Today, my wife and I traveled across the Central Valley of California to a small town called Winters. We had lunch at the Putah Creek Cafe. As always, the meal was very good in this local cafe. Afterwards, we walked around the town admiring the charm of a small farm community that is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. It seems that developers have discovered that Bay Area folks are willing to commute from Winters to their jobs.
At one time, it was a railroad town being served by the Southern Pacific’s Capay Branch. The line ran from the Western Division mainline Elmira to the Capay which was a distance of 32.3 miles. The branch was restricted to light axle loading due to several bridges. The branch served a large quarry north of Winters. The local agriculture business in Winters kept the road operating well into the diesel.era. During the steam era, the branch was served by M-4 class Moguls and the occasional Consolidation. In fact this branch and the Calistoga Branch kept the last M-4s running on the Western Division until 1953.
M-4 1639 was one of the last on the Southern Pacific. It saw regular use on the branch.
I did find an interesting couple documents on a website called Wx4.org
The drawing shown above and below are from the Wx4 Dome of Foam collection. An unusual name for a site but it is a real treasure trove of western railroad stuff.
The track diagrams show the type of rail customers found at Winters. Packing sheds, box suppliers and dried fruit companies were significant to the branches revenue. Winters was the last Train Order Station operating on the branch. There was also a water tank and manual turntable located there. I am not sure how engines turned running north to Esparto and Capay. The Winters depot is gone but the one in Esparto is still there. The track disappeared in 1960. Railroad Street runs in front of the Putah Creek Cafe but with the exception of the bridge across Putah Creek all evidence of the branch is gone.
I enjoy exploring little towns in the Central Valley of California. There are always old buildings that you can find in many of these towns.
Hope you enjoyed my little excursion to Winters.