Nimbus to Folsom, CA

The first common carrier rail line in California was built between Sacramento and Folsom, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It was eventually absorbed into the Southern Pacific.

Around the 1980s the eastern end of the line, between Nimbus and Folsom, was abandoned. The right-of-way was used to extend US 50 as a divided highway; the ROW was paved over by the new eastbound lanes. The abandonment in turn forced the closure of the SP branch to Placerville. This Placerville branch diverted from the SP line to Folsom near Natoma.

In the late 1980s, Sacramento began operation of its light rail line; the southern leg was built along the SP Folsom branch. Over the years the light rail line has extended further eastward. In 2004-2005, the extension to Folsom was approved, and the rails returned to Folsom. The eastern end of the light rail line runs parallel to the former right-of-way of the SP, since the light rail line was added after US 50 was widened.

This shows the light-rail line facing northeast at "Natoma Stati...
This shows the light-rail line facing northeast at "Natoma Station", a mall built near the site of a former rail station. This line was not in service yet when the picture was taken; trains began running in the fall of 2005. Photo by Mike Palmer, March 2005.
This is Folsom Station, restored in SP colors and used as a visi...
This is Folsom Station, restored in SP colors and used as a visitor center. A small railroad museum is housed in the coach and caboose, seen next to the station. Other sights in the area include a restored (but not operational) armstrong turntable, and a few stray ties from the old SP still buried in the pavement. Photo by Mike Palmer, March 2005.
The remnants of the wye that connected the Placerville Branch to...
The remnants of the wye that connected the Placerville Branch to the Folsom Branch. Photo by Mike Palmer, March 2005.

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