Horses to Horsepower

Hop on board one of our Horses to Horsepower programs to experience what it was like to build the nation’s first Transcontinental Railroad more than 150 years ago! Your conductor will escort you to five different stations located throughout the California State Railroad Museum. Discover how Transcontinental Railroad reduced travel time, inspired innovation, encouraged western settlement, and enabled California’s agriculture industry to grow.

The Transcontinental Railroad changed life in America forever!

This FREE, one-hour program is available for 4th or 5th grades only. Reservations are required.

This program is available Wednesdays and Thursdays from March 6 through May 16, 2024. There is also a digital version of this program with additional availability.


Group sizes are limited to 45 total individuals. This includes teachers, students, and chaperones. If your group is larger than 45, you will need to reserve multiple slots. Please contact the Group Desk if you need assistance.

About the Stations

School Programs Current Programs Horses To Horsepower
  • Achieving the Impossible: Theodore Judah and the Big Four plan a Transcontinental Railroad.

  • Overcoming Obstacles: Chinese workers made up 90% of the Central Pacific Railroad’s workforce. Who were the workers that built a railroad by hand?

  • Done! The Gold Spike Ceremony: What was it like to attend the Gold Spike Ceremony at Promontory Summit on May 10, 1869?

  • Safety and Comfort on the Railroad: Learn about how inventors from different backgrounds changed railroading in California forever.

  • Feeding a Growing Nation: People were not the only ones riding the rails. Railroads transported agricultural items, creating a huge new industry in California.

Field Trip Guidelines

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  • A minimum of 1 adult chaperone should be present for every 10 students. Chaperones are responsible for the care, safety and actions of group members while visiting the Museum. Please remember, chaperones must remain with their groups for their entire visit to the Museum.
  • A brief, mandatory orientation by staff will help students and chaperones remember museum guidelines and enhance the learning experience.
  • Plan a time and place for your group to meet after the visit.
  • Your time in the Museum is unlimited until we close at 5:00 p.m. Keep in mind that once you enter the Museum Store or exit through any of the doors in the lobby, there is no re-entry.

School Train Rides

CSRM SSRR Excursion Train K Huston

Add an excursion train ride to your field trip! Pulled by one of our historic steam or diesel locomotives, this ride is the perfect hands-on compliment. Due to limited availability, not all schools will be able to take a train ride.

Scheduling a train to go with your Horse to Horsepower reservation:

  • Available for Thursday groups only.
  • For 10am or 10:15am reservations, select the 11:30 train ride for after the Museum program.
  • For 11:15am or 11:30am reservations, select the 10am train ride for before the Museum program.
  • Due to scheduling conflicts, the 10:30am and 11am reservations will not be able to make a train ride. We encourage you to explore the Museum after the program.

Learn More


Please contact the California State Railroad Museum Group Desk if you have any questions or to make reservations over the phone.

[email protected]
(916) 323-9274