Facebook Page
McCloud Rails - #18 Departs

McCloud Rails
#18 Leaving McCloud

Steam technology as a method of locomotion had essentially died on the McCloud River Railroad by 1956. The #18 was one of the last steam locomotives on the property when the railroad's management decided to cull the last of the breed. Fortunately, the nearby Yreka Western was in the market for a small mikado to go with the #19 they had purchased from the McCloud River in 1953, and the two railroads quickly had a deal. When the #18 left for its new home no one thought it would ever be back.

The #18 operated on the Yreka Western until it blew a cylinder head while leading a railfan excursion about 1964. The locomotive spent the next three and a half decades parked at various places around the Yreka yards. In 1998 the YW decided to sell the locomotive, and the McCloud Railway beat out two other bidders. The #18 returned back to McCloud rails by the end of the year. Restoration of the locomotive consumed the next three years and just shy of a half million dollars, with the #18 steaming back to life on a double headed excursion with the #25 on President's Day Weekend 2001.

The #18's return to service on the McCloud launched a golden age of passenger excursions. The #18 made many outings each year for both public and private events. However, the McCloud Railway never could get the steam locomotive to make any money, and by 2004 the railroad came to the realization that it desperately needed the money tied up in the steam program elsewhere on the property. The railroad placed the #18 up for sale in the Fall of 2004, with a sale deal inked with the Commission for the Reconstruction of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad in Nevada by January 2005. The #18 continued to operate sporadically on the McCloud in 2005, with the last runs coming during the Civil War days in early August. The #18 went into storage in the back of the McCloud shop building while it waited for its new Nevada home to get ready for it.

In the late months of 2006 the V&T Commission selected the Sierra Railroad as their contract operator. The Sierra asked if the #18 could be used on their existing excursion operations based out of Oakdale and Woodland, both in California, for the next several years until the Commission completes its railroad line. The Commission approved, and on the morning of Tuesday 10 April 2007 the #18 was loaded onto a pair of lowboy trucks for delivery to the Sierra. The routing south involved Highway 89 to the Dana Cutoff; Dana Cutoff to Highway 299 in McArthur; Highway 299 east to Adin; Highway 139 south to Susanville; Highway 395 south through Reno and Carson City to Minden; Highway 88 west to Highway 49, then south on Highway 49, then west on Highway 12 to Oakdale.

Part 1- Leaving McCloud

Norm Linn captured these photos of the #18 being loaded onto the trucks in McCloud. Once the trucks got under way Norm drove out to the Bartle, where he captured the #18 rolling through the Bartle crossing for what should be the final time.

The morning of 10 April 2007 finds the #18's tender loaded and ready to go.

Workers making the final adjustments to the #18 before leaving McCloud.

The #18 leaving McCloud, perhaps for the last time.

Eighteen miles east of McCloud Highway 89 crosses the Burney branch, not far east of Bartle. The truck carrying the tender has just crossed the railroad and is starting up Dead Horse Summit.

Fifteen minutes later the truck carrying the #18 rolled through the crossing. Nightfall would find the locomotive already south of Carson City.

Part 2- In the Sierra Foothills

The following Day George Swift caught up with the #18. He captured the following photos of the locomotive pausing in Jackson, CA, for ten minutes, then clumbing out of the Mokelumne River, and finally east of Valley Springs.