Northern California railroad pictures are from past calendars by the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Historical Society. Become a member!
The "Redwood Adventurer", both Omni-Teax rebuilt engines resplendent in the "new" NWP livery, is seen here north of Cummiskey, in the Russian River canyon, October 13, 1996.
In January 1974, train No. 75 with five SD-9s straining on the head end, five more spliced into the consist, leave Willits in a rare Redwood Empire snowstorm, soon to tackle "Ridge Grade", highest point on the NWP's line. Business was still good, though in a few years, live helpers and ten unit trains would gradually disappear.
Superbly restored E-9A #6051 arrives at Willits on March 12, 1991. On loan from the California State Railroad Museum, designated "Movie Extra 6051 East", the locomotive with four former North Coast Daylight cars starred in a remake of the Alfred Hitchcock thriller "Shadow of a Doubt".
Reconstruction of the flood ravaged Eel River line was about half finished when this photo was taken at MP166 near Dos Rios on March 16, 1965. Now flowing placidly at the right in the photo, the Eel's raging waters relocated countless tons of earth and rock in the December 1964 flood, requiring the dumping of many trainloads of fill to rebuild the railroad.
Ed Nuervo caught X-172 eastbound (compass north) approaching MP74 not far from the Nuervo family's winery. Ed said the fireman saw him with camera and obliged the eager shutterbug, choosing that moment to sand the flues, generating plenty of smoke and a classic shot. Needless to say, that was in the days before the EPA.
Nowhere was the force of the December flood more apparent than at Island Mountain. Not content with merely scouring out a new channel and damaging the bridge's piers, the river swept much of the span well downstream. Here Morrison-Knudsen crews are hard at work rebuilding both piers and bridge on May 14, 1965. Hard to believe, but the Eel River line would reopen in just over a month.
It is April 27, 1967, as one of the ubiquitous Cadillacs eases a Railroad and Locomotive Historical Society Special down the grade to Willits. It was to be the last passenger special until the "New NWPs" Redwood Adventurer October 5, 1996.
Long time NWP employee Bill Bish framed this scene at Island Mountain. Bill may have been the hogger on this seldom seen cow #4603 and calf #4703 combination this summer day in 1952. But who is that in the left foreground? Is that a rolled-up flimsy in his hand?
NWP engine #23 with train #2 is seen eastbound at Alto, November 23, 1935. The high-stepping 4-4-0, built by ALCO in 1908, was a favorite for specials and was the last 4-4-0 to operate on the NWP, not scrapped until 1949, after a half century of service.
Petaluma & Santa Rosa's #3 and #4 on a caboose hop are Sebastopol's "Train down Main" on a sunny day in the early 1960s. The 44-tonners replaced the rugged electric motors when the SP took over the P&SR in 1932. The colorful line struggled against the twin evils of more vehicles and fewer canneries until final abandonment in 1984.
In the early part of 1953, the NWP was using diesels on all pool freights, but steam still powered locals. Here, #2541 is on the South Fork to Willits local and had the "hi-ball", meaning that the switch into the Kekawaka siding was lined for them. The Consolidation was leased to the NWP by parent SP for one year.
Baldwin-built ten-wheeler #143 is eastbound with train #2, the day passenger to Eureka. The date is April 10, 1940; the place, near Cummiskey in the Russian River Canyon. The bulldozer, partially hidden by the locomotive, had just finished clearing a huge slide resulting from several days of heavy rainfall.
4-4-0 #12, built by the Grant Locomotive Works in 1878, began its career as San Francisco & North Pacific #7, the "Petaluma". It saw extensive service on Russian River freights and played a part in the 1923 film "Iron Horse".
Number 12 was scrapped in 1926.
Proudly wearing the "New NWP" black widow style livery, the "Redwood Adventurer" glides through Redwood Valley on October 12, 1996 with a string of former North Coast Daylight cars in tow. High hopes for the excursion service have been derailed by storm damage, lack of maintenance, and much governmental indecision. As we write these words, the outlook is brighter; it seems state and federal funds will at last be available for the NWP's restoration.
On May 19, 1965, less than a month before the Eel River line reopened, ironworkers repair damaged members in the middle span of the Cain Rock bridge, MP 206.51. Note the bent members at lower left; much of the damage was caused by storm-driven logs and uprooted trees jammed into the truss with almost unimaginable force.
Northern California railroad pictures are from past calendars by the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Historical Society.