Celebrating the Railroad Heritage of Placer County and Beyond
Colfax Railroad Days evolved from the Colfax Founder’s Day event that began in the 1980’s. Its original intent was a celebration of Colfax’s history as an important staging camp and commerce center serving the construction of the first Transcontinental Railroad by the Central Pacific Railroad Company.
The town was founded by CPRR when tracks were laid to Colfax in September of 1865. CPRR was building its portion of the Transcontinental Railroad from Sacramento eastward over the Sierra Nevada mountains and across the Nevada desert to eventually meet its partner—the Union Pacific Railroad—which was simultaneously laying track westward from the Missouri River at Omaha, Nebraska.
Shortly after its creation, Colfax was named for Schyler Colfax—an important Congressman and Speaker of the House of Representatives who visited the new town shortly after it was established. Thus, this original Colfax event was called Founder’s Day.
The completion of the first Trancontinental Railroad was an important milestone that led to the rapid economic development of Placer County and the entire State of California. Visitors can get a glimpse into what railroading was like in those “old days” through the various historical railroad displays and model railroad layouts displayed throughout the venues. In addition to commemorating this railroad legacy of the past, PSRHS wishes to use Colfax Railroad Days as a forum to promote the bright future of the railroad industry as an environmentally friendly and fuel efficient mode of freight and passenger transportation for our modern society and economy.
In recent years, Colfax Railroad Days has seen a resurgence of popularity. Union Pacific Railroad participates in this event by bringing an assortment of their locomotives and other interesting train equipment for display in their Colfax train yard next to the restored Southern Pacific passenger depot (ca 1905). UP’s participation provides a unique display to commemorate its role in the original construction of the “National Railroad” as well as a way to educate our visitors about the modern railroad technology that is required to operate a Class I railroad over the challenging Donner Pass route of the First Transcontinental Railroad.
In the future, PSRHS will strive to include displays pertaining to the latest advances in technology happening in today’s railroad industry. These may include displays such as the advances in low emission freight locomotives; new developments in fuel efficient passenger rail transportation; progress of California’s High Speed Passenger Rail System as well as others.
PSRHS is a strong advocate of Railroad Grade Crossing Safety education. This topic is always a component of educational displays at Colfax Railroad Days. Operation Lifesaver Inc. is a featured exhibitor which provides important Railroad Grade Crossing Safety information to our event visitors. Learn more about this public safety organization at Operation Lifesaver.
The various displays and attractions offered at Colfax Railroad Days provide more than just a great opportunity for fun family entertainment, it is also a means to learn about the importance of the railroad for our society and economy—yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Don’t miss it!