Northwestern Pacific: South End: Willits-schellville

Discussion in 'Route Suggestions & Proposals' started by mfeets, Dec 31, 2021.

  1. mfeets

    mfeets Active Member

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    The Northwestern Pacific(Hereon NWP) was created by the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe in 1906 to move lumber from Humboldt County CA to the rest of the world.

    A narrow gauge subsidiary(NPC) ran along the coast between Ignacio and the Russian River, but most of it was scraped around 1910. Interestingly, NPC was the first to try the cab-forward principal, with their only one being a 4-4-0.[​IMG]
    Santa Fe sold their share of the line to SP in 1929. SP dieselized it with the rest of their system in 1955, making it one of the first major short lines to fully dieselize. This part of the line was leased in the 90s to California Northern, and after the lease was terminated, the North Coast Railroad continued operating it until roughly 2000, when they went bankrupt. Another NWP started operating the line to Willits, but went bankrupt in under a year, and no train moved until SMART leased the line from the North Coast Rail Authority(nee NCR), which may be broken up in the near future, as they are in enormous debt. Another NWP began operating the section north of Schellville, and it is owned by SMART. They have announced plans to rebuilt to Willits(The line is in bad shape). For now, they operate as far north as Winsor, and tracks are built to Healdsburg. The rest of the line sits in disrepair, waiting to see if they will be rebuilt.

    The entire lifespan of the railroad, it has been "dark" and used train orders, which sometimes led to bad accidents. Maximum speed was 45 MPH, however some areas(Ridge hill and the Russian River canyon) were much slower, more like 25 MPH.

    The line ran from Schellville, where it interchanged with the SP, north towards Willits, with a branch to Tiberon, abandoned in the mid 1960s. it continues north, meeting with a subsidiary line(which was originally electric), the Petaluma and Santa Rosa, at both namesake towns. This was abandoned in the mid 60s. After passing through Healdsburg, which is where the rebuilding efforts are currently working on, the line does a straight shot to Cloverdale, but afterward, enters the Russian River Canyon, which has some really tight curves to squeeze in the canyon with highway 101. This area is famous for both mudslides and floods, and track crews were kept on constant alert. In the great flood of 1964/5, the line was closed for 6 months while it was rebuilt, mostly from damage to the north end, but Russian River Canyon suffered some serious damage as well. Today, this track is in the worst condition on the south end, requiring almost a complete rebuilding. A major rock quarry was here, and rock trains used to operate daily. After exiting the canyon, the line goes through Ukiah, where there are numerous large sawmills, and then goes on an ever steeper grade to Redwood Valley, where massive sets of 5 SD7/9 helpers were added and removed during the diesel era.(Helpers assisted with braking as well). The line climbs up a 3% grade to Ridge Summit, at 1,953 feet above sea level, and was the highest point on the whole system. the line then descends down an 8 mile 2.2% grade to Willits, the other terminal for the helper district. Here there are also numerous sawmills and a connection with the California Western, better known as the "Skunk Train." There is a depot and fairly large yard, and this is where crews were switched for trains running in both directions.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Motive power

    I'm going to focus on the 1960s to the 1980s, as this is the era I find most interesting and also the most feasible.

    1960s
    SD7 SP(barrel light specifically)(Also Black Window, Tiger Stripe, or Bloody Nose would work)
    [​IMG]

    SW1 SP
    [​IMG]

    GE 44 tonner SP and P&SR, P&SR's scheme was just SP's with P&SR on it[​IMG]

    SD9 SP(Also all the schemes on the SD7)[​IMG]

    1980s

    SD7e SP
    [​IMG]

    SW1200 SP
    [​IMG]

    SD9e SP
    [​IMG]

    Rolling stock:
    Lumber flats, boxcars, a tanker, a rock hopper, a reefer(fast reefer service was offered south of Ukiah), piggy-back(Fun fact: the first piggy back car was actually invented by the NWP), a heavyweight baggage and a streamlined coach, and a caboose, specifically a C-30-2 in both NWP and SP liveries.

    Operations:
    This line had a lot of varied operations, from switching to locals to unit trains and long 100 car lumber freights that needed 8 engines to climb over ridge hill. Empty trains went North(railroad east) and loaded trains went south(railroad west)

    This route is perfect for train sim, there's something for everyone here, mountains and semi-high speed running. Realistically, the locos wouldn't be too hard, if set the the 80s a reskin of DTM's SW1200 and a slight mod of DTG's SD9 would be all that was needed, as those were almost exclusively all that ran here. Also, to me, this side is better than the north end on an operational standpoint, as there are more towns and switching opportunities than the north end, which ran through the Eel River Canyon and was very remote, albeit scenic.
     
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  2. Stephen J. Hjellum

    Stephen J. Hjellum New Member

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    That would be a fantastic route to be recreated. And despite your suggestion being dated for the 60's, it could work for modern day operations (though some minor addition/subtraction would be necessary). I grew up riding along HWY 101 from Petaluma to Santa Rosa (and on to Guerneville, where another long abandoned branch terminated) and never saw a train in service in almost 30 years.
     
  3. AndTheBest

    AndTheBest Active Member

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    Yeah, it's a interesting route.
     
  4. jedi247

    jedi247 Well-Known Member

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    I want the Black Widow paint scheme. It's one of my favorite classic US railroad liveries. The SD7s/SD9s would be great to see. The "Cadillacs" are one of my favorite classic diesel locos EMD made. I'd also like to suggest an FM Trainmaster in SP paint and an Alco RSD15 "Alligator" (both engines are favorites of mine, too).
     
  5. mfeets

    mfeets Active Member

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    Neither ran here except for test runs.
     

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