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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


The Swanton Pacific Historical Railroad Society is dedicated to those who:
  • Are nuts about trains
  • Have a love for history
  • Like to be working on a fun project outdoors
  • Want live steam maintenance or operating experience
  • Have or want machine shop, welding, construction or foundry experience
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.  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.

2017 Events

  • Al Smith Day - Canceled

    • The 2017 Al Smith Day has been canceled as a result of storm related damage to both Swanton Road and the Swanton Pacific Railroad.  Damage to Swanton Road has greatly limited access to the Ranch and the Railroad and timing of the repairs is uncertain.  The volunteers have already begun planning necessary to make repairs to the railroad.  
  • Cal Poly Day - Canceled

    • The traditional Cal Poly Day for 2017 has been canceled as a result of storm related damage to both Swanton Road and the Swanton Pacific Railroad.  There are some plans to have a scaled down Swanton Pacific Ranch Open House for the Cal Poly community in September.  This event will include static display of railroad locomotives and rolling stock.  

2018 Events 

  • We hope to be able to host our signature events next year.  Check back here for updates.

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

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Al Smith and Cal Poly Day Open House Events

Experience the 1/3 scale Swanton Pacific Railroad.

Ride the train