In 1880 the SPCRR was the South Pacific Coast Railroad, a narrow-gauge railroad that steamed south across the marshes and farms of Alameda and Santa Clara Counties, then wound through the mountains and forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains until it reached the ocean at Santa Cruz.
The SPCRR carried lumber from the Santa Cruz Mountains and produce from the Santa Clara Valley to build and feed the growing cities of Oakland and San Francisco. It carried commuters, travelers, and tourists from small farm towns and logging camps to big cities. It maintained a fleet of locomotives, baggage cars, passenger cars, box cars, flat cars and cabooses from shops in Newark, California.
Engines and cars wrecked in the Santa Cruz Mountains arrived in Newark as wrecks on flatcars and returned to service under their own steam. The Carter Brothers car shops turned out logging disconnects, flatcars, boxcars, coaches, baggage cars, cabooses, cable cars, and street cars. The first industry in Newark spawned a foundry, hotels, homes and even a church.
Today the SPCRR is the Society for the Preservation of Carter Railroad Resources, a non-profit 501(c) corporation operating the Railroad Museum at Ardenwood Historic Farm Regional Park in Fremont, California close to the original Carter Shops in Newark.
The Railroad Museum restores equipment representative of those bygone days. Our collection contains over 17 wooden cars from the 1870s to the 1920s. Most of the cars were built by the Carter Brothers in Newark or the West Side Lumber Company. We are actively restoring 3 cars and have 7 cars in service. We operate on 1-1/2 miles of track in Ardenwood recreating the original SPCRR's Centerville Branch using a 1885 North Pacific Coast RR flatcar set up as a picnic car on scheduled runs through farm fields and Eucalyptus groves.
Our restoration efforts are usually performed at our yards at the end of the line, but on interpretive days they are performed in front of the park visitors using hand tools and 19th. century techniques. On special event days costumed brakemen and drivers operate the branch railroad and tell stories; blacksmiths shape iron and steel into box-car parts; carpenters construct mortise and tenon joints and repair cars; laborers lay track; and mechanics tend the journal-boxes and brake-gear on the cars.
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