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Modoc Northern

Modoc Northern Railroad

Modoc Northern #7780 powering a long freight through Tule Lake, California, in August 2006. Keith E. Ardinger photo.

On 1 November 2005 Union Pacific leased the north end of the old SP Modoc Line between Klamath Falls and Alturas to a new shortline, the Modoc Northern. The Modoc Nothern expanded in 2006 when it replaced the Lake County Railroad as operator of the county owned line between Alturas and Lakeview. However, in May 2009 Union Pacific terminated Modoc Northern's lease on the line, which prompted Lake County to also end their lease with the company. Modoc Northern unsuccesfully appealed these decisions. Lake County immediately leased their railroad to the Lake Railway, which in December 2009 also leased a portion of the track formerly leased to the Modoc Northern. Modoc Northern's locomotives and other equipment remained in Tule Lake until the various legal claims swirling around the collapse of the company werere resolved.

Craig Bass has done an excellent job covering the brief life of this railroad, and High Desert Rails sees no need to duplicate his fine efforts. The reader is instead referred to his site located at

Modoc Northern's ribbon cutting train. Photo by Craig Bass.

In better days, Modoc Northern #1011 leads a train southeast of Klamath Falls. Jim Heringer photo.

Another shot of the #1011, this one in Tule Lake on 13 March 2006. Keith E. Ardinger photo.

In addition to the two General Electrics, the Modoc Northern also acquired two former Duluth Missabe & Iron Range DS-9s, but both suffered from numerous mechanical problems. Keith Ardinger caught the #650 in Tule Lake on 20 September 2008.

Modoc Northern #651 in Tule Lake, also on 20 September 2008. Keith E. Ardinger photo.

Former Lake County Railroad #700 and former BNSF #3647 switching at Tule Lake. Jim Heringer photo.

Another view of the #700 and #3647 switching. Jim Heringer photo.

Modoc Northern originally purchased the #3647 primarily for use as the Lakeview switcher, but the unit did see some mainline use. Unfortunately it also set a large number of brush fires, which limited its use. Jim Heringer photo.

Modoc Northern's speeder in Lakeview in 2008. Keith E. Ardinger photo.

In the summer of 2010, Jim Heringer found Modoc Northern's equipment in storage at Tule Lake. The equipment would remain in Tule Lake until purchased by Western Rail in 2014. Jim Heringer photos.

Modoc Northern #650 and #651, a pair of former Birmingham Southern/Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range SD-9s.

Modoc Northern#3647 and the former Denver & Rio Grande Western caboose.

In addition to the power stored at Tule Lake, the Modoc Northern also purchased this SD-9 of Southern Pacific and Tacoma Eastern heritage. The locomotive had seen several years of service on the Yreka Western before Modoc Northern purchased it. Unfortunately, the Modoc Northern collapsed before the locomotive could be moved out of Yreka, and it remained in Yreka until sold to Western Rail, Inc., and moved off the property in May 2012. Jeff Moore photograph.


Great Western Railway operated Alturas to Lakeview 1986-1996, Southern Pacific/Union Pacific operated Klamath Falls to McArthur.
Modoc Northern operated Klamath Falls to McArthur 2005-2009, and Lakeview to Alturas 2006-2009.
Lake Railway operated Alturas to Lakeview and Perez to McArthur 2009-2017, Union Pacific operated Klamath Falls to Perez.
Goose Lake Railway operated Alturas to Lakeview and Perez to McArthur 2017-2019, then only Alturas to Lakeview 2019-Present.
Union Pacific operated Klamath Falls to McArthur 2019-Present.