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Union Pacific Feather River E-Units 7/1994

Chris Guenzler

Once again there was a chance to ride in the Feather River on the ex Western Pacific Route which I decided to do. The Feather River Railroad Museum in Portola was having a Circle the Wagon celebration of their newly restored ex California Zephyr Western Pacific FP-7 805A plus the visiting Union Pacific E-units on their excursion train. Over the July 4th Weekend the E's would pull a train several times a day from Portola to Keddie and return followed by another trip to the wye at Reno Jct to turn the train. A week later the Pacific Limited Group had a trip from Oroville to Westwood on the Highline. I decided to drive up to Portola for the Circle the Wagon celebration and a round trip in a Dome car to Keddie and Reno Jct. I would return home and the next weekend ride the trip to Westwood with Brad Tarr and my parents.

7/1/1994 I woke up early for my drive to Carson City. I drove over Cajon Pass and took US 395 north along the east side of the Sierra Nevada. I was a beautiful day for a drive and I stopped at Big Pine to shot the ex Carson and Colorado locomotive there before I stopped at the railroad museum at Laws. I enjoyed the rest of the drive to Carson City where I checked in to the Motel 6 there. I visited the Nevada Railroad Museum before I drove over to Virginia City just missing the last train. I returned to Nevada's state capitol for an evening of gambling {10 cents} and drinking.

Upper Feather River Trip 7/2/1994

I drove to Portola for the first train of the weekend and toured the museum to see the Western Pacific F units now restored.

After touring the museum's grounds, I boarded the Dome car Harriman. We left Portola and headed west past the museum and out into the Mabie Valley. The Dome view is the best view a passenger can get on any train except for a cab ride. I was really excited to be riding in the Dome over this trackage again. We crossed the very high Clio Viaduct before reaching the siding at Blairsdan. We moved swiftly through Two Rivers before passing through Sloat. We ran along the Middle Fork of the Feather River until we plunged into the Spring Garden Tunnel. We ran by an eastbound at Spring Garden before we traversed the Williams Loop. We ran high above the expanding valley below to Quincy Jct prior to winding our way to Keddie. We pulled out across the Keddie Wye high above Spanish Fork Creek and pulled through the tunnel until the rear end cleared the switch for the Highline. We backed up onto the other bridge and slowly moved up the grade of the Highline. Once the engines were cleared of the switch, we pulled forward through the tunnel completing the wyeing process. We made our way back to Portola where the majority of the passengers detrained. We picked up the new passengers and off we went. We traveled east through The Narrows past Rocky Point then out across the Sierra Valley through Hawley. We passed the Buttes before we went by Chilcoot and into the Beckworth Pass Tunnel to Reno Junction where we pulled onto the Reno Branch to wye the train. We again pulled the rear end passed the switch before we backed up into the siding before we returned to Portola. It was an exciting morning of train travel through some beautiful countryside. I returned to Carson City for another night of gambling and drinking.

7/3/1994 I drove back to Portola for the Circle the Wagons Celebration before I drove down Highway 70 down the Feather River Canyon to my brother Bruce's home in Sacramento for the night.

7/4/1994The next morning I drove home to Santa Ana.

Union Pacific E Units to Westwood

7/9/1994 Brad Tarr picked me up and off we went up Interstate 5 over the Grapevine to Highway 99 which we took up the San Joaquin Valley with me drinking along the way. We stayed on 99 to Sacramento before taking Highway 70 with the Bronco's engine acting up to Oroville where we stayed at the Motel 6. We had an excellent dinner at the Oroville Depot before spending the night drinking.

7/10/1994 The day I had been waiting for finally arrived as this would be the day I would get to ride part of the ex Western Pacific's Highline. Brad and I started our day at Denny's having a good breakfast before we drove down to the ex Western Pacific depot where the train would be boarding. The Union Pacific train pulled in right on time and everyone on the sold out train boarded. We took coach seats and right on schedule the train left Oroville. We ran along the Feather River until we crossed over it on a curved bridge. We started our way around Table Mountain passing by the sidings of Kramm and Elsey before we crossed under Highway 70 before the train circled to the backside of Glover Ridge before plunging into the first tunnel of the day leading us to James. We ducked under Highway 70 again running alongside James siding prior to running on the lower level of the Highway 70 bridge over the West Branch of Lake Oroville. We entered the tunnel after tunnel area with the longest period of daylight at Dark Canyon. We exited the last of these tunnels out onto the North Fork Bridge.

This is my first eastbound trip ever up the Feather River Canyon and was I ever enjoying myself. We twisted along the canyon to Poe before we reached the Highway 70 bridge high above our bridge as we switched sides of the canyon just short of Pulga. We continued to climb the one percent grade of the old Western Pacific traveling past the Elephant Buttes on the south side of the canyon. We reached Merlin before crossing the curved bridge over Rock Creek. We ventured further crossing over both Highway 70 and the Feather River at Tobin. We ran northeast to Belden where the train was stopped beyond the east switch where we all unloaded to do a photo runby with the UP Streamliner coming out of the shadows into view.

Photo Runby 1 in the Feather River Canyon.

Photo Runby 2 at this great location. We made our way along Rock Creek Reservoir and through the Honeymoon Tunnels. We traveled through the Serpentine Canyon of Spanish Creek to Paxton before we traveled through the tunnels and across the bridges until we popped out onto the Keddie Wye.

We switched onto the Highline and once clear of the bridge we started up the steep grade to escape Spanish Creek Canyon on new trackage for me. We climbed along the canyon crossing a high bridge before plunging into a short tunnel. We continued our climb reaching Indian Creek Canyon as we left Spanish Creek Canyon via a tunnel. We passed by the siding at Moccasin before we reached the Indian Valley as we passed through Crescent Mills. We stayed in the valley before turning to the west to attain Greenville with another siding. We followed Highway 89 north and then to the west before making a horseshoe curve crossing over the highway in the middle of the curve. We then made a second horseshoe curve as we descended to the west. We made a mini horseshoe curve to cross Sheepcamp Creek as we dropped to Canyon Dam and Lake Almanor came into view for the first time in my life. We turned north staying above the highway with the lakeshore below. We twisted our way to Almanor siding where we did a double photo runby.

Photo Runby 3 at Almanor Siding. We liked that one so much we did another!

Photo Runby 3 at Almanor Siding.

Once on the move again, we followed the Hamilton Branch northeast away from the beautiful Lake Almanor. We reached Clear Creek which was the junction with the Almanor Railroad that ran to Chester. We stayed running east until we turned north at Mountain Meadow Reservoir and on into Westwood where we came to a stop. While we explored the town, the Union Pacific ran the E-units around the train to pull us backwards to Keddie. Brad and I found a place to have lunch before we went bar hopping along with some other fellow travelers. We reboarded at the appointed time and ran back to Keddie where the E's ran around the train again before pulling us back down the Feather River Canyon. We returned to Oroville on time with Brad and I finding a place for dinner before returning to the Motel Six for a night of drinking.

7/10/1994 We drove back down the valley with the Bronco having engine problems. We took Highway 99 to Selma then Highway 41 to Allensworth State Park as Brad wanted to see the town which was an experimental farming community for former black slaves. The preserved town site features 9 restored buildings including a schoolhouse, homes and a hotel. I was moved by the whole experience of my visit there. We drove into Bakersfield first stopping at a Motel 6 before dropping the Bronco off at the Ford dealership who gave us a car to us while the repairs would be made. We went and saw a Bakersfield Dodgers baseball game that night just to kill the time of being stuck there.

7/11/1994 The next morning through afternoon found me drinking in the waiting area of the dealership until the Bronco was finally done. We drove home from Bakersfield late in the day and I was sure glad to be home in Santa Ana.