McCloud River Railroad: Freight Operations

The McCloud River Railroad originally existed to provide the transportation needs of the closely affiliated McCloud River Lumber Company, which in the early years primarily consisted of logs hauled from the woods east of McCloud to the sawmill and then lumber from the sawmill to the Southern Pacific Railroad interchange. The railroad's common carrier status allowed it to offer service to anyone, and the arrival of the railroad into McCloud sparked a number of smaller companies to build sawmills in the McCloud River drainage, most of which shipped their products out over the railroad. The railroad also handled a great deal of inbound commercial traffic, some of which terminated in McCloud but much of which was transloaded onto wagons for delivery to customers in the vast territory to the east.

The railroad's role as a freight hauler expanded as the years progressed. In 1931, the new connection with the Great Northern and Western Pacific railroads at Hambone created new freight routings. Newly built sawmills in Pondosa and Burney expanded the flow of outbound lumber traffic originating at Pondosa, and then the 1955 completion of the new line to Burney provided yet more traffic.

The combined output of the many sawmills operating along the line kept the freight operations busy until the late 1970s, after which point traffic fell off as sawmills closed. Inbound paper and other traffic handled through a reload in McCloud replaced some of that lost traffic until it too vanished after 1998. The McCloud Railway continued on until low carloadings caused the abandonment of the railroad east of McCloud in 2006.

The McCloud River Railroad and the McCloud Railway Company operated three basic jobs to keep the traffic flowing. Click on each for more information and pictures.