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Western Pacific Railroad Museum 7/3/2022

by Chris Guenzler

We awoke at the Ramada Inn in Reno and had breakfast at the hotel's restaurant which was not up to the standard of the previous day. After checking out, I drove us on US 395 to CA Highway 70 to CA Highway 49 to Loyalton for the town's station.

Western Pacific Loyalton station which has been converted to a residence.

The remaining track here. From here we backtracked to CA Highway 70 and went west to Portola for our visit to the Western Pacific Railroad Museum.

Western Pacific Railroad Museum

In 1983, the Feather River Rail Society was formed with the goal of preserving the legacy of the Western Pacific Railroad. The Union Pacific graciously donated several pieces of equipment and granted use of the former WP locomotive facility in the City of Portola to the society. This 37-acre site includes a 16,000 square foot diesel shop in active use from 1954 until 1974 and two-and-a-half miles of track. This facility became home to what is now the Western Pacific Railroad Museum at Portola.

Our collection includes locomotives, rolling stock, an extensive gathering of corporate records, paperwork, artifacts and historic photos and films. Visitors to the Western Pacific Railroad Museum soon discover that this is a hands-on facility where they are encouraged to climb into the cabs of locomotives, sit in the engineer's seats and browse through the rolling stock on display. Visitors can get up close to our restoration projects in the working shop. There is an exhibit room and various railroad-related displays throughout the building.

The FRRS is a not-for-profit, 501(c)3 volunteer organization that does not receive any government funding. The continued existence of this museum and archives depends upon revenue gathered from memberships, donations, fundraising, admissions and store sales. Please help support our mission to preserve and protect the legacy of the Western Pacific and its people. You are invited to become a member of the FRRS and join our team of volunteers here at the museum.

Our Visit

Elizabeth and I walked into the museum and entered the gift shop and ticket office, waiting in line before we paid for admission and tickets for the steam train at 11:30 AM.

Western Pacific NW2 608, built by Electro-Motive Corporation in 1940 as Union Pacific DS 1000, which was later sold to Stockton Terminal and Eastern. We started our exploration inside the museum.

Union Pacific business-observation Car 105 built by Pullman Company in 1916 for use by the railway's president as his own private railroad car. In that service, the car was numbered UP 100 and functioned as an office and home-away-from-home for the President during business trips around the Union Pacific's system. When built, its appearance was like other heavyweight cars of the era, including opening sash windows and wooden interior details. Throughout its many rebuildings and reassignments, the 105 remained an executive business car and never saw service as a "regular" passenger car. Inside you will find large bedrooms (for a railroad car), a dining room, a lounge with large windows facing the rear observation platform and a compact but very capable kitchen. The car was retired and donated to the Feather River Rail Society by UP in 1986, a fine example of a later railroad business car.

Western Pacific business-observation Car 106 "Pioneer" built by Pullman Company in 1917.

Western Pacific water car WPMW 1577 built by American Car and Foundry in 1912. This was the last Western Pacific tank car in railroad service being used as a waste (gray) water car in a track gang outfit.

Denver and Rio Grande wooden steam crew support car 62962 built by American Car and Foundry circa 1900.

Southern Pacific GP9 2873, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1956 for the Southern Pacific subsidiary Texas & New Orleans as their 443.

Wig wag crossing signal.

Union Pacific DD40AX 6946 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1977.

Western Pacific Big Hook 200 ton crane WPMW 37 built by Brownhoist in 1937.

Western Pacific idler car 37-1 was converted from a Western Pacific 650 series gondola car.

Department of Defense Tank Car 11207 built in 1952.

Pullman 12 open section/one drawing room sleeping car "Red Cross" built in 1925. It was assigned to the Overland Limited then in 1930, was re-assigned to various trians on the Southern Railway and renamed "Sunburst Rose". In 1948, it was sold to Southern Pacific and given 8334, then by 1953, converted to a baggage-dormitory car. Further conversion occurred and it became Southern Pacific maintenance-of-way 3503 and assigned to wreck train service in Carlin, Nevada. In the 1970's, it was transferred to the Western Pacific and went into wreck train service at Oroville, becoming WPMW 37-7.

Sacramemto Northern bay window caboose 1642 built by Pullman as wooden box car 17922 in 1916. It was acquired by the Sacramento Northern in April 1964.

Southern Pacific caboose 1337 built by Southern Pacific in 1951.

Western Pacific wooden caboose 645 built by Western Pacific in 1943 converted from Pullman boxcar.


Southern Pacific cabooose 1060 built by Southern Pacific in 1941.

Western Pacific 0-6-0 165 came by me on its test run.

Central California Traction Company caboose 24 (nee Santa Fe 1547) built by American Car and Foundry in 1927.

Pacific Fruit Express refrigerator car 59942 built by American Car and Foundry in 1923.

Pacific Fruit Express refrigerator car 11454 built by Southern Pacific in 1957.

Sacramento Northern hopper car 5005 built by American Car and Foundry in 1958.

Western Pacific ore car 10649 built by the Pullman Company in 1953.

Western Pacific gondola 6424 built by Greenville in 1953.

Western Pacific 0-6-0 165 backing on its test run.

Western Pacific box car 3032 built by Pullman-Standard in 1955.

Western Pacific tank Car WPMW 0291 built by Union Tank Car in 1952.

Western Pacific composite gondola WPMW 6550 built by Mt. Vernon in 1945.

Western Pacific S-4 563 built by American Locomotive Company in 1951.

Chicago and North Western gondola 128127.

Western Pacific tank car MW 1577 built by American Car and Foundry in 1912.

Western Pacific tank car WPMW 1132 built by American Car and Foundry in 1912.

Quincy Railroad S1 4 built by Alco in 1942. This unit is an Alco S1 and started out as Western Pacific 504, was sold to Sacramento Northern as their 405 in December 1967, and then to the Quincy Railroad in April 1973.

Western Pacific 165 finishing its test run.

Oregon Northwestern cabosee 300 built by Norfolk & Western Railway in 1915. It was renumbered Norfolk & Western 18121, a later re-number had her as Norfolk & Western 518121. She was sold to the Oregon & Northwestern Railroad and later purchased by Errol Spangler and placed on permanent loan to the Feather River Rail Society by Mr. Spangler and was later sold FRRS Board member Wayne Monger.

Santa Fe caboose 999107 (nee Santa Fe 507) built by the railroad in 1949.

Western Pacific bay window caboose 428 (nee Western Pacific 36102) built by International Car Company in 1955.

Quincy Railroad 44 ton switcher 3 built by General Electric in 1945. It relegated Alco 2-6-2T 2 to stand-by service when it arrived, but the steam engine did not leave until 1970, seeing occasional use on excursion trains. Today, Quincy 2 is operational at the Niles Canyon Railway. This engine has never been out of Plumas County since it was delivered to the Quincy in 1945.

Sacramento Northern GP7 712 built by Electro Motive Division of General Motors in 1953. Upon retirement by new owner Union Pacific, this locomotive2 was donated in 1985 to the Western Railway Museum near Fairfield, California, where the tired old engine was repainted and displayed. In 2006, the Feather River Rail Society and Western Railway Museum successor, Bay Area Electric Railway Association, traded several pieces of equipment, including Sacramento Northern 712.

Western Pacific GP9 731 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1955. Following the Union Pacific/Western Pacific merger in 1982, UP repainted the 731 into their armor yellow and harbor mist gray paint scheme with red lettering in late January 1985, and returned her to former WP lines in the Bay Area. The 731 did not last long in its new identity however, as it was sold in August 1985 to Iowa Interstate Railroad.

Western Pacific GP7 708 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1952.

Western Pacific SW1500 1593 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1973. The 1503 could usually be found throughout the 1970's and 80's working the industrial areas of San Francisco, which was indirectly served by Weatern Pacific carferry "Las Plumas" that moved Western Pacific rail shipments across San Francisco bay between Oakland and "The City". 1503 could often be found loading and unloading the Las Plumas in San Francisco.

Kennecott Copper RS-2 908 built by Alco in 1948.

Oregon Northwestern AS-616 4 built by Baldwin in 1952, originally Southern Pacific 5253 then McCloud 34.

Oregon Northwestern AS-616 3 built by Baldwin in 1952, originally Southern Pacific 5274.

Kennecott RS3 2 built by Alco in 1950.

Western Pacific FP7 805-A built by Electro-Motive Division in 1955 as part of an A-B-A set of 2 "cab" units and 1 cabless "booster" units for the road's flagship "California Zephyr" passenger train. General Electric sold the unit to the Wellsville, Addison and Galeton Railroad in Pennsylvania. After that railroad was abandoned in 1977, the 805-A was transferred to the Louisiana and Northwest Railroad in Louisiana, where it was used until it was in need of an overhaul. The Feather River Rail Society wanted this locomotive for its Western Pacific Railroad collection as it had become the last WP California Zephyr locomotive in existence.

Soutern Pacific rotary snowplow 208 built Alco-Brooks in 1927. It was leased to Western Pacific and used at Keddie and the High Line after Western Pacific had retired their plows.

Western Pacific F7A 921-D built by Electro Motive Division in 1950.

Western Pacific F9B 925-C built by General Motors of Canada in 1951, originally Canadian National 9039.

Western Pacific GP20 2001 built by Electro Motive Division in 1959.

Western Pacific F7A 917-D built by Electro Motive Division in 1950.

Western Pacific GP7 705 built by Electro Motive Division in 1952. 705 came to the Western Pacific Railroad Museum from Arizona where she spent several years working in the desert hauling freight for shortline "Arizona Central" after retirement from the Western Pacific. This explains the faded red paint. 705 was purchased by a group of FRRS members and brought "home" in 2005. Nicknamed "Mary Kay" due to its pink (faded red) paint, the 705 will be restored as time and money allow. For the time being, WP 705 is stored at the museum on display. Once mechanical restoration is completed, it will be pained the Perlman Green and Orange paint scheme.

Western Pacific GP7 707 was built by Electro Motive Division of General Motors in 1952.

Western Pacific SW1 501 built by Electro Motive Division in 1939.

Western Pacific S1 512 built by Alco in 1941. Western Pacific ordered an additional 4 GP7 locomotives in 1953, road numbers Western Pacific 710-713, thereby fully retiring WP's last remaining steam locomotives. This resulted in WP becoming the first railroad in the west to fully dieselize.

Napa Valley Railroad DS-4-4-660 51 built by Baldwin in 1946. This locomotive was originally built for the Morrisey, Fernie & Michel Railway as No. 1, working for the Crows Nest Pass Coal Co. in Canada. It then began its well traveled list of jobs by working at the Delta Alaska Terminal in Vancouver, British Columbia, then crossed the border and was renumbered to Seattle & North Coast No. 51. Following the closure of the Seattle and North Coast railroad, the unit was leased to Publishers Paper Company in Newport. OR, spent some time on the Chelatchie Prairie (Battle Ground, Washington) and was moved to Sacramento for storage at the California State Railroad Museum. It was then run under its own power to Napa for use by the Napa Valley Railroad to assist in rehabilitating their trackage after its long neglect by the Southern Pacific. It was here that one of the traction motors was damaged while working a ballast train, which put the well traveled locomotive out of service. No. 51 was then moved to Oroville, and finally to its current home at Portola.

Feather River and Western H12-44 1857 (nee United States Army 1857) built by Fairbanks Morse in 1953.

United States Steel S-12 20 built by Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton in 1955. This unit worked in the Pittsburg, California US Steel plant, where it switched trains brought in by Sacramento Northern and Western Pacific. The Western Pacific purchased five Baldwin VO-1000 yard switchers, despite their strong preference for EMD power, due to the shortage of locomotives during World War II. Unfortunately, all five units WP 581-585 were scrapped, so the plan for US Steel 20 is to be converted into a visual replica of a WP Baldwin switcher, since the S-12 had a similar carbody style to the VO-1000.

Southern Pacific snow plow unit.

Southern Pacific power unit for rotary 208 (snail) SPMW 8221. Originally Southern Pacific F7B 8300 built by Electro Motive Division in 1953.

Santa Fe dining car 601 built by Pullman-Standard in 1950 which later Amtrak 8070.

Feather River Railroad Museum Road Show/Museum Store Car FRRX 5653 built by American Car and Foundry in 1954 as Union Pacific 5653; an all-aluminium car.

California Zephyr Western Pacific Diner 841 "Silver Plate" built by Budd Company in 1948. This the last intact diner remaining from the California Zephyr (Silver Lady) and an important acquisition for our Zephyr Project.

The cab of Western Pacific FP7A 804-A on a flat car.

Union Pacific Railway Post Office 5810 built by Pullman Standard in 1949 and used on the City of San Francisco.

Western Pacific Steel Baggage Express 123 by built by Pressed Steel Car Company in 1923, a rare example of a passenger car built by that company. It was one of twenty baggage cars purchased by the WP in 1923-1924. These cars were used on all the Western Pacific's long distance trains, including the flagship Scenic Limited and its successor the Exposition Flyer, until the arrival of the stainless steel California Zephyr. The Western Pacific 121-140 were the only all-baggage cars on the railroad until new baggage cars arrived for the California Zephyr. WP 123 was heavily modified in the mid-1950s for maintenance-of-way service and survived until the early 1980s when it was donated to the FRRS by the Union Pacific Railroad.

Western Pacific 50 foot box car 19801 built by Western Pacific in 1965.

Tidewater Southern box car 520 built by Pullman-Standard in 1955.

Simplot cryogenic refrigerated rail car 5021 built by Pacific Car and Foundry in 1974. The car was built as an insulated boxcar for South Southwestern 23350 and converted to its present configuration in 1988.

Western Pacific 40 foot double door boxcar 18503 built by Mt. Vernon in 1945.

Western Pacific U30B 3051 built by General Electric in 1975. Western Pacific realized that they could purchase 5 U30B's for the price of 4 SD45's and GE's 4 cycle engines were a lot more fuel efficient than EMD's 20 cylinder monster. Western Pacific purchased 5 examples in 1967 at a cost per unit of $234,458. Western Pacific went back to GE and ordered 15 more. U30B 751 was delivered in Silver and Orange with large Western Pacific "Feather River Route" medallion on the cab sides, black and orange chevron style warning stripes, signal lights in the nose, and rode on Blomberg trucks from traded in EMD locomotives. Western Pacific's U30B's were retired by successor Union Pacific after the merger, and 3051 was donated by Union Pacific in 1985.

Union Pacific 40 foot double box car 903658.

Flat car of unknown origin.

Western Pacific flat car 2746 built by Western Pacific in 1953.

Western Pacific box car 34005 built by Pullman-Standard in 1960.

Feather River Western 15545 is a 40 foot steel/wood flatcar. It was built for the U.S. Military as USAX 15545, later it was renumbered as DODX 15545. It was purchased through the government surplus property program by the FRRS in October 1990.

Tidewater Southern maintenance-of-way 056H.

Chicago Burlington & Quincy 4720 "Silver Rifle" built by Budd Company in 1948.

Western Pacific Vista Dome Lounge-Dormitory Car 832 "Silver Hostel" built by Budd Company in 1948. It is currently under restoration.

Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Vista Dome Coach 4717 built by Budd Company in 1948. The original California Zephyr ran over the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad from Chicago to Denver, Colorado; the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad between Denver and Salt Lake City, Utah; and the Western Pacific Railroad from Salt Lake City to Oakland, California. Cars owned by different railroads ran together; cars cycled in and out of the consists for service, repairs and varying passenger loads with the seasons. The first train was christened in San Francisco by Eleanor Parker while California Lieutenant Governor Goodwin Knight, Mayor of San Francisco Elmer Robinson, and WP President Harry A. Mitchell looked on. For the inaugural run in 1949, every female passenger on the train was given a corsage of "silver" and orange orchids that were specially flown in from Hilo, Hawaii. The women who worked as car hostesses on this train were known as "Zephyrettes".

Western Pacific Maintenance-of-Way 27-2 was last used as the fuel and water tender for WPMW derrick 27. Lima Locomotive Works originally built it in July 1943 for use with Western Pacific steam engine 484 and it has a capacity of 23,000 gallons. This tender is the only remaining tender from the Western Pacific's GS-64 series locomotives.

Western Pacific 40 foot box car 64806 built by Evans-United States Railway Equipment Company in 1976.

Western Pacific 40 foot box car 20806 built by Pullman-Standard in 1951.

Western Pacific 40 foot box car 21255 built by Pullman-Standard in 1951.

Union Pacific 40 foot double door box car 917138 originally Union Pacific 127150.

Missouri-Kansas-Texas 40 foot boxcar 5164 built in 1960.

Strategic Air Commander Guard car G-50, rebuit from Army 1943 troop kitchen car 8750.

Western Pacific 40 foot box car 20868 built by Pullman-Standard in 1951.

Union Pacific conference car Missouri Pacific 14144, a rebuilt 70 foot maintenance-of-way bunk car rebuit from an express boxcar.

Western Pacific box car 290599.

Southern Pacific Pacific Fruit Express refrigator car 100468 built by Southern Pacific in 1958.

Simplot cyrogenic refrigerated rail car JRSX 5021.

An old wooden box car.

Outside braced metal work train car.

Unknown flat car 0430.

Western Pacific 40 foot box car 3417 built by Pullman-Standard in 1947.

Western Pacific 50 foot box car 19901 built by Transco in 1965 from an Atlantic Coast Line car.

Western Pacific 50 foot box car 19801 built by Western Pacific in 1945 from a 40 foot box car.

Western Pacific 60 foot box car 3796 built by Pullman-Standard in 1965.

Kennecott Copper steeplecab 778, originally 104, built by General Electric in 1958.

Quincy TR6 1100 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1950 built as EMD demonstrator 1600, then Southern Pacific 1600. It was used as a Sacramento Shop switcher - perhaps the only surviving TR6A .

Union Pacific wedge plow 900002, originally Union Pacific 02, built at the Pocatello Idaho shop in 1949 from steam engine tender 3562.

Old wooden box car of unknown origin.

Pullman Company Military Troop Sleeper Car 8300 built by Pullman Company in 1943.

Southern Pacifc Hydra Cushion 50 foot box car 230908 built by Pacific Car and Foundry in 1973.

Box car of unknown origin. It was now time to ride the train. Elizabeth and I boarded former Missouri Pacific caboose 13878 and sat on a bench on the rear platform so we could have good photographic angles. Following are scenes from the trip.

Southern Pacific caboose 4706 built by Southern Pacific in 1951.

Denver and Rio Grande Western caboose 01414 built by Rio Grande in 1941.

Western Pacific bay window caboose 483 built by International Car Company in 1980.

Western Pacific bay window caboose 484 built by International Car Company in 1980.

Western Pacific GP7 705.

Western Pacific GP9 731.

We had an excellent ride behind Western Pacific 0-6-0 165 which was built by Alco in 1919 as United Verde Copper Company 87 in Jerome, Arizona. In 1927 it was sold to the Western Pacific. The 165 had been last used in March 1953, but saw one last hurrah when it and Western Pacific 94 were towed down the Tidewater Southern to Escalon and used as stationary boilers at a cannery in October 1959. It returned to Stockton for storage, one of only 3 steamers left on the railroad (along with 4-6-0 94 and 2-8-2 334). On April 4, 1962, it was donated to the city of San Leandro and eventually was displayed near the San Leandro BART station. At some point in the 1980's, it was relocated to the Alameda County Fairgrounds. In late 2002, an opportunity arose to acquire 0-6-0 165 which had been at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton but was now in the hands of the new Triple T Agricultural Museum located in Stevenson. Triple T was more interested in a flashier engine and inquired about our Union Pacific 4-4-0 737. After extensive negotiations, a trade was completed that sent the old 4-4-0 to the Triple T, where it will be cosmetically restored and displayed indoors, while bringing Western Pacific 165 home to Portola. Our steam department is headed by Roger Stabler. Assisting Roger is recently retired head of Union Pacific's steam program, Steve Lee, and a large group of "Willing People" working to return Western Pacific steam to the "Feather River Route" for the first time in over 50 years.

After that great trip, we walked to the hill south of the museum overlooking the ballon track and waited for the engine to return.

The engine returned by us for the next train.

The train came by my photo location.

Missouri Pacific transfer caboose 13878 built by Missouri Pacific in 1980.

Union Pacific caboose 25283 (originally Union Pacific 3983) built by Union Pacific in 1953.

Rock Island bay window caboose 17174 (later Union Pacific 24592) built by International Car Company in 1967.

Union Pacific caboose 25732 built by International Car Company in 1975.

The train went around the ballon track. I went to finish my photography while Elizabeth visited the gift shop and acquired several souvenirs of our visit.

Union Pacific tank car 7632.

Pacific Lumber Company 44 foot log flatcar 580. It is all-wood construction and was reconstructed in 1977 with all wood components renewed at that time; and they appear to never have been used afterwards. The only steel in the cars are the trucks, couplers, AB brake components, end sills, truss rods and four cross pieces of light rail on the wood deck that the logs rested on. The weight of the cars without their trucks is a low 16,000 pounds. The bar trucks weigh 6800 pounds each. These log cars are fairly typical of the cars used from the early 1900's for half a century into the 1950's by many west coast lumber companies.

Southern Pacific beet gondola 40 foot wood side sugar beet car 358262 built by Pressed Steel in 1948.

Western Pacific ballast car 10760 built by American Car Foundry in 1957.

Western Pacific ballast car 10649 built by Pullman Company in 1953.

Southern Pacific ballast car SPMW 7273.

Union Pacific caboose 25049 built by Mt. Vernon Car Company in 1945, originally Union Pacific 3749.

Western Pacific 15-ton burro crane with dedicated boom flat WPMW E-14.

Canadian National 4-8-4 sleeping car 1112 built by Pullman-Standard in 1954 for use on "Super Continental" train. It is the third in a series of 52 cars built for CN in 1954. All cars in this series were named after Canadian cities and towns whose names begin with "E." Our car is named "Edenwold." It has 4 sections, 8 duplex roomettes and 4 double bedrooms. This car went to VIA Rail and became 1112.

Union Pacific PS-1 XM Bunk Car 953664.

Western Pacific PS-1 XM Bunk Car 0643.

Western Pacific outside-braced maintenance-of-way box car 37-10 built by Pullman-Standard in 1965.

Western Pacific outside-braced maintenance-of-way box car 37-6 built by Pullman-Standard in 1965.

Western Pacific gondola 5925.

One more view of Western Pacific 165 and we were finished at this museum. Elizabeth could not believe all of the equipment that they have acquired over the years and we drove away as a couple of very happy railfans. We started to leave Portola but I had to pull over when I spotted something at the east end of the Portola yard.

Union Pacific SD70M 1979 originally Union Pacific 4332. Union Pacific's "We Are ONE" Employee Resource Group (ERG) Commemorative Locomotive celebrates inclusion and is named after the year that the railway's first ERG, the Black Employee Network, was established. The groups which are listed on the "N" are AERO - Asian Employee Resource Org., BEN - Black Employee Network, Bridges (LGBTQ+), CONAH - Council on Native American Heritage, EASE - Employees with Disabilities, LEN - Latino Employee Network (LEN), LEAD - A Women's Initiative, UP Ties and UPVETS.

Canadian National C44-9W 2562 built by General Electric in 1997. I drove one block before having to stop again.

Western Pacific mural on the wall. From here I drove CA Highway 70 to US 395.

On the way to Susanville we found this great cloud. I then drove to CA Highway 44 to Susanville and a stop at Walmart for film for Elizabeth. From here we went depot hunting and found a surprise.

Southen Pacific Susanville station built circa 1913.

The plaque on the Susanville station.

The crossbuck at this station.

Union Pacific caboose 25384 built by Union Pacific in 1955, originally Union Pacific 2784.

How a Union Pacific caboose came to Susanville.

Bizz Johnson Susanville Trail sign. We checked into the River Inn and later had dinner at Lumberjacks Restaurant, where I enjoyed a French Dip sandwich and Elizabeth had a BLT sandwich with potato salad. Afterwards, we returned to the hotel for the night.