As a boy, John Schmale accompanied his father on many train-watching trips around San Francisco. Later John worked for Sierra Railway, authored several train articles, and has collected thousands of railroad images. Kristina Schmale, a banking professional, acquired her passion for railroads while riding famous name-trains as a child.
Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railwayby John Schmale, Kristina Schmale
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With a schedule regulated by the tides and the needs of chickens, the Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railway operated for 81 years as a delightfully quirky egg-hauling enterprise. Modern electric railroad technology paired with ancient low-tech steamboats made possible the overnight shipping of fresh produce to a voracious San Francisco market. The railroad helped Petaluma earn the moniker "the egg basket of the world." Incorporated in 1903, the railroad provided efficient train service to this fertile farm region. The famous botanist Luther Burbank located his experimental farm near Sebastopol and proclaimed it is nature's "chosen spot of all the earth." The railroad survived the devastating 1906 earthquake, opposition from three larger railroads, the Great Depression, and fierce auto-truck competition. The corporation was, mercifully, abandoned in 1984, and most of the rails were removed by 1988. Happily, recent plans call for a tourist trolley to operate over a portion of surviving Petaluma tracks.
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