Sacramento Northern On-Line

Older Chicoans remember the days when trains occasionally ran up and down Main Street. They may not know much about the train line’s history, however—that, for instance, Chico was both the beginning and the end of the historic Sacramento Northern electric rail line that ran all the way to the Bay Area. This excellent Web site, created by Garth C. Groff, a California-born history buff who teaches at the University of Virginia, is a collection of photos, historical articles and personal reminiscences about the rail line, perhaps the most significant electric train system in the country and once a primary conduit of passengers through Northern California. There is a special section, written by Groff, on “Chico and Its Streetcar Lines,” about the several electric streetcar lines built in 1904 at the behest of the Diamond Match Co. A map shows the location of the many lines. Within a year the lines had become part of the much larger scheme to unite Chico with other Northern California cities that became the Sacramento Northern. It was economical, pollution free and efficient, and it’s all gone now.