McCloud River Railroad : Passenger Operations: Excursion Photos

The First Snow Trip
25 January 1964

Shortly after the success of the McCloud River Rattler a Pacific Locomotive Association member suggested that the organization consider a winter trip over the railroad. Both the organization and the railroad were willing, and the parties set up a special excursion on 25 January 1964. The weather cooperated beautifully, with high snowbanks present by the date of the event and more falling through the first part of the day. The excursion covered the McCloud to Mt. Shasta City line through the day. The #25 pushed the big bucker plow #1767 and pulled two cabooses and flanger #1773. On the way to Mt. Shasta the #25 and the plow cleared snowdifts off of the short spur to the Signal Butte turntable, and then on the return trip plowed out the siding at Pierce. The final act for the day was to be a couple photo shoots without the bucker plow, and as luck would have it the air pump on the #25 failed right after the last photo stop of the day. The passengers and train had to wait for a diesel to come up out of McCloud to tow the train back down into town.

Despite the disappointing ending the snow trip was a huge success. PLA would operate snow trips in at least eight of the next eleven years, and they became among the more popular excursions on the railroad in the 1960s and 1970s.

The #25 in McCloud before the trip.

A couple passengers squeezing between the train and snow banks near the McCloud depot.

The #25 switching in McCloud.

The #25 and the bucker plow led the way from McCloud to Signal Butte, while the #29 and the Jordan spreader followed. The diesel would clear the tracks the rest of the way to Mt. Shasta City.

Steam against snow...the #25 plowing out the turntable spur at Signal Butte.

The plow sitting partially on the turntable. In past years the plow might have been turned here, but the railroad had long since found it cheaper to either run a second plow train- such as what happened on this trip- or otherwise plow the line up to Signal Butte, then drop back to McCloud, turn the train, and back up to Signal Butte so that the plow would be on the front for the run to Mt. Shasta City rather than shoveling out the turntable pit.

A second shot of the plow on the turntable with some of the passengers standing on the main line.

Shoveling snow out from around the front of the plow.

One more shot of shoveling snow from around the plow.

Another shot of the train on the hill.

The flanger blades kicking snow out from between the rails.

Upon arrival in Mt. Shasta City the train set the bucker plow out while it did some switching. Roy Gabriel photo.

The #25 and the cabooses approaching the Highway 99 crossing in Mt. Shasta City.

The train is reassembled and ready to head back towards McCloud.

Starting up the hill out of Mt. Shasta City.

Plowing out the siding at Pierce.

Plowing out the siding at Pierce.

Plowing out the siding at Pierce.

A going away shot of the train plowing the Pierce siding.

Another shot of the flanger at work.

Late in the day the sun broke out for the last few photo stops, all run without the plow. Somewhere and somehow the caboose and flanger consist got turned around as well, indicating the train may have run down to McCloud, turned, then gone back up the hill for more pictures.

Few if any single photo runby events in McCloud River excursion history produced more published photos than this one, as photos from it have appeared in several calendars and other works through the years.

The same view as above, but from near the tracks.

Last photo of the day...the #25's air pump has failed, and the crews are attemping repairs. Shortly they would call for a diesel to rescue the train.