Tag Archives: Railroads

The Wendel Seance

Wendel Branch, Lassen County Free Library, 1920
Lassen Mail – March 14, 1930 – Wendel Promises A Big Boom

Shades of the days of forty nine or of the oil fields are about to be created and materialize in the near future if current rumor and certain things that are more then rumor prove to be true. The scene of the séance is to be at Wendel, and from the evidence it is a good place to hold one.

There is much to be said in favor of Wendel. During the past week there have been eighteen engines in one day, three new men added to the force in the roundhouse, and an extra telegraph operator put on. Everything indicates a big boom which will do its booming in the near future.

Certain people may prefer to scoff at Wendel as a possible metropolis of the plains, but the fact that there is more than sagebrush down there has been proven throughout the past two weeks. There is a good future in Wendel, and farsighted people will soon be watching this place to see what happens.

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The Western Pacific’s Highline

Mohalla Siding, south of Lake Almanor, July 18, 1931. Courtesy of the Plumas County Museum
Awhile back I received an inquiry about the status of my research on the Western Pacific’s Highline. For those not familiar it is a 200 mile stretch of railroad between Keddie, California to Klamath Falls, Oregon. Western Pacific would construct a 112 mile stretch from Keddie to Bieber, Lassen County. The Great Northern Railroad would construct the segment from Klamath Falls to Bieber. The rail line was completed in November 1931 with a golden spike ceremony at Bieber.

As to the question at hand, the project literally got derailed. In future posts, however, we will explore some of the history of this line, which someone Western Pacific’s dubbed the line the Mountain View Route, but it was never adopted.

The Fernley & Lassen Railroad Dismantled

The abandoned line at Pyramid Lake.
In 1912, when an agreement between the Southern Pacific Railroad and the Red River Lumber Company was reached to build the Fernley & Lassen Railroad from Fernley, Nevada to Westwood time was important consideration. The Southern Pacific had two years to construct the line.

The demise of the railroad was a slow, lingering process. In 1963, a 60 mile segment from Fernley to Flanigan was abandoned. In 1978, the segment between Mason Station and Susanville experienced the same fate, though it would be rehabilitated into the Bizz Johnson Trail. It should be noted this segment had not been in use since 1955 due to extensive flood damage and the Westwood mill closure, Southern Pacific deemed it was not in its best interest to make costly repairs. In 2006, the tracks between Susanville and Wendel were removed.

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A Railroad for Milford, Again?

The Milford Post Office and Store, 1909. Courtesy of Betty Barry Deal
A month ago, we examined the NCO Railroad proposed railroad line for the west side of the Honey Lake Valley that was abandoned. By 1905, hope was on the horizon with the Western Pacific Railroad when survey crews came through the community. The Western Pacific had looked at two sites to cross the Sierra—Chilcoot or Fredonyer. Alas, Chilcoot was selected. Enter the Red River Lumber Company who wanted a branch line from Doyle to their lumber town of Westwood. It became close to a reality after the Chilcoot Tunnel caught fire in May 1912, but almost does not count.

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A Railroad for Milford?

Milford Flour Mill
The abandoned Milford Flour Mill as it appeared in 1901. Courtesy of the A.J. Mathews family
By 1887, residents of the west side of the Honey Lake Valley were excited when railroad surveyors showed up for the NCO Railroad. For Milford and other communities this would be a wonderful opportunity for growth. A year later they were snubbed, when feisty Erasmus Gest, the railroad’s manager abruptly changed plans to abandon the west wide of Honey Lake for the barren east side. Later management was quoted about this bypass as “one of the most monumental blunders I have ever known a sane man to commit.”

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1900s Migrant Worker Woes

Construction of the Western Pacific Railroad near Constantia. Courtesy of Marie H. Gould
It is interesting to note how the local newspapers made caustic remarks when Japanese farm laborers were brought in to work the sugar beet fields on the east side of the Honey Lake Valley. While there was a local work force available, those workers refused to do that kind of hard labor. During this same time period when the Western Pacific Railroad constructed its line through the lower of end Honey Lake Valley the bulk of its workforce was Hindus and Greeks.

The 1889 Solar Eclipse

My apologies for a newspaper clipping, but I was never able to obtain my print of the photograph back for the above press release, done way before scanners, etc.
You would nearly have to be hermit living off the grid to escape all the coverage about today’s eclipse. One of the best places to view the solar eclipse of January 1, 1889 was the Honey Lake Valley. On that date, the NCO Railroad (then the N&C) ran a special excursion train from Reno to its new terminus of Liegan (near present day Herlong) to view the eclipse. Forty people took advantage of the offer.

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What is in a name?

The NCO train near Amedee, January 1916. Courtesy of Marie H. Gould

The Nevada-California-Oregon Railroad had many names.  Until the end of 1892 the N-C-O was still subject to operating under the names of the Nevada & Oregon and Nevada & California Railroad due to the fact that some old bonds had not been paid. On January 1, 1893 the name was officially changed to the Nevada-California & Oregon Railway. The initials N-C-O, became a target for criticism of the railroad’s poor service.  The N-C-O received such dreadful titles as the Narrow Crooked & Onery. the Never-Comes-Over  Northern California Outrage and the Nevada-California Occasional.  J.M. Tremain, editor of Susanville’s Lassen Weekly Mail called the N-C-O a “tri-weekly.”  “It goes to Reno one week and tries to return the next.”

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Piute Logging Railroad – Part II

Flood waters from breached earthen fill trestle, April 1938. Courtesy of Betty B. Deal

Construction of the line was stalled during the early 1930s, while Red River went through its financial reorganization. Finally, in July 1933, construction began at the west end near Hog Flat. A station was established where the Piute line connected with the Southern Pacific, and named Blair, after Kenneth Walker’s wife. At Hog Flat, Red River established logging camp #2. That summer Red River logged eight million board feet of timber and sold it to Fruit Growers. The following year the line was extended further east to Big Springs, and Camp #8 was established.

The year 1935 was a pivotal one for the Piute. Early in the year it was announced Red River would complete the line to Susanville—a distance of twelve miles from its terminus at Worley Ranch to the Fruit Growers plant. Continue reading Piute Logging Railroad – Part II