Facebook Page

The Ghost of the Amador Central Railroad 12/12/2010

by Chris Guenzler

I took the Thruway Bus from Santa Ana at 5:30 AM on 12/10/2010 to Bakersfield then took San Joaquin 713 to Stockton then the Thruway Bus to Elk Grove where Karla picked me up. On Sunday morning December 12, 2010 Eric Bruce's son, drove Bruce and I out to Grizzly Flats so I could finally see the family cabin they have there. On the way back I asked if we could go back to Sacramento via Martell and Ione to see if we could find the remaining Amador Foothill Railroad engine. We drove into Martell found Depot Street and the grade crossing signals on Highway 49. We turned east and soon found where I had taken a picture years ago on a family vacation in the summer of 1974.

Amador Central S-12 coming out of the mill at Martell. 1974 on the way to Expo 1974 in Spokane, Washington.


The Amador Central traces its history back to the Ione & Eastern Railroad. In 1904, the Ione & Eastern proposed to build a 14-mile (23 km) line from Ione to Sutter Creek and then an additional 13 miles (21 km) to Volcano, California. The Ione & Eastern only completed a line to Martell. The railroad survived only four years and was sold at foreclosure in 1908 and renamed the Amador Central Railroad. On January 1, 1909 AMC begins operation of line. On January 1, 1946 AMC was leased by Winton Lumber Company. Then on June 22, 1964 AMC was purchased by American Forest Products and in June 1988 AMC was acquired by Georgia-Pacific. On March 28, 1997 AMC's owner, Georgia-Pacific, acquired by Sierra Pacific Industries and last freight train runs. In 1999 Sierra Pacific Industries reopens line and renames AMC the Amador Foothills Railroad. Finally on May 10, 2004 the last train on the Amador Foothills Railroad operates. The AMC ran from the terminus of SP's Ione Branch at Ione to Martell. As of October, 2009, all track north and east of the grade crossing on California Highway 88 has been taken up, along with most of the ties and ballast. The main depot in Martell is abandoned and being allowed to deteriorate as it awaits demolition. The nearby locomotive shop shed is being used for storage and automotive repair. Trackage, crossings and warning systems remain in place from Ione to the Hwy 88 grade crossing. The line is leased, maintained and used by a group of rail enthusiasts, who own and operate railcar speeders on this stretch of scenic track.

The old engine house in Martell is used for storage and automotive repair today.

The remaining Amador Central Station in Martell built by the Ione & Eastern Railroad. From here we headed to Ione on California State Highway 88.

A view at the 2nd Grade Crossing west of Martell.

A view at the 3rd Grade Crossing west of Martell on CA Highway 88.

The Amador Central Bridge over CA Highway 88 as we drove towards it. From here we drove into Ione and we found Depot Street and at the south end of that street we found the

The Southern Pacific Station in Ione.

The SP Station in Ione and the yard there. Down by those far trees I spotted a Baldwin locomotive. We drove into a subdivision and spotted the Amador Foothill 10. I walked through an empty housing lot to reach the engine.

Looking down the yard towards the Southern Pacific Ione Station.

This is the track that the Amador Central used to come into the Ione Yard. On the end of this track was the Amador Foothill Baldwin S-12 10.

Six views of the Amador Foothill S-12 10. From here we all returned to Sacramento for the night. Monday morning I got driven down to the Sacramento Amtrak Station and took San Joaquin 702 to Bakersfield, the Thruway Bus to LAUPT and Metrolink 684 home to Santa Ana ending yet another train trip.