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Roseville & Railroads
Nov 09, '20


Joseph H. Baillie (1920-96)

Made his post WW2 home there. He loved Railroads and locomotives. The 1950s diesel locomotives were not that much difference from co-piloting a B-17!

He found happiness in riding the rails.



In 1864, a track-laying crew from the Central Pacific Railroad came eastward across the plain from Sacramento, building the western half of the nation's first transcontinental railroad. They crossed a small rail line (the California Central Railroad) that linked the young towns of Lincoln and Folsom, and gave the spot the imaginative name of Junction.

Over the next forty years, Junction evolved into Roseville, a trading center for area farmers. It was greatly overshadowed by neighboring Rocklin, where the Southern Pacific Railroad maintained it's Roundhouse facilities.

Then, in 1906, feeling the need to expand, the Southern Pacific Railroad moved its facilities to Roseville where it remains (and is still the largest rail yard on the west coast). The city incorporated April 15, 1909. The new town built sewer lines and organized its fire department. During the three year period between 1911 and 1914, the citizens of Roseville erected more than 100 structures including the Carnegie Library which now houses the museum.

In 1913, the Pacific Fruit Express, the largest ice manufacturing plant in the world was constructed in Roseville to chill fruits and vegetables being shipped from California to other parts of the country. In 1914, the Roseville Telephone Company was formed.


By 1929, the railroad employed up to 1,225 people in it's Roseville yard assembling trains, repairing engines, and handling freight. Then came the Great Depression. It hit Placer County as hard as the rest of the country, but more than 2,000 of Roseville's unemployed found jobs in the Federal Works Progress Administration (W.P.A), paving streets, pouring sidewalks, and building storm sewers. Many sidewalks in older sections of Roseville still have "W.P.A." embossed in the concrete.

The rail yards of Roseville became busier than ever with the onset of World War II. Then the post-war building boom brought continued prosperity, including upgrades to the city owned electric system and construction of a new city hospital. The years 1948 through 1950 saw the construction of a new city hospital and the Washington Street underpass to carry traffic under Vernon Street and the Southern Pacific rail yard tracks.

The pattern of life changed in the fifties. The railroad found stiff competition from the airlines and the development of the national interstate highway system brought competition from interstate truckers. In the late fifties, Interstate 80 came through Roseville, Rocklin, Loomis and Auburn, linking South Placer County with the rest of Northern California. Folsom Dam was completed in 1955, creating a reservoir about eight miles east of Roseville that provided the city with a dependable domestic water supply as well as an excellent recreational amenity.

Donner Pass

Donner Pass (el. 7,056 ft [2,151 m]) is a mountain pass in the northern Sierra Nevada, above Donner Lake about 9 miles (14 km) west of Truckee, California. Like the Sierra Nevada mountains themselves, the pass has a steep approach from the east and a gradual approach from the west.

The pass has been used by the California Trail, First Transcontinental Railroad, Overland Route, Lincoln Highway and Victory Highway (both later U.S. Route 40 and still later Donner Pass Road), as well as indirectly by Interstate 80. The pass gets its name from the ill-fated Donner Party who overwintered there in 1846.

Today the area is home to a thriving recreational community with several alpine lakes and ski resorts (Donner Ski Ranch, Boreal, and Sugar Bowl). The permanent communities in the area include Kingvale and Soda Springs, as well as the larger community below the pass surrounding Donner Lake.


To reach California from the east, pioneers had to get their wagons over the Sierra Nevada mountain range. In 1844 the Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Party followed the Truckee River into the mountains. At the head of what is now called Donner Lake, they found a low notch in the mountains and became the first overland settlers to use the pass. The pass was named after a later group of California-bound settlers. In early November 1846 the Donner Party found the route blocked by snow and was forced to spend the winter on the east side of the mountains. Of the 81 settlers, only 45 survived to reach California; some of them resorting to cannibalism to survive.

On January 13, 1952, 222 passengers and crew aboard a train became stranded about 17 miles (27 km) west of Donner Pass at Yuba Pass, on Track #1 adjacent to Tunnel 35 (on Track #2), at about MP 176.5. Southern Pacific Railroad's passenger train City of San Francisco was en route westbound through the gap when a blizzard dumped so much snow the train was unable to move forward or reverse. The passengers and crew were stranded for three days until the nearby highway could be plowed sufficiently for a caravan of automobiles to carry them the few miles to Nyack Lodge.


Nov 09, '20
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