The Truckee River Railroad is a 7.5" gauge railroad built and operated by the Truckee Donner Railroad Society in the Truckee Regional Park. The Truckee River Railroad runs trains for the public on select weekends in the spring, summer and fall, depending on weather and the availability of TDRRS volunteers.
Construction began in 2014 with contributions from numerous community organizations. The initial 500 feet of track encircled the kids playground behind the baseball fields and skate park at the Truckee Regional Park off Estates Drive at Brockway Road.
In 2018 the track was expanded to 1500 feet of track including 15 feet of dirt fill (the big fill) overlooking the amphitheater, a replica snowshed, a loading train station crafted from steel materials salvaged from the demolished Oakland-San Francisco Bay bridge by local metal craftsman, an engine house using a converted shipping container, a trestle bridging the main line to the engine house, scaled operating crossing arms, 3 car storage barns, and vintage structures around the track.
The track is not available for public use, however guest locomotives are welcome to run and give rides to our visitors on designated run days. We operate 10-15 times throughout the year except when snow is on the ground. Contact Bob Bell if you are interested in participating in our guest locomotive program.
The track is 7.5" gauge with minimum 50 foot radius. We operate a 1 ½" scale battery powered GP35 diesel lettered for the Union Pacific Railroad. We also own a portable track system with a 35 foot radius that is used for special offsite events. Most of the time we operate 2 trains using our GP35 engine and member owned live steam Forney.
We also conduct Operation Lifesaver presentations to community groups to educate the public on railroad safety and operations.
Judy DePuy / Sierra Sun / July 24, 2022
Like the model trains you play with at home, Truckee has its own model railroad. Many of the locals have known about this magical place. It really does take the kids and adults to a time where transportation was different.
The creation of the Truckee Regional Railroad has had a long history.
Robert “Bob” Bell is a railroad enthusiast and the treasurer of the Truckee Donner Railroad Society. He had a train on his property that kids would ride and finally it was pointed out that the train was so much fun that it should be running for all kids, of all ages.
In 2013 Bob invited the Sacramento Valley Live Steamers to bring their portable track and riding train for a Truckee Historical event. This one day event had over 290 riders. It was obvious that Truckee, being a historic railroad town, needed something to support the ever growing community.
Bob approached Steve Randall, of the Recs and Parks here in Truckee, and together they saw an opportunity to permanently install the railroad. Fundraising and then construction began and by 2014 the first upper loop was completed at the Truckee Regional Park with seven run days and over 600 riders. By 2015 the summer train had over 2700 riders.
Originally it was a battery powered locomotive with limited capacity. In 2016 Bob purchased and built the current Union Pacific model of a GP35 and increased riding capacity with more side cars.
Then Tom Smith and his brother bought a gorgeous “Forney” Sandy River Steam Train. The steam train is engine scale 3.75 and the track gauge is 7.5 inches. The two trains can run on the same tracks with each other.
Running the steam train is a labor of love. Tom shows up at 7:30 a.m. to prep the locomotive for an 11 a.m. run. The details are numerous and fun for those who love mechanics and old systems should contact us. The Truckee Regional Park steam train is not only a scaled down replica of our past but a reminder of how we opened the west.
The Truckee Regional Park trains leave the Truckee Regional Train Depot and weave through the regional park, past the children’s playground, out towards the community garden, through a snow shed, pass crossing arms and finally stopping back at the train depot. The run is currently about 1500 feet with plans to be expanded.
To date the Truckee River Railroad has provided over 35,000 rides, constructed an engine house and workshop, trestle to the engine house (thanks to the Noon Rotary Club), a station structure designed and built by Mountain Forge with help from Contractor Association of Tahoe Truckee (CATT), a replica snowshed (again with the help of CATT), solar charging stations, grade crossing arms, cab storage sheds, and replica railroad structures along the route.
The Railroad team has been busy with Holiday runs with a temporary loop at Palisades Tahoe (aka Squaw) and having a Santa run this past Christmas. Santa was not able to show up anywhere in Truckee this past year and the Truckee Donner Railroad Society figured out how to make it safe for the kids and Santa. The 3 hour Christmas train run had over 600 riders.
The train will continue running on the following dates for the 2022 summer from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 30, Aug. 6 and 20, Sept. 3 and 24 and Oct. 8 and 20th
It is people like Nelson Van Gundy, Jerry Blackwill, Tom Smith and Ed Larson and the other members of the Truckee Donner Railroad Society that make these things real. There is no charge but donations are whole-heartedly accepted since we are a nonprofit.
So whether you want to ride, watch or volunteer come out for a fun time. These trains are an important part of how our town has survived and teaches not only visitors but also the children of Truckee on what a wonderful, historical town we live in.
Judy DePuy is someone who wants to give back to the community. She resides with her wonderful husband, Dave, and their dog, Morticia. She helps the Truckee-Donner Historical Society, Donner Summit Historical Society and is on the board for the Museum of Truckee History and the Truckee Donner Railroad Society.