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The Northwestern Pacific: Schelville-willits

Discussion in 'Route Suggestions & Proposals' started by Adam Palmer, Apr 15, 2020.

  1. Adam Palmer

    Adam Palmer Member

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    Introduction/Brief History
    The Northwestern Pacific Railroad was a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific operating in Northern California serving mainly the redwood lumber industry. At its peak the NWP stretched from tidewater at Sausalito and Tiburon, just north of San Francisco, over 200 miles north to the redwood stands at Eureka. The railroad was also host to both narrow and standard gauge lines, ferry boats, and electrified interurban routes.

    The NWP was originally formed as the North Pacific Coast Railroad in 1871, a narrow gauge line serving the communities north of San Francisco. In 1903 the standard gauge third-rail powered interurban network was established in Marin County forwarding commuters to ferry boats for the trip into San Francisco. This state-of-the-art service lasted until 1941 following the improvement of roads and the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Northwestern Pacific was incorporated in 1907 as a joint effort between the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific to tap into the redwood lumber industry. Construction north was completed in 1914. Santa Fe backed out in 1929 and the NWP became an SP subsidiary from there on out. SP standardized the last of the narrow gauge and acquired the then electrified Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railroad in 1932. NWP operated the line until its abandonment in 1984. The entire line was dieselized in 1953 and traffic peaked in 1960.

    Unfortunately the following decades were marked by numerous natural disasters, buyouts, bankruptcy's, closures, and abandonments. However the NWP lives on today as a shortline serving mainly agricultural customers in Sonoma County. Along with the shortline, the railroad has seen a return of passenger operations with the SMART (Sonoma Marin Area Rapid Transit) Train, operating from Santa Rosa to a ferry connection at Larkspur.

    The Route in Train Simulator
    To best encompass the look, feel, and operations of the Northwestern Pacific the section of the route from Schellville to Willits would be the best portion to include in the game. From the "outside world" connection at Schellville the railroad passes through a diverse variety of scenery including marsh and farmland, rolling hills, river gorges, and redwood forests. This portion of the line also includes operational challenges such as the Ridge Grade just south of Willits and numerous yard, interchange, and industry switching opportunities at places like Willits, Healdsburg, Santa Rosa, and Petaluma.

    In addition to the NWP mainline the Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railroad should also be included from Petaluma to Santa Rosa by way of Sebastopol. Including this shortline would add a whole host of new switching opportunities at the various lineside communities and the NWP interchanges.

    Route map of the NWP system.
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    Era
    The route would be set in the late 1950's and early 1960's. This was the prime time for first generation diesel power on the NWP and P&SR. It was also the last years of operation for the tri-weekly San Rafael-Eureka passenger train "The Redwood".

    Operations
    The NWP was by and large a lumber hauling railroad though it also handled various agricultural products as well as other general freight. The way the railroad operated was loads south, empties north. Daily, there were two scheduled southbound (railroad west) freights hauling mainly lumber down from Willits to the connection with the rest of the SP network at Schellville as well as northbound (railroad east) extra trains handling mainly empties. There was also a great deal of switching work at the various yards along the route as well as local freights on the NWP and the P&SR. "The Redwood" passenger train also operated tri-weekly between San Rafael and Eureka.

    Included Content
    For motive power, the mainstay of NWP's local and mainline freight as well as passenger operations was the EMD SD7. For the route the SD7 would be modelled in the classic "Black Widow" paint scheme of much of SP's early diesels and also features the unique barrel mars light, model is pictured below.
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    As for switching and yard operations, the NWP commonly employed the EMD SW1 switcher, among its numbers included the first diesel locomotive bought for the Southern Pacific, SW1 No. 1000.
    [​IMG]

    For freight rolling stock, the essentials for the route include the boxcar and flatcar. To best encompass the general scope of rolling stock at the time, the route first and foremost must include a steel SP 40ft and wood NWP 40ft boxcar along with an SP flatcar with lumber loads as pictured below.
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    In addition to the boxcars and flatcar, the NWP Schelville-Willits route should also include an SP and generic grey tankcar, as well as a 2-bay cement hopper, PFE reefer, SP rock hopper, and NWP's unique rebuilt C-30-1 caboose.
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    Along with the freight stock, the route should also include appropriate passenger equipment for "The Redwood". During this time, the Redwood was a short train operating with an older heavyweight baggage car and two Daylight coaches painted stainless steel and red scheme of the Sunset Limited. Approximate models and full train shown below.
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    As for the P&SR, the motive power used for the shortline consisted of a pair of GE 44 Tonners numbers 1 & 2.
    [​IMG]

    Conclusion
    The Northwestern Pacific: Schelville-Willits route would make a fine addition to Train Simulator as not only does it provide for interesting and challenging operations but also diverse Northern California scenery. Also it fulfills the niche for SP 1st generation diesels, passenger, and shortline operations. Couple this route with maybe a backdated version of the Peninsula Corridor with both 1st and 2nd generation SP motive power and you have an almost complete picture of Southern Pacific's operations in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. This route is definitely worth the time and effort in R&D and will provide for hundreds of hours of entertainment in game.
     
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  2. NEC Railfan

    NEC Railfan Active Member

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    I love this idea, we could couple this with the SF-Suisun bay interurban, and a possible backdated Peninsula Corridor (which can in theory be done).

    Regarding rolling stock too, were there any steam locomotives serving alongside the SD7, or were they all retired by then?

    Maybe we could even bring this to G-Trax, if they're interested.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2020
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  3. Blacknred81

    Blacknred81 Well-Known Member

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    Based on what I got from the NWP page on Wikipedia, pretty much all were retired or scrapped by the mid 50's, #112 is the only NWP loco preserved.
    5164154765_9907539b20_b.jpg
     
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  4. NEC Railfan

    NEC Railfan Active Member

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    ahh ok, I would stick with diesels then, but perhaps another mainline size diesel, like an updated F7.
     
  5. jedi247

    jedi247 Well-Known Member

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    I love the SP Black Widow paint. The SD7 would be great, as would the switchers.
     
  6. aggiebob

    aggiebob New Member

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    This is a excellent proposal, however you may be better served submitting a proposal to Hiball for Run 8 simulator. Dovetail will not create a realistic NWP with non-ABS and train order or DTC type of operation. They will butcher it with non-existent CTC and numerous errors / inaccuracies like SP Donner Pass was. I doubt that Dovetail will even bother placing mile posts, station signs, proper switch stands, proper speed signs, etc. I would definitely enjoy an NWP simulation by a developer other than Dovetail.
     
  7. NEC Railfan

    NEC Railfan Active Member

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    Which is why the third party community exists. Besides, Donner Pass is 9 years old, it's gonna be screwed up in one way or another.
     

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