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The Yolo Shortline

by Chris Guenzler

In an issue of "Flimsies, The Only Magazine of Western Railroading" in the upcoming events section I noticed a listing for a trip on the Yolo Shortline a late Friday afternoon West Sacramento to Clarksburg as well as their regular Woodland to West Sacramento trip. These trips would allow me to ride over the ex Sacramento Northern lines. These lines were sold by the Union Pacific after they had acquired the Western Pacific. I would drive up on a Friday to ride the Clarksburg Trip then stay at the Motel 6 in Woodland then ride the trip out of there on Saturday.

5/13/1995 I was up early and drove through Los Angeles taking my time going up the San Joaquin Valley. I stopped for the many Southern Pacific freights taking pictures along the way. At Turlock I found the Tidewater & Western GE 44 Toner along with a Baldwin S-12.

I next drove to the Foster Farms grain elevator at Chemurgic where I found an ex SP S-6.

From here I drove on to West Sacramento and found the loading site for my Clarksburg train.

The Clarksburg Trip 5/13/1995

The Yolo Shortline 44 Toner 50 was waiting across South River Road just south of the drawbridge over the Sacramento Deep Water Ship Channel. We boarded the train and right before departure time the 50 backed onto our train. We a toot of its horn, the 50 pulled forward and we were on our way south towards Clarksburg. We headed across the farmlands to Rivera before we reached the Garcia Bend of the Sacramento River. Our train made a slight turn to the southeast as we made our way to our crossing of the Babel Slough. To our east we passed the edge of the Borges-Clarksburg Airport. It was a real hot day so riding out in the open car was fun as long as you stayed in the shade of the overhead cover of this very nice car. We turned slightly to the southwest and by the tall radio towers on the right. Our train next crossed the Winchester Lake Slough. We ran a little way further past the junction to the Sugar Plant. Here we stopped long enough to throw the switch and we backed down the slight grade into the plant grounds. Here the 50 ran around the train to be leading once we returned to the mainline line.

Now it was time for our train to return to West Sacramento. We backed up the grade to the main and headed back north. A good breeze was blowing from the Delta bringing in some nice cool air. I was really enjoying this trip over these historical rails. The open car was the place to be.

We made our way back to our starting point and I detrained for one final picture but that was after they had cut off the 50 from our train.

I took the picture then walked back to my Geo Metro and drove over to the Motel 6 in Woodland to I spent the night after I stopped by the California Northern for a few pictures.

5/14/1995 I woke up after a good night's sleep and had breakfast at a Denny's before I went to the loading site for this morning's trip towards West Sacramento. This morning's train was the same set of cars as yesterday's trip only the power is different. Today we have YSL GP-9 113 as the power for our train. I boarded the same open car as yesterday for this morning's trip. We left right at ten heading directly east. We ducked under Interstate 5 and then passed the industries to out to Hebron. We ran by the Tractor Museum before we reached Conaway. From here we started out on the Yolo Trestle which is a mile and a half long and thirty feet above the Yolo Bypass. The Bypass takes overflow water from the Sacramento River during high water so the river will not over flow its banks causing major flooding. We slowly ran across the impressive trestle to the east end. We turned south, passing underneath Interstate 5 high approach across the Sacramento River. We ran along the top of the levee through Kiese. We ran underneath trees to Beatrice before dropping down to the farmlands. It is a really pleasant trip and the open car gave the best views on another hot day. We cut underneath the Interstate 80 bridge to Lovdal were we stopped to end our southbound run. The 113 ran around our train to pull us back to Woodland. I visited the gift shop on the train buying a timetable and a Sacramento Northern spike. I really enjoyed the trip over these ex Sacramento Northern Tracks. We returned along the Sacramento River which looked very inviting. We crossed the Yolo Trestle with a light breeze beginning to blow and made our way back to Woodland. After saying my goodbyes to the crew for two days of great trips, I headed home driving straight through with only a stop at the Foster Farms Restaurant in Livingston.