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Niles Canyon Railway Winterail Steam Special 3/14/2010

by Chris Guenzler

We all got up early and left the Red Roof Inn in Stockton at 6:30 AM and headed to Sunol in Niles Canyon. It took just an hour to get there with the Sunday morning light traffic. We were early so that gave us time to look around.

The Sunol Station.

Our Steam Engines for today's event Quincy Railroad Company #2

The Quincy Railroad Company 2 was built in December 1924 by the American Locomotive Company of Schenectady, New York. The engine weights 60 tons and has an operating boiler pressure of 180lbs. This engine is fueled with recycled oil. The engine 2 worked on the Quincy Railroad out of the town of Quincy in Plumas County in the High Sierra Mountains. This railroad connected with the Western Pacific at Quincy Junction about five miles out of town. This railroad was a unique standard gauge line as it had a short but steep section of 5% grade. The engine 2 worked this railroad for twenty years hauling finished lumber from the mill until a diesel engine was bought in 1945. Between 1945 and 1970 the engine 2 was used as its backup for the diesel and pulled an occasional railfan excursion train. In 1970 it left Quincy for the former Castro Point Railway and operated in excursion service there until 1985. In 1992 the engine 2 was restored to operation to pull passenger trains on the Niles Canyon Railway.

Mason County Logging 7

The Mason County Logging 7 was built in May 1910 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Eddystone, Pennsylvania. The engine weights 46 tons and has an operating boiler pressure of 150lbs. This engine is fueled with recycled oil. The engine 7 was built for the Black Hills and Northwestern Railroad, a subsidiary of the Mason Company Lumber Company and operated out of Bordeaux, Washington. In 1928 the engine 7 moved on to the Port of Olympia where it became engine 2 and worked the docks there until 1955. In 1956 the engine 7 was purchased by Charles Morrow and leased to the Puget Sound Railway Association of Snoqualmie, Washington. In 1988 the engine 7 was bought by Chris Baldo and in 1999 was shipped to the Mount Rainer Scenic Railroad of Mineral, Washington. In 2001, the engine 7 returned to operation and moved to its new home at the Roots of Steam Power Museum in Willits, California. The #7 was trucked down to the Niles Canyon Railway to participate in the Steamfest II events this March.

Robert Dollar Company 3

The Robert Dollar Company 3 was built in November 1927 by the American Locomotive Company of Schenectady, New York. The engine weights 65 tons with an operating boiler pressure of 180lbs. It is fueled with recycled oil. Originally built as a wood burner it was converted to oil in the 1950's. It was built for the W.A. Woodard Lumber Company as their Number 3 and was operated out of Cottage Grove. This company became the Loraine Valley Lumber in 1946. In 1951 the Robert Dollar Company purchased the operation and moved the engine 3 to Glendale, Oregon. The engine 3 was donated to the San Francisco Maritime Association in 1959 and was transferred to the Bay Area Electric Museum in Rio Vista, California in 1978 where an effort was made to return it to operating condition. In 1999 the engine 3 was traded to the Pacific Locomotive Association where the restoration of the engine continued. The engine 3 returned to operation on the Niles Canyon Railway in 2007 and has been pulling passenger trains ever since.

Our Trip

A group of us set up at the semaphore signals and waited for our passenger train to arrive into Sunol on a beautiful late winter morning. We saw smoke off in the distance and heard whistles being traded as trains were being made up down Niles Canyon at Brightside Yard. Finally we saw smoke coming our way and we all got ready to start our photography at this unique event.

Our passenger train coming into Sunol.

Quincy Railroad Company 2

The Quincy Railroad Company 2 pulls up to the Sunol Station. I got in line to pick up my ticket before walking to the front of the train.

The Quincy Railroad Company 2 and train in front of the Sunol Station. I then boarded the open air car for the trip through Niles Canyon.

The Sunol Station from the open air car.

The Quincy Railroad Company 2 then ran around our train to pull us down Niles Canyon. Soon we were on our way west starting our trip down Niles Canyon.

Our train passed the semaphore signals.

Rolling west down Niles Canyon.

The semaphore signal before we reached the Brightside Yard.

Western Pacific F7A 918.

United States Army 1856.

Oakland Terminal 101, United States Air Force 7348 and Southern Pacific 5472.

Oakland Terminal 101.

Southern Pacific 5623.

Southern Pacific 1423.

Former Foster Farms S-6 1218.

Brightside Yard as we continued west this morning.

Niles Canyon looked beautiful with the green hills this morning.

Two views of a wig wag crossing signal.

Our train continued our trek down Niles Canyon this morning.

Our train passed by the Mayborg Station Sign.

Rolling west down Niles Canyon.

Our train went under the tell tales and across the bridge across Niles Creek and CA Highway 84.

A few minutes later we crossed over CA Highway 84 again.

We recrossed Niles Creek again.

We continued down Niles Canyon all the way to the west end where at almost to Niles we came to a stop and all unloaded to start the official photo runbys of the day.

Click here for Part 2 of this story