McCloud Railway: Goodbye, My Elusive Friend

McCloud Railroad Boxcar Close up

As a young railfan in Utah, I fed from the trough of Utah-based railroads—which
primarily consisted of D&RGW, Union Pacific, Southern Pacific and Western Pacific.
That said, I always had an affinity for the McCloud River Railway, and I always
hoped to see the railroad first hand.

Of course, McCloud River Railway Rolling Stock was familiar. In the 1980's, the
Bear-clad Plate B Double Door Box Cars were peppered into D&RGW lumber trains.
They came with just enough frequency to be consistently remarkable on a diet of the
ever-present SP Hydra-Cushion cars. How I would love to revisit the days of the SP
Hydra-Cushions lumber trains.
In April 1988, the Union Pacific leased McCloud River motive power. MR units #36
and 37 were used in Salt Lake and Provo based assignments, and for a young eleven
year old on a BMX bike, they were the most exciting game in town. I remember
these units dragging gondolas into the sprawling Geneva Steel Mill in Orem, Utah.
Some McCloud fans have commented that Utah was not kind to the MR units,
suggesting that they were returned considerably faded, 13 months later.

I was exposed to the McCloud River Railway. But so long as I was standing in Utah,
they could never come together to give the real McCloud experience. In June of
2012, I traveled to McCloud, CA to photograph what remained of the railroad. Still
familiar, the pieces are as ghosts in the forest. The equipment is derelict and awaits
final disposition.


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