SN Gallery & Jim Harrison

It is hard to imagine what was running through the minds of Oakland natives Jim Harrison and fellow rail enthusiast Ray Barraza, then teenagers, when on October 27, 1954 they spied an on-coming speeder approaching somewhere in the middle of the Sacramento Northern Tunnel between Shepherd and Redwood Canyons. Luckily they were in the timber-supported portion of the tunnel and were able to hide and escape harm. This didn’t stop them from continuing their walk all the way to Walnut Creek along the right-of-way.

Ray went on to become an engineer (not the train kind!) and spent his career at PG&E. Jim went on to become a teacher, and got to know all the great photographers of the era, and continued his interest in the SN by collecting the very best of the SN images. In 2002, Shade Tree Books published his book, Sacramento Northern Gallery, composed entirely of images with succinct captions ordered so that you too could experience what it was like to walk the line. He followed this effort with a similar book in 2006 about the Key System, Key System Gallery, also published by Shade Tree Books.

The concept of trying to recreate the visual experience of riding the SN clearly was an inspiration to the East Bay Hills Project.