Swanton Pacific is a 19-inch gauge miniature railroad that was founded by Albert "Al" Smith, former mayor of Los Gatos and president of Orchard Supply Hardware, back in 1979. The railroad's three steam locomotives are all 1/3 scale steam engines built by Louis M. MacDermot for the Overfair Railway between 1913 and 1915 (a fourth non-operable engine now sits in the foyer of the California State Railroad Museum). This railway featured in the Panama-Pacific International Exposition at San Francisco. For a number of years, the locomotives sat at MacDermot's home and in storage, but around 1940 he restored one to run as a concession at a local zoo. After Billy Jones had started up his own miniature railroad at his ranch in Los Gatos, MacDermot brought one of his locomotives to the track, but the curves proved to be too tight to adequately operate. Another locomotive operated at the Orange County Fairgrounds for a short time, while at Calistoga the whole fleet was restored for another miniature track. Smith, who previously worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad, purchased the trio of locomotives at auction and began building the railroad on his ranch along Scott Creek north of Davenport. Two additional engines, a steam-powered 1500 switcher (another MacDermot model, although smaller than the others) and a diesel 502, were added to the collection in later years. Around twelve passenger cars and numerous other pieces of rolling stock round out the railroad's collection. All the passenger cars are based on MacDermot designs and parts, but only one car is entirely original.
|A locomotive rounding a bend at Swanton Pacific Ranch.|
|The 1500 switch engine at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.|
(Swanton Pacific Railroad Facebook Page)
|Louis MacDermot working on one of his engines before the International Exposition. (Swanton Pacific Facebook Page)|
|Three of the locomotives sitting outside the Swanton|
Pacific roundhouse, originally built for the Calistoga
railroad before being transferred here. (Local Wiki)
- Biemiller, Lawrence. "Stories from "The Chronicle": Cal Poly's Little Love Affair with Steam". The Chronicle of Higher Education. 2005.
- Smith, Albert B. "Swanton Pacific Ranch: Mission & History". 1990.
- Swanton Pacific Railroad, CalPoly San Luis Obispo.