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The Tour of the Western Pacific Railroad Museum and Quincy Railroad 5/18/2023

by Chris Guenzler

Trip Information -- The Second Railway and Locomotive Historical Society/Southern Pacific History Centre/National Railway Historical Society event of the 2023 joint conference.

Buses will load at 8:00 AM and will leave the hotel at 8:15 AM and head to the Western Pacific Museum in Portola with an estimated time of arrival of 9:45 AM. We will be at the museum 3 to 3.5 hours as you will see the display, equipment and ride behind the newly restored Western Pacific 165. The buses will load at 1:30 PM for a 1:45 PM departure to Quincy with an arrival time of 2:30 PM. This stop will be 30 minutes for a photo opportunity and answering questions about the Quincy Railroad. The buses load at 3:00 PM for a 3:15 PM departure and the tour ends at the 5:00 PM.

The Start of Our Day

Elizabeth and I awoke at the Nugget Hotel in Sparks and after our morning preparations, we went to Rosie's Cafe for a good breakfast then returned to the room to get our cameras before making our way to where the buses were waiting to take us to Portola. It was a rather quick trip and soon we were at Reno Junction and the first opportunity for a picture.

Reno Junction, where the former Union Pacific Reno Branch from Stead to Reno Junction used to be. Thus, it is severed from the outside world and is only served from Sparks. We continued to Portola.

Western Pacific bay window caboose 679 built by the railroad in 1944 converted from a 15xxx series Pullman boxcar.

Our Visit

The buses pulled into the parking lot and everyone walked to the museum.

Western Pacific NW2 608, ex. Stockton, Terminal and Eastern, exx. Union Pacific DS 1001, built by Electro-Motive Corporation in 1940. It has the distinction of being the 1000th locomotive produced by the Electro Motive Corporation (later Electro Motive Division of General Motors), as well as being only the second diesel purchased by industry giant Union Pacific.

Union Pacific DD40AX 6946 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1977. I walked into the engine house.

Southern Pacific GP9 2873, nee Texas and New Orleans 443 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1956.

Western Pacific 0-6-0 165, nee United Verde Copper Company 87 nee built by American Locomotive Company in 1919. In 1927 it was sold to the Western Pacific. The 165 had been last used in March 1953, but saw one last hurrah when it and Western Pacific 94 were towed down the Tidewater Southern to Escalon and used as stationary boilers at a cannery in October 1959. It returned to Stockton for storage, one of only 3 steamers left on the railroad (along with 4-6-0 94 and 2-8-2 334). On April 4, 1962, it was donated to the city of San Leandro and eventually was displayed near the San Leandro BART station. At some point in the 1980's, it was relocated to the Alameda County Fairgrounds.

In late 2002, an opportunity arose to acquire 0-6-0 165 which had been at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton but was now in the hands of the new Triple T Agricultural Museum located in Stevenson. Triple T was more interested in a flashier engine and inquired about our Union Pacific 4-4-0 737. After extensive negotiations, a trade was completed that sent the old 4-4-0 to the Triple T, where it will be cosmetically restored and displayed indoors, while bringing Western Pacific 165 home to Portola. Our steam department is headed by Roger Stabler. Assisting Roger is recently retired head of Union Pacific's steam program, Steve Lee, and a large group of "Willing People" working to return Western Pacific steam to the "Feather River Route" for the first time in over 50 years.

Due to the necessity of an FRA inspection, this steam engine is out of service for the season.

Western Pacific SW1500 1593 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1973. The 1503 could usually be found throughout the 1970's and 1980's working the industrial areas of San Francisco, which was indirectly served by Weatern Pacific car ferry "Las Plumas" that moved Western Pacific rail shipments across San Francisco bay between Oakland and "The City". 1503 could often be found loading and unloading the Las Plumas in San Francisco. This engine would be powering our train today.

Southern Pacific power unit for rotary 208 (snail) SPMW 8221. Originally Southern Pacific F7B 8300 built by Electro Motive Division in 1953.

Western Pacific GP7 705 built by Electro Motive Division in 1952. 705 came to the Western Pacific Railroad Museum from Arizona where she spent several years working in the desert hauling freight for shortline "Arizona Central" after retirement from the Western Pacific. This explains the faded red paint. 705 was purchased by a group of FRRS members and brought "home" in 2005. Nicknamed "Mary Kay" due to its pink (faded red) paint, the 705 will be restored as time and money allow. For the time being, WP 705 is stored at the museum on display. Once mechanical restoration is completed, it will be pained the Perlman Green and Orange paint scheme.

Western Pacific GP20 2001 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1959. It was donated by Union Pacific in 1985.

Western Pacific F7A 917-D built by Electro-Motive Division in 1950. It was acquired in 2005 as part of a trade with the Bay Area Electric Railway Association at Rio Vista Junction.

Western Pacific GP9 725 built by Electro-Motive Division built in 1955. Following the Union Pacific/Western Pacific merger in 1982, Union Pacific repainted this engine into their armour yellow and harbor mist gray paint scheme with red lettering in late January 1985, and returned her to former Western Pacific lines in the Bay Area. The 725 did not last long in its new identity however, as it was sold in August 1985 to Iowa Interstate Railroad as their 300. WP 725/UP300 spent ten years working the Iowa Interstate before being sold to the Feather River Rail Society in 1995.

Western Pacific F9B 925-C, nee Canadian National 9039, built by General Motors of Canada in 1951.

Western Pacific F7A 921-D built by Electro-Motive Division in 1950.

Western Pacific GP7 708 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1952.

Kennecott Copper RS-3 2, nee American Smelting & Refining Company Garfield Smelter 2 built by American Locomotive Company in 1950.

Kennecott Copper RS-2 908, nee Kennecott-Copper Nevada 104 built by American Locomotive Company in 1948. It was donated to the museum in 1985.

Oregon Northwestern AS-616 3, nee Southern Pacific 5274, built by Baldwin in 1952 and donated to the museum in 1990.

Oregon Northwestern AS-616 4, ex McCloud Railway 34, nee Southern Pacific 5253 built by Baldwin in 1952.

Museum scene.

Sacramento Northern GP7 712 built by Electro Motive Division of General Motors in 1953. Upon retirement by new owner Union Pacific, this locomotive was donated in 1985 to the Western Railway Museum near Fairfield, California, where it was repainted and displayed. In 2006, the Feather River Rail Society and Western Railway Museum's successor, Bay Area Electric Railway Association, traded several pieces of equipment, including Sacramento Northern 712.

Feather River and Western H12-44 1857, nee United States Army 1857, built by Fairbanks Morse in 1953.

United States Steel S-12 20 built by Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton in 1955. This unit worked in the Pittsburg, California US Steel plant, where it switched trains brought in by Sacramento Northern and Western Pacific. The Western Pacific purchased five Baldwin VO-1000 yard switchers, despite their strong preference for EMD power, due to the shortage of locomotives during World War II. Unfortunately, all five units WP 581-585 were scrapped, so the plan for US Steel 20 is to be converted into a visual replica of a WP Baldwin switcher, since the S-12 had a similar carbody style to the VO-1000.

Napa Valley Railroad DS-4-4-660 51, nee Morrisey, Fernie & Michel Railway 1 built by Baldwin in 1946. It worked for the Crows Nest Pass Coal Company in Canada then began its well-travelled list of jobs by working at the Delta Alaska Terminal in Vancouver, British Columbia, then crossed the border and was renumbered to Seattle and North Coast 51. Following the closure of the Seattle and North Coast railroad, the unit was leased to Publishers Paper Company in Newport, Oregon, spent some time on the Chelatchie Prairie in Battle Ground, Washington and was moved to Sacramento for storage at the California State Railroad Museum. It was then run under its own power to Napa for use by the Napa Valley Railroad to assist in rehabilitating their trackage after its long neglect by the Southern Pacific. It was here that one of the traction motors was damaged while working a ballast train, which put the well travelled locomotive out of service and was moved to Oroville and finally to its current home at Portola.

Western Pacific S1 512 built by American Locomotive Company in 1941. Western Pacific ordered an additional four GP7 locomotives in 1953, road numbers Western Pacific 710-713, thereby fully retiring Western Pacific's last remaining steam locomotives. This resulted in Western Pacific becoming the first railroad in the west to fully dieselize.

Western Pacific SW1 501, nee EMC 906 built by Electro-Motive Corporation in 1939. It was the first diesel locomotive owned by the railroad. This and two others SW1's became regulars in the yards at San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento and proved that steam power was the way of the past.

After serving Western Pacific for over 25 years, 501 found a second life on the rails of Western Pacific's subsidiary Sacramento Northern and was re-numbered SN 401. It would finally be set aside in the late 1970's and spent several years on the Stockton deadline. However, she was resurrected in 1981 when Western Pacific customer Corn Products Corporation needed a locomotive for its Stockton facility. Rebuilt by the railroad, she worked shuffling grain hoppers in south Stockton. In 1987, CPC graciously donated the 501 and she has now been restored to her original WP black and white colors, preserved as the most prominent symbol of the Western Pacific's embrace of diesel power.

It was now time to ride behind Western Pacific SW-1500 1593 on Missouri Pacific transfer caboose 13878 built by the railroad in 1980. Elizabeth and I sat on a bench and enjoyed the trip around the balloon track with several other of our group.

After boarding and as we left, here is Western Pacific 707.

We ran by Western Pacific F7A 805-A.

Also passed was Western Pacific F7A 921-D.

Central California Traction Company caboose 24, nee Santa Fe 1547, built by American Car and Foundry in 1927.

Western Pacific wooden caboose 645 built by the railroad in 1943 and converted from a 1916 Pullman boxcar.

One the return trip, a view of our train. I detrained and continued walking around the grounds.

Quincy Railroad 44 ton switcher 3 built by General Electric in 1945. It was the first diesel locomotive used by this line that connected with the Western Pacific just east of Keddie, California. The Quincy was built in response to the Western Pacific bypassing the town of Quincy when the mainline was built. Quincy is the seat of Plumas County and was the home of Arthur Keddie, the man who first surveyed the route of the Western Pacific and advocated its construction.

The 3 served as the main motive power until S-1 4, ex-WP 504, arrived in 1973. It was eventually retired and donated by the QRR's owner, Sierra Pacific Industries (as was QRR 4). The 3 is being returned to full operation. An interesting fact about the Quincy is that, except for steamer 1, every locomotive the railroad has ever owned still exists. This engine has never been out of Plumas County since it was delivered to the Quincy in 1945.

Quincy Railroad S1 4, nee Western Pacific 504, built by American Locomotive Company in 1942. It was sold to Sacramento Northern as their 405 in December 1967 and then to the Quincy Railroad in April 1973.

Western Pacific S-4 563 built by American Locomotive Company in 1951. It did not wear the new standard "Perlman Green" scheme for very long, as she was quickly primed and sold to the Central California Traction where she was repainted Cherry Red and became their 50. What the Traction Company really needed though was a road switcher, not another switch engine, so 563 did not stay in her new home long, being traded back to the WP for larger Tidewater Southern RS-1 746. WP re-sold the orphan engine to Foster Farms of Livingston, California where she worked until retirement as a plant switcher, having been repainted in a caramel and black scheme with large Foster Farms "Rooster" logo on the cab side.

When Foster Farms retired the unit in favour of remote controlled switchers in the 1990's, FRRS members stepped in and bought the 563 and brought her to Portola to enjoy her retirement as a display piece, where she was eventually repainted by FRRS founder Norman Holmes in the last paint scheme she wore in WP service.

Oregon and Northwestern caboose 300, ex. Norfolk and Western 518121, nee Norfolk and Western 18121 built by the railway in 1915. It was later purchased by Errol Spangler and placed on permanent loan to the Feather River Rail Society by Mr. Spangler and was later sold FRRS Board member Wayne Monger.

Quincy TR6 1100, ex. Southern Pacific 1600, nee EMD demonstrator 1600 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1950. It was used as a Sacramento Shop switcher.

Kennecott Copper steeplecab 778, originally Chino Mines 104, built by General Electric in 1958. This engine was the last electric locomotive delivered to Kennecott. In December 1971, it was moved to Bingham Canyon for use on trains in the huge pit and re-numbered 778. In 1976, it was repainted in red, white and blue colors to celebrate the American Bicentennial. Retired in November 1983 with the close of KCC electric railroad operations, this historic unit was donated to represent the mining industry that sustained the east end of the Western Pacific.

The cab of Western Pacific FP7A 804-A on a flat car.

Western Pacific U30B 3051 built by General Electric in 1975. Western Pacific realized that they could purchase 5 U30B's for the price of 4 SD45's and GE's 4 cycle engines were a lot more fuel efficient than EMD's 20 cylinder monster. Western Pacific purchased 5 examples in 1967 at a cost per unit of $234,458. Western Pacific went back to GE and ordered 15 more. U30B 751 was delivered in Silver and Orange with large Western Pacific "Feather River Route" medallion on the cab sides, black and orange chevron style warning stripes, signal lights in the nose, and rode on Blomberg trucks from traded in EMD locomotives. Western Pacific's U30B's were retired by successor Union Pacific after the merger, and 3051 was donated by Union Pacific in 1985.

A Kennecott Copper RS-3 sits out on a flat car.

Union Pacific C44AC 7204 West with SD70ACe 8464 and SD70M 4057 in its consist.

Western Pacific GP7 707 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1952.

Western Pacific 0-6-0 165.

Union Pacific business car 105 built by the Pullman Company in 1917 for use by the railway's president as his own private railroad car. In that service, the car was numbered UP 100 and functioned as an office and home-away-from-home for the President during business trips around the Union Pacific's system. When built, its appearance was like other heavyweight cars of the era, including opening sash windows and wooden interior details. Throughout its many rebuildings and reassignments, 105 remained an executive business car and never saw service as a "regular" passenger car. Inside you will find large bedrooms (for a railroad car), a dining room, a lounge with large windows facing the rear observation platform and a compact but very capable kitchen. The car was retired and donated to the Feather River Rail Society by Union Pacific in 1986.

I would now tour this car.

The interior of Union Pacific business car 105.

Western Pacific business-observation car 106 "Pioneer" built by Pullman Company in 1917.

Museum scene.

The excursion train with the rest of our group on board, which did not go quite as far as the first train.

Sacramento Northern wooden caboose 1642, ex. Western Pacific box car 648, nee Western Pacific 15922 built by Pullman in 1916. It was acquired by Sacramento Northern in April 1964 and retired in May 1976 thens purchased and sent to the Golden Gate Railroad Museum. Ownership was then given to the WPRM and she arrived at the museum in February 2006.

The museum's newest acquisition, Western Pacific observation car 302, ex. Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum, exx. Kalamazoo, Lake Shore and Chicago 950, exxx. Boyne City Railroad 407, exxx. Michigan Northern "City of Saginaw", exxxxx. Algoma Central 406, exxxxxx. Denver and Rio Grande 930, nee Denver and Rio Grande Western 899 built by the Pullman Company in 1910 and formed part of the WP's first series of passenger cars. These first cars were leased by the Western Pacific and would return to the Rio Grande between 1919 and 1924 as the Western Pacific took possession of its own fleet. 302 would be used as a back-up car on the Rio Grande and as such, would avoid the upgrading and rebuilding that many of the other cars underwent over the years.

The caboose train returned to its boarding platform. At 12:30, lunch of pizza and salad was provided, although I could not eat it. In the early afternoon, we re-boarded the buses and departed this great museum bound for Quincy. On the way there I pointed out landmarks for Elizabeth as she had never been in this area before and was not too familiar with the Western Pacific. The buses pulled up to the Quincy Railroad engine house but came upon a problem. None of us were allowed to go onto their property because we did not have hard hats, safety glasses, steel-toed boots and a safety vest. The employees finally opened the gate but that was all that they could do for us. They had a lunch that I could not eat so I swent back and got onto the bus. This brings to our end of coverage at the Western Pacific Railroad museum.

Quincy Railroad SW9 12, ex. Amador Central Railroad 12, exx. Chattahoochie Industrial 12, nee Arkansas & Louisana Missouri Railway 11, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1963.

Quincy Railroad SW1200 5, ex. Amador Central Railroad 11, exx. Archer-Daniels-Midland 1208, nee Archer-Daniels-Midland 178, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1963. This ended our converge of the Quincy Railroad and we returned to the Nugget Hotel in Sparks.

After these two pictures, Elizabeth drove us to the Jersey Mike's for dinner then we returned to the hotel for the night.