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McCloud Rails - Passenger Operations: Excursion Photos: 1940s and 1950s Excursions

McCloud Rails : Passenger Operations: Excursion Photos

The First Railfan Excursions:

The first railfan excursion in the western United States operated over the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad on 23 May 1937. Fan trips expanded quickly, and west coast railfans- at the time predominately clustered in the major population centers of San Francisco and Los Angeles- organized several railfan organizations to handle the details associated with chartering excursions over various railroads.

The first railfan excursion over the McCloud River Railroad operated on 12 June 1948. Thirty excursionists rode in three cabooses tacked onto the end of the daily freight to Pondosa. The excursionists ate lunch at the lumber company cookhouse before returning to McCloud. The Western Railroader magazine proclaimed the trip to be the best yet operated on the west coast. The second and third railfan excursions operated on consecutive weekends in June 1950. On Saturday, 10 June, the Northern California Railroad Club sponsored an excursion that operated from McCloud to Lookout and return, and then on 17 June the railroad operated a McCloud to Pondosa excursion as part of the Pacific Coast Region of the National Model Railroad Association annual convention, held that year in Dunsmuir. Both of these excursions used either the #26 or #27, gondolas and coaches leased from the Southern Pacific, and McCloud cabooses. The final excursions of the early era operated in 1953. The Northern California Railroad Club sponsored a "Pondosa Logger" featuring the #25 hauling six log loads, a gondola, and three cabooses from McCloud to Pondosa on 23 May, followed on 22 June 1953 with a second excursion making the round trip to Pondosa. Other than the 1955 specials marking completion of the Burney line, the 1953 trips proved to be the last until the #25 started its excursion career in 1962.

1948- #16 to Pondosa

#16 posing for photographs on the bridge over what would become Highway 89 at Pondosa Upper Yard. The boxcar carries a load of lumber trucked from one of the sawmills in Burney to the reload, which was located on the far side of the train and the highway. The railroad had to get special permission from the lumber company to operate the train onto the bridge, as the railroad would not gain rights to operate beyond Bear Flat until the two companies completed the new Bartle to Pondosa line in 1951. Dennis Sullivan collection.

1950- Excursions to Lookout and Pondosa

One of the excursions rounding the wye at the top of the McCloud yard. Jeff Moore collection.

Jeff Moore collection.

Possibly near Swobe. Jeff Moore collection.

Jeff Moore collection.

At Car A. Jeff Moore collection.

A photo runby somewhere on the line. Jeff Moore collection.

#19 as a helper on one of the excursions. Jeff Moore collection.

What appears to be a staged train holdup at Ash Creek Junction. Jeff Moore collection.

Happy excursionists on the caboose in the days before liability concerns. Jeff Moore collection.

More riders on cabooses, this time at Car A. Jeff Moore collection.

1953- Excursions to Pondosa

#25 with the excursion of 23 May, probably at Bartle.

#18 with the excursion of 22 June at the McCloud depot. Jeff Moore collection.

#18 doing a photo runby at the Bear Creek trestle on the Pondosa Branch on 22 June. Travis Berryman collection.