The Sacramento Valley Railroad

From the early 1800s New England boasted railroads, factories, and telegraph lines–but prior to the Gold Rush, California was a pastoral land with none of these hallmarks of civilization. The first railroad west of the Mississippi was the Sacramento Valley Railroad, officially opened for passenger and freight transport in February 1856 with speeches, flowing champagne and a grand ball. The route, originally planned as a longer one from Sacramento through Folsom and from there to Marysville, terminated just 22 miles east in Folsom, due to financial setbacks and other problems. Construction costs soared to $1,380,000—a staggering sum in 1856—yet dwarfed by today’s estimated construction costs of $1 million per track mile to replicate the original. Fare from Sacramento to Folsom in 1856 was $2.00 each way. The Central Pacific Railroad purchased the SVRR in 1865. Today the same track bed, if not the same tracks, is used by Light Rail in its daily sojourn between downtown Sacramento and Folsom.

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