Bianchi Railroad Amusement Park : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

a railroad amusement park ca. 1947 it may have been located lower Mission Street area any information greatly appreciated

-- mike dempsey (, January 21, 2002


I've been wondering what the heck the Bianchi Railroad was for a long time. There is a small lot on the corner of, (I think) Sickles and Geneva, (or somewhere in that vicinity). The lot has a office/shed and a sign over the gate that reads, "Bianchi Railroad". There used to be railroad tracks and a miniature train in a little shed as well. I've never seen the lot used for anything but the seasonal sale of Christmas trees and pumpkins though.

-- Christine Miller (, January 21, 2002.

Correction - I meant to say Sickles and Alemany.

-- Christine Miller (, January 21, 2002.

The Bianchi Railroad has been operating at Central Park in San Mateo since 1948 according to this website--

and there is a current listing of : BIANCHI RAILROAD CO 3101 ALEMANY BLVD SAN FRANCISCO CA 94112-3944 (415-333-1896)

Hope one of these sources can help you find the 1947 data you are looking for.


-- carolyn feroben (, February 02, 2002.

Does anyone know what happened to Bianchi Railroad? There phone number is not correct and they are not listed any other way. I need to contact this company asap for an event. Please advise if you know something. Thanks.

-- brooke Larkins (, January 13, 2004.

Those interested in the Bianchi Railroad park, I presume this was located in Golden Gate Park? Yes it is related to the San Mateo/Central Park train. The owner of the Central Park train since 1978, Bob Bianchi, ran a train in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco up until the 1980s I believe. It ran a 12" gauge streamliner, a G- 12, built by the Miniature Train & Railroad Company (PA Sturtevant) of Elmhurst, Illinois. He also ran the "Jolly Trolley" at Fairyland Park in Oakland. The Central Park train in San Mateo still operates; he is trying to keep privacy as he's retired and runs the trains as a hobby. I talked to him today, and he is having the phone number disconnected/unlisted. The train will still run. The train there, originally installed in the late 1940s, runs a 12" gauge train built by (locomotive only, the cars are from the Ottaway Amusement Co. of Wichita, Kansas) the Arrow Development Company. This company was also Bay Area-based (Mountain View), and its owners built amusement park trains for years before the company turned to roller coasters (early ones, such as the Matterhorn at Disneyland, and later steel/intense/looping coasters) and moved to Utah in the 1970s or 80s as Arrow Dynamics. They filed Chapter 11 and became S&S Power. Other Arrow trains operated at Frontier Village in San Jose, and that train still runs around the Burke's Junction Shopping Center in Cameron Park (near Sam's Town) up in El Dorado County. Pixie Woods in Stockton also has an Arrow train, and the "Cave Train" at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is an Arrow too. I've been researching amusement park trains for quite a few years and have a website with a lot of 'stuff' about them on it, as well as a guidebook to amusement park and narrow gauge railways.

Other "park"-sized railways include the San Francisco Zoo's 22" gauge Cagney steam locomotive, which originally ran in Santa Cruz and later San Mateo. I know two people of mine run former amusement park steam trains in their Peninsula backyards, and there are more. Tilden Park in Berkeley (Erich Thomsen's Redwood Valley Railway) runs 15" gauge steam trains, and the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad which for years Billy operated at his ranch in Los Gatos is still running in Oak Meadow and Vasona parks. I was a volunteer for a time there. Their steam locomotive is still getting overhauled, and a new boiler was installed years ago on it but has never been fired. The (of interest to SF folks) 1915 Overfair Railway at the Panama-Pacific Exposition is also preserved (stored at the Jones ranch for many years). All five steam locomotives from this railroad have been restored/are being restored. Two are currently operational, two under restoration to operation, and one which never was completed and never ran is on display at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, the #1915. Former Los Gatos Mayor and Orchard Supply Hardware founder Al Smith ensured the preservation of the equipment. From the late 70s to 1993, he ran the trains at his ranch north of Santa Cruz. Cal Poly now owns the ranch and the railroad, and the Swanton Pacific Railroad Society and its members maintain and operate the railroad. You can join: Get involved, help out, and maybe over time you can get to drive these beautiful miniature steam trains.

Hope this helps.

-Ed Kelley Author/Editor, The Guide to Narrow Gauge Railroads ON TRACK with Ed Kelley

-- Ed Kelley (, September 04, 2004.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ