Previous Article Next Article
Two 1/3 scale steam locomotives pulling passenger cars

Swanton Pacific Railroad

Did you know Cal Poly has a 1/3 scale railroad? Al Smith gifted not only the Swanton Pacific Ranch but also the Swanton Pacific Railroad to Cal Poly. The railroad includes live steam locomotives, a diesel locomotive and a variety of rolling stock.

Continue Reading >

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteers working on Swanton Pacific Railroad track

Continue Reading >
The gauges, knobs, and levers inside the cab of the 1/3 steam locomotive.

Swanton Pacific Railroad Equipment

Inside the cab of one of the Swanton Pacific Railroad steam locomotives

Continue Reading >

Swanton Pacific Railroad

Survey to determine the Ranch's Strategic Intent Post-Fire


The Swanton Pacific Railroad serves as an operational memorial to Al Smith who acquired the trains that were build for the 1915 Pan Pacific International Exhibition. Al relocated the trains to Swanton Pacific Ranch where, with the help of many volunteers, he created a working railroad. The rolling stock consists of three one-third scale Pacific-type steam locomotives that were built for Exposition, a diesel switcher locomotive, motorcar and a variety of passenger and maintenance of way railcars.

Unfortunately, the Santa Cruz fires have impacted both the Swanton Pacific Ranch and the Swanton Pacific Railroad.  The fire damaged or destroyed the Roundhouse, Car Shop, Car Barn and Cal Barn.  The Machine Shop, Train Station and picnic grounds were spared any damage.  The 1913, 1914, and 1500 steam locomotives were badly damaged by the fire but we are optimistic that they can be restored. We have lost all of our passenger cars and most of our maintenance of way cars.

On the bright side, the 1912 steam locomotive was off site having a new boiler installed and the 502 diesel locomotive was in the Machine Shop.  These two locomotives will will play an important role in our efforts to rebuild the railroad. 

Are you curious about how the recovery is going, please follow our Facebook page to get the most recent updates. Click below or enter the address into your browser to see the most recent posting.

Support Swanton Pacific Railroad Recovery


  • Fire Damage and COVID-19 

    • With the damage from the Santa Cruz fire and given the current situation with COVID-19 our volunteer work weekends and other railroad events have been canceled until further notice.  

Informal Visits: 

  • Until the areas impacted by the fire are determined to be safe to enter and the rules associated with the current COVID-19 outbreak allow us to open to the public we are not accepting any visitors at the railroad.  Please check back on this web site for any updates. 

Use the icons at the bottom of each page to connect to us on Facebook and YouTube!
For more information, please contact:
Swanton Pacific Railroad
College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences
California Polytechnic State University
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407

Related Content

Swanton Pacific Ranch

Swanton Pacific Ranch Logo

Swanton Pacific Ranch

College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences

Learn more about the college


Al Smith and Cal Poly Day Open House Events

Experience the 1/3 scale Swanton Pacific Railroad.

Ride the train

Railroad Society Officers

Learn more about the volunteer officers of the Swanton Pacific Railroad Society.

Railroad Society Officers