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My brother, now nearing age 76, worked for NWP in 1958 & 1959 and probably part of 1960.  We were watching a 1930's movie about a runaway train that had been sabotaged and it reminded him of an incident at the Island Mountain Tunnel and the trestle at the South entrance.  Perhaps another old timer will recall the incident.  

It was another case of the Eel River raging out of control and Charlie Neal was on the scene.  He feared the river was going to wash out the trestle and he thought he could save it by putting some weight at both ends to help anchor it.  He told the train crew to position box cars at both ends, but the train crew was afraid to go onto the trestle and they refused to do it.  So Charlie Neal, being head of Maintenance of Way ( I can't remember his exact title), jumped in the cab and pushed a bunch of box cars across the raging river to the North side and then crossed back over and positioned more box cars on the South side.  My brother said he believes it did save the trestle.  Unfortunately, the train crew reported him to the Union and he was in a heap of trouble. 

My father was also an NWP MoW employee and he somehow earned Charlie Neal's respect.  In the eyes of Charlie Neal, my father could do no wrong.   I met Charlie Neal several times through my father and I am not surprised by this story. 

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Comment by Richard Todd on June 17, 2016 at 8:02pm

Jack, Fred Stindt wrote The Northwestern Pacific Railroad with Guy L. Dunscomb. it was published in December 1964. A second edition was published in October of 1966. I believe it contained 6 additional pages of photographs. The third edition, showing only Fred Stindt as author, was published in April of 1978. It contained an additional 30 pages of material. This additional material was headlined Up Date '78. Much of this material covered the floods of 1964.

The Northwestern Pacific Railroad 1964-1985 Volume 2 was published in 1985. It covered the last of steam, the coming of the diesels and the end of passenger service. In addition, it touched on the California Western and the Skunk trains. The Petaluma and Santa Rosa RR received significant coverage. The Eureka Southern is also covered. Lastly, there are photos of the equipment preserved at that time.

While Volume 2 is smaller than the first volume, it is beautifully printed with many outstanding photographs, including many by one of my favorites, Ted Benson.

Jack, I hope this clears up any confusion.

Richard Todd

Comment by Steve Atnip on June 17, 2016 at 7:18pm
You're very welcome, enjoyed the accounts.
Comment by Jack Encell on June 17, 2016 at 6:20pm

Thank You Steve Atnip.  I am getting along in years (72) and I may have told this story before.  I went to Facebook and did find two photos that show the wires I was talking about and one that showed the anchor, but I did not see any discussion.  I copied the photo into photoshop and enhanced it so my nearly blind brother could see it.  His comment was, "I must have been crazy to go out there."  The photo is here

Comment by Steve Atnip on June 17, 2016 at 2:01pm
I was remembering this discussion, and thought it was on the facebook group "nwprrhs". I posted some pics that show the electrical lines. If it's too inconvenient for you to view them there, I can post them here. Let me know
Comment by Jack Encell on June 16, 2016 at 7:27am

Thank you Richard Todd for mentioning those books.  I ordered "NWP Redwood Empire route", for my brother's upcoming birthday, but Fred Stindt wrote so many books, I couldn't be certain what the name of the other book was.  Maybe you can help with that.  

Thank you Michael Harrison for your comment.  My brother was one of those that did what it took.

For those that have not experienced Island Mountain in the winter, it wasn't just the wrath of the raging Eel River that was so dangerous.  The wind whipping up through the canyon was unbelievable, and for men like my brother that was 18 or 19 years old at the time, it was as big a threat as the raging water.  He was an electrician. 

At Island Mountain, separate from the trestle, there were towers anchored on both sides of the river with a cable between them that supported electrical and communications wires.  It also supported a little chair that was hanging below.  It was my brother's job to go out over the raging water in heavy rain and wind to repair those wires.  I have been there when there was no wind or rain and I wouldn't have gone out on that chair unless there was a gun pointed at my head. 

Comment by Richard Todd on June 16, 2016 at 5:14am

Thank you jack for sharing this story. I'm sure Charlie Neal got in some trouble, but that is the attitude and inventiveness that was needed to keep the NWP open. For those members who haven't read them, Fred Stindt's two books give a glimpse into the problems the NWP MOW crews faced. There was good reason for the NWP to stage work crews at many spots north of Willits. One spot he mentioned moved all the time and had to be re-aligned every week!

Keeping the line open was not a task for the timid!

Comment by Michael H Harrison on June 15, 2016 at 12:08pm

This is a great story of when Men were tough as nails and did what it took to keep the company afloat! Thank you for the share!

Comment by Jack Encell on June 15, 2016 at 11:38am

It finally came to me.  Charlie Neal's title was Division Engineer. 

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