Western Pacific Railroad Museum

The Western Pacific Railroad was not the largest of the Western Class-One railroads. It wasn't formed until 1906, with completion in 1909. However, operating in the shadow of giants like the Southern Pacific, Santa Fe and the Union Pacific, the relatively young WP had to work that much harder to survive.

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Contact Information:

(530) 832-4131

700 Western Pacific Way, Portola, CA

About Us:

Thanks to the tenacious spirit and dedication of its employees, the WP rolled on in the face of occasional adversity with a spirit, humor, and culture that made them a legendary figure in the annals of railroading. In the 1960’s, the Western Pacific Marketing Department in San Francisco embarked on an advertising campaign, nicknaming their employees spirit the “Willing People”. Today, the volunteers of the Western Pacific Railroad Museum personify this spirit and dedication at our World Class museum. It is this tenacity that carries on the proud tradition of the WP railroaders before them.

In the mid 1970’s, Western Pacific engineer Norman Holmes enlisted the help of several area railroad employees and rail enthusiasts to build a railroad on his property in Portola, California.  Utilizing volunteer labor, a tiny gas mechanical switching locomotive, a couple of freight cars and an old wooden WP caboose, the “Feather River & Western” was completed in time for the nations Bicentennial in 1976.  The FR&W was a great place for these folks to get together, barbeque, enjoy each others company, and run a railroad.  In 1983, the “Feather River Rail Society” was formed when new owner, Union Pacific, donated F7 locomotive #921 to the city of Portola.  Norm rallied the volunteers again, and a lease was secured on the now vacant WP Diesel facility.  The “Portola Railroad Museum” was on its way.  Today, the spirit of WP Lives on 36 acres at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola.

Operated by the Feather River Rail Society, a California 501(c)3 Non Profit Organization

The Feather River Rail Society:

The Feather River Rail Society is a California 501(c)3 Non-Profit Educational & Historical Corporation headquartered in Portola, California, at the headwaters of the Feather River.  Located 50 miles Northwest of Reno, Nevada.

It is the Feather River Rail Society policy that the overall management of the non-profit corporation be guided by a defined set of goals intended to attain the society’s overall mission. The goals are stated in the FRRS mission statement.

The Feather River Rail Society (FRRS) is the owner and operator of the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola.  The FRRS is wholly funded by admissions, locomotive rentals, museum store sales, and generous donations of time, material, labor and money, and does not receive funding from any local, federal or state governments.  The volunteers of the FRRS restore equipment, operate trains, sort and catalog archives, repair and improve the facilities, and perform hundreds of “house keeping” type duties related to keeping the museum open. 

In addition to the museum grounds and equipment, the Society is the custodian of several notable archive collections, including historic photographs, equipment diagrams, business ledgers and authorizations for expenditure, equipment records and other important documentation from the Western Pacific Railroad and its subsidiaries, as well as the famous “California Zephyr” passenger train.  This collection represents a nearly complete and total history of the railroad.  The archives are currently being cataloged and electronically scanned for presentation and availability to the general public to preserve for future generations. 

On behalf of the members of the Feather River Rail Society, we invite you to join us in preserving the Western Pacific Railroad and the California Zephyr for current and future generations to enjoy.



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