Thursday, May 28, 2009

Conditions in the Lower Eel River Canyon

As seen on May 27, the Northwestern Pacific mainline has succumbed to a washout and the encroachment of vegetation in the vicinity of the Burger Creek Slide, immediately north of Tunnel No. 16 and Dos Rios (Christian Goepel photo).

Trains have not negotiated Northwestern Pacific’s incredibly remote and serpentine Eel River Canyon since 1998. In the ensuing 11 years, the mainline has fallen victim to damaging weather conditions, unstable geology, theft, and vandalism.

The future of the North Coast Railroad Authority’s Eel River Division north of Willits is speculative at this point. Even so, hardly a day passes when Northwestern Pacific Today does not receive an e-mail wondering about the present condition of the line in Mendocino, Trinity, and Humboldt counties.

Those interested in the railroad’s north end can watch a short multimedia presentation on YouTube containing photographs and video footage made in April by Jen Rice and Rick Sanchez – Hard Times on the Railroad: The Northwestern Pacific from a Boat’s Eye View. It provides a rare glimpse of track infrastructure and washouts along the 43 miles of mainline between Dos Rios and Alderpoint, mostly from water level.

Northwestern Pacific Today will post more information about NCRA’s Eel River Division as it becomes available.

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