Located in Jamestown, Railtown consists of the historic roundhouse complex of the Sierra Railway, including three original locomotives. It has been in continuous operation since 1897, when the shortline railroad was founded to transport lumber, marble and ore out of the foothills, and bring passengers and goods in.
This type of roundhouse architecture is practically extinct in the United States, and it is even more unusual to find it in operating condition, with its original equipment in place. Visitors are encouraged to visit the historic park to experience the railroad way of life during the late 19th century.
This one-of-a-kind attraction combines industrial heritage and railroad history with the lore of Hollywood's film industry. The Railtown 1897 Interpretive Center, the authentic roundhouse and shops, and the Depot Store (a railroad specialty gift shop) are among the Park's unique year-round offerings.
Steam trains run on weekends, April-October, and Tuesdays see a lot of activity in the yard as volunteers engage in maintenance work projects, often in public display. Visitors who come to ride the trains often overlook the roundhouse and shops. On operating weekends, be sure to arrive early and watch the crew bring the locomotive out of the roundhouse and on to the turntable. The reverse can be seen after the last train.
Railtown 1897 State Historic Park is sometimes called "The Movie Railroad" because of the many films and TV shows filmed here, including High Noon, Petticoat Junction, Back to the Future III, Rawhide, Unforgiven, and many others. It was also the movie industry that provided the financial incentive for the Railroad to preserve and maintain the roundhouse and steam locomotives. They were still in demand for filming, at a time when many railroads were scrapping their historic equipment with the introduction of diesels.