"The Docks" area is significant in that California's first railroad began here. Railroads have directly influenced the development of the southern waterfront for more than 100 years. The Sacramento Valley Rail Road, the pioneer steam line in California, was built from the foot of R Street to the town of Folsom in 1855. In 1859, the railroad was extended along Front Street to the foot of K Street. For much of this period, the railroad maintained a freight interchange with river traffic near the foot of R Street. The principle passenger transfer point was at a platform at the foot of K Street. In 1865, the S.V.R.R. was absorbed by the Central Pacific Railroad, which continued to operate it under the Sacramento Valley Rail Road name until 1877. The rail line subsequently incorporated into the Southern Pacific Railroad system.
A Southern Pacific subsidiary, the Sacramento Southern Railroad, constructed a rail line south from R Street on the early 1900s. The Walnut Grove Branch, as it became known, extended twenty-four miles from Sacramento to Walnut Grove. It was officially completed in March 1912. In "The Docks" area the passenger and freight line followed the Sacramento River levee. This line currently is being used by the California State Railroad Museum for the excursion train operation.