McCloud Railway

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McCloud Railway
McCloud Railway logo.jpg
10 11 08 008xRP - Flickr - drewj1946.jpg
MCR No. 25, a 2-6-2 locomotive built by Alco in 1925. 2008 photo near McCloud.
Reporting mark MCR
Locale Mount Shasta, California
Dates of operation 1897 (1897)–2009 (2009)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Headquarters McCloud, California

The McCloud Railway (reporting mark MCR) was a class III railroad operated around Mount Shasta, California. It began operations on July 1, 1992 when it took over operations from the McCloud River Railroad. The MCR was incorporated on April 21, 1992.

The MCR provided both freight service as well as passenger excursion trains like the Shasta Sunset Dinner Train.

Freight traffic consisted of outbound lumber and forest products as well as diatomaceous earth (filtering). Approximately 3,000 carloads of freight (1996 estimate) were handled annually.

The MCR interchanged with the Union Pacific railroad (formerly Southern Pacific) at Mount Shasta, California.

On June 27, 2005, the railroad applied with the Surface Transportation Board to abandon most of its line. The proposal requests to abandon all MCR track beyond 3.3 miles (5.3 km) east of McCloud, California.[1]


The railroad operated on 95.5 miles (153.7 km) of track. The principal line ran from Mt. Shasta to Bartle. At Bartle, the Burney Branch headed south. The Burney Branch was completed in 1955.

The MCR also had a 19-mile (31 km) branch running from Bartle to Hambone, California. At Hambone the ownership changed to BNSF Railway (Great Northern) but was operated by the McCloud River Railroad. That line extended to Lookout Junction where it connected with the Great Northern Railway (U.S.) mainline just north of Bieber, California. The BNSF track east of Hambone (Hambone-Lookout) was abandoned and removed by A&K Railroad Materials in October 2005.

On June 28, 2005, the railroad petitioned the STB to abandon most of its line. Service on all line east of the McCloud Sawmill (now abandoned) has been terminated. A small section of line between McCloud CA and Mount Shasta CA remained open briefly for excursion and dinner train service. As timber demand declined, the railroad slowly cut back although new ownership also led to its downfall. In 2009, the railroad ceased operation and closed down. The property is now for sale as a rail/trail as of 2012.


A retired caboose in O'Brien, Oregon.
Last crew of McCloud #18, August 7th, 2005.

The MCR was originally built by the McCloud River Railroad. The McCloud River Railroad was chartered on January 22, 1897. By 1901 the line was running on 17.8 miles (28.6 km) of track between Mount Shasta and McCloud, California.

The railroad was primarily a logging railroad and thus had several different owners over the years including: U.S. Plywood Corporation (1963), U.S. Plywood-Champion Papers (1969), and Champion International (1972), Itel Corporation (1977). The railroad was sold to Jeff E. and Verline Forbis (4-Rails, Inc.) on July 1, 1992.

The railroad also had regular passenger service until 1952.

Motive Power[edit]

Lima Locomotive Works built two Shay locomotives for McCloud River Railroad in February 1912. Builders numbers 2401 and 2402 wore McCloud River numbers 16 and 17 until sold in 1924 to Fruit Growers Supply Company of Susanville, California as numbers 4 and 5.[1]

The railroad had three EMD SD38 locomotives numbered 36-38. Engines 36-38 were built for the McCloud River Railroad in April 1969 (Builder No. 34880-34882). The railroad owned a SD38-2, built August 1974 (Builder No. 74623-1), but sold it to Union Pacific in 1998.

The railroad also had two steam locomotives but one, No. 18, was sold to the Virginia and Truckee Railroad in 2005. The railroad owned locomotive No. 25 which ran on special occasions, but had not run since a double-heading train in 2001. No. 25 was out of service until September 2007, when it was rebuilt for a movie deal that later fell-through. The No. 25 had been stored in McCloud in operable condition. Both No 18 & 25 are oil burning locomotives. No. 18 made her first revenue run on the V&T on July 24, 2010. No. 25 was sold to the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad in March 2011 for their excursion operations out of Garibaldi, Oregon.

MCR once owned 1,182 freight cars (1996 estimate). Most of these have been sold since the abandonment of freight service.


  • Fickewirth, Alvin A. (1992). California railroads: an encyclopedia of cable car, common carrier, horsecar, industrial, interurban, logging, monorail, motor road, shortlines, streetcar, switching and terminal railroads in California (1851-1992). San Marino, CA: Golden West Books. ISBN 0-87095-106-8. 
  • Robertson, Donald B. (1998). Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History - Volume IV - California. Caldwell, ID: The Caxton Printers. ISBN 0-87004-385-4. 
  • Stindt, Fred A. (1996). American Shortline Railway Guide - 5th Ed. Waukesha, WI: Kalmbach Publishing. ISBN 0-89024-290-9. 
  • Walker, Mike (1997). Steam Powered Video's Comprehensive Railroad Atlas of North America - California and Nevada - Post Merger Ed. Faversham, Kent, United Kingdom: Steam Powered Publishing. ISBN 1-874745-08-0. 


  1. ^ Koch, Michael (1971). The Shay Locomotive Titan of the Timber. The World Press. p. 436. 

External links[edit]