McCloud River Railroads
News Page

News updates relating to happenings on the McCloud railroads are posted here.

7 October 2023: New run of Athearn McCloud River SD38s

Athearn at the end of September announced another run SD38s in HO scale, including all three McCloud units in the brown scheme adopted in 1982. A PDF document detailing the announcement is on the Athearn website at the following link:

Athearn SD38 PDF

Athearn's stated goal is to get the shade of the brown paint more correct than the first run of these models released back in 2006, and the artwork is encouraging. However, the artwork, which has drawings of the #36 and #37, shows the #37 lettered McCloud Railway; hopefully this is corrected to McCloud River when the models go into production. The artwork also shows the rear beacon in the wrong location, outside the curved grab iron when it should be between it and the rear fan, and the radio antenna apparently mounted too far back on the top of the cab. Otherwise, I'm looking forward to these models when they arrive on store shelves, currently scheduled to happen in February 2025.

22 April 2023: New McCloud Models

Rivarossi and Walthers are bringing out new HO scale McCloud models in 2023.

First up from Walthers are their 72-foot centerbeam flatcars. Walthers has been making these cars since 1996 but never before lettered for McCloud River. Walthers is offering them in road numbers 9298, 9110, 9143, and 9229, all of which are correct for the 9100-9299 series of cars used on the McCloud Railway in the last decade or so of operations. The cars are due sometime in the Summer of 2023. Walthers has individual pages for each car, as follows:

MR 9298
MR 9110
MR 9143
MR 9229

Sometime likely later this year Hornby/Rivarossi is releasing another run of their two truck Heisler locomotive painted as McCloud River #3. Rivarossi has been making Heisler locomotives off an on since 1974 and made one run of MR #3 Heislers around 2003, which is profiled in the Models section of this website. This run will be use the same basic oversized models as all the prior runs but the lettering will be closer to what McCloud was actually using around the time the "real" #3 was on the roster. The models will also be available equipped with Sound and DCC or straight DC. As with the prior run Rivarossi is pairing the locomotive with skeleton log cars, this time two 2-car packs for a total of four road numbers, 1202 and 1204 in one pack and 1205 and 1207 in the other. Unfortunately these cars, while nice cars, are not correct for anything McCloud owned, and McCloud also did not have even numbered cars until really late in the log hauling era. Hornby Hobbies has pages on their US website for all four of these releases, they are also available for pre-order through Walthers, Trainworld, and a few other retailers.

MR Heisler #3- DC
MR Heisler #3- Sound/DCC Equipped
MR Log Cars 1202 and 1204
MR Log Cars 1205 and 1207

3 October 2021: Acquisition Exemption Rejected

Today marks the tenth anniversaty of Michael Williams purchasing the operating assetts of the McCloud Railway Company from the Forbis family. As noted on this page earlier this year, after several prompts Williams finally filed a verified notice of exemption with the Surface Transportation Board for after-the-fact authority to purchase the railroad on 29 December 2020. This filing became part of a series of procedural actions between Williams and the Surface Transportation Board in which the Board was seeking to untangle matters surrounding the timing of several railroads Williams purchased.

This past Wednesday (29 September 2021) the STB finally concluded several months of deliberations with a Decision rejecting three verified notices of exemption involving Williams, including the McCloud Railway and two transactions involving the Nevada Northern Railway in eastern Nevada. As the STB states in the decision, "...the Control and McCloud Notices were submitted under the class exemption procedures at 49 C.F.R. (Part) 1180.2(d)(2), which provide an expedited process for obtaining control authority under 49 U.S.C. (Part) 11323. These streamlined class exemption procedures are reserved for transactions involving routine, uncomplicated, and non-controversial matters." The STB explained the decision as follows:

"The three notices will be rejected because it has become apparent that the matters are sufficiently complicated and non-routine, making them inappropriate for consideration under the streamlined class exemption procedures of 49 C.F.R. (Parts) 1150.41 and 1180.2(d). Although the filings from Williams, S&S, and the City and NNRF have helped to clarify the discrepancies in the record with respect to S&S, the inconsistency across many dockets regarding the Line requires a more thorough review of all of these transactions than is possible under the notice process.

Furthermore, the Board has informed Williams more than once of its concerns regarding his acquisition of control of carriers without having received Board authority to do so. December 10 Decision, FD 36460 et al., slip op. at 2 n.3; January 26 Decision, FD 36460 et al., slip op. at 3-4. Under (Part) 11323, Board authority is required for acquisition of control of a rail carrier by a person that is not a rail carrier but that controls any number of rail carriers. 49 U.S.C. (Part) 11323(a)(5). The record now indicates that the acquisition of BG & CM was Williams' first rail carrier acquisition and thus did not require Board authorization. However, it is of significant concern that Williams subsequently acquired control of two rail carriers, Ozark and McCloud, without seeking or obtaining the required Board authority under (Part) 11323(a)(5).8 Although Williams now seeks after-the-fact authority for control of McCloud, he has made no such effort with respect to Ozark.

The circumstances here, particularly the unauthorized control of multiple railroads, require more scrutiny and development of a more complete record than afforded in the expedited class exemption process. Accordingly, the Acquisition, Control, and McCloud Notices will be rejected. Williams will be directed to file petitions for exemption or full applications to control Ozark and McCloud after the fact. Should S&S wish to acquire the Line or enter into any other transaction that would require Board authority, S&S will be directed to file a petition for exemption or full application for such authority. Finally, should Williams wish to continue in control of S&S upon its becoming a rail carrier, Williams will be directed to file a petition for exemption or full application for authority to do so.

Finally, the Board admonishes counsel for Williams, S&S, and McCloud and cautions counsel to take greater care to avoid incorrect or incomplete representations of matters of fact to the Board. The many conflicting statements with respect to S&S were not limited to the 2009 proceeding or to the Great Basin notice of exemption alone. See supra note 5. Greater attention to the status of the other railroads owned or controlled by Williams (as originally listed in the Control Notice) could have obviated the need for further filings and the needless expenditure of Board resources in this proceeding. The Board strongly advises counsel to be meticulous and thorough in any future proceedings before the Board.

The Decision concludes with a number of orders, one of which states "Williams is directed to file a petition for exemption or full application to control McCloud after the fact."

The full text of the Decision is available at the following link:

STB Decision Rejecting Acquisition Exemptions

25 July 2021: #37 moves, Special Use Authorization renewed, and a Video

Three main updates today.

First, within a week of the last update a month ago the U.S. Forest Service sent a letter to the Surface Transportation Board providing notice that the McCloud Railway has renewed the Special Use Authorizations covering parts of the remaining railroad on agency lands. The Authorizations now expire at the end of 2041. The letter, together with the Authorization, can be seen at the following link:

U.S. Forest Service Letter to STB

Second, the former McCloud River #37 has left South Dakota. This past Friday (23 July 2021) Union Pacific delivered the locomotive to the St. Maries River Railroad, which operates the former Milwaukee Road main line from Plummer Junction to St. Maries, Idaho. The St. Maries River has been a Williams Group/Midwest Pacific Rail Net & Logisitics property since 2010. The #37 rejoins the old Shasta Sunset Dinner Train cars, which Williams moved to St. Maries in anticipation of starting a dinner train operation that never materialized.

Finally, off road racer Kyle LeDuc filmed a commercial in conjunction with WD-40 lubricants in McCloud last summer, which included several shots filmed on or around the McCloud Railway shop and yards. The video is available on YouTube at the following link:

Kyle LeDuc and WD-40 Video filmed in McCloud

26 June 2021: Miscellaneous Updates

Five months have now passed with no further action or decisions issued by the Surface Transportation Board on the various proceedings involving the Michael Williams railroads, including his acquisition of the McCloud Railway Company. The only filing made to the Board in that period relating to McCloud is a copy of a letter dated 3 March 2021 the Shasta-Trinity National Forest mailed to the McCloud Railway acknowledging receipt of the signed applications to renew the expired Special Use Permits outlined in the last news update below and outlining the next steps in the renewal process. Link to the letter is:

U.S. Forest Service Letter to McCloud Railway

Meanwhile, the flurry of work in McCloud reported a year ago ended, with no further work done on the property since. BNSF also has apparently not yet acted on their plans to use the first several miles of their branch extending west from Lookout for car storage. Lastly, the former McCloud Railway #37 is set to be on the move again, as the State of South Dakota sold the railroad long operated by the Dakota Southern to Watco. Williams/Midwest Pacific retained the #37 and another locomotive; as this is being written the #37 has been lettered for the St. Maries River Railroad and is sitting in Mitchell, South Dakota, awaiting shipment to somewhere.

14 February 2021: Michael Williams- Expired Special Use Authorizations and a Decision

On 12 January 2021 the Shasta McCloud Management Unit of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest advised the Surface Transportation Board it had recieved Michael William's Acquisition and Control Exemption for the McCloud Railway referenced in the last update. The Forest Service advised the board in their letter that the McCloud Railway occupies two parcels of public land through Special Use Permits, specifically 1.95 acres near the Ski Park Highway crossing and a 2,500-foot long diversion ditch and sixty feet of track on the Big Canyon fill; that both permits had expired and neither Williams nor the Forbis Family had yet responded to agency's attempts to contact both parties about renewing the permits; that because the permits had expired the continued existence of the railroad on those parcels amounted to unauthorized occupancy of public lands; and that continued failure on the parts of both the Forbis Family and/or Williams to renew the permits and pay delinquent fees jeapardized the railroad's continued use of the U.S. Forest Service lands. The letter is available at the following link:

U.S. Forest Service Comment Letter on McCloud Railway Acquisition

On 26 January 2021 the STB issued a decision affecting a couple Acquisition and Control Exemptions Williams had filed on various railroads, including the McCloud Railway Company. Williams apparently has satisfied questions the Board raised in connection with the McCloud acquisition; however, the Board still has unanswered questiosns relating to several other railroads Williams has purchased through the years, and because of that the Decision holds their approval of the McCloud Railway acquision "in abeyance and the effective date of the exemption is postponed until further order of the Board." The Board directed Williams to file a further supplement addressing the Board's remaining questions by 15 February 2021.

The Decision is posted at the following link:

STB Decision Holding McCloud Railway Exemption in Abeyance

The STB references the letter from the U.S. Forest Service in the Decision but otherwise does not address the issues it raises.

14 January 2021: Michael Williams- Acquisition and Control Exemption- McCloud Railway Company

On 3 October 2011 Michael Williams signed agreements with Jeff Forbis to acquire all of the stock in the McCloud Railway Company and Shasta Sunset corporations. Jeff Forbis retained the real estate and buildings through the 4-Rails, Inc. company, which he leased to Michael Williams, along with an option to purchase. In the years since Mr. Williams has been in continued discussions with the Forbis family on that purchase.

Michael Williams did not initially file with the Surface Transportation Board for authorization to acquire the McCloud Railway. The STB first raised the subject in 2015 and then again in late 2020, both in connection with other acquisition transactions, which finally prompted Williams to file the Acquisition and Control Exemption on 29 December 2020 under STB Finance Docket 36474. Link to the filing, which includes the original purchase agreement, is available at the following link:

Michael Williams- Acquisition and Control Exemption- McCloud Railway Company

To date the STB has not responded to the filing.

Other brief news items are that no further work has been done on the tracks or equipment since the activity reported back in June; the McCloud Community Health Clinic decided against using the old depot site and sold it to the owners of the nearby company store building, and in November 2020 they purchased the old rectory building from the Catholic church and moved it to the former depot site.

24 June 2020: McCloud Railway revival(s) underway

The McCloud Railway property has been sitting idle for three and a half years since the Williams Group moved the #37 to the Dakota Southern, and it's been almost fifteen years since BNSF salvaged all but the easternmost five and a half miles or so of their former branch to Hambone. Both lines are about to see use for car storage, which looks to be a significant revenue source for some time to come.

Employees from at least a couple Williams Group companies arrived in McCloud within the last couple weeks. They have been busy sweeping out and otherwise cleaning up the shop, and work to return the #38 to operation is well under way. Meanwhile, another truck has been busy consolidating all of the various scrap piles that have been around the shop area for the last several years into one single pile behind the shop. A track crew and some equipment are due onto McCloud in the near future to start removing brush and effecting repairs to the McCloud to Mt. Shasta City line, plus yard tracks and other remaining spurs around McCloud. This work is being done in preparation for commercial railcar storage. It also would allow for the possible resumption of tourist railroad operations, and one of the employees on site mentioned there has been some thought within the organization of bringing the dinner train cars back from Idaho, but that the cars have deteriorated in the decade since the Shasta Sunset Dinner Train ceased operations and would need a lot of work before they could be again used. The McCloud Railway is coming back to life, at least in some form.

Meanwhile, the forest had been reclaiming the first five and a half miles of the old Lookout Line west from Lookout Junction. McCloud Railway operated the last Lookout Job at the end of 2003, and BNSF salvaged most of the line in late 2005. A major fire burned over several miles of the old branch just west of Lookout Junction a couple years ago but did surprisingly little damage to the line, especially given the amount of overgrowth over the tracks before the fire. BNSF has decided to use the remnants of the branch for car storage, and they sent some people out to inspect it last fall. A track gang arrived in Lookout Junction within the last week or two and has been busy cutting trees and other brush away from the tracks and scattering bundles of new ties along the line. The crews did remove the frogs and switch points from the balloon track switch, which really isn't needed for any car storage operation anyway.

Further updates will be posted as they become available.

8 April 2017: Former McCloud locomotives on the move

A couple of quick updates from the last news update below. First off, the #37 sat in Mt. Shasta City from October to near the end of February 2017, when Union Pacific finally piked it up. The original plan to take it to Klamath Falls for pickup by a southbound freight collapsed near Macdoel, California, when the front drawbar on the #37 pulled out. The locomotive spent a couple days in the spur at Dorris until another southbound freight picked it up and got it delivered to Roseville, where UP repaired the damage. The locomotive then moved east on March 22nd and arrived on the Dakota Southern Railroad by early April.

Meanwhile, the #19 started its journey to the Age of Steam Roundhouse. The Yreka Western and other crews got the #19 moved to Montague and loaded onto a flatcar by early March. Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad moved the car to their Union Pacific interchange at Black Butte, and a northbound freight picked it up in the early hours of 6 April. The locomotive arrived in Portland by the following day, where it is awaiting shipment east.

29 October 2016: It's been a busy month

A lot has happened in the last several weeks involving McCloud River subjects.

First off, back on October 6th the Siskiyou County Sheriff's office auctioned Yreka Western #19. Age of Steam Roundhouse of Sugar Creek, Ohio, beat out the Valley Railroad with a $400,000 bid and is presently arranging its transportation east, where it will join the former McCloud River #9 in their collection. Age of Steam has issued a press release on the sale:

Age of Steam Roundhouse Acquires Yreka Western Locomotive No. 19

Second, 4-Rails Inc. is in the process of conveying the old McCloud depot and office building site to the local community health clinic. The clinic wanted the railroad items removed from the site during the escrow process, resulting in Carlton Trucking from Burney being brought in to help clean items away. An adjacent landowner purchased the old depot car and the Howard water tank; a log loader pushed the generator car up to the bottom part of the yard; and Carlton took the kitchen car back to Burney with them after removing the other items. According to a few local sources the clinic plans to use the site to store emergency trailers and other equipment. This action will complicate any possible future return of passenger excursion operations.

Third, the long rumored removal of the McCloud River SD38s from the propery is finally happening. A mechanic from the Williams Group spent three weeks in McCloud working on the #37 and otherwise preparing the #38 and #36 to move with it. Williams intended to send all three to the Dakota Southern Railroad in South Dakota, a sister road in the Williams Group organization. UP inspected the three locomotives and accepted them for shipment, and a track crew from the Washington & Idaho Railroad spent a week going over the McCloud to Mt. Shasta City trackage, removing downed trees and effecting repairs on a few spots. All was ready by Thursday, 20 October, but the plans to take all three rapidly fell apart as the amount of vegetation covering the railhead in the McCloud yard inhibited the ability of the #37 to move much beyond itself, and in the end the crews had to call on a couple pieces of logging equipment to retrieve the locomotives from the mainline below the yard. The crews eventually put the #36 and #38 back in the shop and took the #37 alone to Mt. Shasta City to await shipment north and east. The operating plan was for the mechanic to return in the coming weeks to months to rebuild one or both of the other two so they can be shipped out as well. The does NOT mean that the Williams Group is giving up on the railroad, they still have some plans and ideas for the property, just to be carried out with power imported from elsewhere should those come to pass.

Lastly, The McCloud River Railroads is now out and on store shelves. Thank you to those who have bought a copy, and if you haven't yet please consider picking one up!

Various parts of this website have been updated to reflect the above changes.

17 September 2016: New Book and Trail Development

Signature Press is to publish in early October The McCloud River Railroads, a project upon which I've devoted a lot of my life over the last eleven years. I'm glad to see this one get done and on the streets.

Link to Signature Press's page giving details about the book:

The McCloud River Railroads

In other news, in late August the Great Shasta Rail Trail Association reached a major milestone in the on-going trail development work when the Associaton officially took title to the grade from the Shasta Land Trust. The Redding Record Searchlight carried a story about the event, which at least as of now is still available on their website:

80-mile rail trail reaches milestone

22 May 2016: Remembering Jeff Forbis

Jeff Forbis, president and owner of the McCloud Railway Company from 1992-2011 and formerly president of the McCloud River Railroad before that, passed away on May 13, 2016. Jeff is largely responsible for the railroad's survival for the last quarter century, and he will be missed.

The Mt. Shasta Herald has an obituary on their website at the following link:

Jeffrey Forbis Obituary

McCloud Rails has also added a page about his life and influence on the railroad at the following:

Remembering Jeff Forbis

30 January 2016: Great Shasta Rail Trail Opens

The Great Shasta Rail Trail held its grand opening ceremonies in McCloud and Burney on September 26th and 27th, 2015. The ceremonies marked the opening of the first 46 miles of trail, consisting of 13 miles from Pilgrim Creek Road to Bartle, 13 miles from Bartle to Hambone, and 11 miles from the old Burney yard to the Lake Britton bridge. Temporary signs have been placed at the various trailheads.

The Great Shasta Rail Trail Association has completed a Trail Concept Plan outlining the continued trail development, which projects completing the trail in 2017. The full plan is posted on their website at the following link:

Great Shasta Rail Trail Concept Plan

In other news, McCloud Partners continues developing the old sawmill site. Current tennants establishing operations in the old facilities includes McCloud Furniture Company and Design Horizens, and a water bottling plant is presently going through the environmental review and permitting processes.

27 August 2015: McCloud River #9 on the move and other developments

Former McCloud River locomotive #9 operated on the Kettle Moraine Scenic Railroad in North Lake, Wisconsin, from 1972 until the company shut down in 2001. The #9 remained in the North Lake enginehouse for fourteen years and was the periodic subject of rumors of sale to other operations. In late summer 2014, the Kettle Moraine sold the locomotive to the Age of Steam Roundhouse in Sugarcreek, Ohio, and the locomotive recently moved to its new home on the back of a couple trucks.

Age of steam operates a website at the following link, though as of this writing no information on the acquisition has yet been added to the site:

Age of Steam Roundhouse

In other news, the Mike Williams Group has consolidated all of its railroad holdings, including the McCloud Railway, underneath the umbrella of the Midwest Pacific Rail Net & Logistics company. Midwest has established a website providing information on their railroads and other operations at the following link:

Midwest Pacific Rail Net & Logistics

Work on this website has generally taken a back seat to many other aspects of my life; I have no intentions of giving it up, but it may only get updated when major events occur.

7 September 2014: McCloud sawmill site sold

On 30 June 2014, Nestle Waters North America sold the McCloud sawmill site to McCloud Partners, LLC, a new company with local ties to the local community. McCloud Partners has started environmental remediation work on the site and is starting looking for potential users. Union Pacific rail access is one of the site features the new owners list. McCloud Partners has established a website at the following link:

McCloud Partners Website

The Mt. Shasta Herald has carried a couple newspaper stories about the sale and work being done on the property, the most recent of which appeared a couple weeks ago now:

New Owners at Work on Mill Property in McCloud

It will be interesting to see what kind of users this site attracts, and if they are able to get an industrial user on a scale sufficient enough to warrant rail service.

In other news, the Great Shasta Rail Trail continues to progress. A local area tourist guide printed at the beginning of this past summer indicated transferring the property to the trail groups had been held up by the complexity of the legal descriptions and other issues. The groups at the time hoped to have two segments of the trail, a 5-mile long stretch near Burney and 10-12 miles near McCloud opened by the end of 2014. Completing the entire trail is currently projected to cost $2-$3 million and be a 6- to 12- year long process. The Great Shasta Rail Trail has established its own website for the project at:

Great Shasta Rail Trail

Lastly, the scrap crews mentioned in the last entry of this column wrapped up their work last fall, scrapping a total of about 22 railcars, mostly wreck damaged freight cars, old incentive per diem boxcars, and a few maintenance cars. Scrap steel from those efforts has been piled up around the shop, where it remains as of this writing.

28 July 2013: Salvage Work in McCloud

A salvage crew from the Mike Williams Group arrived in McCloud in the middle of July to start scrapping work. The SD38s, cabooses, Jordan spreader #1850, and the remaining passenger cars on the property are said to be safe, but the end may be near for most to all other equipment still in McCloud.

One exception to this are two of the railroad's ex-SP ballast hoppers. McCloud Railway operated a rare Yard & Hill job on or about July 24th to deliver the cars to the UP interchange in Mt. Shasta. No indications as of yet where they are headed or if the other two hoppers still in McCloud will be sent elsewhere or not.

The salvage crew expects to remain in McCloud through around mid-September, and the railroad may ship a lot of the scrap metal out by rail.

24 June 2013: Brief Update

The #37 remained derailed at Howard until the end of May, when crews from the Mike Williams Group rerailed the locomotive and returned it to the McCloud shop. Vandals had started to affect the unit during the two months it spent on the ground, as they had removed the batteries, some light bulbs, and a few other pieces. Someone also attempted to siphon fuel from the tank, resulting in some spillage requiring a hazardous material crew to clean up.

Summer is peak time for tourist railroads, and if you have the chance be sure to visit and ride behind the two ex- McCloud steamers in operation, the #18 on the Virginia & Truckee Railroad in Nevada and the #25 on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad in Oregon.

19 April 2013: Dinner Train Cars Depart, Tank Cars and a Derailment

It's been an interesting couple of months in McCloud since the last update.

First off, an update on equipment movements and transfers reported below. The Wallowa-Union Rail Authority cancelled the operating agreement they previously reached with the Sierra Nevada & Pacific Railroad, which had been organized by the owner of the Yreka Western. Only the ex-McCloud River caboose #025 had been moved from Yreka to Elgin, Oregon, prior to the agreement cancellation. The caboose remains in Elgin and is the subject of several legal actions. The #19 never left the Yreka shop, and it has been foreclosed upon by lienholders and may be moving on to another operation in the short term future.

Meanwhile, Mike Williams decided to move the remaining two dinner train cars from McCloud to the St. Maries River Railroad in Idaho. The three cars stranded by mechanical troubles in Portland last summer have been fixed and moved to St. Maries, and then in the closing months of 2012 Mike Williams hired the Yreka Western to repair the remaining two cars in McCloud and get them moved off the property. The Shasta and Siskiyou cars departed the property in December 2012. Newspaper stories in the St. Maries, Idaho, newspaper promise the start of excursions in the late spring/early summer of 2013 and also indicate at least one more car from McCloud may be transferred to the St. Maries River. The two ex-VIA Rail cars sold to the Yreka Western's owner never left Mt. Shasta City, and the YW crews moved them back to McCloud as part of the same train movements that delivered the dinner train cars to the UP interchange.

Second, in early February the Yreka Western owner apparently arranged to store a large number of loaded propane tank cars on the McCloud Railway. Union Pacific delivered the cars to the Mt. Shasta yards in mid-February 2013, which caused some concern amongst local residents and emergency response officials in the Mt. Shasta area. The Siskiyou Daily News reported on the cars, and some of the issues surrounding them, in the following story:

Information about train tankers is difficult to obtain

The YW crews did plow out the line between McCloud and Mt. Shasta, and then brought the #37 to Mt. Shasta, where they used it to switch the cars around. Plans to move the cars to McCloud were cut short when Valero, owner of the propane in the tank cars, decided to move them elsewhere, but not before six or seven of the cars had been moved to the siding at Pierce. The Siskiyou Daily News reported on the impending departure of the cars in early March:

Tank cars to soon be moved

Union Pacific did remove the tank cars from the Mt. Shasta yard by the weekend of March 9-10, leaving only the cars on the Pierce siding. On March 12, the YW crew used the #37 and a boxcar stored in McCloud to return those cars to Mt. Shasta. The crew left all of the cars in Mt. Shasta and were returning to McCloud when the #37 derailed on a broken rail at Howard. Initial efforts to rerail the locomotive failed, and the locomotive has suffered some apparent traction motor damage. The tank cars have been removed from the Mt. Shasta yard, though the boxcar remains, and if the #37 is truely unable to move under its own power, it is likely to remain where it is until another locomotive can be leased and brought onto the property, as the #37 was the only operable locomotive left on the railroad. Siskiyou Daily News also reported on the derailment in both news and video format:

McCloud Railway engine stranded on broken track

Derailed McCloud Railway engine (video)

Additional information will be presented as it becomes available.

15 November 2012: Al Brunello passes away

The McCloud community has lost another icon. Al Brunello, the long-time Chief Mechanical Officer for the railroads, passed away yesterday.

I cannot write as eloquently about Al as tributes posted by others elsewhere today. Al was a good and decent human being, a true leader on the railroad, and a wizard at his trade. Al also had a strong interest in the community and its history, and after his retirement he devoted time to several causes, including cleaning up the McCloud cemetery.

Al will be missed by all who knew and worked with him. My he rest in piece.

19 August 2012: Brief Updates

On August 9th and 10th, a Pacific Locomotive Association crew arrived in McCloud to prepare the fire car #1711 for shipment, load it on a truck, and send it out of McCloud. The car arrived on the Niles Canyon Railway in fine shape, and PLA has started restoration. A page with some pictures of the move has been set up in the Miscellaneous section of this website.

In other news, the other equipment moves detailed below have yet to occur. The three dinner train cars remain in Portland awaiting work, and the two ex-VIA Rail coaches remain in Mt. Shasta City (at least according to latest reports).

2 July 2012: Former McCloud Equipment On The Move

On 20 June 2012, the McCloud Railway operated a Yard & Hill job to deliver five now ex-McCloud passenger cars to the Union Pacific for delivery to their new homes. Cars shipped off the railroad included dinner train cars Trinity and Lassen, one of the two dance cars (MR #2901, never assigned a name), and the two ex-VIA Rail coaches.

The dinner train cars were to be delivered to the St. Maries River Railroad in time to be used on that road for a special excursion sponsored by the Milwaukee Road Historical Association as part of their 2012 convention; however, the cars only reached UP's Albina yard in Portland, OR, before a four-inch flat spot developed on one of the wheels, and since the movement instructions stipulated the cars were to be kept together UP set the three out at Portland so that repairs could be affected on the bad ordered car. St. Maries River instead operated abbreviated excursions using their cabooses. Various reports indicate the cars were to continue on to Lewistown, Idaho, following the excursion on the STMA, but as of this writing the cars remain in Portland.

The ex-VIA Rail coaches have been sold to Court Hammond, owner of the Yreka Western, for use on his Sierra Nevada & Pacific Railroad. The Wallowa-Union Rail Authority chose the SN&P to operate their Wallowa-Union Railroad, which extends from Elgin to Joseph in far northeastern Oregon. At the same time the coaches departed, Hammond also trucked Yreka Western's caboose #001 (formerly McCloud River #025) from Yreka to Elgin, also for use on the operation. The primary source of revenue on the Wallowa Union Railroad is the Eagle Cap Exursion Train, which maintains a website at the following link:

Eagle Cap Excursion Train website

July is looking to be a busy month for more equipment moves. Currently planned moves affecting current and former McCloud equipment that should happen this month are:

- Mike Williams Group plans to move diesels #36 and #38 out of McCloud, reported to be headed to the St. Maries River Railroad. Both locomotives are currently non-operational and in need of a lot of work.

- The Pacific Locomotive Association completed purchasing former McCloud fire car #1711, and currently plans to truck it out to the Niles Canyon Railway.

- Court Hammond plans to move much of the equipment in Yreka north to the SN&P operation, including ex-McCloud River steam locomotive #19. Latest reports tend to indicate the locomotive could see service in Oregon starting perhaps in August.

- Finally, the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroadpurchased former McCloud fire car #1713 along with the #25, and it has been spray painted as headed for Tillamook but remains in McCloud with no as yet set timetable for moving it.

The completion of these various moves will leave the #37 as the only operable locomotive remaining in McCloud. The Shasta and Siskiyou dinner train cars, along with the concession car and the second dance car, will remain in McCloud for possible future resumption of at least limited dinner train operations. The Mike Williams Group currently has no employees stationed permanently in McCloud, with train and track crews brought in from other operations as needed.

Finally, on 18 June 2012 the Surface Transportation Board issued a decision accepting Shasta Land Trust as the new party responsible for leading the trail efforts for the abandoned portion of the railroad east of McCloud. Direct link to the STB decision is:

STB Trail Decision

29 April 2012: Trail Filing with the STB

The trail agreement reported below is now another step closer to realization. Up until this point, Save Burney Falls has been the lead organization in the trail efforts; however, Shasta Land Trust signed the final agreement, and to help make the transfer official the Trust has now filed a request with the Surface Transportation Board to transfer the trail responsibilities from Save Burney Falls to them.

Direct link to the filing is:

Shasta Land Trust Filing

30 March 2012: Great Shasta Rail Trail Agreement Signed

Shasta Land Trust announced today that an agreement to convey the McCloud Railway right-of-way east of McCloud has been signed. The Trust has joined with Save Burney Falls, McCloud Local First Network, Volcanic Legacy Community Partnership, and McCloud Trail Association in these trail efforts.

Under the agreement, the McCloud Railway is donating two-thirds of value of the right-of-way to the Trust. The California Transportation Commission has awarded the Trust a $350,000 grant to help purchase the right-of-way, and additional funding and assistance has been provided by the McConnell Fund, Burney Chamber of Commerce, Shasta Regional Community Foundation, Shasta County Public Health, National Park Service, and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Additional fundraising to complete the purchase and finance conversion of the grade to a trail continues.

The trail, when completed, will provide outstanding recreational opportunities and will preserve the corridor for possible future conversion back to railroad use under railbanking provisions of the National Trails System Act.

More information can be found through the following links:

Save Burney Falls

Shasta Land Trust

McCloud Local First Network

Volcanic Legacy Community Partnership

McCloud Trail Association

Redding Record Searchlight Article about the agreement

Two other news items of note:

1. The Shasta Sunset Dinner Train website disappeared from the internet at the end of February.

2. The sale of fire car #1711 to Pacific Locomotive Association has been completed, and preparations to move the car are underway.

3. McCloud Rails has learned of the recent passing of Dennis Sullivan, a long-time friend of and major contributor to the site. Dennis built some fine models of McCloud steam locomotives that are featured on this site. He will be missed.

16 December 2011: Pacific Locomotive Association seeking donations to purchase McCloud fire car #1711

The Pacific Locomotive Association is currently raising funds to purchase McCloud Railway fire car #1711 and move it to the Niles Canyon Railway. The group currently needs approximately $2,000 to complete this transaction.

Fire car #1711 is a unique and important piece of McCloud history. The McCloud car shop built the car in July 1941; the frame started life as a boxcar the McCloud River Railroad purchased new from Pullman in 1914 and converted to a log flat in 1938, and the tank's origins are apparently lost to history, though it may have been salvaged from one of two oil tanks retired in 1940. The railroad originally equipped the car with the steam pump and other equipment salvaged from the wood fire car the #1711 replaced, with a Fairbanks-Morse diesel pump installed in 1951. The car served the McCloud River operations in many capacities through the years, including fire suppression and prevention and weed spraying. The McCloud Railway primarily used the car as an auxillary tender to support the steam excursion program from 1994 to 2001; the car has also appeared in almost all of the chartered photo freights. The #1711 would join one other former McCloud car at Niles Canyon, former Southern Pacific coach #1949, originally purchased by the McCloud River in 1966 and donated to the Pacific Locomotive Association in 1970.

Pacific Locomotive Association has prepared a flyer with details as to how those interested in contributing to this effort can do so; the flyer is available on McCloud Rails at the following link:

McCloud Fire Water Car Flyer

Additional details on the Pacific Locomotive Association, Inc. and the Niles Canyon Railway can be found at the following website:

Pacific Locomotive Association/Niles Canyon Railway website

23 October 2011: Railroad Sold

Various reports coming out of McCloud over the past 3-4 days indicate that the long-rumored sale of the McCloud Railway to the Mike Williams Group has finally been completed. The McCloud Railway joins a small family of other railroad and railroad-related companies in the Mike Williams organization, including Railroad Materials Salvage of Missouri and shortline railroads Bountiful Grain & Craig Mountain and St. Maries River railroads in Idaho; Ozark Valley and Iowa River railroads in Missouri; and the Dakota Southern Railroad in South Dakota. Earlier reports concerning the sale indicated the transaction would include only the track materials, locomotives, rolling stock, and other operating assetts, while 4-Rails, Inc. would retain all buildings and real estate, though some of that may be conveyed in a future transaction.

In preparation for the sale, the McCloud Railway resumed operations in the week of October 3-7 to move all of the dark blue centerbeams leased from GE Capital off of the line. The railroad moved the 53 or so cars stored on the railroad to Mt. Shasta City over a period of a two days. The cars are destined for the City of Prineville Railroad in central Oregon for continued storage.

Operations under the new ownership started late in the week of October 17-21 using the #37 and an engineer formerly with the Washington & Idaho Railroad. First order of business is to scrap almost all surplus equipment on the railroad, which likely includes locomotive #30 and most of the rolling stock on the property (maintenance-of-way cars and 17 boxcars, most of which had been cut down to gondolas as part of the removal of the railroad east of McCloud). The McCloud Railway has ordered approximately 100 gondolas from the UP to move the scrap off the line, and Railroad Materials Salvage has moved some personnel and equipment into McCloud to help with these efforts. The railroad operated a Yard & Hill Job on Thursday, 20 October, to bring the first eight gondolas into town; early the following day, three gondolas (at least one of which was loaded with scrap rails) ran away from the crews to the derail switch just south of the Tucci Street crossing, where they derailed but remained upright. Crews had the cars back on the rails by the following day.

Earlier reports were that the new ownership may resume at least limited operations of the Shasta Sunset Dinner Train and move at least some of the passenger equipment to the St. Maries River Railroad, but these plans appear to have changed as all passenger equipment is now for sale.

A new chapter in McCloud history is being opened.

4 October 2011: Miscellaneous Updates

This page last dealt with the status of the abandonment and trail use efforts over a year ago. Several developments have occurred since that need to be recorded.

Back in late December 2009, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) issued a decision implementing a 180-day trail period during which the McCloud Railway and Save Burney Falls (SBF), one of the principles in the on-going efforts to convert the railroad grade east of McCloud into a recreational trail, could continue their trail use negotiations. This negotiating period ended in late June 2010; as the deadline approached, SBF filed another request for interim trail use, stating that while the two parties had signed a letter of intent, they still needed more time to complete the various transaction details. McCloud Railway responded with an opposition statement on the grounds that no further extensions were needed because a trail use agreement had been reached. These various filings are outlined below.

On 5 August 2010, the STB responded to the cross filings with a decision denying SBF's request for an extension of the trail use negotiating period. Direct link to the decision is:

STB Decision Denying Trail Use Negotiating Period

Save Burney Falls has been joined by at least three other major partners in the trail efforts, and the name of the proposed trail has changed from the original "Burney Area Recreational Experience" trail to the "Great Shasta Rail Trail" to better reflect the expanded scope and nature of the project. Various engineering and environmental studies continued on through the summer of 2010 and into 2011.

On 7 March 2011, Save Burney Falls and McCloud Railway submitted a "Joint Request For A Notice Of Interim Trail Use Or Abandonment" to the STB to seek clarification of the legal status surrounding the proposed trail. Both parties had some doubt as to whether or not the Notice of Intent the parties reached on 17 June 2010 qualified as a trail use agreement. In the filing, the parties laid out the history of the case, and then spelled out an argument asking the STB to either (a) find the Letter of Intent a legal barrier to the McCloud Railway abandoning the line east of McCloud and issue another Notice of Interim Trail Use to ensure a legal transfer of the right-of-way could be made, or (b) for the STB to grant the railroad a time extension to file a notice consumating abandonment of the line so that the railroad did not have to go through the entire abandonment process again at a great cost of both public and private resources.

Direct link to the filing is:

Save Burney Falls/McCloud Railway Joint Filing

The STB finally responded to this filing with a decision issued on 4 October 2011. In this decision, the STB agrees with the arguments laid out by the parties in their joint filing and implements a new negotiating period of Interim Trail Use extending from 4 October 2011 to 1 April 2012. The decision allows the parties another 180 days in which to reach a final trail use agreement. If such an agreement is reached, then it can be implemented without any further action from the STB; if no agreement has been reached by the end of this new negotiating period, then the railroad may fully abandon the line. If a trail agreement is reached, then the grade will be turned into a trail subject to SBF's abilities to continue meeting financial and legal obligations associated with the right-of-way and a potential future return to rail service under the "rail banking" program.

Direct link to the decision is:

STB Decision Implementing Trail Use Negotiating Period

Other brief news items are:

1. The Bartle Tank finally succumbed to gravity in mid-July 2011. Parties associated with the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad moved in quickly to salvage the hardward from this tank, along with hardware from the previously collapsed tank at Hooper. The OCSR plans to incorporate the materials into a pair of new water tanks they plan to build on their operation. The tank bases remain in place along the McCloud.

2. The long-rumored sale of the railroad has still yet to be finalized. The Redding Record Searchlight carried a story about the potential sale and possible resumption of dinner train operations in their paper in mid-August. Jeff Forbis is quoted in the article as saying that the new owner would maintain the tracks and equipment, but would need someone to operate the dinner train, and that any resumption of that service would likely not occur for at least a year after the sale closed.

3. Finally, the two ex-McCloud steam locomotives #18 and #25 have turned in very successful years for their respective owners. Both the V&T and OCSR are well worth a visit.

30 March 2011: #25 Departs

Steam locomotive #25 left McCloud this morning on two trucks bound for its new home in Oregon. The locomotive is slated to start service on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad when their season opens in May.

The sale of the railroad is said to be set to become final next week. More details will follow as they become available.

13 February 2011: #25 Sold, Railroad Sale Imminent

This past Tuesday (8 Febaruary 2011) the McCloud Railway completed the sale of the #25 to the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad. Martin Hansen, representing the McCloud Railway, and the Oregon Coast Scenic officially announced the sale on various news outlets and discussion boards on Wednesday morning. The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad operates excursion and special occassion dinner trains based out of Garibaldi, OR, on the Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad. Oregon Coast is scheduled to move the #25 from McCloud to Garibaldi in March, and the locomotive is anticipated to start pulling excursion trains in May.

Link to Oregon Coast Scenic's website:

Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad

Martin Hansen also states in one of the discussion board threads that the sale of the railroad is "imminent", and the new owners have no interest in steam operations. There is already at least one tourist company offering a vacation package to McCloud for this coming May that is advertised to include a ride on the dinner train.

6 July 2010: Trail Agreement Reached?

On 28 December 2009, the Surface Transportation Board issued a decision (mentioned below) giving the McCloud Railway and Save Burney Falls 180 days to negotiate an agreement to turn the grade east of McCloud into a recreational trail. This period ended on 28 June 2010. On 24 June 2010, Save Burney Falls mailed a letter to the STB stating that the group had received a letter of intent from the McCloud Railway and had completed some initial engineering work and maintenance plans, but that the group needed some more time to conclude the negotiations and plans. The group formally requested another negotiating period, to run through December 2010.

Direct link to the filing is:

Save Burney Falls filing

Earlier today, the McCloud Railway (through its attorney) filed a response expressing opposition to the extension request, along with a statement that the "extension is not necessary nor appropriate because a trail use agreement between MRC and SBF was reached during the initial trail use negotiating period."

Direct link to the response is:

McCloud Railway Response

It appears as though the efforts to turn the grade into a trail under the railbanking program may be nearing completion, but it appears that more details still need to be worked out.

Otherwise, the McCloud Railway remains in a state of suspended animation, waiting for whatever comes next.

5 January 2010

Continued high demand for dinner train tickets has caused the Shasta Sunset Dinner Train to extend its life once again, this time through Saturday, 16 January 2010. Efforts to sell the remaining operation are on-going.

More information can be found on the dinner train's website at:

Shasta Sunset Dinner Train Homepage

30 December 2009: STB Issues Decision on Trail Use

As previously noted below, back on 3 December 2009 Save Burney Falls requested that the Surface Transportation Board issue a Notice of Interim Trail Use for the abandoned railroad east of McCloud, along with a willingness to assume financial responsibility for the grade and a request that the STB impose a 180-day public use condition prohibiting the railroad from altering or disposing of any part of the grade so that integrity for possible trail use could be maintained. McCloud Railway responded that the company is not opposed to negotiating for trail use or imposition of such a condition.

STB responded to these filings with a decision issued yesterday. First off, the agency denied SBF's request for a public use condition, as the agency already provided one lasting from November 2006 though May 2007, and the regulations prohibit any further periods. However, SBF's request for a trail use condition is granted. McCloud Railway and Save Burney Falls now have until 28 June 2010 to reach a trail use agreement. If no agreement can be reached, McCloud Railway can fully abandon the line. If a trail agreement is reached, then Save Burney Falls will assume all liabilities and responsibilities associated with the right-of-way, subject to SBF's continued ability to meet those obligations and a future return to rail use under the "railbanking" program.

Direct link to the decision is:

STB Decision on Trail Use

27 December 2009: Dinner Train Extended

The announcement that the Shasta Sunset Dinner Train will be closing down has created a lot of ridership demand. The dinner train added some additional runs in December and has extended its life one week to accommodate the demand. The last run of the dinner train has now been pushed back to Saturday, 9 January 2010.

More information can be found on the dinner train's website at:

Shasta Sunset Dinner Train Homepage

7 December 2009: Abandonment Updates and Other News

Articles appearing in all the major local newspapers have added some additional details to the pending closing of the Shasta Sunset Dinner Train. At this point, the only thing that is certain is that the operation will end under the current management following the New Year's Eve party train scheduled for 31 December 2009. Beyond that, the future is up in the air. Jeff Forbis is quoted in all articles that the entire remaining operation is for sale with an asking price of $5 million. Jeff indicates he has interested parties.

In other news, on 3 December 2009 McCloud Railway filed a notice with the STB that the company is now willing to negotiate with Save Burney Falls for potential trail use of the McCloud to Burney portion of the abandoned grade. Direct link to the filing is:

McCloud Railway filing

On the following day, STB received and posted a trail use request from Save Burney Falls covering the line from Burney to McCloud. SBF's filing contains several parts, namely (1) STB find the grade suitable for other public uses, in this case trail use, and (2) that STB issue an order preventing the McCloud Railway from disposing of or altering any portion of the grade so that it could not be used for a trail for a period of 180 days, and (3) the the line be railbanked, and (4) a statement of willingness to assume financial responsibility for the grade. The text of the filing includes the Bartle to Hambone line, but the maps attached to the filing do not appear to include it in the trail plans. Direct link to this filing is:

Save Burney Falls filing

Finally, on 7 December 2009 Save Burney Falls filed a Certificate of Service stating that the organization served its letter on the McCloud Railway and all other parties participating in the abandonment process, including Seaside Holdings, Oregon Pacific & Eastern, Pacific Unified Railroad, Dicalite, and legal counsel for the various parties. Direct link to the Certificate of Service is:

Save Burney Falls Certificate of Service

19 November 2009: Shasta Sunset Dinner Train Closing Down

The Redding Record Searchlight is reporting today that the Shasta Sunset Dinner Train will be ending all operations at the end of this year. The last train will be the New Year's Eve Party Train.

The newspaper article can be read at the following link:

Redding Record Searchlight Article

The Shasta Sunset Dinner Train also has a note about this on the front page of their website:

Shasta Sunset Dinner Train Homepage

McCloud Railway owner and president Jeff Forbis is quoted as saying he hopes someone comes in and buys the operation to keep it going. The ultimate fate of the remaining railroad is not spelled out, but as the dinner train is the last major revenue source the railroad has this may be the beginning of the end unless a buyer comes forward.

In other news:

1. After three and a half years, the railroad got hauled a freight load in the form of a large transformer on a depressed center flatcar. The railroad spotted the car at the bottom end of the yard for unloading by today (Thursday, 19 November).

2. The Surface Transportation Board issued a decision relating to the abandonment of the railroad east of McCloud on 9 November 2009. STB initially imposed a requirement that the railroad not alter the integrity of historical sites along the line until the consultations required under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act had been completed. The required consultations have now been completed, and STB issued this decision to reopen the abandonment proceedings and remove the historic consultation requirements.

Direct link to the decision document is:

Surface Transportation Board Decision

11 September 2009: Nestle Pulls Out

Both the Redding Record Searchlight and Mt. Shasta Herald newspapers are reporting that Nestle has cancelled all plans to build a water bottling plant in McCloud. Nestle announced the decision in a letter to the McCloud Community Services District and the people of McCloud dated 10 September 2009. The company will continue the hydrologic and other studies associated with the preparation of a new Environmental Impact Report, with the results to be made available to the citizens of McCloud upon their completion in the Fall of 2010. Nestle will also start appraisals of the sawmill property in preparation to sell it.

The Mt. Shasta Herald newspaper article, including the full text of the Nestle letter to McCloud, can be read at the following link:

Nestle Waters ends pursuit of McCloud facility

It will be interesting to see what effect this announcement has on the McCloud Railway. In a public meeting about the Nestle plans last October Jeff Forbis, McCloud Railway owner, stated "If I can no longer hope that Nestle would come in, the Dinner Train is a losing proposition." Nestle's plans to sell the sawmill facility may make it available to other industrial users, but if any do come in they would likely face years of permitting and environmental reviews.

Other news of note:

1. The salvage of the railroad east of McCloud continues with the removal of ties from the grade. The contractor has established several tie dumps, including Swobe, Bartle, near Pondosa, and the former Burney yard, where ties are stockpiled and then sorted.

2. Former McCloud River/McCloud Railway #18 arrived on the Virginia & Truckee Railroad at Mound House, Nevada, in late July. The public commission originally planned to use the locomotive in excursions between Mound House and Virginia City every Saturday through October, but upon arrival a mechanical inspection found that the locomotive needs a lot of work before it can run. The commission is using locomotives belonging to the private V&T operation until repairs can be made to the #18.

6 March 2009: Miscellaneous Notes

Miscellaneous notes from the last several months:

1. The #25 did operate two days of excursions over the first weekend of November 2008. The locomotive is now for sale, with an asking price of $650,000.

2. The Shasta Sunset Dinner Train operated through the New Years Eve Party Train, and then shut down until April. The railroad did run a snowplow extra in the days before the dinner train to clear accumulated snow from the right-of-way. The dinner train did plan a Valentines Day special, but cancelled it due to snow accumulations.

3. Nestle is attempting to restart negotiations with McCloud Community Services District over their plans to construct a water bottling plant, but so far the district has not been talking back. The various environmental studies funded by Nestle continue.

4. Finally, Save Burney Fall's efforts to turn a portion of the grade in the Burney area into the Burney Area Recreational Experience trail appear to have hit a major snag. Fruit Growers Supply Company, who owns some of the land the trail would cross, is opposing the trail and is showing no interest to let the trail cross its land. Unless some accomodations can be reached, the trail idea may be dead.

19 October 2008: #25 Operations and Continued Salvage Work

Steam locomotive #25 operated a chartered private photo freight over the weekend of October 11th and 12th. Some issues with the train brake system limited operations to the McCloud yard area and the line east of McCloud. Many fine photos of this trip have appeared on various railroad discussion boards. The #25 is to run again over the weekend of November 1st and 2nd, with the McCloud Railway itself operating the train on the 1st and the Pacific Locomotive Association operating the train on the 2nd.

The salvage work on the railroad continues. The scrapper is currently loading scrap rails at Bartle. The entire line east to Hambone has been removed, and the contractor appears to be working on the Bartle-Cayton section from both ends.

16 August 2008: Scrapping railroad begins, Nestle pulls out

Mathison Railroad Services of Spencer, Nebraska, started the job of scrapping the line east of McCloud during the week of 21 July. By the first days of August the company had completed most of the job of removing the Sierra branch and had started pulling rails in the Burney yard. Reports indicate the contractor will remove the railroad at the rate of two and a half miles a day, with the entire railroad east of McCloud to be picked up. These reports also indicate that the salvage work will include removing both of the big bridges on the line, over Lake Britton and Highway 89.

In other news, the proposed McCloud water bottling plant saga has taken some interesting turns. During the last week of July the California Attorney General mailed a letter to Nestle calling the Environmental Impact Report completed in the summer of 2006 "fundamentally and basically inadequate". The letter further advised that the State of California would sue to stop the project if the EIR was not revised to consider the effects of the project on global warming. On 5 August 2008 Nestle Waters North America exercised an option in their contract with the McCloud Community Services District allowing the company to opt out of the contract on or before 1 October 2008 without penalties. MCSD responded on 11 August 2008 by passing a motion ceasing all further discussions with Nestle. Nestle is continuing to sponsor a series of comprehensive studies of the McCloud River watershed, with public meetings addressing the results of those studies scheduled to start in September 2008. Nestle also has said that it will seek a new contract with MCSD for a much smaller plant, contingent on the completion of the baseline watershed studies.

1 July 2008: #25 to run again, McCloud Railway celebrates a birthday

Martin Hansen of Bend, Oregon, who has organized several McCloud steam trips for photographers over the past several years, announced yesterday that he has reached an agreement with the McCloud Railway to operate one more special over the road sometime this coming fall. The #25 will be returned back to its original appearance for this event, which will be open to only a small number of people on a strict first come, first serve basis. This event will very likely be the last time a steam engine operates on the McCloud railroads, as the McCloud Railway will start efforts to sell the #25 after the trip. The full announcements can be found on the discussion boards at

In other news, today marks the 16th birthday of the McCloud Railway Company. Happy Birthday!

17 May 2008: Nestle scales back and other news

The first five months of 2008 have come and are almost gone. The winter dropped a lot of snow in the McCloud country. The Shasta Sunset Dinner Train is more than holding its own by all accounts and is poised for a busy 2008 season. Let us hope that the high fuel prices it looks like we are due for this summer don't hamper ridership too much.

News items of note are:

1. This past Monday morning (12 May 2008) Nestle Waters North America issued a news release stating that the company is substantially scaling back plans for their proposed water bottling plant in McCloud. The original plans called for a one million square foot plant generating approximately 300 truck loads per day. Nestle now states that increasing fuel and material costs and the completion of another new Nestle plant in Colorado makes the original proposed size of the McCloud plant uneconomical to the company, and they will be seeking a 60% reduction in both the size and production of the plant. The revision will require ammending the water purchase contract currently in place between Nestle and the McCloud Community Services District. Opponents of the plant are viewing the news with guarded optomism, while project proponents see this act as a major setback for the community. The McCloud Railway has been actively working to get traffic from the plant once it is built, and it will be interesting to see what effect these changing plans will have on those efforts.

2. The abandonment process for the line east of McCloud continues to progress. There has been a steady exchange of letters across the Surface Transportation Board website that tend to indicate a tug-of-war of sorts going on between the railroad, the STB, the California State Historic Preservation Officer, and the two national forests the railroad crosses.

The letters start with a transmittal letter the McCloud Railway sent to the Surface Transportation Board along with the cultural resources report prepared by the railroad's contractor:

McCloud Railway transmittal letter

In mid-November the California State Historic Preservation officer responded to some of the recommendations made in the cultural resources report. The state partially agrees with the findings and conclusions of the report, but at the same time does not support some of the conclusions unless some assurances can be given that certain historical resources could be preserved or protected following the abandonment.

State Historic Preservation Officer letter

The Forest Service provided an e-mail on 20 November responding to a fax the STB sent the agency. The e-mail mentions the forest service is considering its next steps and is encouraging the railroad to enter into an abandonment and restoration plan.

Forest Service e-mail

The same day the California State Historic Preservation Officer responded with an e-mail that deals mostly with proceedural issues surrounding the recordation and/or preservation of historic resources.

California State Historic Preservation Officer e-mail

On 30 November the Forest Service sent a fax to the STB that included a copy of the special use permit that allows the McCloud Railway to exist on USFS lands. The cover page highlighted some of the clauses of the permit dealing with the railroad's roles and responsibilities should the line cease operation.

Forest Service fax

On 4 December another exchange of e-mails took place. Tom McFarland, the McCloud Railway's attorney, provided a response to some of the proceedural issues discussed between the various involved agencies. Part of the e-mail also discusses some of the administrative boundary lines of the various agencies.

Tom McFarland e-mail

On 19 December the Shasta-Trinity National Forest delivered a strongly worded letter to the California State Historic Preservation Officer stating that some of the agreements, recommendations, and actions of the state agency directly conflicted with established law and policy and that the Forest Service had been left out of some actions it should have been involved in.

Shasta-Trinity National Forest letter

Finally, On 13 March 2008 the Lassen National Forest provided a letter of its own directly to the McCloud Railway dealing with development of a Removal and Restoration plan for the rail line following abandonment. The letter states that the rails and ties constitute the main improvements that must be removed, with hazardous materials and stream crossing removals listed as possible issues that need to be addressed.

Lassen National Forest letter

3. Save Burney Falls continues to work towards their goal of converting a portion of the railroad grade in and around the Burney area into a recreational trail. The organization has named the trail the B.A.R.E. Trail, which stands for "Burney Area Recreational Experience". Save Burney Falls has established a website about the organization and their plans:

Save Burney Falls website

Save Burney Falls will be holding a work event on 7 June 2008 that coincides with National Trails Day. The day will be spent working on the Pacific Crest Trail, which will include a look at where the PCT intersects with the proposed B.A.R.E. trail. Those interested in the project should meet at the Burney Falls Trailer Resort at the intersection of Highway 89 and Clark Creek Road at 9:00 a.m. on the morning of the 7th.

4. Lastly, the annual multimedia Winterail show in Stockton, CA, this past March featured two shows about the McCloud railroads, one by Travis Berryman and the second by Phil Brahms. Both shows featured exceptional photography, with the show by Travis summing up what the railroad meant to so many people. Thanks to Travis and Phil for putting their shows together.

16 December 2007: New book about the McCloud railroads

In February 2007 Arcadia Publishing Company approached the operator of this website asking if I would be willing to put together a book about the McCloud railroads for part of their Images of Rail series. The result is the new book Rails Around McCloud, due to be released on Monday, 14 January 2008. The book features over 220 photographs covering the complete history of the McCloud railroads. The book will not be available directly from the publisher until the release date, but multiple book retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ron's Books, and others are accepting advance reservations. The book ISBN is 978-0-7385-5564-5, and retail price is $19.99.

Arcadia Publishing Company webpage about this book.

10 November 2007: #25 Returns to Service and other Miscellaneous News Items

In late summer 2007, a movie production company started work on the #25. The locomotive had resided in the back of the McCloud shop building since February 2001. Various proposals for using the locomotive elsewhere had come and gone with no results. This time appeared to be different. The movie company had plans to use the locomotive for a movie shoot in New Mexico. Work crews performed all the work needed to certify the boiler for 15 years of operation, with some extensive cosmetic modifications made to prepare the locomotive for the movie shoot. However, as the work wrapped up the movie people decided to use another steam locomotive instead. The #25 is operable again, but any plans to use it are on hold pending further developments. Photographs of the locomotive in its new appearence can be found at the following link:

#25 in Movie Paint

Other items of note are:

- The annual Pumpkin Trains ran throughout October. The excursions featured a train ride from McCloud to a pumpkin patch set up at Signal Butte, where the riders would get off long enough to pick a pumpkin before returning to McCloud. The railroad donated proceeds from some of the excursions- amounting to $4,700- to the local cancer treatment center.

- The McCloud Railway delivered copies of the Historical Resources report to the Surface Transportation Board a few months ago, which satisfied one of the requirements laid down by the board before any salvage activites could commence.

- Finally, Lee Christopher's McCloud Railway layout that is featured in this site in the subject of a feature article in Scale Rails, the official publication of the National Model Railroad Association. The article is very well done and is profusely illustrated. Check it out if you can, and those who are NMRA members will definately want to plan on visiting his layout during the 2008 NMRA national meetings to be held in Anaheim, California.

17 August 2007: Miscellaneous News Items- Summer 2007

In 1963 the McCloud River Railroad sold caboose #034 to Jim Nile and family for $25, which included delivery to any point on the railroad. The caboose spent the next four and a half decades in the woods about a mile and a half off of the Mt. Shasta line near Milepost 10. The Great Western Railroad Museum purchased the car in 1983, with title passing to the Shasta-Cascade Rail Preservation Society around 2003. SCRPS could not bring plans to move the car to join the rest of their growing collection in Redding to fruition. SCRPS then passed the car onto the Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture. On 7 June 2007 the new owners moved the car to some property the group owns near the Black Butte Yard. The group maintains a website about their activities, which includes a section on the caboose.

Direct link to Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture:

Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture website

Other items of note are:

- There have been no visual indications that any salvage work has started on the trackage east of McCloud. The railroad's authority to abandon the trackage expires in a little shy of two months; however, the STB has been generous in handing out time extensions in the past, and the average time elapse between abandonment permission and salvage on other nearby cases has averaged at least two years.

- Union Pacific is slowly recalling the refrigerator cars stored on the railroad since the Fall of 2006. The cars are leaving the railroad in roughly 20-car sets. The additional cars the railroad apparently stood to receive in the spring have apparently not arrived.

- The Shasta Sunset Dinner Train and Signal Butte Excursion Trains continue to operate on their regular weekend schedules.

- Lastly, Nestle Waters and the Siskiyou County Planning Department announced within the last two weeks that the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed water bottling plant in McCloud will be recirculated at an unspecified future date. The parties first circulated the EIR in August and September of 2006. The news releases state that the public comments received will be incorporated into the recirculated document. It will be interesting to see how the document changes, especially in the transportation arena. The original document described a plant served entirely by trucks, with rail service only mentioned as one possible way to ship out materials salvaged from the old sawmill buildings as they are demolished. The EIR did analyze one alternative that involved using rail service to ship finished product out, but the alternative was structured in such a way that prejudged any resulting analysis against it. The railroad has been talking with Nestle to try to find a way to use rail service; it will be interesting to see if these discussions result in any changes. The only thing for sure now is that the environmental impacts review process will significantly delay the project.

15 May 2007: Public Use Conditions Lifted and Other Observations

A Burney based organization named Save Burney Falls petitioned at several points during the abandonment process to have the portion of the McCloud Railway's right-of-way from roughly Berry to Lake Britton held for possible trail use. After Seaside Holdings backed out the Surface Transportation Board imposed a public use condition as part of the decision granting the McCloud Railway abandonment authority. The public use condition allowed the railroad to remove track materials but prevented it from altering or disposing of any part of the involved right-of-way for a 180-day period.

The 180 day period ends on 19 May 2007. On 16 April 2007 Save Burney Falls asked the STB to extend the Public Use Condition past that date. The McCloud Railway responded that the regulations prevented any extentions beyond the 180 days. The STB issued a decision today agreeing with the McCloud Railway. The Public Use Condition will terminate on 19 May 2007; however, the STB notes that this decision does not prevent Save Burney Falls and the McCloud Railway from reaching any private agreements on any future uses of the involved right-of-way.

Direct link to the Decision:

STB Decision Ending Public Use Condition

Other short news items involving the railroad are:

- The refrigerator cars that arrived last fall are still on the property. They fill much of the Mt. Shasta yard, portions of the McCloud yard, the siding at Pierce, much of the run-around east of McCloud, and then the mainline from the run-around eastward to the Esperanza crossing, with a break only at Pilgrim Creek Road. The Yreka Western also has a number of these cars in storage. Union Pacific wants to send many additional cars to the railroad for storage; they will apparently start filling the line to Hambone.

- The Shasta Sunset Dinner Train is rapidly gearing up for summer operations. The first Friday night train of the season went with two full cars on Friday 4 May. The train on the night of the 5th had three full cars, and the train on the night of the 11th went with all four cars filled, including a large tour bus.

- Lastly, the railroad had a tie gang out replacing a lot of ties. They have been primarily working on the mainline from the depot area north through the McCloud yard, with some additional work on the hill.

10 April 2007: #18 Leaves McCloud

The #18 left McCloud for what could be the last time this morning, loaded on a pair of lowboy trucks. The locomotive is destined either for Oakdale, CA, or Woodland, CA, where it will operate this spring and summer for the Sierra Railroad. The #18 is due to operate on those two excursion trains for the next several years, at which time it will be moved again to Nevada.

Please see the following link for photos:

18 Departing McCloud

14 March 2007: #18 to operate on the Sierra Railroad

In the last months of 2004 the McCloud Railway sold the #18 to the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad. The Commission is in the process of rebuilding the fabled V&T between Gold Hill and Carson City, and they purchased the locomotive for use on that railroad once it opens. Late last year the Commission hired the Sierra Railroad to operate the line for them. The Sierra owns and operates a railroad running from Oakdale, CA, eastward into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range. The company also owns two other railroads, the former Yolo Shortline between West Sacramento and Woodland and the California Western between Willits and Fort Bragg. The company offers passenger excursions on all three railroads, with the Sierra home to the Golden Sunset Dinner Train.

This past Monday the Commission agreed to a plan proposed by the Sierra that will let them operate the #18 out of both Oakdale and Woodland for up to the next three years. The excursions are due to start by this coming Memorial Day. The #18 could be carrying a banner advertising the new V&T during its coming service on the Sierra. Tickets for the first runs should be available within the next month.

Appropriate web links:

Virginia & Truckee Reconstruction Commission Website

Sierra Railroad Website

23 January 2007: Letter of Concern about Abandonment, Refrigerator Cars

First off, McCloud Rails wishes everyone a very happy and prosperous new year!

Back on 9 December 2006 the Fall River Resource Conservation District sent a letter to the McCloud Railway, with copies also mailed to the STB and to W.M. Beatty & Associates, the firm that manages all timberlands still owned by the Walker family (Red River Lumber Company). The letter references the recent work carried out in 2004 to install newly designed culverts at the Bear Creek crossing just north of Obie. The fill that carries the railroad across the creek has completely washed out twice in recent years, once in 1986 and again in 1996. Both events sent enormous amounts of sediment downstream that caused a lot of water quality problems in the Fall River Valley. The letter reminds the McCloud Railway of its obligations to maintain the Bear Creek crossing under the terms of a July 2004 agreement between the railroad and the district; the district closes the letter by asking the McCloud Railway to provide its plans for maintaining these crossings in light of the planned abandonment. If no plans exist the District requests that the railroad completely remove the entire crossing and restore the site to pre-existing flood plain geometry as part of the abandonment process.

To date no additional filings or letters have been made available on this issue. Direct link to the District's letter is:

Fall River Resource Conservation District Letter

In other news, in mid- to late December the McCloud Railway became the temporary home for several hundred idled UPFE mechanized refrigerator cars. The Mt. Shasta City yard and Pierce Siding are full of these cars, with a little shy of 200 more filling the old mainline as far as the Pilgrim Creek Road crossing three miles east of McCloud.

21 November 2006: BNSF Consummates Lookout Line Abandonment

In late December 2005 the Surface Transportation Board issued a decision extending the consummation deadline for the abandonment of the Hambone-Lookout trackage from the last day of 2005 through 1 July 2006. In the last few days of June 2006 BNSF filed a consummation notice advising the STB that the company had completed the abandonment of the line from Hambone east to Milepost 6.5. BNSF applied for and got another time extension for the line between Lookout Junction and Milepost BH-6.5, with the new deadline falling at the end of 2006.

BNSF today filed a consumation notice advising the STB that the carrier has completed the abandonment process on the last 6.5 miles of this line. BNSF states that the line from Lookout Junction (milepost BH-0) to Milepost BH-5.80 will be left intact but re-classified as private industrial trackage.

Direct link to the Filing:

BNSF Consummation Notice

20 November 2006: STB Approves Seaside Withdrawal; McCloud Abandonment Approved

On 1 November 2006 Seaside Holdings sent a letter to the McCloud Railway stating that the company would not consumate the already approved purchase of the line east of McCloud. The McCloud Railway responded on 7 November with a request that the STB vacate all previous decisions that postponed the abandonment process and/or approved Seaside's various actions in the Offer of Financial Assistance process.

The STB responded today by issuing a decision accepting Seaside's withdrawal, terminating the Offer of Financial Assistance process, and re-instating all previous decisions authorizing the McCloud Railway to abandon the entire railroad east of McCloud. The railroad is now free to commence salvage activities, provided that the various consultation and cooperation requirements with various government agencies on such issues as relocating geodesic markers, avoiding impacts to threatened and endangered species, and preserving historical properties set forth in the previous decisions are met. The decision adds one more condition not in the earlier decisions; the railroad must retain those parts of the right-of-way included in Save Burney Fall's trail use requests- specifically the mainline from behind Carlton Trucking in Burney to Lake Britton, the McCloud leg of the Berry wye, and the short stretch of the Sierra branch from the wye to the Black Ranch Road crossing- intact for the next 180 days to allow for local governments or organizations to negotiate for trail use. Otherwise the McCloud Railway now has one year to salvage the track materials and fulfill all other requirements for abandonment, provided that the STB does not stay or vacate today's decision at a later date.

It appears that the end is at hand for the railroad east of McCloud.

Direct link to the Decision:

STB Decision Terminating OFA Process and Approving Abandonment

7 November 2006: Seaside Backing Out?

In early September Seaside Holdings of West Palm Beach, FL, used the Offer of Financial Assistance (OFA) process to force the McCloud Railway Company to sell the part of the railroad up for abandonment (the entire railroad east of McCloud) to them. The Surface Transportation Board issued a decision on 12 September 2006 that set aside the board's earlier decision issued on 14 October 2005 authorizing the abandonment and approved the sale of the railroad to Seaside.

On 1 November 2006 Seaside Holdings apparently sent a letter to the McCloud Railway and to the STB stating that the company would not consumate the purchase. The McCloud Railway responded today by filing a motion with the STB requesting that the board vacate the 12 September decision approving the sale and re-instate the October 2005 decision approving the abandonment. The board will likely take several days to rule on this request.

Direct link to the filing:

McCloud Railway Motion/Petition/Request

29 October 2006: Athearn Announces McCloud River SD38's

Model railroad manufacturer Athearn announced earlier this month that it will be releasing its HO scale SD38 diesel in the original McCloud River Railroad paint scheme. As with the McCloud Railway SD38's released by the company last year all three numbers will be available. The models are due to be on store shelves in March 2007, and suggested retail price is $99.98 each.
Direct link to the product detail page:

Athearn Product Detail Page- MR #36

13 September 2006: STB Approves Sale to Seaside

The Surface Transportation Board issued a decision yesterday dismissing the McCloud Railway Company's abandonment of the trackage east of McCloud and approving the sale of those lines to Seaside Holdings. This decision ends the abandonment process, at least for the moment, and assures that the trackage will remain in place for at least the next two years. The two parties have ninety days to close the deal now, which falls in the first week or two of December.

A new chapter is about to be written in the McCloud's history: time will tell what that chapter looks like.

Direct link to the Decision:

STB Decision Approving Sale

6 September 2006: Seaside Filing Posted

The Surface Transportation Board posted Seaside's filing to their website today. Seaside has indeed accepted the sale terms set by the Board. This filing means that within the next 90 days Seaside must give the McCloud Railway either cash or a certified check in the amount of $3,466,313. The McCloud Railway must then convery the line to be abandoned- everything east of a point 3 miles east of McCloud- to Seaside via a quitclaim deed. Seaside must then provide common carrier service on the line for the next two years- whether they actually move anything or not remains to be seen.

The McCloud Railway will remain in business as a common carrier on the line between Mt. Shasta City and the new point of ownership change. If Seaside does operate trains there will be a lot of details to work out, with negotiating how the two companies are going to co-exist topping the list. The next several months are going to get interesting, as this issues sorts itself out.

Direct link to the Filing:

Seaside Acceptance of Sale Terms Document

5 September 2006: Seaside Accepts Terms and Conditions

On 25 August the Surface Transportation Board issued a decision setting the minimum purchase price for the McCloud Railway trackage up for abandonment (the entire railroad east of McCloud) at $3,514,883. Under the terms of the decision Seaside had ten days to either accept or reject those sale terms.

It appears that Seaside has accepted those sale terms. There is a filing today in front of the STB titled "OFA- Agreement Reached/Acceptence of Terms". The STB does not have the right document attached to this file yet, so we will have to wait for another day or so until they get that matter straightened out. If this filing does what the title says it does then the McCloud Railway is obligated to sell, and Seaside is obligated to buy, the trackage up for abandonment at the price set by the STB. The sale must be closed within the next 90 days.

A link to the Seaside filing and more details will be added as they becomes avaiable.

31 August 2006: Nestle Waters Draft Environmental Impact Report

Back in mid-July the Siskiyou County Planning Department released the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed Nestle Waters North America water bottling plant to be located in McCloud. This plant has been the source of much contention and a good amount of litigation since Nestle announced plans to build it back in 2004. A judge threw out the contract between Nestle and the McCloud Community Services District last year on the grounds that the contract itself required completion of an EIR report. This decision is currently on appeal to the California Supreme Court.

McCloud Rails staff finally had an opportunity to review parts of this document today. It is a massive document. The real interesting part of this document for us- and probably for those who view this website- is the parts dealing with the transportation needs of the plant. The EIR analyzes a preferred alternative that describes a plant with no rail service at all- all shipping needs of the plant would be handled by trucks. The only part of the project proposal that even mentions rail service is a passage or two that briefly describes rail as a possible means to ship some of the materials removed from the site. Otherwise this plant will be a truck only show.

The EIR does provide some analysis for an alternative using rail service to the maximum extent possible in a separate chapter near the back of the document. The Draft EIR dismisses outright loading cars in McCloud to be interchanged to the Union Pacific, stating that both Nestle and the railroad industry discourage this kind of traffic because railroads cannot provide the kind of service that would meet the timelines Nestle feels it is bound by. However, there is a footnote to this saying that such traffic may become possible if Union Pacific can promise a certain level of service, but because no deals are in place this type of traffic is not analyzed in the EIR. The analysis using rail service in the Draft EIR envisions the railroad being used in one of two ways- either loading boxcars at the plant in McCloud to be reloaded onto trucks in Mount Shasta City or loading truck trailers at the plant in McCloud that are shipped by rail to Mount Shasta City, where they would be taken off the flatcars and placed on the highways there. The analysis concludes that using rail service in this way would generally be more harmful to the environment than trucking the products directly from McCloud.

The Siskiyou County Planning Department is still accepting written comments on this Draft EIR through 5 p.m. on 12 September 2006. They have much of this EIR document posted on their website, and a lot of it makes for some very interesting reading. If anyone chooses to go through it...note that this website is used a a reference in at least one chapter.

Direct link to the Nestle Draft EIR website:

Nestle Waters Draft EIR

Note that all of the chapters are in Adobe Acrobat, and some of them are quite large (30-40 MB range). Those wishing to view some of the files on dial-up better have some time on their hands.

25 August 2006: STB Sets Sale Terms

The Surface Transportation Board today issued a decision setting sale terms and conditions for a possible forced sale of the railroad east of McCloud to Seaside Holdings. In previous filings Seaside Holdings asked the STB to set the sale price at $1,288,955, all of which came from the track materials. The McCloud Railway asked the STB to dismiss Seaside's Offer of Financial Assistance as not being in good faith, and that if the OFA is not dismissed that the sale price should be set at $3,514,883. The McCloud Railway based these figures on $3,223,464 for track materials and $291,419 for land.

The Surface Transportation Board today accepted the McCloud Railway's Net Liquidation Value figure of $3,514,883 for the track materials. The Board found that Seaside Holdings did not provide a sufficient amount of evidence that the land has not value, and in absence of any contesting evidence the STB placed the value of the land at $242,849. This is the base figure that the McCloud Railway provided and is based on a 2001 appraisal of the subject parcels. The railroad inflated these figure 20% to reach the land value claimed in the Net Liquidation Value figures; however, the STB found that the McCloud Railway provided no evidence to back up the inflation, and as a result the board set the price for the land at the 2001 appraised values.

The STB has set the purchase price for the railroad east of McCloud at $3,466,313. Seaside now has until 5 September 2006 to accept or reject these terms. If Seaside accepts the terms then they must pay this amount to the McCloud Railway in either cash or certified check, with the sale to be closed within the next 90 days. MCR would then convey the property to Seaside as a quitclaim deed. Seaside would then have to provide common carrier service over the line for the next two years before it can abandon the line or sell it back to the McCloud Railway; they must operate it for five years before they can sell it to anyone else. If Seaside does not accept these terms they can either withdraw their offer or let this 10 day period lapse without filing anything accepting the terms; if that happens then the STB will issue a decision on or before 14 September 2006 vacating the previous decisions postponing the abandonment authorization effective date, and McCloud Railway will be almost free to start salvage activities.

Direct link to the Decision:

STB Decision Setting Sale Terms

7 August 2006: Seaside Files Rebuttal Argument

The Surface Transportation Board posted the documents filed by Seaside Holdings in the McCloud Railway abandonment case today. The regulations governing the Offer of Financial Assistance (OFA) process generally prohibit a party who has asked the STB to set sale conditions from filing a response to whatever response the opposing party files. In this case Seaside Holdings seeks to provide a rebuttal to some of the statements made by the McCloud Railway Company in their reply to Seaside's Request for the STB to set sale conditions. The first of the two filings Seaside Holdings submitted to the board is a Petition for Leave to File a Reply, which asks the board to accept the rebuttal so that the company can respond to the "baseless and irresponsible charges against Seaside" and "permit the Board to have an accurage and complete record upon which to render its decision".

Direct link to the Filing:

Seaside Holdings Petition

The other document Seaside filed is a rebuttal statement to the McCloud Railway filing of 31 July. The McCloud Railway stated its belief in the filing that Seaside Holdings was nothing more than a front for A&K Railroad Materials, and that the company is abusing the OFA process by trying to obtain the line for a price substantially less than what they would otherwise have to pay on a competative open market. Seaside responds by saying that the McCloud Railway missed the boat by not appealing the STB decision finding the company a financially responsible party. Seaside goes on to state that the company has no connections in any way with A&K Railroad Materials, and that the relationship between the two entities goes only as far as Seaside hiring A&K Railroad Materials to do the surveys and valuations that provided the basis for their net liquidation value figures. Seaside states that if they are viewed as straw men for A&K Railroad Materials then the McCloud Railway should be viewed as a stalking horse for Railroad Materials Salvage. Seaside includes affadavites completed by the President of Seaside and the Chairman of A&K Railroad Materials stating that there is no connections between the companies. Seaside states that it has not contacted any of the shippers on the McCloud because they do not see the need to do so, as Sierra Pacific Industries provided an average of 1,466 carloads of lumber and woodchips annually from 2002-2004. Seaside also states that the company has every intention of providing service to all of the shippers on the railroad for at least two years, and longer if they find it commercially reasonable to do so. Seaside also dismisses the argument presented by the McCloud Railway about the owners lacking any railroad experience by stating the the STB has never required anybody tendering OFA's or purchasing rail lines to have previous experience. What Seaside does not do in this filing is to make any further arguments either for the figures they have previously given in their previous filings or against any of the revised figures provided by the McCloud Railway.

Direct link to the Filing:

Seaside Holdings Rebuttal Argument

It appears that this case is now in the hands of the STB. According to the regulations they have until roughly 25 August 2006 to issue a decision setting sale terms. Seaside then will have ten days to accept or reject those terms.

6 August 2006: McCloud Railway Responds

When a financially responsible party files a formal Offer of Financial Assistance, the Surface Transportation Board gives the offeror and the carrier seeking the abandonment 30 days to negotiate with each other. At any point within that 30 day period either party can ask the STB to set terms for a sale, with the condition that the purchase price cannot be less than the Net Liquidation Value (NLV) for the line subject to abandonment.

The McCloud Railway had previously determined the NLV of the trackage and land east of McCloud to be $4,363,784. Seaside eventually came to its own conclusion that the NLV should be $1,288,955.00. Seaside went into some detail in their filing on 26 July explaning why they believed the McCloud figures are too high and why the STB should set the price at their figures.

The McCloud Railway filed a response brief on 31 July 2006. The McCloud Railway asks that the STB set aside Seaside Holding's OFA as not being a valid document. The McCloud Railway states its belief that Seaside Holdings has no intentions of operating the line at all, and that the company is nothing more than a tool used by A&K Railroad Materials to obtain the railroad for far less than what they would otherwise pay for the track materials on the open market. The railroad points to several factors that support this assertion, with the chief ones being that the principles behind Seaside Holdings have no railroading background or experience, that the company has never contacted any of the McCloud shippers about generating carloads, that Seaside has made no efforts to find out anything about the railroad, and that the company relied on significantly undervalued scrap prices provided by A&K. The McCloud Railway states its belief that the OFA filed by Seaside is an abuse of the OFA process and will cause harm to the continued operations of the rest of the McCloud system, with those harms including loss of lands that the company intends to trade with the U.S. Forest Service to consolidate land ownership between the railroad and the agency and the loss of track materials that the railroad will need to make planned improvements and investments in the remaining railroad. The McCloud asks that if the OFA is accepted that it be set no lower than $3,514,883. This figure represents the values of the land and the track materials and is based on appraisals of the land and actual purchase offers from various scrapping firms for the ties, rails, and other track materials.

The McCloud Railway supplies some documentation to support these statements, including a letter from Sierra Pacific Industries stating that no one from Seaside has contacted the company about re-establishing rail service to the Burney mill. The salvage firm that the McCloud Railway has retained also supplies many documents supporting the NLV calculations, many of which refute the figures and statemens provided by Seaside Holdings in their filing.

Direct link to the Filing:

McCloud Railway Response

On the following day Seaside filed a one page Reply requesting that the STB refrain from issuing any decisions in this matter until it had a chance to file a response to the statements made by the McCloud Railway Company, which the expected to do on or before Friday 4 August 2006.

Direct link to the Filing:

Seaside Holdings Request

On Friday 4 August 2006 Seaside Holdings filed two documents with the STB, a Motion/Petition/Request and a Reply. The STB did not get either of these documents posted on Friday, so they should be available within the first couple days of this week. This page will be updated accordingly when those documents become available.

26 July 2006: Seaside asks STB to set terms

In a decision dated 28 June the Surface Transportation Board gave Seaside Holdings and the McCloud Railway Company one month from the date of Seaside's formal Offer of Financial Assistance to work with each other on establishing a purchase price. The STB stated that its regulations contemplated that an abandoning carrier and a financially responsible party that had filed an OFA would voluntarily come to an agreement to purchase or subsidize a rail line up for abaondonment, but if no agreement could be reached either party had the right to ask the STB to set conditions. The STB stated that all such requests must be submitted to the board by 26 July 2006 or the OFA process would end and the abandonment exemption would be granted.

Seaside Holdings filed a request for the board to set sale conditions today, on the last day they had to do so. Seaside again noted the substantial difference between the net liquidation values they provided as compared to the figures provided by the McCloud Railway. Seaside states that the two parties are far enough apart that they have not been able to reach an agreement on purchase price, which leads the company to ask the board to set conditions for a sale.

Seaside goes on to make further attacks on the Net Liquidation Value figures provided by the McCloud Railway. Seaside originally did not call into question the value of the land the railroad held in marketable fee title, which the McCloud Railway established at $291,418.80. Seaside states that upon further review they do not believe that the McCloud Railway is entitled to any compensation for the land for two reasons. The first is that the land is not held by the McCloud Railway, but is instead held by 4-Rails Inc., with no explanation as to how or if the two companies are related. The second reason calls into question the methods used by the McCloud Railway to appraise the property values and questions if the right-of-way is even held in fee title. Based on those two reasons Seaside concludes that the McCloud Railway does not hold any land in marketable fee title that can be conveyed to Seaside.

The last part of the filing considers the value of track materials. Seaside provides a new estimate of net liquidation value of the tracks along with this filing, with the estimate based on a survey of the line made by A&K Railroad Materials in late August 2005. This valuation includes a detailed breakdown of the various types of rail in use, including weights and conditions, with actual quotes from steel companies for the value of the rails based on June 2006 steel prices. Seaside concludes that the net liquidation value of the tracks is $1,288,955. Seaside once again calls into question the $4,363,784 figure provided by the McCloud Railway, this time using quotes provided by A&amo;K Railroad Materials.

Seaside concludes by asking the board to to set the purchase price at $1,288,955.00, which represents what it figures the net liquidation value of the track is.

Direct link to the Filing:

Seaside Request to Set Terms

According to the regulations covering abandonment the STB must now issue a decision within 30 days (no later than 25 August 2006) setting the purchase price and other terms. Once the STB issues its decision Seaside will have 10 days to either accept or reject the terms. If Seaside accepts the terms then the McCloud Railway is legally bound to sell the railroad east of McCloud to Seaside for the amount determined by the STB. Seaside must then continue operations over the line for at least two years before it can either sell the line back to the McCloud Railway or seek abandonment themselves. They cannot sell the line to anyone else until they have run the line for at least five years. If Seaside rejects the price decided by the STB then the OFA process ends and the abandonment process goes forward.

1 July 2006: STB Grants BNSF Time Extension

On 21 December 2005 BNSF filed a Request for Extension of Time with the STB, stating that the company would not be able to consumate the abandonment of the Hambone-Lookout trackage by the end of the year due to winter weather conditions. The STB extended the deadline to 1 July 2006. Earlier this week BNSF notified the board that the company had consumated the abandonment from Hambone east to Milepost 6.5 along with another time extension request for the portion of the line from Milepost 6.5 east to Lookout Junction. BNSF states that they need the additional time to decide if they need to use this portion of the line for another rail purpose.

On 30 June 2006 STB issued a decision granting that request. BNSF now must consumate the abandonment of the remaining 6.5 miles of railroad by the end of 2006 or the abandonment authority will automatically expire.

Direct link to the Decision:

STB OFA Decision

28 June 2006: STB Issues OFA Decision

On 28 June 2006 the Surface Transportation Board issued a decision responding to the Offer of Financial Assistance (OFA) submitted by Seaside Holdings on 26 June. The first part of the decision finds Seaside Holdings a financially responsible party, and thus allowing their OFA to go forward. The second part of the decision provides Seaside and the McCloud Railway one full month (through 26 July 2006) to negotiate with each other on a purchase price; during that time period either party may ask the STB to establish terms and conditions of a purchase price. If the two parties do not come to an agreement and if no requests are made to the STB to set conditions the board will issue a subsequent decision vacating today's decision and thereby allowing the abandonment exemption to become effective.

Direct link to the Decision:

STB OFA Decision

The bottom line of this is that the McCloud Railway Company will not have authority to abandon any trackage until late July or early August unless the company reaches a deal to sell the railroad before that time. However, the railroad implemented a $350 per carload surcharge on all traffic moved to or from Burney on 12 June, and that surcharge amount increases to $1,000 on 1 July. The company will run if any freight is offered to it, but with the surcharge in place there will probably be no call for the railroad's services before the abandonment becomes effective. Reports from McCloud tend to indicate that the last revenue moves of any significance will take place by Friday 30 June 2006, and that a few last cleanup moves may be made after that to collect the remaining boxcars stored in what's left of the Pondosa branch and seven wreck damaged cars stored at Berry.

Despite the impending possible end to rail service Caltrans is going ahead with plans to replace the crossing gate at Lorenz. A truck delivered the new gate to the McCloud shop building on Thursday 22 June 2006, and by Friday night the company had loaded the gate onto flat car #821. It is likely that the gate will be delivered to the site tomorrow (29 June 2006).

26 June 2006: Seaside Holdings Files OFA, BNSF Lookout Line Abandonment Developments

On 26 June 2006 Seaside Holdings Inc. filed their Offer of Financial Assistance. The OFA identifies the two individuals behind the company and states that the two have a combined net worth of $17,725,000 that they are prepared to commit to the purchase the section of line to be abandoned and operate it for a period of two years.

Seaside proposes to pay $1,580,374 for the section of line to be abandoned, a figure over three million dollars less than the Net Liquidation Value/Minimum Purchase Price figures calculated by the McCloud Railway Company. Seaside bases this figure on a valuation of the line subject to this action conducted for the company by A&K Railroad Materials. The OFA details the reasons why they think the values supplied by the McCloud Railway are inflated, complete with supporting documentation.

Direct link to the Filing:

Seaside Holding Inc. OFA

This is a large document, so those on dial up connections need to be patient.

BNSF also filed two documents relating to the abandonment of their portion of the Lookout Line, a consumation notice and a request for extension of time. The consumation notice informed the STB that BNSF has completed the abandonment process on the portion of the railroad from Hambone east to Milepost 6.5. The Request for Extension of Time seeks to extend the current abandonment deadline date for the section of the line from Milepost 6.5 east to Lookout Junction through the end of 2006 while the company decides if it is going to use the section for a railroad purpose or not.

Direct link to the Filing:

BNSF Consumation Notice

BNSF Request for Extension of Time

16 June 2006: McCloud Railway releases Net Liquidation Value Figures

On 15 June 2006 the McCloud Railway Company delivered the Net Liquidation Value/Minimum Purchase Price figures along with all supporting documentation to the Surface Transportation Board and the three parties who have filed Notices of Intent to file Offers of Financial Assistance. The railroad has set the figure at $4,655,202.90, with the track materials making up $4,363,784.10 of that total and the remaining balance of $291,418.80 coming from land held in marketable fee title. The supporting documents include a valuation report of the tracks contained in the route to be abandoned produced by Railroad Materials Salvage Inc. of Richmond, Missouri, a title report outlining lands held by the railroad, and a summary of the valuation of the marketable parcels based on a 2001 appraisal, with those figures inflated 20% to reflect fair market value.

Thomas F. McFarland, McCloud Railway's attorney in this matter, states that releasing this document should trigger resumption of the abandonment timelines, and that in accordance with board's previous decision all OFA's should be filed by 26 June 2006.

Direct link to the Filing:

Net Liquidation Value Determination

This is a large document, so those on dial up connections need to be patient.

14 June 2006: McCloud Railway files Status Report

On 12 May 2006 the Surface Transportation Board issued a decision directing the McCloud Railway to explain to the board its progress towards and reasons for the delays in gathering the documents to support a net liquidation value and minimum purchase price for the portion of the railroad currently up for abandonment. Today the company notified the board that within the past week the railroad obtained title reports on the right-of-way and that the company has completed preliminary valuations of those lands held in marketable fee title and of the track materials.

The McCloud Railway estimates that the estimate of net liquidation value will be delivered to the three parties who have filed Notices of Intent to File Offers of Financial Assistance by 16 June 2006. The railroad states that it will send a copy to the board as well. This will trigger resumption of the abandonment timelines laid down in the 14 October 2005 decision granting the abandonment exemption.

Direct link to the Filing:

McCloud Railway Status Report

In other news, the railroad suffered another serious derailment on Friday 2 June 2006, this time near Curtis. At least one load ended up on its side. Sources close to the railroad are reporting that all freight service east of McCloud will end by Friday 23 June 2006. This is always subject to change.

1 June 2006: STB Rules For and Against Pacific Unified Railroad

On 19 May 2006 Pacific Unified Railroad Corporation became the third party to file a Notice of Intent to File an Offer of Financial Assistance in the McCloud Railway abandonment case. In the filing PURC requested documentation supporting calculating a net liquidation value and minimum purchase price for the line currently up for abandonment. PURC also requested that the normal 10 day deadline for filing Offers of Financial Assistance after the abandonment decision once again becomes final be extended to 30 days to allow the company time to formulate its offer. The McCloud Railway responded that they were not adverse to a 10-day deadline after the requested documents had been supplied to PURC.

Today the Surface Transportation Board issued a decision accepting Pacific Unified Railroad Corporation as a party to the case despite their extremely late entrance onto the scene. This decision cleared the way for PURC to receive the net liquidation value documentation when it becomes available from the McCloud Railway. In the same decision the STB found that PURC did not provide a reason as to why it needs a 30-day time period for formulation an Offer of Financial Assistance, and as such the board ruled against that request. PURC will be subject to the same 10-day deadline that the other parties are subject to.

Direct link to the Decision:

STB Decision on Pacific Unified Railroad Participation

22 May 2006: McCloud Railway Reply

The McCloud Railway today filed a response to the Pacific Unified Railroad Corporation's request to extend the deadline for filing Offers of Financial Assistance. The response simply states that the company has not completed the studies necessary to estimate a net liquidation value of the rail line subject to the current abandonment proceedings, and therefore does not object to the requested extension of time.

Direct link to the Filing:

McCloud Railway Response

In other news, it appears that all of GE Capital's ex-MR boxcars still in storage on the railroad are headed for scrap. The railroad planned last week to bring a work train from McCloud to Bear Flat. This train was to bring the railroad's CAT 966 loader to right the cars that are tipping over and to shove the two cars lying on their sides clear of the tracks. The railroad hoped to take all of the boxcars currently stored in the stub end of the Pondosa branch back to McCloud in one train, with the derailed boxcars scrapped on site. If this move actually happened the only cars left on the road are the ones left up near Car A last November, and they will be retrieved as soon as the snows melt enough for the train to get up there. Thanks to Ryan Wilkerson for this information.

19 May 2006: Third Offer of Financial Assitance Pending

Pacific Unified Railroad Corporation today became the third party to indicate an interest in purchasing the portion of the McCloud Railway currently up for abaondonment. PURC, which is based in Las Vegas, NV, asks for the same documentation requested by the previous two interested parties, Seaside Holdings and the Oregon Pacific & Eastern. PURC also states that it is unlikely that the McCloud Railway will be able to supply the requested information by 28 June, and accordingly they request that the STB extend any deadlines for filing Offers of Financial Assistance by 30 days to give them an opportunity to review the documents.

Direct link to the Filing:

Pacific Unified Railroad Corporation Filing

12 May 2006: STB partially rules for Save Burney Falls, Demands update from McCloud Railway

The STB issued a decision today on the application for trail use submitted by Save Burney Falls. As noted below, the STB has previously ruled that SBF's proposed trail satisfied the requirements for a public use condition, but that the pending Offers of Financial Assistance would take priority over any trail use requests. The STB denied the first SBF trail use request on the grounds that OFA process must be completed without any agreement before the line would become available for any other public use such as a trail. The STB reiterates the earlier decision in today's decision, but at the same time finds that the expanded trail use request is reasonable and will be granted, provided that the OFA process ends without an agreement or a sale of the railroad.

The second part of today's decision notes that the McCloud Railway has yet to notify the board that the company has provided Seaside Holdings with the documents that Seaside requested back in October. Seaside requested a list of documents that would allow that company to formulate its OFA. The STB states that it appears the railroad is still gathering the documents requested by Seaside Holdings. To that end, the STB directed the McCloud Railway to file a status report with the board by 12 June 2006 detailing its progress towards and explaining the reasons for the delay in gathering and delivering the requested documents and data.

Direct link to the Decision:

STB Decision- 12 May 2006

8 May 2006: McCloud Railway Reiterates Trail Use Opposition

The end of last week saw Save Burney Falls petition the STB to add several additional miles of the railroad in the Burney area to their earlier trail use request. The McCloud Railway filed a response brief today stating that the company is still not interested in negotiating for trail use. The McCloud Railway asks the STB to reject this trail application as it did the first Save Burney Falls trail application.

Direct link to the Filing:

McCloud Railway Opposition Statement

2 May 2006: Modified Trail Use Request Filed with the STB

In November 2005 a local non-profit organization, Save Burney Falls, filed a trail use request for a portion of the McCloud Railway currently up for abandonment, specifically the portion from behind the Carlson Trucking Yard between Burney and Johnson Park to the Lorenz Crossing. The McCloud Railway responded that they were not interested in negotiating for trail use on any part of the line. In January 2006 the STB issued a decision rejecting Save Burney Falls' request for trail use, based on the railroad's unwillingness to negotiate for trail use and the outstanding Offer of Financial Assistance from Seaside Holdings, which must be dealt with before any requests for other public uses (such as a trail) can be considered.

Today, 2 May 2006, Save Burney Falls brought another petition before the board. Today's filing seeks to add two stretches of the line to the existing trail use request, the first being the portion of the line from the Lorenz crossing north to Milepost B-51, which is just above the southern end of the Lake Britton Bridge, and the second being approximately four tenths of a mile of the Sierra Branch running from the current Black Ranch Road crossing eastward to the mainline connection, including the north leg of the Berry Wye. Save Burney Falls is requesting that the STB find these parts of the railroad suitable for trail use if no agreements can be reached with the Offers of Financial Assistance.

Direct link to the Filing:

Modified Trail Use Request

30 April 2006: McCloud Boxcars Scrapped

Mark Carlton of Manitoba, Canada, is reporting that Mandak Scrap Metals is cutting up several former McCloud River boxcars each day, with the steel going to the nearby Gerdau Ameristeel rolling mill for recycling. John West got a photo of a healthy cut of these cars starting their final journey in late April; this photo, and this information, have been added to the Boxcars page in the Equipment section of this website.

At this point McCloud Rails staff does not how many of the cars currently stored on the McCloud are destined for scrap, but our guess is that all of them may be headed that way. It appears that another part of the McCloud's colorful history is passing from the scene.

16 April 2006: Miscellaneous Notes, New DVD/Video

First off, thanks to everyone who has joined up with the McCloud River Yahoo! group. As of today there are 75 members in the group. New members are always welcome and encouraged to join.

This winter has been hard on the McCloud Railway, with many problems encountered through March and the first part of April. A narrative and some photos can be found in the Miscellaneous Section of this website, under the Winter of 2005-2006 heading.

Finally, Pentrex, a long established producer of high quality railroad oriented documentary movies, has recently released a production titled "Extreme Steam 2". This video features a dozen different steam locomotives from across the country. What makes this production of interest to McCloud fans is fifteen minutes of footage of the #18, with part of that footage devoted to the last Fall Foliage excursion on 17 October 2004 and the rest featuring the #18 with the snowplow special in January 2005. The footage is spectacular and well done, especially the sequence of shots showing the #18 plowing out the Lookout leg of the Bartle wye with the box plow in January 2005. Direct link to the Pentrex page on this new production is:

Pentrex Extreme Steam 2

The latest rumors seem to peg the end of operations east of McCloud as occuring sometime in June. However, there are still a number of issues that need to be cleared up before that can happen. Any newsworthy developments will be posted here.

19 March 2006: McCloud River Yahoo! Group

McCloud Rails staff has been corresponding over the last several days with Craig Nolan, owner/operator of On one of his pages Craig wonders why there is no historical societies devoted to the McCloud railroads. This question has gotten us interested in the proposition of creating such an organization. Perhaps the first step towards such an event would be to gather those that might be interested. Yahoo! groups provides a good place for people to gather and discuss nearly anything about any subject, and to that end McCloud Rails staff created a McCloud River Yahoo! Group this morning. You can access the group at:

McCloud River Yahoo! Group Homepage

A link to this group is also found on the McCloud Rails home page. Joining Yahoo groups generally requires a Yahoo membership, and all applications to join this new group require approval so that spammers are hopefully kept to a minimum.

1 March 2006: McCloud River Boxcars in HO Scale

Two model railroad supply companies are set to produce models of modern McCloud River boxcars. Walthers expects to release 50-foot high-cube Gunderson paper service boxcars in both single and 2-car packs. These cars are painted bright blue and carry MR reporting marks and numbers in the 6000-series.

Direct link to the 2-car package announcement is:

Walther's Boxcar Information

Atlas is producing the other boxcar, an Evans 53-foot double plug door boxcar. These models are painted boxcar red and carry MR reporting marks and 121000 series numbers.

Direct link to the Atlas website is:

Atlas Home Page

Reports coming out of McCloud tend to indicate that the railroad currently expects to end freight operations east of McCloud somewhere around June. The railroad has yet to supply the Surface Transportation Board with a Certificate of Service that it has provided Seaside Holdings with the documents they requested, and as such the decision authorizing abandonment is still stayed. No actions have been taken yet on the second Notice of Intent to File an Offer of Financial Assistance from the Oregon Pacific & Eastern.

19 January 2006: Another OFA pending, Athearn's SD38's Arrive

On 19 January 2006 the Surface Transportation Board recieved a second Notice of Intent to File and Offer of Financial Assistance, this one from the Oregon, Pacific & Eastern Railroad. The OP&E is based out of Roseburg, OR; its principle owner has been previously involved in the Kyle Railways shortline empire and the Hanna Corporation private railroad at their nickle mine near Riddle, OR. The company announced a couple years ago that they had struck a deal to operate a portion of the ex-Union Pacific branchline running from La Grande to Joseph, OR, and that they had made arrangements to move McCloud Railway's steam locomotive #25 to that new operation to power excursions. This deal apparently fell through, as the public agencies that own the branchline now operate it themselves as the Wallowa-Union Railroad and the #25 is still sitting in the back of the McCloud shop. The OP&E currently has hopes to operate two other branchlines in western Oregon.

Direct link to the Filing:

OP&E's Notice of Intent to File an OFA

In other news, the McCloud Railway SD38's announced by Athearn back in July of last year are here. McCloud Rails staff have obtained one example of each of the three road numbers.

Our impressions of these new models can be found on the following page in this website:

McCloud Rails Reviews the new SD38's

12 January 2006: Trail Use Request Denied, More Conditions Added

Somehow this first part slipped underneath our radar screen until today. Back on 5 December 2005 the U.S. Forest Service sent a letter to the McCloud Railway and the Surface Transportation Board requesting that some additional conditions be added to the abandonment authorization. Specifically, the Forest Service is requesting that the railroad preserve the right-of-way of forest service roads where they cross the railroad grade, remove all culverts and trestles and contour the grade back enough to allow for natural stream flows, evaluate the need for access roads next to the current grade and rehabilitate any un-needed roads, and consult with the agency about any hazardous materials that may have been stored or used on Forest Service lands. All of this would be part of the process the railroad would have to go through to relinquish the special use permit the line exists on.

Direct link to the Forest Service letter is:

Forest Service Letter

On 12 January 2006 the Surface Transportation Board issued a decision in response to this letter as well as some of the other matters brought to the board in recent months. The first part of the decision added the conditions requested by the Forest Service in their letter of 5 December 2005 to the conditions that the railroad must meet as part of the abandonment process. The second part of the decision denies the trail request Save Burney Falls made for a part of the line in the Burney area. The board notes in the decision that the previous decision authorizing abandonment continues to be on hold until the Offer of Financial Assistance (OFA) made by Seaside Holdings is cleared up. Once that matter is taken care of and the OFA process ends Save Burney Falls can come back to the board with another trail use request.

Direct link to the STB decision is:

STB Decision Rejecting Trail Use and Adding Conditions

23 December 2005: Updates on STB Actions

On Wednesday 21 December 2005 BNSF filed another Request for Extension of Time with the STB seeking an additional six months to consumate the abandonment of the Hambone-Lookout Junction trackage. The board previously extended the consumation deadline to 31 December 2005, but BNSF states that winter weather conditions prohibit them from completing salvage activities by that date.

Direct link to BNSF's filing is:

BNSF Request for Extension of Time

On Thursday 22 December 2005 the McCloud Railway Company filed a statement that they are not willing to negotiate with Save Burney Falls on their trail use request.

Direct link to McCloud Railway's filing is:

McCloud Railway Reply

The STB did not acted on either of these cases on 23 December 2005; further filings and STB decisions will be posted here as they become available.

9 December 2005: Trail Use Request Filed

On Wednesday 7 December 2005 a conservation organization calling itself Save Burney Falls filed a trail use request covering approximately five and one half miles of the portion of the railroad to be abandoned, specifically from a point approximately one-half mile north of the Burney station to the crossing of Highway 89 at Lorenz. The organization is requesting that the board issue conditions preventing the railroad from disposing of the corridor or altering the existing grade in any way that would make it unsuitable for trail use for a period of 180 days. Save Burney Falls also included a Statement of Willingness to Assume Financial Responsibility for this stretch of grade. The group envisions this grade as part of a trail connecting the town of Burney with McArthur Burney Falls Memorial State Park.

Direct link to Save Burney Fall's filing is:

Save Burney Falls Trail Use Request

12 November 2005; New McCloud DVD and CD

Robinson & Associates, a producer of railroad-related materials based out of Red Bluff, CA, just released a new CD and DVD titled "Steam on the Mountain". The DVD features the two Fall Foliage excursions held in October 2004 and a steam powered dinner train out to Bartle. Many shots are presented, both from on-board the trains and from the ground. Veteran McCloud engineer Malen Johnson narrates much of the video, providing many insights on running steam on the McCloud. This is a fantastic DVD and is very well worth the purchase price.

More information on the DVD and CD and how to get both can be found at:

29 October 2005: Lookout Line salvaged

A report surfaced this past week from a person who visited McCloud that A&K Railroad Materials finished scrapping the Hambone-Lookout trackage during the week of 16-22 October 2005. The report states the the grade may become a U.S. Forest Service road.

In other news...

1. A speeder organization made a run over the McCloud last week, covering most of the line, including the line to Hambone. The Mount Shasta newspaper ran a story covering the event.

2. According to a newspaper article in the Intermountain News based in Burney, CA, the McCloud Railway Company expects to end freight operations to Burney somewhere between December 2005 and March 2006.

3. McCloud Railway Company filed a one-page letter with the Surface Transportation Board certifying that it had served all shippers on the railroad with the abandonment decision.

19 October 2005: Abandonment Timelines Extended

On Monday, 17 October 2005, the McCloud Railway Company submitted a Request for Extension of Time. The Notice of Intent to File an Offer of Financial Assistance (OFA) submitted to the STB by Seaside Holdings on 6 October (see below) included a request for the McCloud Railway to provide them with all documents supporting a net liquidation value and purchase price for the part of the railroad affected by this abandonment. STB's decisiom approving the abandonment included a provision that OFA's must be filed by 24 October 2005, and in their filing the McCloud Railway advised that they would not be able to provide Seaside with the requested information for at least a couple weeks. The McCloud Railway suggested that the timelines established in the decision be modified to allow the railroad time to provide the requested information to Seaside.

Direct link to McCloud Railway's filing is:

Request for Extension of Time

On Wednesday, 19 October 2005, the Surface Transportation Board issued a decision granting the Request for Extension of Time. The decision directs the McCloud Railway to notify the STB in writing when they provide the requested documents to Seaside Holdings. All OFA's are due 10 days after the McCloud Railway delivers the requested documentation, and the abandonment decision will become effective 20 days after that.

Direct link to the STB decision is:

Request for Extension of Time

14 October 2005: McCloud Abandonment Application Approved

On Friday, 14 October 2005, the Surface Transportation Board issued a decision approving McCloud Railway Company's abandonment application. Parties opposed to the abandonment have until 24 October 2005 to file Offers of Financial Assistance; Petitions for Stay must be filed by 31 October 2005, and Petitions to Re-open the Proceedings must be filed by 8 November 2005. If no adverse filings are made the railroad is free to end operations and commence salvage operations on 13 November 2005, provided that they meet a number of conditions laid down by the board involving historic preservation requirements, endangered species consultations, and other notifications. The railroad has until 14 October 2006 to consumate the abandonment.

The direct link to the decision is found at the following link: (Requries Adobe Acrobat to view)

Abandoment Decision

7 October 2005: Notice of Intent to file Offer of Financial Assistance

On Thursday, 6 October 2005, Seaside Holdings, Inc. of Palm Beach Gardens, FL, filed a Notice of Intent to File Offer of Financial Assistance (OFA) with the STB. Seaside Holdings, Inc. is asking the McCloud Railway to provide data establishing a net liquidation value and minimum purchase price for the part of the railroad currently up for abandonment. Seaside Holdings states that their OFA will come in the form of a purchase offer for the affected trackage.

The direct link to the filing is found at the following link: (Requries Adobe Acrobat to view)

Notice of Intent to File Offer of Financial Assistance

8 September 2005: McCloud Railway Responds to Dicalite

On Wednesday 24 August 2005 McCloud Railway filed its response to Dicalite's protest of the proposed abandonment. STB finally uploadedthe contents of this filing on their website earlier this week.

The direct link to the filing is found at the following link: (Requries Adobe Acrobat to view)

McCloud Railway's Response

28 August 2005: STB Issues Environmental Assessment, Athearn announces paint schemes

On Friday 26 August 2005 the STB's Section of Environmental Ananlysis released its Environmental Assessment (EA) analyzing impacts to the environment caused by the proposed abandonment of the McCloud Railway.

The direct link to the filing is found at the following link: (Requries Adobe Acrobat to view)

STB Environmental Assessment

McCloud Railway Company filed a reply to Dicalite's protest on or around 24 August 2005, but as of now the content of the reply has not been added to the STB website. This information will be uploaded here once it becomes available.

Finally, Athearn announced that they will be offering their HO scale McCloud SD38's in the brown and orange paint scheme. The models should be available around the first part of December 2005; retail price is set at $89 apiece.

4 August 2005: Dicalite Protests Abandonment Proposal

On Thursday, 4 August 2005, Dicalite Minerals Corp. filed the first protest of the proposed abandonment of the McCloud Railway Company line with the Surface Transportation Board. All protests, comments, and offers of financial assistance were due to the STB by this date. Dicalite has filed the only protest to this decision to date.

The direct link to the filing is found at the following link: (Requries Adobe Acrobat to view)

Dicalite Corp. Protest

15 July 2005: STB Decides to Initiate Exemption Process

On Friday, 15 July 2005, the Surface Transportation Board issued a decision implementing the exemption process in response to the petition filed by the McCloud Railway on 27 June 2005 (see below). The STB expects to issue a final decision to either approve or deny the railroad's application by 14 October 2005.

The decision also outlines the process those interested in commenting on the process need to follow. The decision also serves as notification that environmental review documents required by the National Environmental Policy Act will be made available to those who request them.

The direct link to the decision is found at the following link: (Requries Adobe Acrobat to view)

STB Decision implementing exemption proceedure

14 July 2005: Athearn to Produce McCloud SD38's in HO Scale

Athearn, a long established manufacturer of model railroad equipment, announced at a recent train show that they will be producing HO scale SD38's painted for the McCloud. According to the announcement, all three roadnumbers (36, 37, and 38) will be produced. The prototype photo included in the announcement shows one of the McCloud SD38's painted in the brown and orange scheme; however, no details have been released yet as to which of the three McCloud paint schemes the models will be released in.

Athearn Home Page

In other McCloud news, the #18 ran two days over the July 4th weekend. Sunday, 3 July 2005, saw the #18 with a photo freight working in the McCloud area followed by a run to Bartle and return. The Trains Unlimited Tours special excursion to the 2005 National Railway Historical Society convention in Portland, OR, toured the west end of the railroad on Saturday and Sunday, 2 and 3 July. Pictures of both of these movements will be added to McCloud Rails in the near future. The #18 closed out the weekend with a series of specials on Monday, 4 July 2005. The specials saw a morning train run from McCloud to Mt. Shasta, followed by two round trip specials from Mt. Shasta to Big Canyon, followed by a last run back across the mountain to McCloud.

The #18 is due to run again on the weekend of 6 August as part of McCloud's annual Civil War Re-enactment. The #18 may run again on Labor Day as well, but no firm announcements have been made.

So far there have been no further filings or decisions posted on the STB website about the McCloud Railway's petition for an exemption to abandon the railroad. This news section will be updated with links to additional documents as they become available.

28 June 2005: McCloud Railway Files for Abandonment

On Monday, 27 June 2005, the McCloud Railway Company filed an exemption request with the Surface Transportation Board seeking to abandon the entire railroad from a point about three miles east of McCloud and to discontinue common carrier operations on the remaining trackage.

The direct link to the filing is below. NOTE! Requires Adobe Acrobat software to view! Also a warning to those on dial-up connections...this document is over 5 MB's in size and is 97 pages long. The STB estimates download time on a 28.8 Kb connection to be around 28 minutes.

McCloud Railway Abandonment Application

26 June 2005: BNSF Historic Preservation Requirements Removed

McCloud Rails staff has been busy lately, which has kept me away from the website. Back in mid-May the STB issued a decision removing the requirement to protect historical sites located along their part of the Lookout Line. The STB imposed the condition to protect historical sites as part of their decision authorizing BNSF to abandon the trackage from Hambone to Lookout Junction, but further consultation with the California State Historic Preservation Officer resulted in agreement from the state that the requirement was no longer necessary.

The direct link to this first filing is below (NOTE! Required Adobe Acrobat software to view!)

Decision Removing Historic Preservation Requirements

In other news, a front page story about the McCloud Railway plans to abandon the railroad east of McCloud appeared in various newspapers in the Dunsmuir/Mt. Shasta City/Yreka areas during the week of 8 June 2005. This article did not contain any really new information. Jeff Forbis, owner of the railroad, is quoted as listing the following reasons for proceeding with the abandonment: decrease in freight business due to samill closures, rapidly escalating insurance premiums, rising fuel costs, lingering debt incurred during the repairs made to the railroad following the New Years Day 1997 storms, and the abandonment of BNSF's portion of the Lookout Line. The railroad plans to implement the abandonment plans during the fourth quarter of 2005.

Finally, the speculation that the January runs would be #18's finale on the McCloud Railway have turned out to perhaps be premature. The locomotive is scheduled to run at least three days around the July 4th weekend and then again for the Civil War trains scheduled for the weekend of August 6th and 7th. Work on the rebuilding of the Virgina & Truckee Railroad is progressing nicely, and there is a good chance that the locomotive's new home may have some track to run on by later this year or early next year.

May 7, 2005: BNSF granted an Extension of Time

On 29 April 2005, the Surface Transportation Board granted BNSF's request for an extension of time reguarding their application to abandon the Hambone-Lookout Junction portion of the Lookout Line. BNSF now has until 31 December 2005 to consumate the abandonment before their authority to remove the trackage expires.

The direct link to this first filing is below (NOTE! Required Adobe Acrobat software to view!)

Extension of Time Decision- 29 April 2005

April 23, 2005: McCloud Railway to File for Partial Abandonment

The McCloud Railway Company has initiated the abandonment process for the entire railroad east of McCloud. Notices of intent to abandon the railroad appeared in local newspapers in early March, and the first filings related to this proposed actions were submitted to the Surface Transportation Board on 18 April 2005. The STB Docket Number for this case is AB-914-0-X.

The first filing to the board is a letter to the McCloud Railway's attorney from the California State Historic Preservation Officer listing recommended actions that the railroad should take as part of the abandonment process.

The direct link to this first filing is below (NOTE! Required Adobe Acrobat software to view!)

Environmental Materials Filing- 18 April 2005

The railroad's plans are to abandon and salvage the entire railroad east of McCloud, including the mainline from McCloud to Burney, the Sierra Branch, the Hambone Branch, and what's left of the Pondosa Branch. Common carrier service will be discontinued on the McCloud-Mt. Shasta City line, with that trackage retained for industrial uses. At this point there are no plans to suspend the Shasta Sunset Dinner Train operation.

According to an article that appeared on the front page of the Mountain Echo newspaper issue published on 19 April 2005, the railroad intends to submit its abandonment application to the Surface Transportation Board in the near future. Jeff Forbis, owner of the railroad, is quoted as saying that the freight operations to and from Burney have lost several hundred thousand dollars over the last several years and that he intends to sell the Shasta Sunset Dinner Train operation soon as well. Jeff goes on to say that the abandonment process should be complete by the end of the year.

Links to additional documents will be posted in this space as they become available on the STB website.

April 23, 2005: BNSF's Lookout Line Abandonment Update

As noted elsewhere on this site, BNSF struck a haulage agreement with the Union Pacific that sees McCloud- BNSF interchange traffic handled by the UP between the McCloud at Mt. Shasta City and BNSF at Klamath Falls, OR. This action allowed BNSF to suspend operations over their portion of the Lookout Line, which extends from a connection with the McCloud Railway at Hambone to a connection with their north-south mainline at Lookout Junction. The last revenue train over this line ran on 16 December 2003, and the last McCloud movement of any kind ran in November 2004, when a work train went to Porcupine to fill ballast hoppers with cinders.

BNSF applied to abandon this line in early spring 2004, and approval from the STB came quickly. The Rails-To-Trails Conservancy filed a request for trail use and an offer to accept financial responsibility for the line, and the STB responded by re-opening the proceedings and mandating a 180-day negotiating period for trail use between the two entities. This negotiating period expired in December 2004, apparently with no agreement reached. BNSF is now free to abandon the line, subject to certain conditions imposed by the STB in their decision.

BNSF has filed two requests with the STB in the last week relating to this matter. The first was a Request for Extension of Time, which states that winter weather conditions have prevented BNSF contractors from conducting any salvage activities and that the railroad needs an extension of the timeframes given to it to effect the abandonment of the line. This filing can be viewed at the following link (requires Adobe Acrobat to view):

Request for Extension of Time- 14 April 2005

The other filing submitted to the STB was a request that a condition of the decision requiring protection of historical sites be waved. This filing can be viewed at the following link:

Motion/Petition/Request- 22 April 2005

The STB has not issued any decisions on either of these filings to date.