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Niles Canyon Railway Winterail Photo Special 3/9/2013

by Chris Guenzler

After a great Winterail we checked out of the Red Roof Inn and met at the car. We took Bob Riskie to the ACE Station so he could catch train 702 south. From there we drove to Tracy to a MacDonald's for my usual Hot Cakes and sausage breakfast. We then headed over to Dr Power Park to our first stop of the morning.

Southern Pacific 0-6-0 1293. From here we drove across Altamont Pass to Livermore to our next stop.

The Livermore Southern Pacific Station now a real estate office.

The Livermore station signs.

The historic plaque. From here we drove to Sunol, parked the rental car then joined the Photo Line.

We waited for the Clover Valley Lumber 4 to arrive.

All the photographer's shadows.

Clover Valley Lumber Company 4

The Clover Valley Lumber 4 is one of 36 logging mallets built by Baldwin Locomotive and only one of only two operating in the United States. The Clover Valley Lumber 4 was built by Baldwin in 1924 for the Clover Valley Lumber Company to haul logs to their sawmill in Loyalton, Ca. Over the next 32 seasons the Number 4 spent the summer logging season running between the woods and the sawmill. In December 1956 the Clover Valley Lumber Company became the Feather River Lumber Company. The Number 4 operated one more season hauling before being sold to the Tahoe Timber Company at Jackpot, Nv, for a stationary boiler. The Pacific Locomotive Association acquired the Number 4 and moved it from Nevada to the Castro Point Railway in Richmond, Ca in 1973. The Number 4 were returned to operation at Castro Point in 1978 and operated there until 1985 when the locomotive along with the rest of the PLA's steam locomotives was moved to storage in Fremont. Ca. In 2005 the Number 4 was moved over the Union Pacific rails to Niles Canyon. The restoration of the Number 4 began in earnest on September 2007 with the descaling of the boiler. Over the next 5 years the PLA Steam Department worked on returning the locomotive to operating condition when not operating and maintaining PLA's other two operable steam locomotives, the Robert Dollar 3 and Quincy Railroad 2. Restoration of the Number 4 included boiler work including flush patches in the firebox, replacement of the lower section of the front tube sheet, inspecting all the running gear, rebuilding the fire pan, building new dampers, repairing superheaters, replacing the lower half of the smokebox, replacing all steam and water piping, fixing a leaky fuel tank, repairing the cab, replacing all windows and rebuilding the cab supports and floor. In addition to the thousands of volunteer hours involved in the restoration, over 60% of the project cost was funded by PLA member donations {including in these funds is a restoration grant received from Trains magazine}. The Number 4 moved under its own power for the first time in 27 years on August 25, 2012. The Pacific Locomotive Association is proud to have the Number 4 pulling its first public excursion since 1985 on today's Winterail Photographer's Special which also coincidently falls on the Clover Valley Lumber 4 89th birthday.

The Trip

The Clover Valley Lumber 4 arrives into Sunol. We boarded the train and waited while they watered the Clover Valley Lumber 4.

The engine cut off the train.

The hose has to be moved before the engine can be run around the train.

The Clover Valley Lumber 4 backed by our train to the switch. Once the switch was thrown, the engine would couple up to our train.

The engine is starting to move forward.

The engine is moving to us and will be coupling up on our train.

Marker light.

Our engineer waiting for his crew briefing.

Crew briefing and a few minutes later we departed Sunol heading west down Niles Canyon to Niles.

The train ran by the semaphore signals.

Heading west through Niles Canyon.

The first Wig Wag crossing signal.

Passing the second Wig Wag crossing signal.

Our engineer looking forward as we head down Niles Canyon.

The marker lights on the Clover Valley Lumber 4.

Headlight and builders plate.

Western Pacific Caboose 467.

Two views of the Niles Southern Pacific Station.

Our engine cut off our train so it could run around us.

While our engine was backing to the switch to run around our train, Capitol Train 727 headed to San Jose went by us.

Click here for Part 2 of this story