We recommend bicycling downtown to Davis’s train station located at 840 2nd Street. Enjoy all that the train station has to offer: historical landmarks, informational placards, pieces of art, a rock garden, signage for various owners of the railroad, and of course—the trains!
Information in this article comes from exhibits at the Hattie Weber Museum of Davis as well as the Wikipedia page titled “Davis station (California).”
In 1864, it was determined that the California Pacific Rail Road would extend eastward from Sacramento over the Donner Summit route to become a part of the transcontinental rail line. The “Cal-P,” as it was familiarly known to early-day railroad builders, was incorporated in January 1865 and principally financed with British capital.
Planners for the California Pacific Rail Road Company decided to build a line from South Vallejo to Sacramento that would also connect Marysville and Woodland at a junction in Davisville. Construction and grading of the rail bed began in Vallejo in December 1866, and the first rails were laid in April 1868. The construction of the first Davis depot began in July 1868, and the first passenger and freight service between Vallejo and Davis Junction took place on August 24th, 1868. The fare was $3.00.
In the 1850s, the area of Davisville was primarily used for agriculture and raising livestock. In November 1867, private promoters of the California Pacific Rail Road line purchased about 3,000 acres of the Jerome C. Davis and Isaac Davis farm along Putah Creek. They planned to establish a train station and junction on the slightly higher side of Putah Creek, which remained dry during the rainy season. Calling themselves “The Proprietors of Davisville,” they laid out a speculative town with a grid of plots and streets next to the junction of the railroad line from Vallejo to Sacramento and from Davisville to Woodland.
The California Pacific Railroad line put Davisville on the map in 1868. Once the original train depot was built and rail service started, businesses, homes, and the first post office appeared near the railroad tracks, and thus the town of Davisville was born. The advantage of trade and the availability of convenient passenger service played a major role in the development of Davis—not the least of which was the selection of Davisville as the site for the University Farm in 1906.
In 1871, the Cal-P was taken over by the Central Pacific Railroad. A fire later burned down the 19th century-style station, and in 1913, a mission revival station was built by Southern Pacific to replace the original Davisville depot. The station is currently listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is located at 2nd & H Streets.
The revival station had its 75th anniversary in 1988. On June 4th of that year, the City of Davis was acknowledged with the George Falcon Golden Spike Award by the Train Riders’ Association of California for the renovation and revitalization of the train station that had recently taken place in 1986. In 1989, the City of Davis and Yolo County were again recognized for the depot’s renovation by Caltrans.
Today, Amtrak offers two types of train services from the Davis train station. One of these is the “Capitol Corridor” service with hourly trains going east to Sacramento and west to Oakland/San Jose. These trains are the ones most commonly seen in Davis; they are blue, orange, and silver and have about 5 cars. The second type of service is Long Distance, which has one departure daily of the Coast Starlight (north to Portland and Seattle, south to Los Angeles) and the California Zephyr (east to Reno, Salt Lake City, Denver, Omaha and Chicago). These trains are silver with red and blue stripes, and they have two engines and 7-11 cars.