built a line to Oroville.
1906 - In December the line reached Marysville
1907 - NE reaches Sacramento in September. All of the NE was built with 3rd rail.
1907 - Branch built Chico to Hamilton.
1912 - Branch built Sacramento to Woodland.
1913 - Branch built Yuba City to Collusa.
1913 - Name changed to Sacramento Northern Railway.
The Southern Lines = Sacramento to San Francisco.
1910 - The Oakland and Antioch Railway ( later adding "Eastern": (OAE) opened a line from the Santa Fe Railroad at Bay Point through the Ignacio Valley to Walnut Creek.
1911- OAE extended to Lafayette.
1913 - On September 3, 1913, the OAE Railway opened its 93-mile route from San Francisco to Sacramento as a high-speed electric interurban railway. Constructed principally for passenger traffic, nine through trains ran in each direction, The OAE used Key System ferries to reach San Francisco.
c 1913-14 -Line from West Pittsburg to Pittsburg.
1914 - Branch built Saranap to Danville and Diablo .
1918-20 - SAE in receivership reorganizes as the San Francisco-Sacramento Railroad, aka "Sacramento Short Line" (SSL).
1928 - At the end of 1928, the SSL was purchased by the Sacramento Northern Railway.
Sacramento Northern Railway
1918 - Sacramento Northern Railway (SN) formed from former Northern Electric.
1922 - SN purchased by Western Pacific Railway.
1925 - Union Station built in Sacramento for Central California Traction and SN.
1928 - At the end of 1928, the SSL was purchased by the Sacramento Northern Railway (formerly the Northern Electric Railway), a connecting interurban that ran from Sacramento, north to Chico. The

SN map
Sacramento Northern - 1939
newly merged line formed a through route of 184 miles.
1931 - Passenger service is alive and well with many trains San Francisco to Sacramento, several to Pittsburg, Marysville, Colusa, Chico and Oroville. 1939 - SN begins to use Bay Bridge to reach San Francisco.
1941 - Effects of depression and rise of auto traffic causes SN to shut down passenger service in 1941 except for Chico Street cars.
1941-45 - SN has increased freight traffic during war years.
1944 - First diesel-electric locomotive on SN.
1947 - Street car service in Chico ends.
1965 - SN all diesel and a minor freight subsidiary of the WP..
1983 - WP is absorbed into UP and SN ceases to exist.
Current - The SN rail line connecting the California towns of Montezuma, Dozier, and Canon is now owned and operated by the Western Railway Museum as a heritage railway. Much of the SN's equipment is part of the museum's permanent collection.
Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- Various Editions
The Electric Interurban Railways in America-Hilton & Due- pp 398-400
http://www.wrm.org/about/sacramento_northern.htm
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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, May 1, 2009, revised Oct. 10, 2011