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North Pacific Coast Railroad No. 12  <I>Sonoma</I>

North Pacific Coast Railroad No. 12 Sonoma

The Sonoma is one of three locomotives built in 1876 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia for the narrow-gauge North Pacific Coast Railroad. Although documentation of its early service-life is scarce (there are no photographs showing the Sonoma in service on the North Pacific Coast, for example), the engine is believed to have initially pulled both passenger and freight trains along NPC's eighty-mile line between Sausalito and Duncans Mills.

The railroad always faced financial difficulties and by the end of 1879, for specific reasons unknown, the Sonoma was sold to the Nevada Central Railroad. The Nevada Central ran a narrow-gauge line connecting Austin, then Nevada's second largest city, with the Central Pacific Railroad at Battle Mountain.

Nevada Central renamed the locomotive General J. H. Ledlie and renumbered it NC No. 5. It performed mixed duty as a yard, construction, and road engine. When the bankrupt company was abandoned in 1938, the engine was still in service. Acquired by Nevada Central General Manager J. M. Hiskey, the 4-4-0 was loaned to the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society's Pacific Coast Chapter.

On December 15, 1938 the Sonoma was taken to the Southern Pacific shops in Berkeley, where it was extensively repaired and restored to an "old-time" appearance. By February 18, 1939, the Sonoma had been outfitted to resemble Central Pacific's No. 60 Jupiter for its appearance in the re-enactment of the completion of the transcontinental railroad, part of the daily performance of Cavalcade of the Golden West at the Golden Gate International Exposition, on San Francisco's Treasure Island. The following year the Sonoma participated in the Exposition's revised presentation "America! Cavalcade of a Nation."

In October 1940 the Sonoma completed its service on Treasure Island and was placed in storage in the San Francisco Bay Area where it remained until moved to the California State Railroad Museum in 1977. The engine was donated to the Museum in 1978 by the J. M. Hiskey family.

The Sonoma has been restored to its as-built appearance, utilizing Baldwin drawings and specifications. It pulls a narrow-gauge passanger train in the Museum's Great Hall.

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