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Mt Shasta Daylight 6/20/1998

by Chris Guenzler

I always wanted to see the whole Coast Starlight route in daylight and the Portola Railroad Museum was running this trip to Dunsmuir as a fund raiser. You could also book the trip to Black Butte where they had to take the train to wye its return trip to Sacramento so that is the trip I booked. I took the overnight San Joaquin bus to Bakersfield where before I left to head north I took pictures of several Norfolk Southern units plus a Metro North unit in lease service.

It was a non descriptive trip up the San Joaquin Valley on train 713 to Stockton where I took the Thruway Bus to Sacramento where I spent the next two nights at my brother Bruce's place with his family.

Mt Shasta Daylight 880 6/20/1998

My brother drove me down to the Sacramento Depot where I found a waiting Amtrak West Excursion train of Amfleet cars and the full length dome car as the first class car. I took a left hand seat in the rear Amfleet coach like I had so many times before on our San Diegan trains back in Southern California. I felt right at home on this special train. We left on time and headed northeast to Roseville with us owning the railroad. After my usual interest in the yards and shops there we passed the new depot before turning north on the East Valley Line. It was a bright and clear morning with unlimited visibility, a great day for a trip as well as to be alive and sober. We headed through Lincoln before turning northwest to the crossing of the Bear River and Marysville. Our train crossed the ex WP tracks at Binney Jct before we crossed the Feather River before we turned north northwest. Off to the west past Berg siding were the Sutter Buttes.

Our train ran along Highway 99 to Gridley before we turned slightly to run perfectly straight for about 45 miles. We ran through Chico up to Vina where we turned west to cross the Sacramento River to reach Tehama. Here we turned north to run to Red Bluff and then followed Hooker Creek between the foothills to Cottonwood followed by Anderson and on into Redding. After passing the Redding Transportation Center, we crossed high over the Sacramento River on that long curved trestle on the relocated mainline built starting in the year 1938. Our train made its way north through Silverthon, Central Valley and Grays Rock. We plunged into two tunnels before crossing the Pitt River on the lower level of the joint highway bridge. We entered the next five tunnels which took us to the siding to Obrien. Here we saw one of the branches of Shasta Lake down due to lack of rain and snow fall. Tunnels 8 and 9 were passed through before we crossed Salt Creek Inlet to Mead siding. We went through the long tunnel 10 and crossed Lake Shasta.

The train passed through Lakehead before starting our trek up the Sacramento River Canyon. We crossed the Sacramento River passing through Tunnels 11 and 12 and back across the river to Delta where we completed our trip over the relocated mainline. Our train passed Lamoine where we saw the damage from the flooding of the Sacramento River. There was a lot of new rock along the river banks. I was really enjoying the views along the river as we would switch sides of the canyon, travel through tunnels as well as the ever changing views. Gibson and Sims siding were passed by and Mt Shasta started to make an appearance. We went by Connat, before passing through the tiny places of Sweetbrier, Castella and Dirigo before the Castle Crags came into view. We went by the siding of the same name as views of Mt Shasta could be seen from out the windows of our train. It was just a few more minutes before we reached the lower Dunsmuir Yard. We continued to pull forward stopping at the Amtrak stop in town. For the passengers only going this far this was their destination while for us going further we were allowed to get off and I shot a picture of our train.

After the Sacramento passengers reboarded plus the locals who wanted a train ride we departed for Black Butte. We passed under the Interstate 5 bridge by the site of the former Shasta Retreat as we followed the Sacramento River to Shasta Springs.

The train passed by Small siding before crossing the river to the Cantara Loop where we crossed the river one last time. This was the scene of the SP chemical spill into the river which killed off the fish population. As always nature restored what man destroyed.

The train climbed out of the canyon with a great view looking back down. We went by the site of where a boulder came from the top of the canyon and rolled all the way down to the river pushing everything out of its way. This took us to Mott siding where we met the road railers I-5 train followed by Azalea. We continued to Mt Shasta City with great views of Mt Shasta but no action on the McCloud Railroad. We made our way to Upton where both Black Butte and Mt Shasta were in the same view.

Minutes later we arrived at Black Butte where our train was wyed and our number changed to Amtrak train 881, a number used for special movements. We returned to Dunsmuir where I detrained to enjoy Dunsmuir as well get a picture of the train.

After a relaxing time in Dunsmuir, it was all too soon time to head back to Sacramento. The trip back down the canyon was beautiful. I shot a picture off the Pitt River Bridge with clouds off in the distance. I enjoyed a relaxing trip back to Sacramento where my brother was waiting for me.

The next morning I bused to Stockton, took train San Joaquin 712 to Bakersfield then bused to Los Angeles catching the train San Diegan 590 home ending another all too quick adventure.