The railroads were an evolution from early pioneer Sonoma to the technology of the industrial revolution and the coming 20th Century. Trains brought new economic opportunities markets for agricultural products, tourism, and an architectural shift to modern Victorian housing as can be seen in the area around the Depot Park Museum.
November 24, 1876 the first train ride in Sonoma Valley was on board the short-lived Sonoma Valley Prismoidal Railway, a monorail line that ran from Wingo ( Norfolk) on Sonoma Creek to the county road intersection in Schellville. Monorails were being experimented with at the time because of the reduced expense of laying a single rail. In the Prismoidal system, a mechanism on the underside of the railcars loosely gripped a triagular-shaped rail, lowering the train closer to grade. The project languished when the engineers were unable to devise a level crossing in Schellville, and the company was soon out of business.
After an attempt with a monorail, Sonoma Valley Prismoidal Railway by Peter Donohue, failed in July 1878 Sonoma Valley Railroad purchases the now bankrupt Sonoma Valley Prismoidal Railway. Conversion to narrow-gauge line begins.
1879 The line is extended into Sonoma.
1880 Sonoma Depot established on the northwest corner of Sonoma Plaza.
Followed by the extension of the tracks to Glen Ellen in 1882.
May 4, 1888 The Santa Rosa & Carquinez Railroad, soon known as the California Northern Railroad, begins service through Sonoma Valley from Napa Junction to Santa Rosa, opening more direct access to markets in Sacramento and points east. The hub for the new railway was three miles north of the City of Sonoma in El Verano. Lively competition between the two lines for both freight and passengers resulted in many stops being added up and down the Valley
Then in 1890 after a decade operating in the Sonoma Plaza the station was relocated to north of the Sonoma Plaza the the area of Depot Park.
The Santa Rosa & Carquinez Railroad (soon to become Southern Pacific Railroad) on the western side of Sonoma Valley running parallel to the Northwestern Pacific railroad included the El Verano and Kenwood stations, those towns were schemes by Charles Crocker and his investors to develop new towns in Sonoma Valley. both El Verano and Kenwood were part of the efforts and both were not successful at their inception.
The competing railroad also avoided the ferries of San Francisco Bay providing direct transportation to eastern markets for agricultural products of the Sonoma Valley and quarried stone from the basalt quarries in what is now Annadel State Park became a major source of freight revenue.
1907 Sonoma Valley Railroad Company becomes the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Company
December 1928 Southern Pacific terminated year-round services. During the winter of 1929, Northwestern Pacific tried to do the same, however excursion trains continued
Trains ran to Sonoma bringing freight until 1960 with occasional excursion trains arriving for the annual Vintage Festival.