The Tuolumne Historical Railroad Association, Inc. (THRA) was formed as a California non-profit corporation in 2022. We have received Internal Revenue Service approval granting us 501(c)(3) tax status. THRA is governed by a nine-member board of directors comprised of people who are passionate about Tuolumne County and its rich railroad history.

THRA will gather and disseminate knowledge about all of the historical railroads that operated in the county via this website, special events, and publications. We will help preserve the history of the Sierra Railway (and its successors), the West Side Lumber Company, the Pickering Lumber Corporation, the City of San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy Railroad, and several smaller lines.

Some of our board members founded the annual Sierra Railway Seminar, which has been held each year beginning in 2009 (except 2020 and 2021). THRA has assumed responsibility for the Seminar and will continue to present it in mid-April. Other projects are being developed. Those will include occasional excursion trains originating in Jamestown and Oakdale.

While the California State Railroad Museum and the CSRM Foundation have done wonderful things for Railtown 1897 State Historic Park during the past 30-plus years, they cannot be expected to meet all of Railtown’s needs. There are too many. THRA was formed, in part, to raise money so the “wish list” of restoration and reconstruction projects can become reality.

We anticipate many of our projects will be in direct support of Railtown 1897 State Historic Park and its mission, since its needs are great. We also will be looking for opportunities to interpret other historical railroads that once operated in the county. To this end, we will raise funds via grants and donations to return key artifacts to the county and undertake restoration projects.

In additional to the knowledge that you are helping preserve Tuolumne County railroad history, membership benefits include access to a “Members Only” section on the website. It will become a major source of historic photos and information about the railroads that operated in the county. Our benefits also include a periodic newsletter and discounts for THRA events and excursions.

We hope you will consider becoming a member of THRA.

Sierra Railroad,’s 2-6-6-2 #38
With just over a month more service ahead of her on the Sierra Railroad, Sierra’s 2-6-6-2 #38 poses at the Sierra freight house in Sonora on March 10, 1955. Guy L. Dunscomb Photo, Martin E. Hansen Collection.
West Side Lumber Company Shays #10 and #9
West Side Lumber Company Shays #10 and #9 at the engine house in Tuolumne in 1954. Martin E. Hansen Collection. See the Archives page for more photographs.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Tuolumne Historical Railroad Association, Inc. (THRA) is to preserve, enhance, and interpret the rich railroad history of Tuolumne County, California, and the surrounding region. THRA strives to educate the public about historical railroad activities available there.

To accomplish these goals THRA pursues fundraising opportunities and sponsors various projects and events in partnership with Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, the California State Railroad Museum Foundation, the Sierra Northern Railroad, and other historical museums and organizations, all for the benefit of Tuolumne County, the historical railroad community, and the public.

Our Name

Not very many people can pronounce our county’s name. Even people who live here don’t all pronounce it the same. The most popular seems to be “too-AH-lum-ee,” with four syllables, the accent on the second syllable, and the “n” silent. But some people pronounce the “n.” It is believed to be a corruption of the Native American word “talmalamne,” meaning “cluster of stone wigwams” or “people who dwell in stone houses.”

Our Acronym

“Tuolumne Historical Railroad Association” is a mouthful. Fifteen syllables. Make it easy on yourself. Use the acronym “THRA,” but pronounce it as a one-syllable word, not initials. We do.