Northwestern Pacific Railroad Network

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Was searching for that derailed boxcar near Dos Rios that Mr. Pickle posted:

Found these derailed open hoppers or gondolas. Link:

Armchair railfanning...

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Comment by Richard C. Brand on March 16, 2017 at 7:33pm



I'm pleased to hear that your tour of duty was a good one on the SP.  Those must of have been halcyon days on the line.  I first saw the SP 62 years ago when I moved to Southern Calif. and watched my first  Daylight go by pulled by steam.  Since then I have lived within a mile of the SP then UP RoW for 51 years and then within 10 miles of SP for the other 11 years but watching for trains in between riding waves on the Santa Barbara coast.

I for one did not want to see the DRGW take on the line and Anshutz (sp?) bleed it in the '90's and this is what I base my comment upon.  I have a very good wine making partner/friend who who was an SP VP working in the Market street headquarters who has told me many stories about how things went downhill and they were close to bankruptcy and why.  Gypsy and deregulated trucking took a huge toll on SP for one thing and they also did not know how to successfully market their services in a changed environment.  But SP was not the only line to suffer and we used to have someone from Maine who monitored this site who told the same story for the Maine RR's.

I wish I could remember and relate more of the stories that he told me SP on the NWP section.  I do remember though that he told me that they had big problems with kids starting fires in the Marin county tunnels (Alto?) and then about the cave in the tunnel at Larkspur.     

Comment by Dave S. on March 15, 2017 at 12:56pm

22 gondolas were lost during the 1964 flood at South Fork Yard, according to:

A perennial NWP favorite, Hard Times on the Railroad:

In addition to what Mike Harrison excerpted below, there are these choice scenes:

Comment by Carl Casale on March 15, 2017 at 7:26am

Never caught an Eel River fish in my life that was coated in oil.

Comment by Fred Waldsmith on March 15, 2017 at 6:45am

Richard, You really are stretching it here. The SP wasn't as badly managed as you may think, and they provided me with the start of a fantastic 41 year career. A lot of the rolling stock was used the rip-rap to shore up the right of way. When they did this ALL hazardous materials we're drained, etc....the locomotive was NOT left there when it derailed between Island Mountain and Alderpoint.

Comment by Richard C. Brand on March 15, 2017 at 12:15am


I think we are all struggling to understand the rationale of a poorly managed business entity (SP) which was struggling to fulfill supply contracts made to north coast businesses which depended on the RR to provide them with transport services.  Compromises were made I'm sure. 

SP made so many enemies with their actions that still have a negative effect on the new NWP.  The environmental damage created by SP dumping freight cars and even while an accident, a locomotive into a river is huge and I can understand why there are/were protests.  

Pardon me for going on my soapbox here.  Chad is a fisherman and I'm sure he wants to land fish that are not coated with diesel or whatever other material that was in those cars when then went down the cliff.  Gravel yes but other toxics???  I love salmon and want to know that the fish I eat were spawned in clean waters.

SP was not a good caretaker of their environment and the line still suffers from their negligence. 

Comment by Michael H Harrison on March 14, 2017 at 9:46pm

You know what... now that I think of it, they could have wrecked and they moved them out of the "pool" as I call it (had a few) to keep them from being a hazard. They very well could have derailed and the NWP, SP, NCRA, EUKA (who ever) beached them to keep the "pool" clear of hazards.

Comment by Dave S. on March 14, 2017 at 5:04pm

Given that SP has abandoned many other cars along the riverbank, plus bridge trusses, culvert pipes, a locomotive, and at least one other car in the river, which have created navigation hazards for paddlers, it is easy to see why environmentalists hate the railroad and don't welcome the return of operations in any form whatsoever.  It therefore stretches my imagination that SP would deliberately place these cars here, but Mr. Harrison's theory #2 seems the most plausible of the two.

But how much protection could these cars offer?  When the water level is below the cars:  none.  When the water level goes above the cars, as I expect it would in most winters:  not much, right?

I've seen many boxcar doors get a second life as retaining walls or to close off tunnels, but the suggestion that entire cars were placed here to act as rip-rap when there's a river full of rip-rap less than 50 feet away is difficult to accept.

The real issue is that we have run out of things to talk about on this site.  I wish I could correct this by doing my part to get out there to take pictures or videos of SMART or NWP activity, storm damage, tankers, bridge automation, NCRA meetings, etc.  For example, what does Burdell look like these days?

Those of you who are contributing photos and news are the True American Heroes of this site!  God bless you!

Comment by Michael H Harrison on March 14, 2017 at 6:42am

From a civil engineering standpoint, I can see many reasons the cars were placed there. I am seeing some points where if the car were not there, the slope would not be as stable... I wouldn't pass up the idea that they were place there. 

While looking on the internet for a better pic, I found one. It says the cars were wrecked, but they seem to placed and to symbiotic between the cars and the earth to be that lucky and wreck that precision. 

1. My thoughts are either they were placed to support the hill.

                    - OR -

2. They derailed down there and the railroad didn't want to pull them up, so they lined them up to help support the hill... kind of like a "well... while they are down there" kind of thing.

Any way, here is the pic I found:

Comment by Jeff Moore on March 13, 2017 at 12:07pm
Autocorrect changed "confluencing drainage" to "confluence house drainage"...
Comment by Jeff Moore on March 13, 2017 at 12:04pm
I still disagree with the stringline derailment assessment. They are too carefully placed and staggered to have been left derailed in place, a true stringline would not have resulted in this staggered arrangement (unless they were wrecked at this spot and then arranged as now seen). If you go to Google Earth and surf around that spot a little bit, you'll see these cars are placed directly along the base of a significant fill constructed across the mouth of a creek on the outside bend of the river. I agree the bank appears to be stable immediately above and below this spot, but the energy of the water would have been aimed right at the base of this fill. I highly doubt it's coincidence these cars just happen to be neatly placed from the rock on one bank at the mouth of the confluence house drainage to the rock on the other bank, right along the base of fill material...but I could be wrong, it's happened before... Jeff

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