Folsom Valley Railway
The Folsom Valley Railway (FV) is a small, heritage railway operating in Placerville, California. The railroad operates an extensive network of vintage trackage throughout the city, including a downtown loop that allows operations on the outer portions of the property without going too far out of town. For many years, the railroad has operated one operational steam locomotive: a little-known 2-ton Baldwin with Walschaerts valve gear named “Pegasus.” The engine was built in 1914 as part of a series of experimental designs by Baldwin to test their new turbine technology. It’s little more than a lawn ornament today and frequently gets retired from service due to mechanical problems. However, it still manages to make appearances from time to time and has even been given some degree of cosmetic restoration over the years. This railway is located at 50 Natoma St, Folsom, CA 95630.
How We Discovered the Folsom Valley Railway
We first heard about the Folsom Valley Railway in late 2013 and early 2014, through a number of friends who were in the area and had taken notice of the railway’s operations. We were particularly interested in the locomotive, which we’d heard was a 2-ton Baldwin 2-6-0, built in 1914 as part of a series of experimental designs by Baldwin to test their new turbine technology. We hoped that we might be able to take a look at the locomotive in some way, but unfortunately, the near- impossibility of such a trip seemed to keep us out of Folsom. For this reason, we had no idea how we’d end up discovering the railway ourselves.
Background on the Pegasus Locomotive
The Pegasus locomotive was built in 1914 as part of a series of experimental designs by Baldwin to test their new turbine technology. After testing the engines on the Folsom Valley Railway, Baldwin is said to have sold off the rest of the models and the engines were relegated to the role of lawn ornaments. In later life, the engine was painted black, and its wheels were removed. It has been reported as being put into storage in the late 1950s, and is believed to have been moved to the grounds of the Folsom Railroad Museum around the same time. It was at that museum that it was restored by a member of the Sacramento chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Browse around this site
Final Words: What’s Next for the FV?
We’re excited about the possibilities for the future of the Folsom Valley Railway and would love to see the railway expand its reach further into the city and out to Folsom Lake State Park. We’d also like to see some long-term plans for museum exhibits, railfan activities, and educational programs being implemented. With the railroad being so close to the shores of Folsom Lake, it seems like a natural fit to add some kind of paddling excursion to the mix. The railway could also use some additional funding to better maintain its trackage, and to make sure that it has a reliable means of power generation. With all this in mind, we’re hoping that the Folsom Valley Railway can continue to be a great resource for the community and a place to experience something very unique in the country. Don’t miss the next one
It’s unfortunate that the Folsom Valley Railway has been overlooked by many visitors and people from the area, likely due to the fact that it’s not visible from the Interstate 5 freeway. It’s a great little railroad that could be even better with some clean-up, maintenance, and expansion. Nevertheless, we hope that the railway continues to operate and be a community asset for many years to come.
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