Sacramento to Walnut Grove

The Walnut Grove Branch

Picture Point of Interest

Map submitted by Paul Carr.

Showing of

This is a view of the CSRM's operations, taken at Baths, on the former SP Walnut Grove Branch. The locomotive is Granite Rock #10. Photo by Paul Carr, September 2008.

The Walnut Grove Branch of the Southern Pacific was built to compete for agricultural trade from the rich Sacramento Delta area. Reclamation of the area was booming around the turn of the century (1900), and a route south from SP's Sacramento base of operations would compete well and provide a new mainline to the San Francisco area. The line was completed to Walnut Grove in 1912, and extended to its ultimate terminus at Isleton in 1929. The right-of-way passes through the outskirts of downtown Sacramento, suburban sprawl, and lastly agricultural land. Traffic was almost exclusively agricultural goods from packing plants and transshipment points in the various small towns that line the Sacramento River along this route. The line is unique in that it is built almost entirely on levees, often perched above the Sacramento River or an adjoining slough. The line was in service to Isleton until a 1971 flood, and to Hood until 1977.

Today (2004), tracks are in place along much of the right of way north of Hood to the Sacramento City limits. In Hood and Locke, the remnants of spurs to riverside cold storage facilities and warehouses are visible through the pavement alongside state highway 160. Locke is a historically significant "Chinatown" of the Delta, where many descendants of transcontinental railroad laborers settled. The bridge over the channel separating Walnut Grove and Locke is in place (see photo) and in Isleton, the rail loading facilities at a riverside storage silo are clearly visible. To see the Isleton branch, State Highway 160 and the associated river roads on the east side of Sacramento provide the most access. Abandoned rails still cross Hood-Franklin Road approximately 1/2 mile east of Hood, and the junction of the spur to Hood is clearly visible at this location (Hood Junction in the timetable), although much of it is being overtaken by vegetation. Between Hood and Locke, the right of way is now a private gravel road. Track is still in place south of Baths until Hood Franklin Road, although much of it is being overtaken by vegetation.

The State of California acquired substantial portions of the right-of-way in conjunction with the development of the California State Railroad Museum. It operates excursions on the northernmost few miles within the City of Sacramento. It may be extended further down the line in the future.

Thanks to Jack Witthaus and Paul Carr for contributing information about this route.

Historic ICC Abandonment Filings

Docket Number: AB-12 Sub 19 Date: 6/19/1975 Section: 1(18)
Application for authority to abandon a line of railroad from MP 104.96 near Hood Jct, southerly to the end of Walnut Grove Branch at MP 122.11 near Isleton, a distance of 17.13 mi., in Sacramento County, Calif.
Length: 17.13 miles Citation:  
Docket Number: AB 12 Sub 40 Date: 7/30/1976 Section: 1a
Application filed for authority to abandon a line of railroad extending from MP 91.10 near Sacramento in a southerly direction to the end of the branch at MP 104.96 near Hood, a distance of 13.86 miles in Sacramento County, California. (This Includes stations of Baths, Del Rio, Freeport, Hood Junction and Hood).
Length: 13.86 miles Citation:  

this is a great and fun website - thanks for putting all this together. I happen to live nearby this abandoned line - and thus have taken quite some photos of it, please see:

and then go to SP Walnut Grove Branch set.

Sacramento, CA


I've heard that this route is due for rebuilding for the Sacramento Southern Railroad's tourist operation, which is operated by the California State Railroad Museum.

Andy Sammonds
San Jose, CA


You have heard correct Andy but, their MOW crew has a focus on the current ROW that is in operation now and would need a significan influx of cash to upgrade a larger portion of the line.



I used to live less than a block from this line, and have fond memories of watching the trains go by in the early 70's. I would very surprised if this line ever went active again. The tracks there are currently in pretty bad shape or missing in spots, and the neighbors would likely object.

Brad Wetmore


What rail weight does the sacrament southern railroad ?

Sheridan , AR


The original line had rail weight of 75 lb main 112 lb crossing , the information I am looking for is the current rail weight a youtube video had the rail weight on some of the line 90 lb to 115lb rail weight is this for all of the line or just that section ?

Sheridan , AR


So the Hood Spur is totally lifted and track removed?

Steve Donaldson
Central Calif. Coast, CA


Shortened Link:

Do you have any pictures or information about The Walnut Grove Branch? Please . You will get credit for anything you contribute.