Northwestern Pacific Railroad Network
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Albums: Camino, Placerville &Lake Tahoe RR
Location: Placerville & Camino, CA
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I don't know if there was any interest in trying to turn the CPLT into a tourist road, there had been a short lived operation (Camino, Cable & Northern) on a remnant of the old Mich-Cal private railroad out of Camino around the early 1970s. The grades on the CPLT alone may have discouraged potential tourist operators, but I don't know how many of them were ever given a chance.
Mich-Cal had pretty much stopped using the CPLT around 1984, after that date SP really only went beyond Diamond Springs if they were taking CPLT's incentive per diem boxcars to or from the road for storage. SP initiated abandonment proceedings on the Placerville Branch around 1985, which prompted the CPLT to abandon its line as well...however, the ICC denied SP's application, I think on procedural grounds, in late 1987. I don't know how often if ever SP ran up to Placerville after the last of the CPLT boxcars came off the interchange in late June 1986, but I have the date of the last SP freight to Diamond Springs as 7 March 1989, when the last shipper there closed. ICC approved abandoning the Diamond Springs-Placerville line in 1990, then SP subsequently sold the rest of the branch to Sacramento Placerville Transportation Corridor Joint Powers Authority. There are two separate excursion operations on the line below Diamond Springs, Placerville & Sacramento Valley Railroad and El Dorado Western Railroad, but I read someplace recently both of these are temporarily not operating, one because of a major washout on the line and the other because of couple grade crossings are closed so that they can be rebuilt as part of a major housing development being built next to the right-of-way.
Given the scenery, it's surprising nobody's turned it into some kind of tourist excursion operation. it seems ready-made for a shay and a bunch of logging flat cars converted to passenger carriers.
Chad, the Southern Pacific Ran from Sacramento to Placerville for over 100 years. SP hauled lumber, fruit, aggregate, you name it. As the traffic dried up, so did the number of trains. After the CP< ended, there was little need for, by that time, a weekly freight. I think the Placerville branch was ended as a working operation in 1987. I was there, and photographed the last run, but I am terrible about keeping notes. Sacramento light rail uses the line to Folsom. There is a preservation group that uses the line out of Diamond Springs. Another group had hoped to use the CP< right-of-way for a tourist operation but I don't believe they ever got much done.
The house as a depot in Placerville came about because of the re-alignment of highway 50. The state demolished the SP depot and moved a house to a location east of town. The yard there was unique in that it was on a steep grade!
Was this the only railroad going through Placerville? My grandparents live up there and everytime I've gone to visit I've seen bits and pieces of the railroad, even went for a short speeder ride before they opened the stretch of line near Shingle Springs, but never really learned the history.
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