McCloud River Railroad : Passenger Operations: Excursion Photos

Steam Locomotive #25:
The Early 1970s

The #25 emerged from the shop in 1971 with a renewed boiler certification and ready for many more years of service. The biggest visual modification the railroad made to the locomotive was applying the company's logos to the tender sides. The Shasta Huffen Puff resumed its operations through the summer of 1971, supplemented by several other trips sponsored by the railfan organizations. Unfortunately rising costs and insurance premiums forced the Huffen Puff to suspend operations after the 1971 season.

The end of the Huffen Puff created an opening that the Northern California Railroad Club quickly exploited. Nor-Cal had been sponsoring McCloud excursions since 1948, and their main role since 1964 had been co-sponsor and then full sponsor of the annual June party trip, usually run to Burney and coinciding with Dunsmuir Railroad Days. In 1971 the club sponsored four excursion trips spaced throughout the season, which they increased to seven in 1972, five Mt. Shasta trip and two to Burney. Before the 1972 season the club worked with the railroad to repaint and refurbish the two coaches, which included installing a small concession stand at the end of one car. The railroad numbered and named the cars after the painting, designating one the Dolly Glover in honor of the wife of McCloud engineer T.E. "Eddie" Glover and the other Eda McQuesten, a long time member of the Nor-Cal club. Meanwhile, the Pacific Locomotive Association resumed their annual winter trip in 1972.

Nor-Cal sponsored excursions increased substantially in 1973, with trips to Mt. Shasta or Burney on alternating weekends all summer long. Unfortunately that proved to be the last big year for steam excursions. In late 1973 the railroad declined to host the PLA's planned snow trip for 1974, citing oil shortages and increasing concerns the company's insurance carrier had with the #25 pushing occupied passenger equipment. Very few if any trips operated in 1974 due to those factors plus the steep declines in people willing to drive to McCloud to ride a train in the face of skyrocketing fuel costs and the stagflation economic conditions. Various local politicians and businessmen noticed the loss of tourism dollars from no trains being operated, and the railroad consented to bring back some steam in 1975. A few trips operated that year, most notably one final PLA snow trip in January 1975. The last railfan excursion using the #25 on the road, at least in that era, was a Nor-Cal trip to Burney on 14 June 1975. The #25's final use in this era happened in September when United Artist Studios leased the #25 and a crew for use in filming the movie Bound for Glory. The actual filming took place on the Western Pacific and Tidewater Southern railroads in and around Stockton, and the #25 and a crew spent several weeks in the area during the filming. Period news reports indicated the locomotive recieved some boiler damage during the filming, which prevented any further operations after the locomotive returned to McCloud.

The excursion program fizzled out after the last steam trip in June. The road operated a small number of excursions through 1976, including a couple for local community events. The last real gasp for the excursion program happened on 10 October 1976 when the #39 powered a trip sponsored by the Pacific Railroad Society to Burney and back as a side trip to an Amtrak special the group ran from Los Angeles to Klamath Falls. This excursion era effectively ended with that trip.

1971 Summer Trips

The #25 returning from a Burney run. Lee F. Hower.

An excursion backing down the hill towards McCloud. Lee F. Hower.

Taking on water at Howard. Lee F. Hower.

An excursion train backing down towards Mt. Shasta City. Lee F. Hower.

Early 1970s Winter Trips

#38 passing a winter excursion at Bear Flat on 31 January 1970. Dave Bell photo.

A winter trip around early 1972. George Landrock.

A winter trip preparing to depart from the McCloud yard as seen from the snowplow. George Landrock.

Several riders have joined the railroaders on the plow deck. Lee F. Hower.

#25 with a winter trip at Signal Butte. Lee F. Hower.

Mount Shasta and the top of the #25 shot from a snowplow. George Landrock.

Jack Jordan running the #25 on 28 January 1972. Robert M. Hanft.

#25 passing the Howard tank on 27 January 1973.

The last PLA winter trip on 26 January 1975. Roy Gabriel.

Excursions 1972-1976

The front of Nor-Cal's 1972 trip schedule.

The back of Nor-Cal's 1972 trip schedule.

#25 in the yard between runs.

#325 with an eastbound Burney trip. Note the headlight lens has been painted over. Lee F. Hower.

A train returning from Burney is seen here approaching Cayton Creek. Lee F. Hower.

Rolling up to the Bartle Tank to take on water. Lee. F Hower.

Advertising flyer for the trip of 14 June 1975.

Only a few diesel powered trips ran after the railroad withdrew the #25 from service in 1975, such as this July 4th trip run in 1976. George Landrock.