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“An Absolute Treasure”

Western Pacific Railroad Museum
Ranked #1 of 7 things to do in Portola
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Owner description: Historical railroad museum featuring a unique Run-a-Locomotive program, which allows anyone to rent and operate a train on the museum premises.
Reviewed July 17, 2013

We visited the WPRRM and spent much of the day there. If you like trains or technology in general, you will love it. We climbed all over locomotives and other rolling stock--this isn't some prissy "don't touch the artifacts" museum. We also opted for a once in a lifetime experience--drove the museum's Western Pacific F7 locomotive. The engineer was really nice and interesting. We drove a 230,000#/1500 hp. locomotive back and forth 6-7 times over an hour. It was such a great experience. Places like this are a huge asset and deserve our support. The area itself is beautiful and it's not too far from Reno--less than an hour. I can't rate this place highly enough.

Thank photolandscape
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviews (47)
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Reviewed January 23, 2013

I visited the WPRM last summer with my grandson, we are both "train nuts", also visited the Williams loop, the Keddie Wye and the Clio trestle and had a grand time. The staff at the museum include active engineers who are exceedingly knowledgeable and were willing to answer my dumbest questions politely! They are a wealth of information!
I was so glad to see the WP F-Units... And the wrecking crane! And UP had a wrecker parked on a siding nearby.
So all in all, we had a great time!

Thank Bob P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 30, 2012

This is a low key, small town event. It has been a part of our family's holiday traditions for years and I wouldn't miss it.

Thank NashvilleNeighbor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 12, 2012

We showed up on a weekday morning in late August. There was exactly one car in the parking lot. When we went in, there was no one around even though we hollered several times. The gift shop was closed with a sign to leave the entry fee in the box. We knew there must be someone around because we could hear the diesel engine down on the balloon track running and occasional whistles from it. We wandered thru several of the rooms in the shed, but the exhibits were very poorly done. It all began to feel like a Fellini movie. About that time, a young man did appear coming from the sounds of the engine and apologized that they were short handed, but advised us to walk around. He then vanished somewhere. We went outside. I was a train nut in my youth, so it was sort of interesting to me, although almost none of the rolling stock even had a label on it to tell you anything about it. My wife just rolled her eyes.

As we were about to leave, another person appeared between cars carrying coffee. He looked a little surprised to see us, but stayed and answered questions. He was a volunteer working on a project at the museum of repairing a caboose. They seem to be big on cabooses here. I did learn some interesting things from him and was surprised by his assertion that many of the locomotives were operational. He also explained the program whereby the train you to run an actual locomotive. This costs extra, although I don't recall the amount. After talking to him for about a half hour we left.

My wife said she saw a third person, but I missed him

I think it is unfortunate that more isn't done to make an actual museum out of this. At present it seems like Union Pacific is using it as a dumping ground for old rolling stock. The volunteer even told me one of the Century Series locos is still owned by UP and kept in reserve at the museum. In the museum's present form, I would only go if I was going to run the engines

1  Thank Ken J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 27, 2012

What a great opportunity for rail fans! If you are a train enthusiast I would highly recommend this museum. This museum has over 30 locomotives and 100 cars. They encourage you to climb into the locomotive cabs and explore the cabooses. There is also a small collection of railroad artifacts inside the museum as well as some cars they are restoring. I went on a weekday, Aug 27, 2012. On weekends during the summer they offer caboose and cab rides and even the opportunity to operate a vintage diesel locomotive with a private instructor. Check their website for schedules, fees and further info on the run a locomotive opportunity.

Most of this is located outside in a rail yard, so dress appropriately for the weather (don't forget the sunscreen) and exploring (yes you will get dirty). The ground is large gravel and railroad tracks so I would think that may be a challenge for some people to negotiate. If you have special needs I would suggest you call ahead about accessibility. Getting on and off the trains does require climbing up and down steep steps/ladder. Lastly, if you are new to traveling in this area it is always wise to check with CalTrans for road conditions before heading up.

Thank Coast2CoastSolo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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