Northwestern Pacific Railroad Network

Dedicated to Sharing the Heritage of Redwood Empire Railroading

ABC News Bay Area covered the story about the Great Redwood trail. They. Sure exaggerated the cost and the number of bikers who will be spending their dollars in an area with no infrastructure for them to support. The Eel River area is basically the Wild West. And that SMART is going manage this project after their history of cost overruns and delays.
The 1964 flood was nothing compared to this.

Views: 402

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I'm pretty sure that the article is presuming a little too much. Why in hell would they drag SMART into an issue that they have no jurisdiction over or something that they have no business in running considering both the capital costs and maintenance costs. 

You need to read SB-1029. This bill was signed into law by Governor Brown on 29SEP18. This bill mainly concerns itself with winding down operations at the NCRA. A committee from the state transportation dept. and the natural resources dept. will make estimates and recommendations to the legislature. As far as the trail is concerned this is a process that will take many years to complete. But again read the bill.

I'm 34... There will probably be a trail long after I die... 

I'm still confused as to why we are closing an unfunded agency to open another unfunded agency. The Bill is written with very little specifics. I would think that it would be easier to redirect the NCRA to be a Rail and Trail agency. That way, nothing needs to be transferred.

I'd say the Eel River Canyon is more like Appalachia than the Wild West. We're talking "Deliverance" Country, with dope growers instead of moonshiners. Relatively few people engage in extended wilderness hiking and when they do, they don't stay in local hotels and eat at local restaurants.

I fear that the entire scheme is simply a "feel good" but "comes to nothing" move by politicians who seek to gain support from a vocal minority of wilderness recreation supporters and, at the same time, pass the buck for their abject neglect of a major infrastructure asset.

Bob Cleek,

I am only getting to your post about 5 months late.  I agree with you 100%.  I have read some other posts on here - and on a TRAINS Magazine online forum where people have also said about as much.  I do not have a crystal ball but in my own personal, honest, humble opinion I don't think this trail will ever be built.

My question is what would be the best use of taxpayer's money?  Building this trail or reopening the railroad?  Reopening and finding a permanent fix for the railroad would probably cost more but maybe not that much more.  There is NO rail traffic but there might be potential rail traffic.  Especially if the business leaders in Eureka can somehow establish a deep sea port. 

I love riding my bicycle and I am, in fact, a bicycle commuter.  I love rail trails, too,  but I would not ride my bike back in there alone - no way!  

Maybe someday, in a perfect world, we can have a tourist train again similar to what the North Coast Daylight once was.  That might not be possible but we can hope & pray, can't we?  I say "pray" because it is going to take a miracle.  But sometimes miracles DO happen.


Fred M. Cain


What follows is a post I made on the TRAINS Magazine forum on a Northwestern Pacific thread.  I also sent a similar e-mail to one Kevin Fisher who had written a glowing article in an online newspaper - I think it was Santa Rosa.  I guess I'm kind of a killjoy.

Well, group, you know, I hope what I’m about to say isn’t going to offend anyone on here but my own personal, honest and humble opinion is that this whole idea of The Great Redwood Trail is beyond stupid. Many people are just effervescing with enthusiasm over it.  It seems like I have seen online newspaper articles in just about every major town from San Francisco to Eureka that have printed glowing articles about “the greatest trail California has ever had and ITS READY TO GO!”

WHOA!  Time out, please! May I please request a reality check here? First of all, no one has discussed costs with any degree of seriousness.  We NWP fans know what some of the roadbed looks like in the Eel River Canyon.  How much will it cost to fix this?

And here is another thing I have wondered about.  Three hundred miles is a long, long way to ride a bicycle.  Someone posted a Eureka Southern employee’s timetable on the Northwestern Pacific forum.  It showed at least 140 rail miles from Willits to Eureka.  For a cyclist traveling that distance, a start-to-stop average speed would probably not be much more than10 or perhaps 12 miles an hour.  So, that would take between 11-14 hours to do that.  You have to be in great shape – this is not for the faint of heart.

Furthermore, there are no services back in there, no place to spend the night and a person would really feel all alone if they were to get into trouble back in there by falling down and breaking a leg or a shoulder.  Disclosure:  I am a devoted bike rider and a bicycle commuter.  I also just LOVE rail trails (there’s one where I live near Goshen, IN).  But I would not even consider considering traveling back into the Eel River Canyon alone.

So, one has to wonder just HOW many people will actually ever use this.  Time will tell; I might be all wet.  But here are two questions that beg to be asked: First of all how much more would it really cost to fix the rail line than what it will cost to build the trail?  *AND* what would benefit the most people in the Humboldt Bay area, restored rail service or this trail?  Those are questions that I am unable to answer but I think they need to be asked and given serious thought to.

Another thing you don't see mentioned is the danger of anyone traveling along that remote portion of track in Humboldt County. There is so much illegal pot growing going on that no one should be traveling through there. You ask any law enforcement or CalFire person in the area about that and you'll be warned to stay out. Even the cops won't go into the back county without proper backup. 

It's truly the wild west up there and everyone looks the other way. To bad because it's such a beautiful area. 

You know, I can recall reading in the newspaper on one of my summer trips to California back in the ‘80s that the Eureka Southern was having issues improving drainage due to these illegal dope gardens.  I think it was reported that some of the workers were actually afraid to work back in there because of it.  Unfortunately, I cannot cite my source since that was a long time ago that I’d read this.

It was drainage work that obviously needed to be done in the worst way and they kept falling further and further behind.  

It was reported that some of those gardens had “booby” traps with sawed off shot guns whereby if someone tripped through a wire they’d shoot themselves.  Some of the bigger farms had armed guards that would tend to shoot first and ask questions later.

I don’t know how many innocent people were killed or hurt back in there.  Does anybody know?  Maybe it was mostly just a fear thing but I’d be leery about hiking or biking back in there alone.  Now that recreational dope is legal in the state, the dope growers could well change to doing some other illegal activity such as heroin poppies.  Don’t bet the farm (no pun intended) that the problem is going to disappear ‘cause it might not.


Fred M. Cain

If there isn't going to be a railroad I would hope they could open up a hiking trail.  It seems like the cost of an actual paved bike trail would be enormous and difficult to justify, but if a hiking trail is opened first, sections could be paved a bit at a time until the whole job is done.  Fixing tunnels, bridges, culverts, washouts, rockfalls, and slides isn't going to be easy, especially if done to the standards of the Cal Park Hill Tunnel and bike path, which cost on the order of $30M to rehabilitate.  So many slides and washouts that the ongoing costs to maintain such a trail will likely face scrutiny and will be the first thing cut when the State faces its next financial crisis.

I've fantasized about trekking that canyon, but there's been plenty of warning about what could be expected, as mentioned again in this thread by members.

Here's an example of one expedition, there are others online.  Some NWP images included:

The lack of "services" to me is no impediment for initial trail users.  We could carry everything we would need.  The only thing that brings hesitation, especially considering the criminal element in that canyon, might be the lack of cell phone service.

Again, the best solution for that route is a railroad.


Thanks for posting this.  I scanned through the interesting story and looked at most of the pictures many of which were actually not directly railroad related.

The main take I got off of this is what I have suspected all along:  In spite of some very difficult slides that would need to be fixed, most of this railroad actually looks pretty good - actually better than what might've been expected.  But, of course, that's based on my take on the pictures 'cause I haven't walked this!  *AND* don't forget, these pictures are already nearly 4 years old.  It sounds to me like they're having a bad winter out there again as California cycles back into a much wetter weather pattern.

I couldn't agree with your conclusion more:  "Again, the best solution for that route is a railroad".  Who the heck knows?  It might just happen.  Just don't hold your breath.


Fred M. Cain


© 2019   Created by Mark Drury.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service