Final Steam on the McCloud Railway

fitz Oct 7, 2008

  1. fitz

    fitz Staff Member

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    Like they say, well, it's a lousy job, but SOMEbody has to do it. Sometime soon I will be at the McCloud River RR, or railway, to participate in a private photographer's special. We will be shooting the McCloud 25, in the photo, a neat 2-6-2 that will subsequently be sold. You will notice that the photo is marked from the collection of Martin E. Hansen, which indeed it is, and Martin has given me permission to use it. He will be running this trip, as well. The really sad part is that the rails are being pulled up on the Burney branch and eventually all will be pulled up and scrapped except for the part that runs between McCloud and Mt. Shasta, where the dinner train runs. The freight business is "finis".
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 8, 2008
  2. Ed M

    Ed M Passed away May 2012 In Memoriam

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    That's too bad about pulling up the rails.

    Nice looking Prairie type. Looks like an oil burner? What's the horizontal tank on top of the tender for, firewater?

    Ed

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  3. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Rats, pulling rails is so short-sighted...strictly for the near-term profit of scrap iron and land sale. Metro-North and the folks living in south-eastern New York State are still fuming over PC pulling the rails of the old NYC Harlem Div. between Wassaic and Chatham, NY in the late 70's. Everybody in that area desperately wants commuter rail north of Wassaic, but agree that there's no way they can buy back 50 miles of ROW and re-install the rails.

    I'm sure there are lots more folks throughout the US who feel the same way about the loss of their local rail services over the past 30-40 years. :tb-hissyfit:
     
  4. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    :( Try to not let the tears damage your camera.

    Boxcab E50
     
  5. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    These days, it certainly is that. Regardless of lacking any business at present. Things seem to change so quickly now, what appears to be certain today, means nothing tomorrow. I believe we should have a national freeze on removing trackage. Everything to be railbanked indefinitely.

    As for that 50 miles, if there's is enough need, (I know there'd be a fight), but eminent domain....

    Boxcab E50
     
  6. fitz

    fitz Staff Member

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    Ed, I'm not sure what that tank is for, or if it is still there on the tender. Hope it IS firewater. I'll let you know when I get back. :tb-biggrin:
     
  7. JDLX

    JDLX TrainBoard Member

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    That photo may be from Martin's collection, but it is actually a fairly common photo. I've seen it in a number of different collections, and I used it in my book about the McCloud railroads that Arcadia Publishing put out back in January (Rails Around McCloud). There was a time when swapping negatives and prints was very, very common amongst railfans, and as such there are a lot of photos- such as this one- that have been traded and swapped around so many times that it is impossible to credit it back to any original source. The photo dates from 9 May 1953 and was taken during a Northern California Railroad Club sponsored excursion termed the "Pondosa Logger". The place is the trestle over Highway 89 near Pondosa that originally carried the McCloud River Lumber Company spur #400 over the highway and that became the McCloud River Railroad's Pondosa branch following a major line change in 1951. The consist was the drop end SP gondola just visible behind the tender and three MR cabooses, with six loaded log cars added for part of the trip. I've attached another fairly common photo out of my collection that shows the same train on the same day, but with the log cars added to the train.

    The #25 always has been an oil burner. Being a logging locomotive, the elongated boxes on the tender are tool boxes. You can find some more information about the #25, along with a closeup view of the top of the tender, at the following link:

    McCloud River Railroad Company, McCloud Railway Company Locomotive #25

    To everyone else in this thread who has commented on the short sightendness of pulling up the rails, I present the following response. The McCloud Railway Company lost an average of a half million dollars a year in the last three full years they operated the trackage now being torn up. That's $500,000 a year that had to come straight out of the owner's pocket. The railroad should have been losing far more than that, but didn't because they were spending no money on maintenance or upkeep or anything else beyond the absolute minimum they had to do. There is an informal rule out there that in order to remain viable a railroad line must handle 100 carloads per mile of track per year just to break even, and in those last three years the McCloud Railway was only handling 15% of the traffic it needed to be hauling in order to remain a viable, self sustaining operation. The physical plant had degraded to the point where train operations were unsafe, and the round trip to Burney that used to take 8 hours to complete now consumed two full twelve hour days, and that was IF they stayed on the tracks, which they managed not to do about every other week. And the bridge over Lake Britton of Stand By Me fame still had the original 1954 decking in place that had completely rotted out to the point that train crews simply were not sure what kept them from falling through the bridge every time they went across it. Estimates on replacing the decking alone ran to $250,000, and the rest of the railroad needed millions upon millions upon millions of dollars worth of work just to get back to minimally acceptable standards and much more than that to be able to handle the 286,000 pound freight cars now becoming common. Given this background, I ask each and every one of you- is it fair to require, or even expect, private industry to continue to bear this kind of financial results just to keep a railroad line operating in the middle of absolutely NOWHERE intact? The railroad represents a substantial capital investment that the owner should have a right to scrap and sell if it fails to perform. The only other real solution here is some sort of public funding to buy and preserve rail lines for possible future use, but as of now there are damned few such programs in place and I'd rate the chances of any more programs starting up in the near future at zero or less, unless someone can get Congress to pass a railroad bailout bill similar to what just sailed through Congress to purchase bad debt from the financial industry.

    If the public wants rail service maintained, then the public had better be willing to pony up piles of tax dollar money to make it happen. Given the anti-government and anti-tax movements that seem to be prevelant in this day and age, what chances do you give for this to happen on a scale big enough to make a difference? Especially to support those big, noisy, dangerous, polluting trains that rumble through your town blowing their incredibly loud horns at 2 a.m. when decent God fearing people are trying to sleep?

    Jim- as luck would have it, I'm actually going to be in McCloud this weekend on a trip I had planned long before I knew of Martin's special. I might see you out and around!

    Jeff Moore
    Elko, NV
     

    Attached Files:

  8. JDLX

    JDLX TrainBoard Member

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  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    My comment was not specifically about the McCloud.

    Boxcab E50
     
  10. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    My comment regarding the short-sightedness of rail-pulling was not directed at private companies trying to stay in business. It was directed at our elected leaders who, for the past 50-75 years, have had an insatiable love affair with the automobile and airplane, while regulating railroads so tightly that they all have had to do just what the McCloud is doing.
     
  11. fitz

    fitz Staff Member

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    Jeff, thank you for the history and the enlightenment of the McCloud financial position. After all, it was a "for profit" organization, not a tourist railway. Hey, You had better show up and introduce yourself to those of us who will be there. I have read your historical writeups for years and would really enjoy meeting you.
    And, thanks Ken and Hank for clarifying your statements. We definitely have already pulled up too much rail in this country. :tb-sad:
     
  12. OC Engineer JD

    OC Engineer JD Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Have fun Fitz! Wish I was closer.
     
  13. Loggerhogger

    Loggerhogger New Member

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    Photo Credit

    This photo is by Wil Whittaker. The negative in my collection with the rest of the Wil Whitaker negatives on Shortlines and Loggers.

    Martin













     
  14. JDLX

    JDLX TrainBoard Member

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    Martin-

    Welcome to Trainboard, and thank you for your reply.

    A quick question for you...any idea how Wil's photographs became so widely dispersed throughout the railfan community? Did he make a lot of copies of his negatives or sell a lot of prints? I'm just curious...

    To Jim- if I see you, I will be sure to introduce myself. It will be good to meet you in person.

    To Ken and Hank- I thank you also for your statements. Railroading is a very expensive business, and at some point we are going to have to stop being about the only industrialized country that expects its railroads to be fully private enterprises. I am sure there will come a day when we will kick ourselves for letting so much of our rail system go to scrap. The only real answer I see is public money, and I predict that will be more and more scarce and hard to get.

    Jeff Moore
    Elko, NV
     
  15. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Jeff, there are a growing number of leaders at the local, state, and federal levels who already are kicking and screaming about the loss of multiple choices within the transportation infrastructure. Sadly, this number has yet to achieve critical mass. When it does, and when a true leader emerges and is elected, one who is more concerned with the Country's well-being rather than their own popularity and re-election, only then will we see a balance of priorities, goals, and realistic public funding.
     

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