October 16, 2007
Report and PHOTOS by Russ Jackson
The California & Western Railroad has been carrying passengers for 100 years! While passengers today are mostly tourists, some travel still occurs to the isolated locations enroute. Our trip on a rainy Tuesday was from Ft. Bragg to Northspur.
Currently service from Willits is suspended while the train station in that city is renovated, but it will resume for Christmas weekend travel. Ft. Bragg service will end November 25, and will resume on March 14, 2008.
Locomotive 65, a 1955 750hp diesel GP-9 will haul Train 1 this date. Steam locomotive power is used on weekends. Note the disabled passenger loading vehicle is available.
The GP-9 hooks up to the hundred year old passenger car. Two coaches, the open air car, and the concession car are in today’s consist.
The crowd of passengers waiting in the light rain to board at Ft. Bragg station. Conductor Pam told this writer that they expected 40, but there were 87 at departure time, not bad for a rainy Tuesday in the middle of October!
It’s not too rainy to be on the open car to watch the greenery of the coastal mountains. Several camps and cabins are located along the 21.5 mile trip to Northspur. Mail service on the trains ended in 2003.
The writer/photographer is at Northspur, the mid-point on the four hour trip. (Photo by Susan Jackson)
Engineer Jim and Conductor Pam have switched the locomotive onto the wye which will place it back on the end of the string of cars for the return to Ft. Bragg.
Tangent track in the fog on the return trip through the magnificent redwoods, passing one tree that is 1,000 years old. A grand trip, highly recommended!