Minarets and Western Railway

The Minarets and Western Railway was a Class II common carrier that operated in Fresno County, California, from 1921 to 1933. The railway was owned by the Sugar Pine Lumber Company and was built the same year the lumber company was incorporated so that it could haul timber from the forest near Minarets (northeast of Friant) to its sawmill at Pinedale (near Fresno). The southern portion of the line was operated with joint trackage rights with Southern Pacific.

Minarets and Western Railway
HeadquartersPinedale, California
LocaleFresno County, California
Dates of operation1921–1933
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Route in 1922 near Friant

During the Great Depression, in 1933 the lumber company went bankrupt. The track north of Friant was abandoned and the Pinedale Branch was bought by Southern Pacific, where it was later known as the Pinedale Spur of the Clovis Branch. Southern Pacific later sold the spur and Clovis Branch to the San Joaquin Valley Railroad (SJVR). SJVR abandoned the line in the 1990s and today the Pinedale Spur is preserved as the Fresno-Clovis Rail Trail.[1]

Pinedale BranchEdit

The 4.7-mile (7.6 km) Pinedale Branch ran west from Pinedale Junction (today at North Willow Avenue at East Shephard Avenue, Fresno) on the Southern Pacific, to its lumber mill. The branch ran west along the north side of Shephard Avenue. Just west of Millbrook Avenue the railroad crossed Shephard heading in a southwest direction toward Fresno/Pinedale. The depot at Pinedale was located near Highway 41 and East Nees Avenue. Today a granite monument (California State Historical Landmark #934)[2] is at that depot/camp location in remembrance of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Pinedale was the destination where the Japanese disembarked the trains for their internment camps.

In the moviesEdit

Minarets and Western Railway rolling stock was used in the filming of "Carnival Boat" (1932), which starred Bill Boyd and Ginger Rogers. In action scenes featuring Boyd and other actors atop flatcars carrying loads of timber, the film is intentionally reversed, making it difficult to read the "Minarets and Western Railway" markings. The designation "M & W" is readable at times, and the locomotive is marked "Sugar Pine Lumber Co."


  • 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.
  • 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. ^ "Fresno-Clovis Rail-Trail". Traillink.com. Rails to Trails Conservancy. 2007. Retrieved September 10, 2008.
  2. ^ "Temporary detention camps for Japanese Americans - Fresno assembly center". California Office of Historic Preservation. 2008. Retrieved September 10, 2008.

External linksEdit