A Fieldtrip Remembered: CSRM

We really enjoyed our trip to the California State Railroad Museum (CSRM). Although we are no longer residents, I know there are a lot of California readers out there (I miss you guys) and if you don’t live there and happen to be visiting Sacramento with children (although, children aren’t required), this place is one to be sure to stop by before leaving the northern part of the state.

Since our move, every once in a while I lament about the places I never got to take the children. Many of them were places we were going to visit this year because everyone was of age where they could participate and remember. We never made it to the Jelly Belly factory, but got to visit The Rock. They never got to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge (It’s a blast! or maybe I should say it’s a windy!), but at least River got to ride run the Bay to Breakers Road Race. They never got to run free on Angel Island, but had fun running wild at Crissy Field. Oh my goodness, I think I’m tearing up while writing this post.

My point is, don’t put off showing your children all of the cool places that are around them. If you have a choice of staying home and vegging out in front of the television or going out and exploring, then you know what to do. It’s not because of all they missed, but rather because of all we saw that I am determined for us to “do Tennessee up real good!”

Originally posted October 2008 on my homeschool blog.

I was looking forward to this day. Plans were made, school work was completed, and my taste buds were watering. The thought of biting into a fresh, crisp, apple plucked from the orchard was nice, but where were the apple pies. We were headed to Apple Hill and I had, ready at home, all-natural vanilla ice cream eager to make a debut appearance on the side of a slice of heated apple pie.

The day was beautiful only causing my excitement to grow. We pulled out of the driveway about 30 minutes later than we should have, but there was still time to spare and I was determined to make it. Somewhere between hwy 65 and hwy 80, I got lost and that was where the trouble began. Word to the wise, trust your instincts. If you know you’re right, then you probably are right. Instead, I made the mistake and asked for directions. Men are supposed to do that and women are supposed to follow the directions they conveniently printed the night before. Well, the new directions sent me to a land far, far away, and somewhere on my way to wherever it was, my confidence returned and I realized that I was headed in the right direction from the beginning when I suddenly thought I “became lost.”

My children had remained relatively calm throughout the entire ordeal. I have learned to keep my comments about being lost to myself because lost to me is just irritation at turning the wrong direction. Lost to them is never finding your way back home; ever! I broke the news to them that we were not going to make it on time to the orchard. River breathed a sigh of relief and Lily just stared at me. It turns out that I was really the only one who was looking forward to the trip. Lily did express a little disappointment, but when I suggested a trip to the train museum (CSRM), everything was made good. I still owe her a trip to Apple Hill.

If you’re a train lover (and even if you’re not), then the California State Railroad Museum is definitely a stop to put on your list if you’re in Sacramento. We have been members of the Caboose Club for a few years and have gotten more than our money’s worth. Even if you’re visiting for the day, joining the club can save you money on that one visit; adults get in free with the member. I take the children quite a few times a year and they haven’t grown tired of it yet.

The CSRM exhibits the history of the Transcontinental Railroad with a focus on the Central Pacific Railroad which connected with the Union Pacific Railroad in 1869. The union of Theodore Judah, an engineer, and four business men (the Big Four) by the names of Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker was the beginning of what would bring people, products, and services together from around the world to the west coast. Just like the computer, I’m sure they never imagined the magnitude of the impact the railroad would have on the world.

The history in this museum is incredible. Recognition is given to Mexicans, Irish, African-Americans, and especially the Chinese whose hands were mostly responsible for the chiseling, blasting, laying tracks etc. that brought the railroad into existence. You definitely can’t complete the entire museum in one day and each time we go there we learn something new because we spend more time in specific exhibit areas. It’s amazing that a concept that brought diverse cultures together was also constructed and maintained by so many diverse cultures.

This is a sleeper car. During the day it would seat four and in the evening, the seats would fold forward, sleep two, and an upper compartment opened for another two sleeper bed.

If you were privileged, then fine dining is what you would expect and receive while traveling across country. I can’t imagine getting a full meal for under $2, but the best hasn’t always been expensive (I guess that’s all relative).

This mail car traveled between Chicago and Seattle delivering mail until it became antiquated and replaced by the delivery speed of airplanes.

The mail was collected in the bags and sorted on the trains to be delivered at their destination. This was really a neat car. The organization and how the mail was processed is incredible.

These cubby holes were used to sort mail for the various cities where deliveries were made. The brown trim on the edge of each compartment was labeled with a city name for each stop. Once that delivery was made, the trim was turned to reveal the city for the next delivery stop. Each trim piece had about four city names on them. Efficiency was definitely necessary for accuracy.

Hey! What’s a train museum without Thomas?

Additional Resources
Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum

The summer is coming. Make plans. While you’re checking out some foreign land or distant place, don’t forget to see what your state has to offer you.

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