McCloud River Railroad : The 90-Car Freight

In early 1984 the Southern Pacific placed a $1,200 per carload surcharge on all freight moving to or from the north end of its Northwestern Pacific subsidiary. This action effectively killed the tiny Arcata & Mad River Railroad, which operated a little more than seven and one half miles of track from a connection with the NWP near Arcata, CA, eastward through Blue Lake to a huge Simpson Timber Company sawmill in Korbel. The A&MR had a large fleet of incentive per diem boxcars painted a bright red leased from Itel, and as the railroad folded it turned those cars back to the owner. Itel sent the fleet of A&MR cars to the McCloud River for storage, and the McCloud River had a difficult time finding places to put all the cars. Most of them eventually ended up on the Pondosa branch. Moving the A&MR cars around made for some impressive trains, such as this 90-car long train of nothing but empty A&MR boxcars. All four McCloud locomotives are on this train, with two on the point and the other two on the rear. All photos are from the Travis Berryman collection.