My dad has been working for years to research our family’s genealogy and over the years he has connected with family members around the world and has even had the chance to meet some of them in person. One of those distant family members happens to live right here in the Sacramento region.
Jim Martorella is part of a local steam engine railroading club that operates out of Hagen Community Park in Rancho Cordova and has a train that you can ride on. My dad has invited us to check out the train a couple times, but it never worked in our schedule until now.
Just a few weeks ago, Carter and I met up with my sister and her family, my cousin, and my dad at Hagen Community Park to meet Jim, check out his train, and attend a train club meet. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and because it was 100 degrees and crazy hot, I wasn’t super excited to go.
But then we arrived and wow…
Steam Engines and Trains Galore
Holy Moly! How on earth have I had kids for the past 14 years and not known about the railroad and steam trains at Hagen Park?
When we walked up, it was like walking into a real railroad yard, but in miniature. Gorgeous, elaborate trains were up on elevated tracks being worked on and polished — and I’m not talking about play tracks either. These were legit, real, railroad tracks!
First, we just wanted to look at all the amazing trains and quickly found ourselves immersed in a train hobbyists dream with puffs of steam rising into the air, whistles tooting in the distance, and the sound of trains chugging down the tracks.
This was a full weekend live steamers meet and campout, where families of train owners come together to share information and techniques, work on their trains, drive them along the tracks, and relax under the trees.
Here in the railyard, we met Jim and got an up close look at his steam engine and train&hellp; and then we got take turns going for train rides through Hagen Community Park!
The scenic railway is beautiful. The tracks curve and twist through the big shade trees, across grassy fields, past the river, and even across some incredible railroad bridges. Carter and I were surprised at just how long the train tracks go for and we loved passing other trains on the railway and hearing the whistles blow.
Overall, this was a pretty fantastic experience and I am so happy we had the opportunity to visit the event, meet Jim, and learn more about these small steam engines and trains that really are more like works of art! If you ever get the chance to check out the trains at Hagen Park, do it!
Sacramento Valley Live Streamers Railroad Museum
The Sacramento Valley Live Steamers Railroad Museum is located at Hagan Community Park in Rancho Cordova, California and is dedicated to preserving the lore and history of American steam railroading with a fully-functioning steam engine and railroad for children and adults alike to ride on and enjoy.
Today the main line is over 6,300 feet long with many sidings and several yards. The ride is scenic as the track passes under large shade trees, through grassy meadows, by the American River, and over wooden trestles, a 40 foot truss bridge, and a girder deck bridge.
The organization started in 1968 and the initial 2,000 foot track completed in 1973 with a Golden Spike ceremony that was toasted with cold chocolate milk poured from a long spouted oil can. In 1992, the organization acquired more land and expanded the track to more than a mile of mainline.
Know Before You Go
- At nearly 80 acres, Hagan Community Park is the largest park within Cordova Recreation And Park District. It is located at 2197 Chase Drive, Rancho Cordova, California 95670. Chase Drive travels directly into Hagan Community Park.
- The park is open from sunrise to sunset.
- The Sacramento Valley Live Steamers Railroad Museum (a 7 1/2″ and 4 3/4″ gauge railroad) was founded around 1965 and completed with a Golden Spike ceremony in 1973.
- There is more than one mile of main railroad line that includes yards, sidings, trestles and bridges, is located within the Hagan Community Park.
- Public train rides are given on the first weekend of the month March through October.
- During Christmas, Sacramento Valley Live Steamers offers the Santa Train Experience where you can ride a train to have your picture taken with Santa.
- School trips, birthday parties, and company events can reserve the facilities to have train rides and learn about steam engines, trains and railroading.
- View the Sacramento Valley Live Steamers schedule and track map.