45 during its inaugural press run in 1965. The engine was built by the
Baldwin Locomotive Works (BLW) as a 2-8-2 type for the Medford Lumber Comapny
in October of 1924, construction, number 58045. In Baldwin's clumsy nomenclature,
it was assigned class 12-32 1/4E-78
shown here is of Medford Lumber No. 3 at the Northwestern Pacific interchange
in Schellville, California. Medford Corporation (Medco) was the successor
to the Owen-Oregon Lumber Co. of Medford, Oregon. Medco 3 was originally
purchased by Owen-Oregon as their No. 3 then became Medco No. 3 in either
1932 or 1937
(authorities disagree). (Two Photos by
the 19th Century sawmills were established at an early date along the Mendocino
Coast, with outbound lumber being shipped by sea to San Francisco and other
points. However, as logging operations reached into the rugged backcountry
of the Coastal Range, moving the redwood logs to the coast required a railroad.
1885 the Fort Bragg Railroad was opened as a logging railroad owned by
the Fort Bragg Lumber Company, which was later reorganized as the Union
Extended to Willits on March 1, 1902 and rails of the California Northwestern
Railway reached Willits from the south providing a connection from Tiburon
on San Francisco Bay. On July 1, 1905 the Fort Bragg Railroad was renamed
California Western Railroad & Navigation Company and plans were underway
to extend rails eastward to a rail connection with the outside world at
Willits. On January 8, 1907 the California Northwestern along with a number
of other lines operating between San Francisco Bay and Eureka under the
control of Southern Pacific and Santa Fe interests were consolidated into
the Northwestern Pacific Railroad, which was jointly owned by Southern
Pacific and Santa Fe. On October 23, 1914 a gold spike was driven at Cain
Rock finishing the isolated lines in the Eureka area with those from San
Fort Bragg, the railroad follows Pudding Creek east to Glen Blair Junction
where it passes through 1, 122-foot-long tunnel No. 1. A three-mile logging
branch once ran from Glen Blair Junction to Glen Blair. Once through the
tunnel, the railroad followed the Noyo River. After reaching Northspur,
the mid-point on the line 20 miles from Fort Bragg, the rails continued
toward Willits. From Shake City the line climbs a 2.6 per cent grade passing
through Horseshoe Curve and Crowley Loop. Just before reaching the summit,
the track passes through the 790-foot TunnelNo.
2.Once past Summit, the line drops
down a grade that reaches 3 percent at some points before end of track is
reached at Willits.
Western rails reached Willits
in late 1911. On December 19, 1911 an enthusiastic crowd welcomed the first
passenger train from Fort Bragg, pulled by 4-6-0 No. 5 when it arrived
in Willits. With connection being made with the Northwestern Pacific at Willits,
finished lumber from the Fort Bragg Union Lumber Company mill could now
be shipped nationwide in addition to moving by sea from Fort Bragg.
rails reached Willits,
the residents of Fort Bragg had a convenient mode of transportation from
the isolated coast. Instead of a slow steamship trip between Fort Bragg
and San Francisco, travelers could now board
a passenger train from Fort Bragg
to Willits where connections were made with the NWP for the trip to Sausalito
where a 30-minute ferry ride put passengers at the Ferry Building at the
foot of Market street in downtown San Francisco. For a period of time,
a through Pullman sleeping car was operated between Fort Bragg and Sausalito
in connection with NWP's overnight passenger train between Sausalito and
train service, which was started in 1904 and extended to Willits in 1911,
was discontinued in 1925 when the first of the self-powered yellow "Skunk"
railcars was inaugurated. The little trains were quickly nicknamed for
their original gas engines, which prompted folks to say, "You can smell
'em be- fore you can see 'em. "
Western welcomed more modern equipment in later years, which railfans can
still ride. The vintage 1925 M-100 motorcar -- the only remaining train
of its kind in use anywhere today -- runs the line year-round, as does
the 1935 M-300 motorcar. During the busier summer months, they are joined
by three 1950s diesel engines and 1924-built Baldwin 2-8-2 No. 45. CWR
No. 45 came from the Medford Corporation (Medco No. 3) and was purchased
in 1965 and was in service until 1980.It
briefly returned to service in 1983 for the filming of Paramount Pictures'
"Racing with the Moon."
1916 and 1917 the Ten Mile Branch was built north from Fort Bragg to Ten
Mile River. This logging branch followed the river inland to reach the
redwoods and was operated until 1949 when the rails were ripped up and
the fine converted to a log truck road. In 1947 the name of the railroad
was changed to California Western Railroad.
was returned to service in 1983 for the filming of Paramount Pictures'
"Racing with the Moon." Between 1916 and 1917 the Ten Mile Branch was built
north from Fort Bragg to Ten Mile River. This logging branch followed the
river inland to reach the redwoods and was operated until 1949 when the
rails were ripped up and the fine converted to a log truck road. In 1947
the name of the railroad was changed to California Western Railroad.
1970 Boise Cascade Corp. purchased the Union Lumber Company along with
the California Western. In 1973 the mill and railroad were again sold,
this time to Georgia Pacific Corp. In 1977 the railroad was leased to Willis
Kyle. In June 1987 the line was purchased from Georgia Pacific by Mendocino
Coast Railway, a subsidiary of Kyle Railways. In 1996 Kyle Railways sold
the line to a local group and California Western Railroad Inc. was born.
|CWR's new GP9s have not yet replaced
the aging fleet of ex-SP Alco RS11s in excursion service, as witnessed
by this photo of No. 61 ready to depart Willets on July 17, 1988. (Photo
by Ken Rattenne)
the Skunk motorcars handled passenger service between Fort Bragg and Willits,
a small fleet of steam locomotives handled the nightly freight between
the mill and the NWP connection at Willits and took care of local
switching at the mill.In 1949 California
Western purchased their first diesel power, two Baldwin 1000-horsepower
DS-4-4-1000 numbers 51 and 52. In 1956 the road purchased another DS-4-4-1000
Baldwin from Pan-American Engineering Co. and numbered it 53. No. 54, another
Baldwin switcher was purchased from SP in 1969.
1960 Nos. 51, 52 and 54 were destroyed when a freight train lost its air
on the Summit grade and derailed. The railroad then acquired two former
McCloud River Railroad Baldwins and a former SP
giving the numbers 55-57. These were replaced in 1979 with three former
SP Alco RS-11s, which were renumbered 61-63.
1987 the Alcos were replaced with EMD GP9s 64 (ex- SP 3411) and 65 (ex-SP
3412). Two more GP9s, Nos. 66 and 67 were added in 1998. No. 66 is ex-Chesapeake
& Ohio No. 6145 built in 1956. No. 67 is ex-Bangor & AroostookNo.
77 and built in 1954.
|CWR GP9 66 leads an excursion through
the Redwoods on 8/6/02. (Photo by Kirk Rattenne)
the motorcars and GP9s and steam engine 45 handle the passenger duties
while freight service awaits the reopening of the NWP connection between
Willets and Schellville.