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Niles Canyon Railway Winterail Steam Special 3/14/2010

by Chris Guenzler

Chris Parker, Dave Abbott and I arose early and left the Red Roof Inn in Stockton at 6:30 AM, driving to Sunol in Niles Canyon. It took just an hour to get there with the Sunday morning's light traffic. We were early so that gave us time to look around.

The Southern Pacific Sunol station built in 1884.

Our Steam Engines for today's event Quincy Railroad Company 2-6-2T 2

Quincy Railroad Company 2 was built in December 1924 by the American Locomotive Company of Schenectady, New York. The engine weighs 60 tons and has an operating boiler pressure of 180 lbs. This engine is fueled with recycled oil. It worked on the Quincy Railroad out of the town of Quincy in Plumas County in the High Sierra Mountains. This railroad connected with the Western Pacific at Quincy Junction about five miles out of town. This railroad was a unique standard gauge line as it had a short, but steep, section of five percent grade. The steam engine worked this railroad for twenty years hauling finished lumber from the mill until a diesel engine was bought in 1945. Between 1945 and 1970, it was used as its backup for the diesel and pulled an occasional railfan excursion train. In 1970, it left Quincy for the former Castro Point Railway and operated in excursion service there until 1985. In 1992, 2 was restored to operation to pull passenger trains on the Niles Canyon Railway.

Mason County Logging 2-6-2T 7

Mason County Logging 7 was built in May 1910 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Eddystone, Pennsylvania. The engine weighs 46 tons and has an operating boiler pressure of 150 lbs. This engine is fueled with recycled oil. It was built for the Black Hills and Northwestern Railroad, a subsidiary of the Mason Company Lumber Company and operated out of Bordeaux, Washington. In 1928, the 7 moved on to the Port of Olympia where it became 2 and worked the docks there until 1955. In 1956, it was purchased by Charles Morrow and leased to the Puget Sound Railway Association of Snoqualmie, Washington. In 1988, 7 was bought by Chris Baldo and in 1999, was shipped to the Mount Rainer Scenic Railroad of Mineral, Washington. In 2001, it returned to operation and moved to its new home at the Roots of Steam Power Museum in Willits, California. 7 was trucked down to the Niles Canyon Railway to participate in the Steamfest II events this March.

Robert Dollar Company 2-6-2T 3

Robert Dollar Company 3 was built in November 1927 by the American Locomotive Company of Schenectady, New York. The engine weighs 65 tons with an operating boiler pressure of 180 lbs. It is fueled with recycled oil. Originally built as a wood burner, it was converted to oil in the 1950's. It was built for the W.A. Woodard Lumber Company as their Number 3 and was operated out of Cottage Grove. This company became Loraine Valley Lumber in 1946. In 1951, the Robert Dollar Company purchased the operation and moved 3 to Glendale, Oregon. It was donated to the San Francisco Maritime Association in 1959 and was transferred to the Bay Area Electric Museum in Rio Vista, California in 1978 where an effort was made to return it to operating condition. In 1999, the steam engine was traded to the Pacific Locomotive Association where the restoration of the engine continued. It returned to operation on the Niles Canyon Railway in 2007 and has been pulling passenger trains ever since.

Our Trip

A group of us set up at the semaphore signals and waited for our passenger train to arrive in Sunol on a beautiful late winter morning. We saw smoke off in the distance and heard whistles being traded as trains were being made up down Niles Canyon at Brightside Yard. Finally we saw smoke coming our way and we all prepared to start our photography at this unique event.

Our passenger train coming into Sunol.

Quincy Railroad Company 2-6-2T 2.

Quincy Railroad Company 2 arrives at the station. I joined the line to pick up my ticket before walking to the front of the train.

Quincy Railroad Company 2 and train in front of the Sunol station. I then boarded the open air car for the trip through Niles Canyon.

The station from the open air car.

Quincy Railroad Company 2 ran around our train to pull us down Niles Canyon then soon we were on our way west.

Our train passed the semaphore signals.

Rolling west down Niles Canyon.

The semaphore signal before we reached Brightside Yard.

Western Pacific F7A 918 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1950.

United States Army H12-44 1856 built by Fairbanks Morse in 1953.

Oakland Terminal DS-4-4-1000 101, United States Air Force 65 ton switcher 7348 and Southern Pacific SD9 5472.

Oakland Terminal DS-4-4-1000 101 built by Baldwin in 1948.

Southern Pacific GP9 5623 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1955.

Southern Pacific NW-2 1423 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1949.

Southern Pacific S6 1218 built by American Locomotive Company in 1955 and purchased by Foster Farms after 1980 before being donated to Pacific Locomotive Association in 2004.

Brightside Yard as we continued west.

Niles Canyon looked beautiful with the green hills this morning.

Two views of a wig-wag crossing signal.

Our train continued our trek down Niles Canyon.

Our train passed by the Mayborg station sign.

Rolling west down Niles Canyon.

Our train went under the tell tales and across the bridge over Niles Creek and California Highway 84.

A few minutes later we crossed California Highway 84 again.

We re-crossed Niles Creek for the second time.

We continued down Niles Canyon all the way to the west end, where at almost Niles, we stopped and detraind to start the official photo runbys of the day.

Click here for Part 2 of this story