McCloud River Railroad : Chasing the Yard & Hill Job
Photo Essay by Greg Brown

On 23 December 2004, Greg Brown and his son journied south from their home in Klamath Falls, Oregon to McCloud to take some photos of a McCloud freight. Greg is a prolific photographer who has shot the McCloud several times in recent years. He is also an accomplished author, with several published articles about railroading in Southern Oregon and Northern California appearing in various railfan magazines.

Having shot the Yard & Hill job on several occassions, Greg was hoping to catch a Sierra job on this day, but the large number of empty cars in the Mt. Shasta City yard spoke otherwise. They continued over the hill to McCloud, arriving just as the train was preparing to leave the yard.

All photos on this page are by Greg Brown and are used here with permission.

The train crew had a total of 19 loads to move over the hill on this day, requiring that the westbound train be "doubled" to the summit at Pierce. Greg arrived just as the first half of the train was being backed out the east leg of the wye onto the mainline that runs out towards Bartle so that the train would be in the proper position to head for Mt. Shasta. Greg went to the Signal Butte road a few miles out of McCloud, where this picture was taken.

Caboose #102 bringing up the rear as the first half of the train rolls uphill towards the switchback at Signal Butte and the summit at Pierce.

The road into Signal Butte was questionable enough that Greg decided not to try to make it to the switchback. Instead he elected to head for the summit at Pierce. In this shot the train has shoved the first half of the train clear of the Mt. Shasta Ski Park Highway crossing. The train reversed direction while passing through the switchback at Signal Butte. The first half of the train will be tied down and left here while the power returns to McCloud for the second half.

With the first half of the train secured, the power departs eastward back to McCloud.

Back in McCloud the locomotives are rolling through the two-track train makeup yard that runs along the eastern edge of the yard and shop complex. The second half of today's train is in the other track.

The conductor throwing the switch so that the locomotives can couple up to the second half of the train.

The power is about to couple to the second half of the train, and as soon as the hand brakes are released and the air lines are charged up the locomotives will push the second cut out the eastern edge of the yard onto the mainline. The train will then move forward through the top leg of the wye connecting the line to Bartle with the line to Mt. Shasta.

A short hike in from Highway 89 a few miles from McCloud yielded this shot of the #36 and #38 working hard at lifting the second half of the train up the hill towards Signal Butte.

The locomotives passing by Greg.

The train has passed through the switchback at Signal Butte and has backed up the rest of the way to the summit at Pierce. The conductor is seeing here riding the lead car of the second half of the train across the Ski Park Highway crossing.

The second half of the train has been coupled to the first half, and the assembled train has just been shoved clear of the crossing after the hand brakes on the first half had been knocked off and the air line charged.

An electrical problem of some sort was causing the gates on the Ski Park crossing to remain down after the train had passed. The crew was unable to get the gates to shut off, and to allow traffic to pass the gates were tied open as far as they would go using a length of fire hose removed from one of the locomotives.

A run up Old McCloud Road yielded this fine shot of the train rolling backwards in full dynamics down the west side of the hill with Black Butte in the background.

The final shot of the day was this one. Caboose #102 is leading the train down to the Mt. Shasta Boulevard crossing and the Mt. Shasta yard. The 19 loads in today's train will be left in the yard for the Union Pacific to pick up, and once the loads are set out the McCloud crew will gather their empties together for the run back over the hill to McCloud. Greg and his son broke off the chase at this point.