Christmas Open House at the Museum, December 14, 2002
Santa Maria Valley Railway Historical Museum
P.O. Box 264
Santa Maria, CA 93456-0264
Contact: Rob Himoto (805) 748-4259 or (805) 543-0832
December 6, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Santa Maria Valley Railway Historical Museum, located in the Santa Maria Town Center Mall (upstairs across from the Robinson-May Co.), is having a Christmas Open House on Saturday, December 14 from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm. The museum is featuring a Christmas Lionel Train display along with a model of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad yard being built by museum members. Also on display are exhibits of the Pacific Coast Narrow Gauge Railroad which ran in the early 1900's from Avila Beach to San Luis Obispo and to Santa Maria and on to Santa Ynez, and the Santa Maria Valley Railroad and its owner Captain G. Allan Hancock.
Hal Madson, author of "Railroads of the Santa Maria Valley", will have a special book signing session from 1:00 to 3:00. "Railroads of the Santa Maria Valley" is considered the best single reference book on the history of railroading in the Santa Maria Valley area.
The Gift Shop will be open with railroad theme Christmas gifts, museum t-shirts, hats, along with Madson's book "Railroads of the Santa Maria Valley" for a special price of $35.00. There will be free drawings throughout the afternoon and refreshments will be served.
The Santa Maria Valley Railway Historical Museum is preserving the tale of two of the more intriguing short line railroad companies on the Western United States. The Santa Maria Valley Railroad became prosperous under the ownership of the flamboyant Captain G. Allan Hancock. Captain Hancock's penchant for steam locomotives kept steam locomotives running on the Santa Maria Valley Railroad until 1962. The Santa Maria Valley Railroad was one of the last railroad companies to operate steam locomotives for revenue freight service. Captain Hancock invited Walt Disney for old steam locomotive no. 21's final run in February 1962. Both Captain Hancock and Mr. Disney rode in the cab of the locomotive of that final run.
After Captain Hancock passed away his widow, Marion, took over the presidency and with Sue Sword as General Manager, became one of only a few railroads in the world controlled by women. At the height of the sugar beet production in California during the 1970's, the Santa Maria Valley Railroad was one of the most profitable short line railroads in the Western United States. Today the sugar beet plant in Betteravia is closed but the Santa Maria Valley Railroad soldiers on serving local industries in Santa Maria.
The Pacific Coast Narrow Gauge Railroad once ran from Avila Beach to San Luis Obispo before heading south to Arroyo Grande, Santa Maria and Santa Ynez. Plans to lay track to Santa Barbara never materialized, but the feisty narrow gauge (rails of the track were closer together than the standard gauge track of today) stayed alive until the 1940's, long past almost all of the other narrow gauge railroad companies in the United States. Some of the rails still exist under city streets in Santa Maria.
The Santa Maria Valley Railway Historical Museum (SMVRHM) was founded in 1999 dedicated to the preservation of the railroad heritage of California, the Central Coast, and the Santa Maria Valley. The museum is open on 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm Saturdays and Sunday in the Santa Maria Town Center Mall upstairs across from the Robinson-May Co. General Meetings are held every first Thursday of the month at the Santa Maria Inn. The SMVRHM has acquired and is currently restoring Santa Maria Valley Railroad caboose number 180.