The Golden Spike Ceremony at Promontory Summit, Utah on May 10, 1869 celebrated the joining of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads in the nation’s first transcontinental railway. The railroad ran between Sacramento, California (Central Pacific RR) and Omaha, Nebraska (Union Pacific RR) connecting east to west. However, the last link of the transcontinental railroad, connecting Sacramento to the San Francisco Bay, was not actually completed for another four months. Part of that original track is still in existence and you can ride it today on the Niles Canyon Railway.
The Niles Canyon Railway is an eleven mile track lying between Sunol and the Niles district of Fremont, California. Last weekend my husband and I stepped back in time and rode the rails on a beautiful sunny day. We boarded at the Niles Station, riding the steam train to Sunol – stepped off, took photos – and reboarded, this time pulled by the diesel train, for the ride back to Niles. For various reasons the steam train only leads one way, but the diesel is fun to ride too.
Passengers can ride inside the cars on comfortable padded seats and look out the windows or sit in an open car to feel the wind on your face. We began on the inside car but quickly moved outside in order to see as much as possible. It was too exciting to sit so we each found a corner and stood the whole time. It was wonderful to hear the tracks clacking underneath and to see the beautiful green hills of the Niles Canyon.
This will be a big year for trains as the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railway is this year. The Niles Canyon RR will have their own celebration on May 11-12, 2019 at 10 am and 1:30 pm. There will be train rides with photos, lunch and souvenirs. Tickets for that event start at $50 and go much higher. https://www.eventbrite.com/o/niles-canyon-railway-station-agentncryorg-908447931
Regular train fares are cheaper (see chart below). The trains run on SUNDAYS ONLY with the steam locomotive running only on select Sundays. Call 510-996-8420 to find out more or visit their website https://www.ncry.org/
Here are a few more photos of our train ride. Hopefully you too will be able to ride the train soon. It is a wonderful day out for the family and the historic town of Niles is definitely worth a visit!