McCloud River Railroad
Removing the SD38s

Rumblings that the Mike Williams Group/Midwest Pacific Rail Net & Logistics would send McCloud Rwailway's three SD38s to one of their other operations started shortly after the sale closed in the fall of 2011. There original destination for several years was to be the St. Maries River Railroad in St. Maries, Idaho, where they would have joined the old Shasta Sunset Dinner Train set. However, by the time a small crew borrowed from several other operations arrived in McCloud in the fall of 2016, Midwest Pacific had decided instead to send them to the Dakota Southern Railroad in South Dakota, which is in the process of rebuilding and reopening much of its line and needs the SD38s to move grain trains from several new superelevators. However, only the #37 was operational, though in need of a lot of work, as the #36 had not run since succummbing to electrical problems in 2005 and had been heavily cannibalized for parts, and the #38 had suffered some freeze damage right as the dinner train shut down. All three had suffered various forms of vandalism.

A small track crew went to work inspecting and making light repairs to the track structure, while a mechanic started patching the #37 together and preparing the other two for shipment east. The locomotives lost part of their idendity, as the Automatic Equipment Identification tags applied to them labelled the three as STMA (St. Maries River) #s 36-38. The crews had everything ready on October 20th, and by late morning they had started to make the attempt to get all three to Mt. Shasta City. However, the crew quickly ran into difficulty with the vegetation growing over the tracks; the #37 pulled the other two out to the mainline at the bottom end of the yard, and by the time they cleared the switch the locomotive was deep in the weeds and could not push back uphill. The crew tried many different times throughout the afternoon to get traction, including adding more sand to the #37 and shoveling dirt and ballast onto the railheads, but nothing worked, and by dusk they backed the three down to the depot, where they were tied down for the night. In the end, only the #37 made it to Mt. Shasta City the next day. The other two are scheduled to follow later. However, this does not mean the final end is at hand, as the Williams Group still has plans and ideas for the property, but they will almost certainly be carried out with other power if and when they come to pass.

All photos below by Jeff Moore.

#37 in the weeds, just below the Tucci Avenue crossing.

#38, standing just clear of the Tucci crossing as the crews inspect the #37 to make sure there is nothing wrong with it.

The #37 then backed down farther towards town, in search of some rail not covered by weeds to attempt to get a running start at the hill.

The crews and several McCloud citizens who got wind of the activity showed up with shovels to pile dirt on the railhead, but all attempts at this failed as well.

By dusk on the 20th, the locomotives had been parked at the old depot site and tied down for the night.

By the morning of the 21st, the railroad had rounded up some help from a local logging company. A log loader and log skidder combined with the #37 to shove the three SD38s back up through the weeds to the Tucci crossing, at which point the crews moved the log loader in front of the power. The loader pulling and the skidder pushing got the three diesels moved back across Tucci.

The log skidder shoving on the rear of the #37, pushing it back into the yard.

The wheels on the #37 had become so greased that it still could not move the other two, so the log loader again lent a hand, pushing the three diesels up and over the hump and back towards the enginehouse.

Activity paused once the three got back in front of the shop as the crews made some phone calls that resulted in a decision to leave the #36 and #38 in McCloud and take just the #37 this day. The mechanic would return at some later point to rebuild one or both of the remaining two before shipping them out as well.

Raising the shop door to push the #36 and #38 back inside.

Shoving the two cripples back into the shop.

Once the #36 and #38 had been secured, the crew then prepared to take the #37 to Mt. Shasta City.

#37 clearing the top of the McCloud yard, leaving town for perhaps the final time.

#37 disappearing into the tunnel of trees above the McCloud yard.

Plowing through the vegetation encroaching on the tracks not far above the Wagon Camp crossing.

Reversing direction at Signal Butte.

#37 has just tipped over the summit at Pierce and is starting down towards Mt. Shasta City.

Rolling across the crossing at Howard.

Approaching the Everitt Memorial Highway crossing just above Mt. Shasta City.

#37 crossing Mt. Shasta Boulevard and entering the interchange yard.

#37 rolling to what very well may be its final stop in its almost 50 year McCloud career.