From the late 1800s into the early 1940s, dozens of Northern California communities were connected by electric “interurban” railroads. Before private vehicles were the norm, people used the interurban for shopping, visiting, even courting their sweethearts. The biggest player was the Sacramento Northern, whose trunk line stretched 184 miles from Chico to San Francisco—and whose heritage is preserved at the Western Railway Museum in Solano County.
With 80-odd cars in its collection, many from defunct Bay Area lines that grandparents might remember, the museum is one of the most prominent facilities of its kind in the West. It’s also one of the most welcoming to DogTrekkers, with a policy that allows visitors with dogs not only on the grounds, but on the trains.
For the price of admission ($10 adults, $7 children), visitors—including dogs—can enjoy unlimited rides on historic streetcars that make a circuit around the grounds, along with 50-minute rides in old interurban train cars along a five-mile stretch of electrified track that traverses a slice of rural landscape little changed in 100 years. The shady picnic grounds offer a delightful place to unpack your ice chest and enjoy refreshments.
DogTrekkers are reminded to bring their own pickup bags, along with a collapsible water bowl for Rover. Before hopping on, make sure your four-legged friend doesn’t freak at the sounds made by these sedate relics of another time. Hissing air brakes and rocking floors are not, after all, every canine’s cup of kibble.
"Siberian Husky in Train Window" – Jean Mottorshead" (CC)
"Western Railway Museum" – Janet Fullwood, DogTrekker