Proposed steam tourist train to Sacramento Zoo has some ‘fuming’

What I cannot tell you is how many similar situations there were to the one I’m about to describe nor how matters along these same lines were resolved, but in Sacramento, California, there is interest in bringing tourists and others courtesy of a steam train ride into the Sacramento Zoo area from Old Sacramento where the world-famous California State Railroad Museum is located. Steam train excursions from the museum grounds currently operate along an associated section of track toward the zoological park in question, only do not go all the way to the zoo; well, not yet, anyway. It is my understanding a meeting to further review the matter was scheduled for May 2, 2014.

At any rate, to bring you more up to speed on the matter, Tony Bizjak on Apr. 10, 2014 in “State backs off plans for trains through South Land Park,” in the Sacramento Bee reported: “Zoo officials have expressed interest in extending the tourist train to the zoo from its current end point a quarter-mile away along the Sacramento River, saying it could relieve the parking crunch near the zoo in Land Park and attract more visitors, who could take the train from Old Sacramento rather than driving. Numerous South Land Park residents, however, have said they do not want the trains to head any farther south on the old rail line that runs behind backyards.”

So what are those who are opposed, opposed to, exactly?

Apparently, privacy concerns as in train passengers peering into back yards and worries about increased noise and air pollution, the last on account of these trains being steam-locomotive-hauled are the main thrusts in terms of what is driving this opposition.

A few questions:

NewOrleansHUDRedStreetcarRiverfrontCanal[1] As for those among the “nimby” (not in my back yard) crowd railing against the plan, would they be any more forgiving or amenable if the situation was such that in place of steam-locomotive-hauled trains trundling their way past back yards shuttling trainloads of tourists, tourist-filled paddle-wheel steamers “cruised” on by instead; that is, provided such were beach- or river-front property dwellers? More relatedly, what about keeping the trains; however, in place of the steam locomotive, an operating vintage diesel engine fills in in this role? Would this make a difference? Or, if not that, how about, say, stringing trolley-pole wire for the purpose of running historic streetcars along what would then be an electrified rail right-of-way?

I imagine something along these lines working and, besides, coupled with an electric trolley operation there is the upside of air quality concerns being suitably addressed.

I mean, I would think a workable solution could be found especially considering there is but a scant quarter-mile distance between the location of the zoo in question and where the train-run currently ends.

For what it’s worth, “The excursion train plans are part of a proposed Old Sacramento State Historic Park General Plan, a 20-year vision for improving the park that includes a new rail technology museum and new Gold Rush and post-Gold Rush interpretive areas,” Bizjak wrote.

– Alan Kandel

2 thoughts on “Proposed steam tourist train to Sacramento Zoo has some ‘fuming’”

  1. Steam loacamotives are very dirty. They burn coal and emit a lot of smoke and tar like odor. They also throw lots of burning embers. That is why steam locomotives in western movies have the funnel shaped exhaust to catch embers. There were causing too many fires without it. I’ve taken the steam cog train at Mt. Washington on the east coast. The smoke is horrible.


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