Would you like to help preserve our fascinating heritage of railroading in California and the West and have fun while doing it? Do you have a sincere and genuine interest in people of all ages? Do you have a passion for inspiring our younger audience to make a difference in the future? Are you interested in helping to maintain the tracks or signals of our operating railroad? Does the thought of helping to restore vintage railroad equipment sound riveting to you? If any of this falls in line with your interests or abilities, then consider becoming a volunteer at the California State Railroad Museum located in Old Sacramento State Historic Park!

General Info

The California State Railroad Museum provides volunteer opportunities of many kinds and is always looking for people with an interest in public service who want to contribute time to one of the Museum’s programs.

The onboarding of new volunteers and docent training typically takes place two times a year. For further details about volunteering at the California State Railroad Museum and the Old Sacramento State Historic Park, email [email protected] or call (916) 445-0269. Climb aboard and help keep the fascinating heritage of railroads alive at one of the most exciting Museums in the United States. It's a very rewarding experience!

Volunteer Open House

Saturday, September 14, 2019
1-3 p.m.
Stanford Gallery (located next to Railroad Museum)

All Aboard for Inspiration!

Come and speak to active volunteers about what it’s like to work behind the scenes to help keep things running. Spend time with docents and learn about the different ways they help others discover how trains have shaped people’s lives, the economy, and the unique culture of California and the West. Don’t have a background in railroad history? No worries! Docents receive extensive training before and while a volunteer at the California State Railroad Museum. 

For more information about the next Volunteer Open House, contact the All Aboard Desk at (916) 445-0269 or [email protected]

Frequently Asked Questions

A key aspect of the Museum's mission is to preserve and interpret the history of railroading in California and the West. Volunteers assist with the preservation and restoration of artifacts in the Museum’s collection and work behind the scenes in the Upholstery Shop, Museum Library & Archives, and the Restoration Shops. Volunteers on the Maintenance of Way crew and Signals Department maintain the tracks and signals along the mainline of the California State Railroad Museum’s operating railroad, the Sacramento Southern. After extensive training, volunteers may go on to become docents interpreting and explaining Museum exhibits and railroading in California. Docents give tours, conduct hands-on interpretive activities and school programs. Docents may also elect to receive specialized training for certain programs, such as the Sacramento Southern Railroad and the Amtrak Interpretive Program.

There are a wide variety of opportunities such as: Museum Docent, Library & Archives, Maintenance of Way, Restoration Projects, Signals Department, School Programs, Sacramento Southern Railroad, and special events such as the Polar Express Train Ride.
You will be asked to volunteer at least 84 hours per year, which equals seven hours per month. You will choose the program(s) in which you work and also what days and times you volunteer.
There is no fee. However, volunteers must provide or purchase uniforms.
The Museum and its programs operate seven days a week, every day of the year except, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. You will be hard pressed to say you can’t find something that fits your schedule.
After a rigorous and enriching course of study and training, a docent at the California State Railroad Museum works directly with the public and, for their education, enjoyment and entertainment, explains selected aspects of railroad history and railroading. Docents may also elect to receive specialized training for certain programs, such as the Sacramento Southern Railroad.
The majority of new Museum volunteers do not know much about the railroad. However, you will learn enough in training to know more about the subject than at least 99 percent of the Museum’s visitors.
Working with the public, your “uniform” consists of an approved historic costume or white shirt/blouse and dark pants.
There are jobs behind-the-scenes such as working with the railroad track crew for Signals or Maintenance of Way and in the Restoration Shops. At times the Museum library is looking for assistance with its archival projects. However, our docent training is designed to help volunteers overcome potential shyness. The training classes will prepare you for dealing with public speaking.
Volunteer intake and training is typically offered two times a year. For complete information about becoming a volunteer at the California State Railroad Museum, call or email the All Aboard Desk at 916-445-0269 or [email protected]. For a volunteer application click here.