Union Pacific Railroad bestowed a Train Town USA designation on the city.
Mayor Brent Ives said the dedication on Saturday was fitting, taking place on National Train Day.
“It’s wonderful to see you all in the middle of train town Tracy,” Ives said .
Union Pacific gave the special recognition to cities along the railway as part of the company’s 150th anniversary. City governments or chambers of commerce had to apply to become known as a Train Town.
Liisa Stark, director of public affairs for Union Pacific Railroad, presented the Train Town USA plaque to Ives along with two commemorative coins, one for the city and one for the chamber of commerce.
Train enthusiast and Railtown Tracy committee chairman David Jackson introduced the Tracy Chamber of Commerce to the opportunity last summer and led the subsequent effort. The chamber received notification in December that Tracy had been granted the designation.
“I have high hopes for this dedication,” Ives said. “I think it is just a piece of the puzzle, making our train designation.”
Assemblywoman Susan Eggman said it was important to honor the city’s legacy.
“We think of the railroad and that is the backbone of this country,” Eggman said. “It is a great time for Tracy to take part in that history.”
Tracy was a major center for rail transportation in the western United States during much of the 20th century. The transcontinental railroad sent passengers heading to and from the San Francisco Bay Area through Tracy. Southern Pacific Railroad records show that Tracy’s freight yards set records for traffic handled through connections to Oakland, San Francisco, Martinez, Stockton, Fresno, Oregon and points east.
Into the 1970s, passenger trains including the San Joaquin Daylight made daily stops in Tracy, along with freight trains hauling produce and locomotives stopping to take on fuel from an oil tank farm.
For Jackson, the Train Town USA designation is part of a plan to create Railtown Tracy — an attraction encompassing a museum, a train festival and weekend rail excursions from downtown Tracy.
“This is a signal accomplishment, just to get this major step out of the way, to let everybody know there is the possibility of developing this area downtown,” Jackson said.
Jackson said he would continue a grassroots movement for a railroad museum that he hoped would become a regional tourist attraction for rail fans.
“I still envision a time where we have hundreds and hundreds of people each weekend here visiting a museum or taking a train ride,” Jackson said “There is enthusiasm for it, there are people behind it, and there are people willing to help participate in the future of honoring the past.”
Flo Boss talked about her memories as she walked through the Tracy Transit Station looking at the historical train photographs. Boss remembered traveling with her mother across the country on a train during World War II to attend her brother’s wedding and making another train trip across Canada.
“I love trains. I think the Train Town designation is wonderful. I didn’t even know they had it,” Boss said.
Jackson hopes to continue developing his Railtown Tracy plans by moving the locomotive in Dr. Powers Park back to downtown Tracy.
“The next step we’re going to take is working with the Westside Pioneers and the Tracy Historical Museum to try and move the 1293, the steam locomotive, to downtown,” he said.
Jackson said that efforts were already underway to move the engine, even though he and his collaborators hadn’t decided where they would place it. He said representatives from the California Railroad Museum in Sacramento would be inspecting the engine to see whether it could be refurbished and put back in operating order. If not, he said, it could become a display piece and a step toward a downtown railroad museum.
• Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.