The Sacramento & San Joaquin


The Sacramento & San Joaquin is envisioned as a S-Scale proto-freelanced short line subsidiary of the Western Pacific.  Theoretically, the Sacramento & San Joaquin was built by the Western Pacific during a period of rapid expansion within California's agriculturally rich central valley.  The Western Pacific acquired the Tidewater Southern in 1917, the Sacramento Northern in 1922, and built the Sacramento & San Joaquin between 1918 and 1923.  And, in 1928 the Western Pacific acquired and partial interest in the Central California Traction.  All were acquired to feed traffic to Western Pacific's mainline between Oakland, California and connections in Salt Lake City, UT.

The Tidewater Southern started out as an electric interurban railway.  It was incorporated in 1912 to build a standard gauge electric railway for Stockton, CA down the San Joaquin Valley to Fresno, CA.  By October of 1912, the first 32 miles between Stockton and Modesto were in operation.  The 32 mile trip took 65 minutes and by 1915 there were 24 trains daily between Stockton and Modesto.  A non-electrified 16 mile extension to Turlock, CA bought the total mileage up to 49 miles by the end of 1916.  In 1917 the Tidewater Southern was purchased by the Western Pacific and another 8 miles were added, south down the San Joaquin Valley, to Hilmar, CA.  A freight only branch to Manteca, CA was added in 1918.

                                  Hilmar, CA - The Tidewater Southern Freight house and produce shed

Declining passenger traffic, due primarily to competition by automobiles, led to a steady reduction of passenger service and by the end of 1931 there were only 8 daily trips between Stockton and Modesto.  In May of of 1932, all interurban passenger service was suspended and replaced by daily steam powered mixed train service.

In 1921, the Western Pacific incorporated the Sacramento & San Joaquin Railway for the purpose of extending the Tidewater Southern across the Merced River, south to Fresno, CA, and down the San Joaquin valley to Bakersfield, CA.  By the end of 1922, the bridge across the Merced River was built and line extended south 10 miles before turning east and crossing the Southern Pacific and the Santa Fe south of Merced, CA.  From Merced, the line skirted the eastern side of the valley to Clovis.  During 1923 the line was extended south, with a short branch west to Fresno, and an interchange with the Southern Pacific, south through Redbanks, Citrus Heights, Lemon Cove, and on to Oildale 5 miles northeast of Bakersfield.  This routing bisected the rich citrus growing region to the east of Visalia, before terminating in the oil fields near Bakersfield.  The total route mileage, including 54 miles of trackage rights over the Tidewater Southern, between Stockton and Oildale was 251 miles.

The 197 mile line between HIlmar and Oildale remained unchanged for the next 34 years.  In 1957 the original 1922 alignment between Hilmar and Merced and the trackage rights over the Tidewater Southern between Hilmar and Stockton were abandoned in favor of trackage rights over the Santa Fe between Merced and Stockton.  The change dramatically reduced transit times between Stockton and Merced and eliminated the need to replace the original bridge over the Merced River.  The new trackage rights agreement with the Santa Fe clipped 13 miles off the old routing via the Tidewater Southern and increased track speeds from an average of 35 mph over the Sacramento & San Joaquin/Tidewater Southern routing to 60 mph on the Santa Fe.

The Sacramento & San Joaquin current route map (1962)

Track Planning Ideas

Citrus Heights – Citrus Heights is based primarily on structures found in Hemit in Riverside County.  The large structure on the left, was the Hemit Packing Company.  The building on the right belonged to the Hemit Walnut Growers Association. All of these buildings are gone today.  80% of the Almonds and about 40% of the Walnuts that are consumed worldwide come from California.  During the 1960’s about 25% of the Almonds came from the San Joaquin Valley.  Walnuts, to a lesser degree, were also grown in Tulare County.  The farm supply business is based upon Berryville Farm Supply in Berryville, VA.


                            Valley Farm Supply                                                                        Citrus Heights Packing Company


                                            Tulare Valley Almond Growers Assosiation


Redbanks – Redbanks is based upon Hillmaid on the Santa Fe’s Porterville District near Visalia, CA.  The location was known as East Redbanks on the Southern Pacific/Visalia Electric.  Hillmaid is surrounded by orange groves and Sierra Eagle is still in business.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t been served by rail since 1992.  I am building a slightly scaled down S Scale 1962 version of the Hillmaid packing house that is about 6 feet long.  The Visalia Electric (Southern Pacific) crossed in the foreground of the picture just to the north of the packing house on a ninety degree angle.  The Hull Farmers Co-op is located in Fallbrook, CA on the Southern Pacific’s Santa Paula Branch.  Redbanks would fit nicely, in S-Scale, on two 30” by 84” modules.



                     Sierra Eagle Packing Company (Jim Lancaster Photo)









                               Coop Warehouse                                                                                                                                     


Lemon Cove Lemon Cove turned out to be the perfect home for my S-Scale model of the National Orange Company in Riverside, CA.  The prototype for the Lemon Cove Packers is in Santa Paula, CA.  The simple Santa Paula structure was chosen to compliment the complexity of the National Orange Company. The National Orange Company is about 7” deep and designed to go up against a back drop.  For this reason, Lemon Cove would fit nicely, in S-Scale, on two 24” by 72” modules.



                                                                                                          National Orange Company







                                     Lemon Cove Packers


Motive Power

The 1957 trackage rights agreement and higher operating speeds bought about major changes to the Sacramento & San Joaquin's motive power requirements.  Prior to 1957, the locomotive roster was dominated by EMD switchers; primairly second hand SW-1's, SW-9's, and a couple of Alco RS-3's.  In 1957, four used EMD F-3's and F-7's were acquired along with two used cabooses in order to maintain track speeds on the the Santa Fe.  The first two F-3's were painted into parent Western Pacific's silver and orange scheme.  The second two were painted into the "new" Sacramento & San Joaquin standard paint scheme; traction orange with black frames and trucks.

The first two Sacramento & San Joaquin F-3's were purchased from a used locomotive dealer in 1957.  Both were painted by the WP into the then current "WP" scheme.  As was WP's policy at the time, they were lettered for the subsidiary road.  The two F-3's were equipped with steam boilers.
Two used F-7's followed the F-3's in late 1957.  Unlike the F-3's, that were painted by the WP in Stockton, the F-7's were painted by the Sacramento & San Joaquin at Clovis.  Most of the silver was dropped in favor of traction orange.  The F-7's were not boiler equipped.


During the fall of 1958, the Sacramento & San Joaquin acquired its first new locomotive.  While WP preferred EMD, the largely "hands off" approach of  the parent company led to the purchase of a Alco RS-11.  Not only could the Alco out perform the competition, it was cheaper.  In addition, Alco was offering good terms and a 10% trade in credit for one of the old RS-3's.  A second RS-11 was added during the spring of 1959 using the second RS-3 for trade in credit.  In 1961 the third and final Alco was added to the roster, an RS-32 purchased without trade in credit.  Two new International Car Company extended vision cabooses were added at the same time.
The three Alco's came from the factory painted traction orange with black roofs and silver under-frame and trucks.