Dedicated to Sharing the Heritage of Redwood Empire Railroading
I was reading up on what is the current situation in Eureka regarding the R.O.W. Was losing hope for any future rail activity (freight/light rail) when I saw their plans for Marina Center. Figuring Eureka was "over it" with rail operations, I then read this Eureka Seeking an Alternative Rail Route Connection from the city's website.
I get the impression the city realizes the value in rail as far as creating jobs (more then just a Home Depot can provide) and I kinda get the sense that they aren't waiting for trains to roll over Eel river again to regain their valuable connection.
I heard something along time ago with regards to this. I believe they were considering a new connection east to redding via Uncle Peet. I have not heard much about it since.
The Land bridge alliance met May 15, 2013
Here's the article:
I found out reading this discussion:
It appears they're still at it Recent Articles on the Subject from Feb and March this year. Here is their Presentation On an East-West corridor looks like they had their first meeting November 2012. Such a route to a deep water port would be a game changer to the region. Opens up the port to an accessible trans-con whether it's accessed thru Feather River or Donner. Even if nothing happens from this, it still shows that there is a demand for the NWP(or any railroad) to get back to Eureka.
It's difficult to believe that a route half the distance to the national rail network would have been passed up in favor of the existing Eel River Canyon route simply because somebody thought it was closer to the Bay Area after the 1906 earthquake, particularly given the fact that the NWP ROW was, at the time, one of the more daunting engineering challenges of the time. Neither does it make sense to contemplate an entirely new "east-west" route simply because "it doesn't look like the (NWP ROW) will be operable anytime in the future."
Hey, the present NWP ROW to Eureka needs only two things to be up and running in short order: 1) an oiler's rag stuffed down the eco-fascist lobby's throat and 2) an infusion of cash to catch up on a huge amount of deferred maintenance. One need only look at the rejuvenation of the NWP ROW from Santa Rosa south, and now the entire replacement of it by SMART, to see how quickly properly financed and managed ROW replacement can be accomplished in this day and age. A whole lot has changed since the Eel River Canyon ROW was built with pick and shovel technology. Geological instability remains a challenge, but we've come a long ways from the days when wash-outs were taken for granted because repairs were cheaper than preventative engineering. We've got Asiann overflow cargo that the US West Coast container terminals can't handle going to Mexican terminals a couple of days voyage farther away being shipped by rail north into the US. The Port of Humbolt is closer to Asian ports than Long Beach or Oakland, has the available container terminal space none of the other West Coast ports have left and is in the middle of an economically depressed and isolated corner of the nation. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to leave this resource laying fallow.
When the NWP was constructed it was built as a North-South connection simply because lumber was the big commodity of the day (1900s). Lumber on the west coast is primarily a N-S type commodity with SoCal being the location of demand.
As we move into the 21st century, the major commodity is trade and ports are the key to that traffic. This traffic is an East-West type commodity with the rest of the nation east of California including other ports and economic centers being the source of demand.
In an age of the Alameda Corridor, revitalization of Donner Pass, double tracking of the entire Sunset Route to El Paso, one could really see the trend is to place a substantial investment into East-West routes.
Now, I'm not saying never-mind to Eel River. In fact Eel River becomes even MORE crucial with an E-W connection to Eureka. With SMART operations on the southern end during the day, the primary connection to the outside world will become Eureka and the direct E-W connection with the UP. The exact opposite of what it's been for the past century!
Lumber and wood products will still head south out of Eureka and interchange thru Schellville. The real growth to the region will be for freight and passenger will be the E-W line though.
Not sure if it will ever happen and if it does probably not in my lifetime...but...my point is there is some major demand out in Eureka and potential for a massive amount of jobs. NWP, get your route fixed to Eureka, NOW, before the boom times hit after the great recession!
I hear what you are saying, but is there really a W-E route over the coastal mountain grades that's practical? This I don't know, but it would seem if it were, they would have gone that route in the first place, given the problems with the Eel River route. In fact, at the time the NWP ROW was built, lumber was shipped out of the "dog holes" (e.g. Mendocino, Salt Point, etc.) in lumber schooners to points north and south, and unmilled logs were most frequently transported by sea, floated in log rafts towed by tugs, particularly so to Southern CA, which at the time was nowhere near as developed as the SF Bay Area. My hunch is that finding terrain upon which a line could be constructed to Eureka was more of a consideration than E-W or N-S shipping distances. Back in the day, if they could have hooked up to the mainline in the Sacramento Valley with less difficulty than through Willits, I expect they'd have done it. From Red Bluff or thereabouts, it wouldn't have made that much difference shipping N-S, would it?
Social/Economics of the time (1900) would be a driving factor for a reason a route not to be built. A lot has to do with timing. The long time plan for Eureka and the NWP was to build a connection east circa 1909. See following map
This connection would complete the NWP and diversify shipping out of Eureka. It was never built...some say due to the Earth quake in San Fran, some say the company couldn't get off the ground financially...well whatever it was, there was a vision over a hundred years ago. Foresight that perhaps saw the bigger picture of a "National Rail System" and how each route played a roll in that vision.
It's apparent this vision is coming true. Perhaps 100 years ago the route wasn't seen as really that necessary since they had a brand new route that directly connected to at the time San Francisco which in it's day was central hub for all classification and distribution to points East and South. Today, it's different. Roseville has become the classification center and import/export is a major trade.
SP built the Lucin cutoff 100 years after promontory was established. SP built the Palmdale cutoff after they moved their classification out of LA and into Colton almost 90 years after they built their first right of way into LA.
My point is things have changed since 1900. It's the ability to adapt to the trends of the National Rail System and become a team player within that system, that will make the NWP, not just viable, but ESSENTIAL.
NWP is in a very unique position in over 100 years! It's the first time this route has been considered "modern" since 1914. Modern welded rail, concrete ties, grading, are all very enticing to find customers. The original vision must be completed in order realize the dramatic advantages of the entire route N-S and E-W from Eureka must be connected together to make the system work to it's maximum potential.
Reality is ports are maxed out and need to expand. California will seriously LOSE if the ports expansion heads to Tiajuana and ports south of the border. California's economic battle will continue until it realizes that the deck is stacked in it's favor...time to play the cards!
I couldn't agree more! If the NWP could fulfill that 100 year old vision, connecting a "loop" through the Redwood Empire, I think they'd really have something. No question about the dire need for another West Coast container port. We're already losing traffic and revenue to Mexican Pacific terminals.
Port overflow is a reality. Last thing California needs is to export more jobs out of state and country. San Diego is in process of gladly handing port traffic over to Tiajuana/Maquiladoras in Mexico. (One possible route is being established over the former SD&AE) All this says to me is missing a huge opportunity, because this is in process NOW.
When I look back at what made or broke a railroad is the ability to take advantage of boom time. Time is of the essence! Build during a recession when rates are low. fix the physical plant of the railroad and when traffic increases...the company can take full advantage of the boom. If not, the RR doesn't have the capital to weather another downturn and goes bankrupt.
Rock Island, Milwaukee Road, GM&O, Penn Central are all great examples of this. They seemed to always fixate on the wrong thing and make the WRONG decision about keeping up the physical plant. Result...now way to make money when the boom hit...no money in the bank for a downturn = no more RR.
All I can say NWP...we want you todo better then you have in the past...get to Eureka NOW before you miss the upcoming boom times!
Interestingly, those Mexican container terminals were ready to pickup the overflow in large measure because Mexico's until-recently nationalized FNM RR was up to speed and ready for the task ahead of time. Had NWP been open to Eureka, the Port of Humbolt would be hummin' right now and we'd be seeing double stacked container trains going full bore.
it's not too late...however 20-30 years from now will be :-(
I think the main reason the NWP and NCRA seem hesitant to reopen the Eel River segment is because of the HUGE costs involved. The NWP just got started and therefore has very little money, and the NCRA is not only completely broke, but deep in debt. The NCRA is a government agency that exists with no state funding whatsoever, and if the state were to recognize the importance of a rail link between the North Coast and the national rail network, as well as the importance of a port in the Humboldt area, and provide some funds, I think we'd see trains rolling in no time. Assuming, of course, NOvato and the Fiends of the Eel River didn't raise havoc.