150th Anniversary Events of the Truckee Transcontinental Railroad

150 Year Truckee Donner Railroad Celebration

150 years ago, on May 10, 1869, the Transcontinental Railroad was completed, forever changing the landscape of the Truckee-Donner Summit area. This sesquicentennial of the Transcontinental Railroad marks the spanning of the continent with rails and a revolution to this area and the country. The railroad brought both freight and travelers to Truckee, helped create our local lumber and ice industries, and brought writers and artists to capture the beauty of the area.

Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the completion of the Truckee Transcontinental Railroad by attending events from May 10th through – September! Enjoy various activities in this area including guided hikes and walking tours, historical talks, train rides, a tour of the historic Old Jail and railroad history at the train caboose, and a picnic. In addition, Truckee visitors will be able to fill out “railroad passports.”  These passports can be stamped at various locations around town. Each location will have a unique stamp thereby encouraging visits to Truckee’s stores and learn about Truckee’s history. To learn more visit goldspike.org and truckeedonnerrailroadsociety.com.



May 10 – 150th Anniversary of Transcontinental Railroad Ribbon Cutting Celebration Kickoff Event
A celebratory ribbon cutting and kickoff reception at the Truckee Railroad Museum beginning at noon.

May 10  Truckee Public Arts Commission (TPAC) Spring Show Celebrating the Transcontinental Railroad
Truckee Public Arts Commission (TPAC) Spring Art Show at Truckee Community Recreation Center will be celebrating the Transcontinental Railroad with all art focused on the Railroad! There will be a reception at 6:00 pm.

May 11 – Historical Talk on the Meaning of the Railroad
The historical talk will share how important the Transcontinental Railroad being built over Donner Pass and through Truckee was to the development of the Truckee.


May 18 – Historical Talk on the History of the Railroad and Old Highway 40
Come to see historical photos and listen to the stories of Norm Sayer at the Donner Memorial State Park as he takes you back to a time when Old Highway 40  was the primary route through Donner Summit and Truckee.  Old Highway 40 was one of the many routes developed to follow the path of the Transcontinental Railroad. This historical talk is presented by Sierra Parks Speaks Series. The event begins at 5:30 pm with doors open at 5:00 pm.

May 20 – Plaque Dedication – George Wyman Foundation First Motorcycle over Donner Summit
Help commemorate the first motorcycle rider over Donner Summit. The plaque and road sign will be presented and dedication on this day, which is the anniversary date of Mr. Wyman being in Truckee in 1903. There will be a commemorative motorcycle ride from the site of the old Summit Hotel (across from Donner Ski Ranch) to the Visitors Welcome Center at the Old Train Depot in historic downtown Truckee. Any/all riders are invited to participate.



June 1 – Historical Talk about the “Firsts” Events that Happened Over Donner Summit
Historical talk about the major events that were the “First” to occur over Donner Summit. This will include information about the motorcycle, bicycle, and automobile.

June 8 –  Historical Story & BBQ of the Railroad’s Tunnel 6 on Donner Summit at Clair Tappaan Lodge
Come to Clair Tappaan Lodge for a presentation about the story of Tunnel 6, otherwise known as the Chinese Tunnel.  Bill Oudegeest of the Donner Summit Historical Society will talk about this tunnel, which is the primary tunnel on Donner Summit and was dug by hand by Chinese workers.  The talk will be at 5:00 pm with a BBQ to follow hosted by Clair Tappaan. Tickets for the BBQ are available and reservations will be required by June 1st so that Clair Tappaan Lodge can have a  head count for food. Call Clair Tappaan Lodge at (530) 426-3632 for BBQ reservations.

June 10 –  Locomotive Technologies Presentation with Jerry Blackwill
Mountain Minds Mondays hosts this discussion about the transcontinental railroad. Come to  Pizza on the Hill for dinner and a discussion about the development of locomotive technologies.

June 15 – Interpretive Walk at the Boca Town Site with Nelson VanGundy
Interpretive walk discussing Boca Townsite with speaker Nelson Van Gundy of the Truckee Donner Railroad Society. The talk will revolve around the historical data not only on the town but the Ice Industry and the Railroad both Standard Gauge and Narrow Gauge from the Logging Industry.

June 15 – Historical Talk about Boca Brewery and Steam and Beer by Anchor Brewing Company
Historical talk about Boca Brewery and Steam and Beer.  Dave Burkhart of Anchor Brewing Company will speak about the history of the Boca Brewery and how that history and product plays into a currently sold product created by Anchor Steam  Brewing Company.

June 22 – Sierra Speaker Series: The Chinese and their Importance to the Railroad
A presentation about the Chinese and their importance to the railroad.  Bill George will speak about the contributions and sacrifices that the Chinese workers made in the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad.

June 29 – Historical Talk of the Snow Sheds
Bill Oudegeest of the Truckee Donner Historical Society shares a wealth of historical information about the Donner Summit Railroad Snow Sheds above Donner Lake.



July 4th – Truckee 4th of July Parade: Theme: Transcontinental Railroad 150th Anniversary 
Annual 4th of July Parade theme will celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad in Truckee.

July 13 – Come see the 150th Year Truckee Railroad Celebration booth at the Truckee Tahoe Airshow
Go to the Truckee Aiport Airshow and visit the Railroad Society’s booth to view historical photos of Truckee and the surrounding area, talk to historians and researchers.

July 18 – Tahoe Donner Giving Fund Dinner Featuring History Talk of the Construction of the Railroad
Tahoe Donner Giving Fund Dinner at The Lodge will include a presentation by Jerry Blackwill about the history of the construction of the railroad. Join us for this great event that benefits nonprofits in our community.

July 20 – Historical Talk on the Progression of Transportation from the Railroad to the Lincoln Highway
The Lincoln Highway Association will lead a discussion of the progression of transportation from the Railroad to the Lincoln Highway.

July 27 – Historical Talk on How the Logging Industry was Tied to the Development of the Railroad
Nelson Van Gundy will give a historical talk on how the logging industry was tied to the development of the Railroad and the surrounding areas.

July 28 – Old Logging Trestle Site Tour
This event will involve driving from Downtown Truckee to various locations to view old Logging Trestles and educational talks regarding the logging Industry between Hobart Mills to Boca. Bring lunch and carpooling is available. We’ll meet at the Railroad Society Museum Caboose at 9:00 a.m.




August 3 – Historical Railroad Talk of the Truckee Lake Tahoe Railway
Because of the Transcontinental Railroad, the beauty of the Lake Tahoe basin was opened for the general citizen to visit. Hear about the history of the Truckee Lake Tahoe Railway from Truckee to Lake Tahoe and the impact of creating tourism for the Lake Tahoe Basin.

August 10 – Historical Railroad Talk: Red Light District in Truckee
This historical talk will center on who the women were working in the Red Light district and how they ended up in Truckee. The “Spring Chicken” wasn’t the only girl in town!

August 17 – Historical Railroad Talk on Vigilantism in America and the Effect on Truckee
Mark McLaughlin, a noted author and historian will be taking you through this interesting and often misquoted time of history.

August 24 – Historical Railroad Talk on the Connection Between Henness Pass and Independence Lake
Learn about the historical connection between Henness Pass and Independence Lake at the Truckee Tahoe Airport Conference Room.

August 31 – Picnic Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad
Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Transcontinental Railroad for a family fun-filled day at the park riding the Truckee River Railroad train, BBQ picnic with an anniversary cake, and historical discussions!

Learn more about the history of Truckee Railroad and the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad at the Truckee Donner Railroad Society website: truckeedonnerrailroadsociety.com.