McCloud River Railroad : Along the Line

McCloud-Hambone



Underlined stations have links to pictures of that place; click to view.

Stations currently active on the McCloud are in bold type.

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McCloud is Milepost (M.P.) 0.

Ash Creek around M.P. 3.5 was once the junction with the line to the Ash Creek Mill.

Esperanza is at M.P. 5.

Bigelow is near M.P. 9.

Dry Creek near M.P. 11 has a 171’ siding entered from the west. This spur is the last remaining remnant of the last rail logging spur operated by the McCloud River Lumber Company. The spur ran due south from the railroad, crossed Highway 89 and the McCloud River, and then climbed up to a reload in the hills south of the river. Most of the old grade is easily drivable today. The Forest Service’s Cattlecamp campground is located immediately adjacent to the old grade, and a large forest service for the campground is next to the dirt road that used to be the road grade.

Swobe is between M.P. 12 and M.P. 13. Swobe is named for Dwight Milt Swobe, president of the McCloud River Railroad from 1921 until his death in 1943. The original site of Swobe was bypassed by a line change effected in 1960.

Kinyon at M.P. 13 was the site of the last permanent log camp established by the McCloud River Lumber Company. Kinyon was named after Kinyon Young, a logging superintendent with the lumber company. Kinyon was established in 1948 and served as the base for loggers and railroaders working for the lumber company both directions from Kinyon. A small engine house was constructed to house first the steam locomotives leased from the railroad and later the lumber company’s #1, a General Electric 70-ton, 600-horsepower diesel electric switcher. The last operations out of Kinyon were to the Dry Creek spur, two miles west down the McCloud River Railroad mainline. Operations at Kinyon were pretty well wrapped up by the time of the 1963 U.S. Plywood takeover. Rotting ties, a few cement foundations, and the old railbus mark the spot today.

Algoma near M.P. 15 was in the early years the site of a spur to a Bridgeford-Cunningham sawmill that was a customer of the McCloud River Railroad. The Algoma mill made life difficult for the railroad, bringing charges of unreasonably high freight rates against the company. The Algoma mill burned to the ground about 1910.

Nebraska Curve at M.P. 16 was once the site of a sweeping trestle, now long since filled in. The curve used to be open enough that it was one of the few places where an engineer could see most of his train, but trees are rapidly filling in the site today.

Bartle is at M.P. 18. Bartle as a community dates to about 1887. The Bartle Brothers established a ranch and hotel at this location, and post office named Glazier existed briefly during the late 1880’s. The settlement was the only real civilization encountered on the stage route that connected the Fall River and Big Valleys with the railroad at Sisson. The McCloud River Railroad reached Bartle in 1905, and the community became the railhead for the agricultural areas to the south. Bartle became an important junction with lumber company log lines, which at one time or another radiated out of town in all directions. The railroad operated a hotel in Bartle for several years as well.

The extensive yard facilities and balloon track that once existed here are long gone. All that is left around the railroad is the mainline to points east, a 1,328’ passing siding, a section shed, and a water tank. The line splits approximately one mile east of Bartle and the Bartle Wye, with one line going east to Lookout and another line dropping south to Burney.

McIntosh Vista lies at M.P. 23. This point is named for the McIntosh family, who bought out the Bartle Brothers ranch operation in 1909 and has held it ever since. The vista offers spectacular views of Mt. Shasta.

Car A at M.P. 26 was the eastern terminus of the railroad for several years. The site was the junction point between the common carrier railroad and the many spurs of the lumber company that radiated out in many directions. Car A gained additional importance with the opening of Pondosa in 1927, as the railroad’s branchline (actually railroad trackage rights over an already existing lumber company spur) left the mainline at this point. The new line into Pondosa completed in 1951 eliminated this junction, and Car A quickly faded almost completely off the map. Very little is left at the site today.

Slagger at about M.P. 29 was one of several points in the area with Slagger in the name. This portion of the railroad was built by the lumber company as a log line and sold to the railroad about 1929.

Hambone is at two mileposts numbers, M.P. 31 and M.P. BH-34. The milepost 31 signifies that this spot is 31 miles from McCloud, and the BH-34 signifies that the spot is 34 miles from Lookout on the Bartle-Hambone line.

The McCloud River Lumber Company first moved into this area about 1920 after purchasing a large amount of timber from the Red River Lumber Company and securing a forest service timber sale. Most of the activity was to the north and east of the site of Hambone, and the resulting log lines bypassed this point to the north. The first line into Hambone actually came from the north, consisting of a branch off of a branch. This changed in 1923 when a new shorter line from Bartle was built through the area, bypassing much trackage to the north. The original line into the camp from the north then became the lumber company’s mainline to the east.

The lumber company established a camp here almost immediately after the arrival of the rails. It was known initially as Camp Two, but was re-named Pondosa about 1925. The lumber company built a large switching yard and repair shop here. The camp lasted until 1927, when it was moved to the current site of Pondosa and the old site was re-named Hambone, although the site was almost completely abandoned.

The McCloud River Railroad reached Hambone about 1930 when it acquired the lumber company mainline from Car A to this point. Hambone was selected because it had a flat area large enough to construct the switching yards and locomotive servicing facilities that would be necessary to accommodate the proposed interchange between the Great Northern and McCloud River Railroads. However, the McCloud River ended up operating the line all the way to Lookout Junction, and Hambone never became anything more than a passing track.

The railroad through Hambone was re-aligned in 1956, bypassing the site of the old camp. A 1,032’ passing siding, a shot-up station sign, and a small section shed are all that remain on the current railroad alignment to show the site.