Northwestern Pacific Railroad Network

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I've long been a historical operations buff and have recently obtained a copy of NWP Timetable No 37 of September 30, 1956.  I notice something in that timetable that seems rather odd.  There are three carded Second Class Westward freight trains daily between Eureka and Willits, Nos. 75, 77 and 79 and one daily except Monday, No 91 from Fort Seward to Willits.  On the South end there are three carded Second Class Westward freight trains daily from Willits to Sonoma, Nos. 81, 87 and 89, and one Second Class Westward freight, No. 85 from Willits to Tiburon.

Four freights on each division each day ('cept Mon.) Westward but NO carded freights Eastward.  What's up with that?  All Eastward run as Extra's I assume but why scheduled Second Class trains Westward and none Eastward?

I'm confused.

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The eastbound trains were almost exclusively empties and had no priority.  As extras they are automatically inferior to the scheduled eastbounds and would take siding based on the times in the timetable or by train order.

OK, that would be a reasonable assumption but in the timetable there is the ususal:

"RULE S-72.  Westward trains are superior to trains of the same class in the opposite direction," which automatically make Eastward trains inferior.

So I still don't understand why they were only scheduled in the Westward direction - UNLESS, by giving the Westward trains definite times, agents would be able to tell shippers that they had to have their shipments ready by X time in order to get out on today's train, whereas this is not as important on inbound empties.  Of course, if a shipper were waiting for empties to load it might be handy to know when they are going to arrive.

I'm also rather surprised to find so many scheduled freights in a given day.  I would bet that agents spent a lot of time copying anullment orders.

ETTs were often published for convenience in dispatching and didn't necessarily assure that trains shown would actually run, so not likely of help to agents informing customers.

As a train-simmer, I'm pretty much most interested in the Northern Division for which I have a route in Microsoft Train Simulator and am attempting to run the simulator in as accurate and historical fashion as possible.  Over that stretch the tonnage ratings for the SD7 and SD9 engines in use in 1956 were 5,000 tons from Willits to Eureka with the exception of the stretch between Loleta and Beatrice, for which they were rated at 3,475 tons each.  3,475 tons is the equivalent of 54 91000 series drop bottom gons full of logs for each locomotive.

So no, I don't think that was the reason.


I would be really interested in your Train Simulator of the Northern Division. Where could I acquire one?



The Simulator program is Microsoft Train Simulator - which you should be able to obtain at WalMart or via  The route is available at  Search for the North Coast Railroad route.

As explained to me many years ago by NWP Chief Dispatcher Pete Novaglia, the westward scheduled trains were in the timetable for the dispatchers' convenience--fewer trains they had to create by train order. One or more of the schedules were often annulled if there wasn't sufficient traffic.

That does make sense.  I asked the same question of the SP over Tehachapi, where there are only Eastward freights on the time tables.  The answer I received is that eastward traffic out of the valley is steady and regular and of a priority nature, particularly the produce traffic.  Numbered, carded freights allowed them to move green fruit blocks Eastward with priority while Westward traffic over the pass was more sporadic and mixed, largely being empties moving back to the produce warehouses and other traffic suppliers and could be handled in a more leisurely "Extra Freight" mode.

Applying that logic to the lumber traffic out of many points along the line would seem to hold true for the NWP.

I should have mentioned what Herb Kelsey said in his reply. On the NWP, perhaps 95% of the loaded traffic was westbound (toward Schellville/Tiburon), so the westbound trains had priority. If they ran on the timetable schedule, the eastbound trains of empty cars would have to take siding for them. That's not to say empties weren't important--if they didn't arrive at the various mills, there wouldn't be any cars for future loading! Former NWP engineer Bob Simonson told me he once handled a train of 147 empties out of Schellville!


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