Welcome to Friends of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad

The mission of the Friends of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad (SMVRR) is to preserve, improve, and interpret historical and contemporary aspects of the SMVRR. We provide our members and the public with educational programs such as history, current business practices, and trends related to railroading in general and the SMVRR in particular. Friends also conducts various activities to get us out into the field. Friends is a 501(c)(3) tax-deductible organization. See About.


Recently Completed:



September 23, 2017

Annual Friends BBQ at the Railroad. This is the annual Open House at the Santa Maria Valley Railroad from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. We will have tours of the Osburn Yard and a Santa Maria style tri-tip and BBQ chicken lunch for a $10.00 donation to the Friends of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad. You must RSVP by 9/22/17 at noon. RSVP to Linda in the office lrodrigues@smvrr.com or call 805-922-7941.

June 24-25, 2017

Friends Railroad Academy. Are you interested in a railroad career or want to know what it is like working on a railroad? This is a comprehensive two-day workshop covering many aspects of the railroad industry including history of the industry, the business structure of railroads, train operations, maintenance of way, signals, car accounting. This is meant to be an overview of the industry and career opportunities. Cost is $100.00 for the weekend, includes books, materials and lunches. Friends members only and you must sign up and pay in full one week prior.

June 11, 2017

Santa Maria Valley's Electric Railroad. We'll explore the electrified branches of the Pacific Coast Railway and, ideally, gain some insight to the sometimes conflicting published material about them. Meet at the Santa Maria Valley Railroad office at the corner of A Street and La Brea in Santa Maria at 10:00 a.m. and we'll carpool from there. Bring lunch money as we will stop for lunch in Guadalupe on our tour. You must be a Friend member to participate. RSVP early as seating is limited.

May 20, 2017

Friends Dinner Gala at Santa Maria Fairpark. This year's event we will be honoring George Lavacot and his restoration of the SMV Steam Engine 205, which was on display at the Fairpark for many years. See #205 pics taken July 2015. The program will also include a History of the Friends Presentation, Railroad Public Safety Award presented by the Santa Maria Valley Railroad, G. Allan Hancock Historical Preservation Award presented by the Friends of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad, and a silent auction. Proceeds from the fundraiser will be used for acquiring an SP sugar beet car, the lifeblood car for the Santa Maria Valley Railroad for many years. Doors open at 5:30, event starts at 6:00. Once again a Santa Maria style tri-tip, chicken and rib dinner will be catered by Cool Hand Luke's. Tickets are $75.00 per person, a reserved table of 8 for $600. The gala will take place in the Fountain Pavilion at the Santa Maria Fairpark, 937 S. Thornburg Street, Santa Maria. Reservation Form: .pdf, .docx. See last year's gala.

May 13, 2017

SMVRR Exhibit/Presentation at Train Day in SLO. SLO Train Day at the San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum in San Luis Obispo, 10:00am to 4:00pm. At 10:00am, the Santa Maria Valley Railroad Exhibit, "Two Centuries, One Dream," will be unveiled. At 10:30am Rob Himoto, President of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad, will give a presentation on the Vision of the Future for the Santa Maria Valley Railroad. At 12:30pm, Cindy Ransick, Executive Director of the Santa Maria Valley Historical Museum, will be presenting the new book, Historic Santa Maria Valley. Historic Santa Maria Valley is a community effort with assistance from the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce.

April 8-9, 2017

Friends Private Car Excursion from San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles. Board the Business car Tioga Pass and lounge car Overland Trail for a private excursion on the back of the Coast Starlight leaving San Luis Obispo at 3:30pm. Arrive in Los Angeles and stay at the Miyako Hotel. Spend some time in Japantown the next day and board a private bus back to San Luis Obispo. Total is $450.00 per person plus hotel room. Cost includes full service on the train including meals and drinks prepared by the Business Crew used by the Santa Maria Valley Railroad for their private customer and business excursions. Seating is limited. Photos...

March 22, 2017

"Chinese Workers building local Railroads". Phil Tillman will be speaking about the role of Chinese workers who built local railroads on the Central Coast including parts of the Santa Maria Valley Railroad. Phil discusses some of the trials and tribulations the Chinese went through. This program will be held at the Santa Maria Library's Shepard Hall (421 S. McClelland Street). Doors open at 5pm. Admission is $5, or free if you grab dinner from the Cafe right next to the Hall. The program will start at 6pm. Photos...

February 11, 2017

Work Day at the Santa Maria Valley Railroad. 8am-1pm. Friends members get a chance to volunteer for various hands on tasks such as sorting and inventorying parts and equipment, restoring equipment, sorting and cataloging documents. Must be a Friends member, wear appropriate clothing if working outside or in shops, come early to check in. Photos.



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