Northern California Railfan Recommendations?

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  • Member since
    December 2004
  • 380 posts
Northern California Railfan Recommendations?
Posted by BNSF4ever on Thursday, July 30, 2009 7:37 PM


I'm a San Francisco Bay Area resident and I've done Stockton Tower, Jack London Square, and Niles Junction. Can anyone recommend any other locations where I can spend a morning and afternoon and see plenty of trains to make it worth while?

  • Member since
    May 2008
  • From: Orange CA
  • 20 posts
Posted by glh3751 on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 12:49 AM

I'd recommend that you check out ELVAS, north and east of downtown Sacramento.  You can park inside the wye (the Tower is long gone) and catch UP and Amtrak (San Joaquins / Capitals / Zephyr) on all three legs all day.  Depending upon the time of day and lighting, you have lot of "props" to add to your photos - bridges, signals, etc.   I have not had any security issues - either from "local residents" or from RR or Local police, but you never know...

 I also like Roseville - depending upon the time and sun angle, there are great views from public property all around the yard, especially on the eastend near the depot.

 Enjoy!    GLH3751

  • Member since
    January 2005
  • From: Ely, Nv.
  • 6,312 posts
Posted by chad thomas on Friday, August 21, 2009 3:43 PM

 Elvas and Roseville are probably the best bet to catch lots of trains (Stockton too). The Amtrak platform in Roseville is a great, hassle free spot, you could even take a Capitol corridor train to get there. If you are willing to travel a bit more, Binney jct. up in Marysville is a nice busy spot. This is where the UP's ex SP north-south line crosses the Feather River (exWP) line. All BNSF's north-south traffic also uses this line to get to the old inside gateway, as well as the Overland trackage rights trains that don't go over Donner (1-2 a day). The Coast Starlight runs through there too. Beyond those busy junctions there are lots of very scenic places with not as much traffic. Donner Pass, the Feather River Canyon and the Shasta line are all 'must see' in my opinion.

  • Member since
    July 2004
  • From: Carmichael, CA
  • 8,055 posts
Posted by twhite on Tuesday, August 25, 2009 5:56 PM

Truckee, CA on the east side of Donner Pass can be a pretty good sight for watching trains on the ex-SP Donner Pass line.  Traffic at times can be a little 'iffy' , but UP is starting to put more "Overland" trains on Donner these days, plus the twice a day "California Zephyr" between Chicago and Oakland, which--if on time--goes through westbound around noon and eastbound around mid-afternoon. 

The last time I was there, the afternoon seemed to be the best time for train-watching.  UP ran about six trains through, both east and westbound in the space of a little over two hours.  The old SP classic-style Truckee passenger station (now AMTRAK) is a perfect place to watch them and is hassle-free.  And the surrounding scenery is spectacular.   And Truckee itself, is a very neat mountain town with some good restaurants.

Best time is spring and summer--the winters can get a little ferocious up there, unless you're used to snow--and a LOT of it!  Tongue

Tom Smile 


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