Switchbacks and pictures thereof are rare. There were two switchbacks on the Mendocino Coast on the Albion Lumber Company’s Railroad at Keane’s Summit – check out the website page for what we know.
In the very recent past there seems to have been an explosion of very interesting “old tyme” photos appearing here and there on the internet. Two of the ones I have “snagged” are of switchbacks – see below:
Giant log on switchback
Switchback on the Oregon Eureka Railroad
The picture above would have been a great basis of a diorama. It makes the switchback we have on our layout quite pedestrian!
If anybody has more “interesting” photos I’d be delighted to receive them.
At one time Fort Bragg “boasted” of having 37 brothels of which this, The Island of Joy, was one. Fort Bragg’s most famous brothel was reached by a suspension bridge! It was located off of Fort Bragg on a rock at the foot of Elm Street – see picture below.
Island of Joy
The suspension bridge pictured above took “patrons” out to the Island. The brothel lasted about a decade until it burned down in 1921. The local paper reported that “the town was blessed” when it burned. Several patrons are believed to have drowned when they fell from the suspension bridge whilst under the affluence of incahol.
Very recently a mile long stretch of the coastline in Fort Bragg has been opened to the public for the first time in over 100 years. A brand spanking new coastal trail has been installed as a result of the City of Fort Bragg acquiring a strip of land along the cliff tops which used to belong to the Union Lumber Company (and its successors). Check here for details.
Wife Sarah and I were doddling down the trail today with our behemoth of a dog (Princess Molly – a slobbering 10 year old bull mastiff weighing in at a cute 130 pounds) when I wondered if one could see the rock where the Island of Joy existed. Here’s the pic I took. It is in the right location – at the bottom of Elm Street but ……. I am not sure.
Rock off of Elm Street
Whilst there are nice signs along the trail I have severe doubts about the City raising one pointing to the Island of Joy!!!
Club members Joe Green, Frank Davis and I are building a trestle. Not any old trestle but a model of the long trestle that used to “live” close to the sea at the bottom of what is now McKerricher Park in Cleone just north of Fort Bragg.
Building a trestle isn’t easy – there is a lot of prep getting the wood ready, staining the wood, building the bents, assembly and installation. So, imagine you were the engineer standing where this pic was taken from before any of these trestles were built:
The longest trestle according to the photo is 1,830 feet long. The mind simply boggles at the immensity of the task. And the tools? A donkey engine driven pile driver and back breaking labour. And if you worked the pile driver look where you spent your working life:
Pile driver at work
Pile driver in operation
Boy oh boy am I glad I was born in 1943 and not 1843 and didn’t spend my working life in the woods.
Had a couple more railroad song suggestions to be added to our background music at our layout. Blair Ivey suggests “Train, Train” by Blackfoot. He says it has a “distinctive opening harmonica, but if you’re not a fan of hard rock, probably not going to make the playlist.” See what you think ……
This one was suggested by an older lady who likes classical music. I have a recording of it which I bought eons ago after hearing it played on a visit to Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens. The Copenhagen Railway Steam Galop, visualizes a journey from Copenhagen to Roskilde by steam train. “Galop” is spelt “Galop” – it’s not one of my “funny” spellings. Again, see what you think.
Kyle Stockman is one of the engineers in the CWR’s (California Western Railroad) enginehouse. Part of his job is to help keep CWR’s Steam Loco #45 running smoothly. Here’s Kyle perched on the front of #45:
Kyle on CWR’s 2-8-2 Light Mikado
CWR #45 is a Light Mikado. “Mikado” is the name generally assigned to the steam locomotives of the 2-8-2 wheel arrangement. The general assumption is that this appellation stems from the construction of locomotives of this wheel arrangement by Baldwin in 1893 which were constructed for Nihon Tetsudo (Japan Railways), a private railway at the time.
Kyle recently acquired an exquisite brass model of a light Mikado made by NWSL. Below are a couple of photos of her running on a circle of track we have at out layout in Fort Bragg.
NWSL Logging Mike
NWSL Logging Mike – side view
Kyle intends to have his model professionally painted in CWR livery. Hopefully by the time the painting is complete we’ll have an HO layout in addition to our huge G scale layout for him to run it on.
If you follow this blog you’ll realize that I field a lot of questions from visitors to the layout and via e-mail. The ones that I think are worthy of recording end up here in the blog. A question last weekend which stretched my mind a bit was, “You (that’s me) say that your layout is the only place along the Mendocino Coast that you can get any idea of what logging was like ‘in the good old days’. Is there any place at all where you can see vestiges of the original of what used to be?”
Well my mind quickly worked up the coast. “Albion – you can see where the railroad ran up the river. Mendocino – there’s a few posts on the headlands and there’s a some posts alongside Big River, up Big River there’s a few bits of the old dams they used, Rockport – yes Rockport I explained.”
I suggested to my questioner that he first visit the Rockport page in our website – check it out here – which is very comprehensive and then go check Rockport out for himself. First how to get there …….. here’s a Google map that helps a lot:
To the right of the road, Route 1, is where the workers lived and where the mill was located. Four of the mill workers houses are still there. Here’s a pic of what was there, “back then:”
Rockport from the north
The picture shows the railroad which crossed the road to the left and went down to the sea where the lumber was loaded out onto schooners moored offshore. The map shows the route to the sea. You can follow the path of the railroad and when you reach the beach you can see the remains of the trestle that carried the rails along the cliff. The railroad then went “out to sea” via two rocks and a suspension bridge. You can see all this in the pic below:
The beach at Rockport
If you look really carefully at the above picture you can see the line going out from the rock to the schooner that was used to carry the lumber to market.
If you want a detailed tour for yourself we can put you in touch with club member Mike Aplet who knows the area very well from the summers he has spent just up the road from Rockport. As Mike and his charming wife Laura will tell you, Rockport is a great place to visit.
Another question posed to me last weekend was, “I remember as a child travelling by train from Kansas City to San Francisco. Do you have any idea what train I might have traveled on?” My answer, “Off the top of my head, No.” Well since my answer I have had a quick search on the internet and a search in my collection of railway books.
As the person who asked the question was middle-aged it would mean that the journey took place around 50 years ago. This map shows probable route:
Double click on the map to “blow it up.” Although the map is as of 1891 I think the route would have been the same some 60 years later: Kansas to Topeka to Florence to Burriton to La Junta to Salt Lake City to Sacremento to San Francisco.
Does anybody know the name of the express train that one might have ridden?
A day or so ago – see blog just below – I was asked why we didn’t have railroad songs playing in the background on our layout. I asked the lady who made the suggestion to name her favorite five – which she did – right off the bat. At the end of the blog I asked if there were any more suggestions to add to our play list. Well, I’ve had two more suggestions:
Morningtown Ride by the Seekers. This version was filmed in 1966 on the ‘Puffing Billy’ near Melbourne with the kids from a local Children’s Home.
Midnight Special by Lonnie Donegan. Lonnie is a favorite of one of our club members. The legend of The Midnight Special is that a train would pass the prison each day at midnight and its headlight would flash through the bars and into the prison. The superstition was that if the light shone on you, that meant you would be the next man to get out of the prison.
My name is Tony Phillips. I was unanimously voted...
historian for our Model Railroad Club here in Fort Bragg. Which really means I was the sucker the members thought would take the job!
I have been extremely lucky to team up with Roger Thornburn who is the genius behind the scenes doing all the code and mirrors and flim flam stuff on this website - and he's English too so he knows what I'm talking about when I complain about my aching "plates of meat."
I see my job as assembling for the club members/world at large the material I and the Club have collected and I and the Club have been given into some semblance of order. The focus is not to create a history of the Mendocino Coast but to provide historical background to all the dioramas we are trying to include in our layout.
To all those who have helped me - a HUGE thank you.