The Western Pacific Railroad Museum is located in a former Western Pacific Railroad locomotive servicing facility in Portola, California, in the Sierra mountains about 50 miles from Reno. The 37-acre site includes a 220-foot-long, 16,000-square-foot diesel shop used from 1954 until 1974 as well as two and a half miles of trackage primarily of a balloon track and various yard tracks.
The museum has more than 35 locomotives and 80 cars of various types. Unlike many other museums, visitors to the Western Pacific Railroad Museum soon discover that this is a hands-on facility where they are encouraged to climb up in the cabs of locomotives, sit in the engineer’s seats and browse through the many cabooses and passenger cars that are on display.
The museum is one of the few places in the world where you can operate a real diesel locomotive (reservations required). It’ll cost you $150 for an hour, but for anyone who’s dreamed of being a railroad engineer, it’s a mighty reasonable price.
The museum is open seven days a week, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., the first Saturday in April through the first Sunday in November. Learn more at its website.