McCloud Railway

  (Redirected from McCloud River Railroad)

The McCloud Railway (reporting mark MCR) was a class III railroad operated around Mount Shasta, California. It began operations on July 1, 1992 when it took over operations from the McCloud River Railroad. The MCR was incorporated on April 21, 1992.

McCloud Railway
McCloud Railway logo.jpg
10 11 08 008xRP - Flickr - drewj1946.jpg
MCR No. 25, a 2-6-2 locomotive built by Alco in 1925. 2008 photo near McCloud.
HeadquartersMcCloud, California
Reporting markMCR
LocaleMount Shasta, California
Dates of operation1897 (1897)–2009 (2009)
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

The MCR provided both freight service as well as passenger excursion trains like the Shasta Sunset Dinner Train.

Freight traffic consisted of outbound lumber and forest products as well as diatomaceous earth. Approximately 3,000 carloads of freight (1996 estimate) were handled annually.

The MCR interchanged with the Union Pacific railroad (formerly Southern Pacific) at Mount Shasta, California.

On June 27, 2005, the railroad applied with the Surface Transportation Board to abandon most of its line. The proposal requests to abandon all MCR track beyond 3.3 miles (5.3 km) east of McCloud, California.[1]


Route in 1931
McCloud rail route from Mt Shasta to McCloud in 1935
Eastern portion of route in 1939

The railroad operated on 95.5 miles (153.7 km) of track. The principal line ran from Mt. Shasta to Bartle. At Bartle, the Burney Branch headed south. The MCR also had a 19-mile (31 km) branch running from Bartle to Hambone, California. At Hambone the ownership changed to BNSF Railway (Great Northern) but was operated by the McCloud River Railroad. That line extended to Lookout Junction where it connected with the Great Northern Railway (U.S.) mainline just north of Bieber, California. The BNSF track east of Hambone (Hambone-Lookout) was abandoned and removed by A&K Railroad Materials in October 2005.


A retired caboose in O'Brien, Oregon.
Last crew of McCloud #18, August 7th, 2005.

The MCR was originally built as the McCloud River Railroad chartered on January 22, 1897, as a forest railway bringing logs to the company sawmill on the Southern Pacific Railroad at a place called Upton a few miles north of Mount Shasta, California. By 1901 the company sawmill was moved to McCloud, and the distance for hauling lumber produced at McCloud was reduced to 17.8 miles (28.6 km) by shifting the junction south to Mount Shasta in 1906. The locomotives shifted from wood to oil fuel as the railroad extended into the forests east of McCloud in 1907. Trains brought logs to the McCloud sawmill from the east, and carried lumber from the sawmill west to the Southern Pacific.[2]

In 1922 Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) built branches south from the McCloud main line at Bartle to build hydropower plants on the Pit River. Materials to build the Pit 1 powerhouse, the Pit 3 Dam, and the Pit 4 Dam were carried over the McCloud River Railroad to connection with the Pit River Railroad officially known as the Mount Shasta Corporation Construction Railroad. This activity encouraged the Great Northern and Western Pacific Railroads to claim a share of this traffic by building a branch west from their line at Lookout, California in 1931 giving McCloud interchange with three major railroad companies. After PG&E abandoned their Pit River Railroad, McCloud extended the former PG&E line south to Burney, California in 1955. Upon reaching Burney, McCloud operated a 130-mile (210 km) railroad including trackage rights over the 34-mile (55 km) Great Northern branch.[2]

The railroad remained primarily a logging railroad with several different owners over the following years including: U.S. Plywood Corporation (1963), U.S. Plywood-Champion Papers (1969), Champion International (1972), and Itel Corporation (1977). The railroad was sold to Jeff E. and Verline Forbis (4-Rails, Inc.) on July 1, 1992. On June 28, 2005, the railroad petitioned the STB to abandon most of its line. Service on all line east of the McCloud Sawmill (now abandoned) has been terminated. A small section of line between McCloud CA and Mount Shasta CA remained open briefly for excursion and dinner train service. As timber demand declined, the railroad slowly cut back although new ownership also led to its downfall. In 2009, the railroad ceased operation and closed down. The property is now for sale as a rail/trail as of 2012.

The railroad also had regular passenger service until 1952.

The railroad's bridge over Lake Britton was used in an iconic scene in the film Stand by Me.

Rolling stockEdit

Lima Locomotive Works built two Shay locomotives for McCloud River Railroad in February 1912. Builders numbers 2401 and 2402 wore McCloud River numbers 16 and 17 until sold in 1924 to Fruit Growers Supply Company of Susanville, California as numbers 4 and 5.[3]

During the latter days of steam, summer trains often included a fire car behind the engine. The fire car was a tank car filled with water topped by an automobile engine-powered pump.[2]

Starting in 1948, the railroad began to order Baldwin diesels, mustering 8 diesels in 1964. The road used Baldwin's DRS-6-6-1500/AS-616 series due to their impressive traction effort; far more than any ALCo or EMD offering at the time. In the later 1950s, with the opening of the Burney branch, the road bought two RS12 units, one S12, and one S8.

In the 1960s, the Baldwins were almost twenty years old, and were showing their age. The road bought three secondhand units from Southern Pacific; an AS-616 and two DRS-6-6-1500s. Unit #28 was damaged in the early 1960s in a wreck, and the unit was shoved behind the shops and cannibalized for parts. The AS-616 and one DRS-6-6-1500 were painted for the road; the second DRS-6-6-1500 was cannibalized for parts without use. All Baldwins were sold in 1969 to various scrap companies and shortlines, upon the arrival of new power.

To relieve the aging Baldwin diesels, the railroad bought three EMD SD38 locomotives numbered 36-38 in April 1969 (Builder No. 34880-34882). The units were used for all duties along the line, and as traffic increased on the road, the railroad ordered a single SD38-2, built August 1974 (Builder No. 74623-1). When the property was put up for sale in 1998, Union Pacific (with their vast SD38-2 yard fleet) showed interest. UP bought the single SD38-2, leaving the other 3 SD38's. The SD38's soldiered on under new ownership. Ironically, the first unit ordered, 36, encountered problems and was cannibalized for parts to keep the other two SD38's running in 2005 (exactly like the Baldwin #28). All three were sold to the Dakota Southern Railroad for use on their line.[4]

The railroad, starting in 1995, also had two ex-McCloud River Railway steam locomotives, no.s 18 and 25. No. 18 was sold to the Virginia and Truckee Railroad in 2005.

No. 25, the steam engine which appeared in Stand By Me and also Bound for Glory, was out of service from 2001 until September 2007, when it was rebuilt for another movie deal, but that one fell through. The No. 25 was then stored in McCloud in operable condition. Both No 18 & 25 are oil burning locomotives. No. 18 made her first revenue run on the V&T on July 24, 2010. No. 25 was sold to the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad in March 2011 for their excursion operations out of Garibaldi, Oregon.

In 1994, McCloud Railway leased an ex-McCloud steam engine (Yreka Western #19) and had it painted as McCloud River Railroad 19. The unit was used to see if there was enough of an interest in a tourist train on the line, and was tested in April 1994. The test was a massive success; excursions would commence in the next two years.

MCR once owned 1,182 freight cars (1996 estimate). Most of these have been sold since the abandonment of freight service.

Motive powerEdit

Number Builder Type Date Works number Notes[2]
1 Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-6-0 1891 11627 built for California Railway; purchased 1897; later renumbered as McCloud #12
2 Stearns Manufacturing Company 3-truck Heisler locomotive 1897 purchased new
3 Stearns Manufacturing Company 3-truck Heisler locomotive 1897 purchased new
4 Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-6-2 1898 16239 purchased new; scrapped 1939
5 Baldwin Locomotive Works 0-6-0 Tank locomotive 1900 17684 Vauclain compound formerly permanently coupled with #6; sold to Lystul-Lawson Logging Company after separation.
6 Baldwin Locomotive Works 0-6-0 Tank locomotive 1900 17685 built as a double-ended permanently coupled 0-6-0+0-6-0 Vauclain compounds; sold to Atkinson Construction Company after separation.
7 Baldwin Locomotive Works 4-6-0 1886 7935 built for St. Louis–San Francisco Railway; purchased 1900; sold to Hetch Hetchy Railroad in 1917[4]
8 Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-6-2 1901 18595 purchased new; sold to Amador Central Railroad
9 Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-6-2 1901 18596 purchased new; sold to Yreka Western Railroad
10 Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-6-2 1901 18674 purchased new; sold to Yreka Western Railroad
11 Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-6-2 1904 23875 Vauclain compound purchased new; scrapped 1939
12 2-6-0 formerly #1; scrapped 1932
14 Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-8-2 1907 30850 purchased new; scrapped
15 Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-8-2 1907 30851 purchased new; scrapped
1st #16 Lima Locomotive Works 3-truck Shay locomotive 1911 2401 purchased new; sold to Fruit Growers Supply in 1924[3]
2nd #16 Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-8-2 1913 39394 purchased from Silver Falls Timber Company
1st #17 Lima Locomotive Works 3-truck Shay locomotive 1911 2402 purchased new; sold to Fruit Growers Supply in 1924[3]
2nd #17 Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-8-2 1916 42912 purchased from Pacific Portland Cement Company in 1942
18 Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-8-2 1914 41709 purchased new; sold to Virginia and Truckee Railroad in 2005
19 Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-8-2 1915 42000 built for Caddo River Lumber Co. of Rosboro, AR as their No.4, then sold to Cia de Real del Monte y Pachuca as their No.105 around 1920 ; sold to McCloud River around 1924; sold to Yreka Western Railroad 1953.
20 Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-6-2 1924 57617 purchased new
21 Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-6-2 1924 57618 purchased new
22 American Locomotive Company (Schenectady) 2-6-2 1925 66316 purchased new
23 American Locomotive Company (Schenectady) 2-6-2 1925 66317 purchased new; sold to Arcata and Mad River Railroad #11 in 1953
24 American Locomotive Company (Schenectady) 2-6-2 1925 66434 purchased new
25 American Locomotive Company (Schenectady) 2-6-2 1925 66435 purchased new; sold to Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad in March 2011
26 American Locomotive Company (Brooks) 2-8-2 1915 55492 purchased from Copper River and Northwestern Railway in 1938
27 American Locomotive Company (Brooks) 2-8-2 1917 57291 purchased from Copper River and Northwestern Railway in 1938
28 Baldwin Locomotive Works Baldwin DRS-6-6-1500 1948 73653 purchased new, damaged, became parts unit
29 Baldwin Locomotive Works Baldwin DRS-6-6-1500 1950 74812 purchased new; sold to Magma Arizona Railroad
30 Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Baldwin S-12 1953 75912 purchased new
31 Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Baldwin S-8 1953 75913 purchased new, built as an S-12 without a turbocharger with intent of conversion to S-12 at a later date
32 Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Baldwin RS-12 1955 76024 purchased new; sold to California Western Railroad, scrapped 1995
33 Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Baldwin RS-12 1955 76105 purchased new; sold to California Western Railroad; preserved at Travel Town Museum
34 Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Baldwin AS-616 1952 75449 built as Southern Pacific #5253; purchased 1963; sold to Oregon and Northwestern Railroad in 1969[4]
35 Baldwin Locomotive Works Baldwin DRS-6-6-1500 1949 74261 built as Southern Pacific #5207; purchased 1964; sold to U.S. Steel in 1969[4]
1st 36 Baldwin Locomotive Works Baldwin DRS-6-6-1500 1949 74258 built as Southern Pacific #5204; purchased 1964; bought for parts, #36 was put into its numberboards but the unit was very rarely used
2nd 36 Electro-Motive Diesel EMD SD38 1969 34880 purchased new,[4] cannibalized for parts after electrical problems in 2005
37 Electro-Motive Diesel EMD SD38 1969 34881 purchased new[4]
38 Electro-Motive Diesel EMD SD38 1969 34882 purchased new[4]
39 Electro-Motive Diesel EMD SD38-2 1974 74623-1 purchased new; sold to Union Pacific Railroad,[4] renumbered UP 2824, renumbered as UPY 824
52 Caterpillar Inc. Passenger motor car used to transport loggers to and from the woods; called the Red Devil


  • Fickewirth, Alvin A. (1992). California railroads: an encyclopedia of cable car, common carrier, horsecar, industrial, interurban, logging, monorail, motor road, shortlines, streetcar, switching and terminal railroads in California (1851-1992). San Marino, CA: Golden West Books. ISBN 0-87095-106-8.
  • Robertson, Donald B. (1998). Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History - Volume IV - California. Caldwell, ID: The Caxton Printers. ISBN 0-87004-385-4.
  • Stindt, Fred A. (1996). American Shortline Railway Guide - 5th Ed. Waukesha, WI: Kalmbach Publishing. ISBN 0-89024-290-9.
  • Walker, Mike (1997). Steam Powered Video's Comprehensive Railroad Atlas of North America - California and Nevada - Post Merger Ed. Faversham, Kent, United Kingdom: Steam Powered Publishing. ISBN 1-874745-08-0.


  1. ^ (dead link)
  2. ^ a b c d Wagner, Jack R. (1955). "East of Shasta". The Western Railroader. Francis A. Guido. 18 (189): 3–39.
  3. ^ a b c Koch, Michael (1971). The Shay Locomotive Titan of the Timber. The World Press. p. 436.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Lamper, Jerry. "McCloud Rails All Time Locomotive Roster". TrainWeb. Retrieved 10 September 2017.

External linksEdit