Build a Railroad - Get Exercise, Be Outside, Have your Lunch in a Roundhouse


Cause Areas


It's flexible! We'll work with your schedule.


299 Swanton RoadDavenport, CA 95017


The Swanton Pacific Railroad Society steam railroad is looking for volunteers who have an interest in any aspect of railroading. Our steam locomotives are over 100 years old - they ran in San Francisco at the 1915 world's fair called the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. While the railroad is only 1/3 scale (the tracks are 19 inches apart), everything else about it is the same as the big railroads. We do locomotive maintenance, passenger car restoration, track work, gardening and care of our Christmas Tree farm. In addition, we learn railroad operations for safety, conductor, locomotive engineer etc...

You will enjoy being in the great outdoors and getting exercise. We work from 9am until Noon and then we head to the roundhouse for lunch (bring your own), where you'll have the camaraderie of experienced railroad enthusiasts and the company of century-old steam locomotives and a pot-belly stove. At 1pm, we head back to work. You're also welcome to visit on volunteer days or by appointment and go for a tour. If you plan to work, wear pants, sunscreen, hat, gloves, heavy shoes, and gloves.

The railroad is located in Davenport, near Santa Cruz, at Swanton Pacific Ranch. The ranch was donated by the late Al Smith, president of Orchard Supply Hardware, in 1993 to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. The University has a number of operations at the ranch including agriculture, beef, logging, and environmental studies.

Click on the calendar here for dates:

Typically second and fourth full weekend April through September and second weekend other months. One full week typcially in late July/early August. Weekday volunteer opportunities by prior arrangement.

Please respond to confirm you're coming.

Youth age 18 and under must be accompanied by parent until the youth's level of responsibility has been affirmed by the railroad.

Learn more about Swanton Pacific Railroad on the web . . .
Facebook Page:


  • Welding
  • Renovation
  • Landscaping
  • Construction
  • Civil Engineering
  • Gardening

Good Match For

Kids Teens People 55+ Group

Requirements & Commitment

  • 9 am to Noon and/or 1 pm to 4 pm
  • wear clothes that can get permanently stained, bring a lunch

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