From a corporate standpoint, the McCloud River Lumber Company divested itself of the railroad in 1917 to avoid any antitrust issues with all of shares
handed over to the shareholders. The system continued to march
westward after 1920. It reached more timber via a branch to the
recently created town of Pondosa and the biggest feat to occur during
that decade was a connection to another major Class I, the Great
Northern at Hambone. The GN had recently completed its "Inside Gateway"
project with the Western Pacific where both lines established a
connection with one another at Bieber, California. Being so close to the
McCloud River and its heavy timber/lumber traffic, GN constructed an
extension from Lookout (just north of Bieber) to reach Hambone (the WP
would also have trackage rights over this branch, which essentially gave
the McCloud River Railroad yet another major interchange partner).
At this point the MCRR operated exactly 47.0 miles of track from Mt.
Shasta to Hambone, which did not include all logging spurs and general
sidings. During the 1940s and 1950s the railroad grew for the final
time. It took over a former roadbed south of Bartle once used by
Pacific Gas & Electric and by 1955 had reached Burney with a branch
to Sierra. It also shifted its route to Pondosa using this line and
abandoned the other branch reaching the small town. The McCloud River
Railroad's new line south of Bartle was thanks to a new customer, the
Fruit Growers Supply that needed wooden shipping crates to move its
produce. Unfortunately, 1963 spelled not only the end of the MCRR's
growth but also signaled the beginning of its decline.
That year it was acquired by US Plywood and since it was no longer locally owned, the national wood products company began severely cutting back operations. It ended nearly all rail timber rail movements, shifting these to trucks. As such, nearly its only remaining traffic became finished products such as plywood and lumber from mills at McCloud, Pondosa, and Scott. In 1969 the line was sold again to U.S. Plywood-Champion Papers, and two times in the 1970s, Champion International in 1972 and Itel Corporation in 1977. During this time, however, the railroad still operated much of its original system that spanned 77.9 main line miles between Mt. Shasta, Hambone, and Burney.
On July 1, 1992 it was sold for a final time to 4-Rails, Inc. owned by Jeff and Verline Forbis who renamed the company as the McCloud Railway. It was also during the 1990s that the MCRR fell on hard times. It lost its interchange and Hambone, losing paper traffic. By 2005 it only operated about 16.8 miles of main line between Mt. Shasta and McCloud, despite the fact that shippers remained east of McCloud. The final hammer fell in 2009 when the entire property was shuttered, even the once popular Shasta Sunset Dinner Train that had been operating the route to McCloud for a number of years. In early April, 2012 it was announced that the entire property was looking to be sold to a non-profit group and turned into a rail/trail.
years the McCloud River Railroad had used several types of motive power:
during the steam era this included a mixture of models from Shays to an
0-6-6-0T Mallet built by Baldwin although most of its fleet consisted
of 2-6-2 Prairies and 2-8-2 Mikados; the diesel era was even more
interesting as the company loved Baldwins using everything from
DRS6-6-1500s to AS616s and RS12s. During its final years the MCRR
relied on SD38s and an SD38-2. For an excellent, in-depth history on the McCloud River Railroad please click here to visit a site that discusses everything from its history to motive power roster.
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McCloud River Railroad