Real Life Railroad Switching Action at the Roseville Yard

Geek Culture Places

Img_3107_2Img_3107_2Our son became fascinated by the Jordan Spreaders and rotary snowplows (the “rotaries”) of the Union Pacific after watching The Battle for Donnor Pass. (Where else can you watch guys blast ice from tracks and tunnels with everything from shotguns to dynamite – or learn how they re-rail an engine in a blizzard…but I digress.) The rotaries, as our son will inform you, live at the Roseville Yard.

So there we were, driving up to Roseville after a weekend pilgrimage to the California State Railway Museum in Sacramento, hoping to get close enough to the tracks to catch a glimpse of the rotaries and, if we were lucky, maybe see some real freights rolling through.


Img_3093_2Img_3093_2We found a parking spot within 50 feet of the track. No fence. Rotaries in plain sight. Great view of some passing freights. And a very interesting sign. “Remote control locomotives?” Now this looked cool.

As we watched, a switcher pulling a long line of mixed freight rumbled onto the track in front of us and started to sort its cars onto the sidings to our left. Two switchman controlled the engine with vest-mounted control units, jumping off and on the cars to set and release brakes, throw switches, and consult their printouts of the cars and their destinations. These guys were running a 1:1 scale model train layout.

And you thought that “large” G-scale garden layout was the bees knees?
For those contemplating this trip, here is the Google map.


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