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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.

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Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteers working on Swanton Pacific Railroad track

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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

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Swanton Pacific Railroad - Davenport, CA


Looking for a new volunteer opportunity?  Look no further than the Swanton Pacific Railroad.  The 1/3 scale railroad is located on the beautiful 3200-acre Swanton Pacific Ranch near Davenport in Santa Cruz County.  A dedicated group of volunteers maintain and operate the railroad on behalf of the Cal Poly College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. 
Volunteering with the Swanton Pacific Historical Railroad Society is made for people who:
  • Are captivated by all things trains
  • Have a love for history
  • Like to be working on a fun and diverse projects outdoors
  • Want live steam maintenance or operating experience
  • Have or want machine shop, welding, construction, foundry experience, or simply a desire to work with their hands and learn new things.
The Swanton Pacific Railroad serves as an operational memorial to Al Smith who acquired and relocated the trains to the Swanton Pacific Ranch. The rolling stock consists of three one-third scale Pacific-type steam locomotives that were built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, a diesel switcher locomotive and a variety of passenger and maintenance of way railcars.

2018 Events

  • Al Smith Day - Canceled

    • The 2018 Al Smith Day has been canceled.  We continue to work to restore track that was damaged last winter.  Given the location of the damaged track we are not able to offer train rides.  We are optimistic that we will have the wash out repaired this summer. 
  • Cal Poly Day is now Cal Poly Swanton Pacific Day- 

    • The Cal Poly Day for 2018 has been rebranded to be Cal Poly Swanton Pacific Day and is scheduled for Saturday, September 22.  We have been working with the Swanton Pacific Ranch and the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences to highlight all of the activities that take place at Swanton Pacific Ranch.  Although we do not have the tracks in place to offer train rides, the roundhouse and shops will be open with static displays.  If you are interested in volunteering at the Swanton Pacific Railroad this will be a good time to look around and talk with our volunteers.  For more information about Cal Poly Swanton Pacific Day follow this link:  

Informal Visits

  • If you want to visit the Swanton Pacific Railroad to learn more about what we do, please feel free to visit us on any of our regular volunteer work weekends. The volunteers work weekends start on the second Saturday of each month. The hours are informal but work normally starts around 9 and wraps up around 5 each day.  The volunteers will be happy to show you around and tell you about the history of the railroad and explain the work they do to keep the trains rolling.
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For more information, please contact:
Swanton Pacific Railroad
College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences
California Polytechnic State University
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407

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Swanton Pacific Ranch

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