Friday, March 27, 2009

Historic Week on Railroad Closes with Second Successful Train Operation

After unloading three loads of new ties at Schellville, contractor Balfour Beatty shoved three empty bulkhead flat cars back to Lombard for interchange to the California Northern on Thursday, March 26.

In this fine scene captured by photographer Nate Muhlethaler, the train passes wildflowers in bloom at Skaggs Island Road in rural Sonoma County.

The train crew waited at Milton Road for the Brazos bridge to be lowered. Once the cars were delivered to the California Northern, the crew ran light engine back to Schellville and tied up. Credit this image to photographer Nate Muhlethaler.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

First Train in Nearly Eight Years

For the first time since Northwestern Pacific Railway (NWPY) operated its final train in September 2001, a steel wheel turned on the line on Tuesday, March 24. Contractor Balfour Beatty operated Willamette Valley 2502 (a former Southern Pacific GP 35 locomotive) and three loads of new ties from the California Northern Railroad interchange at Lombard compass west to the yard at Schellville. A fourth load of ties was left behind, as it will be distributed between Brazos and Lombard.

In the above view, the train crossed the murky Napa River on the lift bridge at Brazos at 1 p.m. This venerable structure was the unfortunate victim of vandalism and copper theft in recent years and is in the process of receiving all necessary repairs.

At 1:15 p.m., the train crept through bucolic rural Napa County as it approached the former station site of Buchli.

At 2:05 p.m., the train slowed for the busy California Highway 121 crossing at Schellville. Safety is paramount: Balfour Beatty flagmen protected the crossing while the short train passed.

Balfour Beatty is in the process of replacing a high volume of ties on the NWP mainline and has completed the section between Brazos and Schellville. A truck and crane will soon be along to pick up the pile of secondhand ties at Ramal pictured above.

The 10 miles between Lombard and Schellville await the installation and tamping of crushed rock ballast.