With the Oroville Dam in the headlines these days, I thought I share some history about it. Recently, I received a copy of Pacific News, November 1967 issue which Kent Stephens wrote about the history of the Oro-Dam Railroad. It is an interesting article, and I will share the first two paragraphs. If anyone is interested I can scan the entire article of several pages to pass along.
“Without fanfare, and unbeknownst to scores of visitors watching from the construction overlook, the crest of the giant Oroville Dam reached its maximum height of 770 feet late in the afternoon of Thursday, October 5, 1967. An even less noted event was the fact that the Oro-Dam Railroad once heralded as “The Greatest Show on Earthmoving,” had completed its useful life and with the topping off of the new dam, the highest earth fill dam in the world, the railroad came to a stop, it had done its job.
“During the lifespan of the Oro-Dam Railroad, which began with a simple newspaper announcement in October, 1962, and got into full swing with the first trainload of fill material a year later on October 1, 1963, the railroad operated as a pipeline of earth fill to keep the height of the dam always on the rise upward. The mile-wide Oroville dam is located five and a half miles upstream from Oroville, California, on the Feather River and the fill material for the dam was obtained from an area of dredger tailings left behind by the gold seekers of an earlier part of California history. The twelve mile connection between the damsite and the fill material at the barrow area was provided by the Oro-Dam Railroad, wholly owned by the construction complex formed for the Oroville Dam Project.”