Auburn, CA (ARN)
Popular for its Gold Rush-era historical sites, Auburn is also a destination for hikers, white water rafters and fishermen who enjoy the area's rivers, lakes and foothills.
277 Nevada Street at Fulweiler Street
Auburn, CA 95603
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 15,732
- Facility Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
- Parking Lot Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
- Platform Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
- Track Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
The stop at Auburn on the Capitol Corridor service has a modern roofed shelter that carries forward the style of the original Southern Pacific stations that once served the town. Footed metal posts in a deep green uphold a hipped green metal roof with a short central lantern. As part of Auburn’s Multimodal Center, it sits adjacent to Placer County Transportation Authority’s Nevada Station office building built in 1993.
Amtrak began serving Auburn with Thruway Motorcoach connections in 1997. The Capitols (as the Capitol Corridor service was called at that time) arrived on January 26, 1998 and service moved across town to the present Nevada Street location that spring. The current platform and shelter were constructed around 2002.
Although its name identifies a shade of red, Auburn’s history as an American settlement began with the California gold rush. While the earliest Europeans to visit this part of the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains were hunters and trappers, it was the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in 1848, not far to the south of what would become Auburn, which brought prospectors and settlers to the region. In the spring of 1846 a young Frenchman from Burgundy, Claude Chana, joined a party of settlers moving westward to California—and after crossing the mountains just ahead of the ill-fated Donner party—arrived on the Bear River at Johnson’s Ranch, to the northwest of what we know as Auburn.
Chana went southward to work at Sutter’s Fort in 1847, and when James Marshall discovered gold there, Chana decided to try mining north of the American River gorge. He returned to Sigard’s ranch and brought a party of three other Frenchman, 25 natives and 35 horses to try his luck in May of 1847 on what became known variously as North Fork Dry Diggings, Rich Ravine, Wood’s Dry Diggings, and finally Auburn Ravine. They set up a mining camp which was officially named Auburn, for Auburn, New York in August of 1849. Auburn became a jumping-off point for more remote mining areas, and was coincidentally the farthest a wagon could travel from Sacramento—beyond Auburn were only rough trails.
While Chana did make money from gold mining, he was also interested in a more permanent employment. Local legend has it that he and Sigard had saved peach pits and almonds from dried fruits and nuts and planted them in the bottom lands of the Bear River, north of Auburn, thus beginning the local peach and almond orchards.
Auburn became a full-fledged town by the 1860s and incorporated for the first time in 1861—and then found itself in the path of the building of the first transcontinental railroad. The Central Pacific Railroad built through Auburn, opening the Auburn stop on May 13, 1865, as it built toward the historic meeting with the Union Pacific at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869. Because of the local geography, the railroad built about a mile and a half to the east of the downtown, thereby leading to a temporary split in the town as businesses relocated to be closer to the depot.
The Southern Pacific Railroad, chartered in December of 1865, was purchased by the directors of the Central Pacific in 1869, and absorbed the Central Pacific in 1885. Much of the original transcontinental railroad is still in service today, particularly where it crosses the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The sole regular passenger route descended from the original overland routes today is the California Zephyr, which follows its track past Auburn toward its terminus at Emeryville. The early 20th century Southern Pacific depot on Auburn’s eastern side still stands, in use by the Auburn Chamber of Commerce today. Southern Pacific built the track on the western side, where today’s Nevada Street transportation complex stands, to improve the grade on the mainline route over the mountains.
At the time the railroads were first building in central California, a labor shortage encouraged the hire of Chinese workers who had immigrated to California. These laborers, of whom the Central and Southern Pacific executives spoke highly, did the dangerous and difficult job of bringing the rail across the Sierra Nevada mountains, using techniques learned in China, and were present as part of the Golden Spike ceremony in Utah when the two parts of the first transcontinental railroad joined. To give an idea of their numbers, payrolls from the time record that many as 6,000 Chinese men worked on the transcontinental railroad in 1866. Auburn had, as a result, a significant Chinese population and neighborhood in the late 19th century, although this has largely disappeared today. The “Joss House” museum, built around 1885, is a reminder of that historic presence, and was once the local center of Chinese-American life in the town.
Today’s Auburn has preserved a number of the original mid-19th century buildings in the Old Town, and Gold Rush-era historical site-seeing draws many visitors to the area. The dramatic American River gorge and several nearby rivers and lakes also make this foothills locale a popular destination for hikers, white water rafters, fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts. The nearby Auburn State Recreation Area, which covers 40-miles of the North and Middle Forks of the American River, is the site of more sporting endurance events than any other place in the world—giving Auburn the undisputed title of “Endurance Capital of the World.”
The unstaffed Auburn station does not provide ticketing or baggage handling and is served by two daily trains and several Amtrak Thruway buses. The Capitol Corridorroute is primarily financed and operated in partnership with the State of California. It is managed by the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA), which partners with Amtrak, the Union Pacific Railroad, Caltrans and the communities comprising the CCJPA to continue development of a cost-effective, viable and safe intercity passenger rail service.
- Accessible Payphones
- Accessible Platform
- Quik Trak Kiosk