Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railroad trivia

posted May 6, 2012, 8:30 AM by Western Sonoma County Historical Society
  • The Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railroad began laying track in April, 1904. The first car into Sebastopol carried cement and crushed rock for the floor of the new powerhouse then under construction.
  • The P&SR was a juice line, so-called because it ran on electrical power not because it carried apple juice as cargo.
  • The P&SR's first four passenger cars Nos. 51, 53, 55 and 57 were named Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol and Woodworth respectively. They cost about $6,000 each and were built by the American Car Company of St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Original P&SR passenger cars were painted brown. Management decided to paint them white which confused motorists into thinking they were chicken houses. So the cars were painted ­ yellow with red trim for the third time.
  • The P&SR system included the ferryboats out of Petaluma. The first Steamer Gold built in 1883 by a San Francisco company, burned in 1920 at Petaluma long with the wharf, warehouse and 12 boxcars.
  • In 1914, the P&SR made 12 round trips daily from Petaluma to Sebastopol, 19 trips from Sebastopol to Santa Rosa and 16 trips from Sebastopol to Forestville.
  • The P&SR's last ferryboat, the paddle wheel steamer, Petaluma II, made her last trip August 24, 1950.
  • P&SR ridership peaked at 757,759 in 1914. The P&SR dropped passenger service in 1932 when riders had dwindled to 53,586.
  • The P&SR was one of the slowest interurban trains in the West with speeds averaging 18 mph.
  • Sebastopol's P&SR Depot built in 1917, currently the West County Museum, was designed by Brainerd Jones, the Petaluma architect who also designed Sebastopol's Carnegie library (demolished in the 1970s.