Motorcars, Speeders, and Inspection Cars

By Wayne Parsons

Last McCloud Snow Run

  • The McCloud Railroad, now scheduled for abandonment, hosted it's last snow run on February 25 / 26, 2006 with fifteen cars from Southwest Railcars, LTD. 

  • Tom Phair was the meet coordinator.

  • The group set-on at McCloud, CA, ran east toward Burney three times (including one night run), and west to Mt. Shasta.  The weather was clear and sunny Saturday with rain arriving Sunday afternoon.


Wayne Parsons stops for a photo opportunity at the Bartle water tank near mile post 18.  Many volunteer work parties have labored over the years to stabilize this wooden structure.  Photo by Bob Marshall.

Who came & what they brought to run

Car #1 - Pat Coleman, Walnut Creek, CA, former President of Southwest Railcars and President of NARCOA, operates this MT-19 with a Honda engine.
Car #2 - Debbie Silva and Bob Marshall of Long Beach, CA, with his "enclosed car," a MT-19.  Note the small Magellan GPS around Bob's neck.

Car #3 - Wayne Parsons and UP-2644 on its' first club run.  The car was used on the Union Pacific and later acquired by the Sumpter Valley Railway in Oregon.  They intended to narrow gauge it but never did.  For awhile this speeder was on loan to the Idaho Northern Pacific.  Sumpter Valley sold it to Parsons in April 2004.
Car #4 - Bill Rust and son Will Rust from Halcyon, CA, operate this beautifully restored M-9.  The old leather trunk used to carry tools and lunch is a quirky accessory that seems just right for the car.

Car #5 - Bernie Leadon III, Nashville, TN and his father Bernie Leadon, Jr.  As a young man the elder Leadon worked for a bank in the Burney area just before WWII.  He went on to become an aircraft designer with Pratt & Whitney and teach engineering at the university level in Florida.
Car # 6 - Charley Lix (right) of Sparks, NV, and passenger Keith Patterson operate this MT-19A.

Car #7 - Becky Osborne and Brent Gordon, Roseville, CA, along with BC the dog operate this MT-14L.  Brent found BC as a stray in Canada and rescued him.
Car #8 - Ron Huey of Shasta Lake City, CA, and passenger David Jungkeit (right) rode this Woodings.  Note the locomotive type radio antenna on the roof.

Car #9 - Matt Shuman, of Redding, CA also operated a Woodings.  Matt is President of the Shasta Cascade Rail Preservation Society.
Car #10 - Roy and Bev Gammill of Los Osos, CA are making their first motorcar event in their Canadian MT-19.  Roy did a frame up restoration on this car and had no problems on the run.  First car, first restoration, and first run all at once.  Wow!

Car #11 - Evan Chapman (left) of Mt. Baldy, CA is operating this nicely restored Santa Fe "A" car. (Does anyone know the name of the guy in the center?)  Eric Muller (right) of Everett, WA, bought a MT-14M that was being stored in the McCloud engine shop.
Car #12 - Rob Baur, Lake Oswego, OR, is operating this beautifully restored Tamper speeder; one of six known to still exist.  It is the only one your reporter has ever seen on rails.  I have heard the windows are so big that, when towed, they hazard being blown in by the wind.  Rob reports having no problems.

Hy-Rail - Millie Niemi (where's Rudie?) of Alamo, CA, strikes a pose next to the Hy-Rail.
Bo & Joyce Johansen, San Leandro, CA. and their MT-19.  Unfortunately Bo injured his foot when he slipped on stairs at his hotel and had to go home early. 

Car #14 - Meet Coordinator Tom Phair, Alamo, CA and Roz Breuner ride in a CN Rail A-4E and tow the very welcome "blue room."


Last Snow Run?

  • The McCloud Railroad has filed for abandonment on much of its' track that includes the Burney, Hambone and Bartle lines.  Unless new investors are found, only enough track for the dinner train to operate between McCloud and Mt Shasta may remain.


  • With the weather in the upper 50's, this cowling cover was soon removed.


  • Not pictured in the line-up photos is Dave Cook of McCloud, CA, and his MT-19.  Dave, sorry I missed getting a photo of you with your MT-19.

Set-On, Inspection, and Safety Meeting

When describing the hobby to someone I'm often asked how do you get it there?  My answer is this light custom built trailer with no deck and electric brakes.  Loading and unloading the speeder is done with rails that pull out of the frame members that the speeder wheels ride on. 

The 2100 pounds of trailer and speeder are easily handled by the Suburban 1500 with a 5.7L V8 255 hp engine, a 3:73 ratio rear axle, and a heavy duty auxiliary transmission cooler.


After set-on in the McCloud yard, the cars are rolled inside the engine house for inspection and overnight storage.  Bo, BC, and Brent handle the inspection paper work.

  • Steam engine 18 has been sold to the Virginia & Truckee line now being rebuilt in Nevada..


  • Car #15 - Bernie inspects Dave Cook's car.


Meet Coordinator Tom Phair has lead many volunteer work parties on the MCRRR and conducts today's safety meeting.

The bad news is a derailment of six lumber cars at MP 36 will prevent getting to Burney.  The good news is a night run is being added to the schedule.

Saturday Daytime

After leaving the McCloud yard this is a typical view as we head toward Bartle.

Rest stop at Dry Creek.

More of the long straight stretches of track on the way to Bartle.  The speeder shed on the right is near a road crossing at MP 17.

After turning south at the Bartle Y, the group crosses Hwy 89 near mile 20.

Two miles later at about MP 22.5 the snow between the tracks is catching on the car frames and turntables.  Three chain drive cars hooked together try to break through the high center drift but the heavy snow in this area of deep forest shadow stops us.  Leader Pat Coleman radios that the group must turn back. 

Back inside the McCloud yard limits, the group stops to explore the equipment and cars stored in this area.  As we socialize, talk soon turns to future runs that Tom Phair will lead in Oregon and Canada.  THANK YOU Tom for organizing this weekend on the McCloud.


We return to the shop area on the scale track.

Next is the night run.

Saturday Night-Run

Night runs are hard to photograph but they're fun to do!  These photos are from the turnaround-point short of Hwy 89.  You can just make out the disappearing tail lights as cars pull away in the upper left photo.  McCloud is the ideal situation for a night run because it has few road crossings and no cattle.  Operators tonight turned on their strobe lights momentarily to signal the cars behind them where the road crossings were located.  For rear aspect lights I have only the cars' original red bee-hive lights.  The operator behind me reported that they were very visible and more than adequate ("bright as hell" is how he put it).

Sunday - McCloud to Mt. Shasta City

Sunday morning the group runs 5.1 miles up the hill to the Signal Butte switchback which can hold 28 freight cars. 


Cars without turntables must back about two miles to the road crossing (below) near Pierce.

Standing on the foundation of the turntable used in the days of steam, Dave Cook of McCloud, CA, recounts the history of Signal Butte including the operation of the light that gave the peak its name.


  Just when the head end of the speeder group reaches the Mt. Shasta yard, a UP freight comes by on the main line.  The engineer gives a warning blast on his horn as we scramble for our cameras.

One of the McCloud Railroad's operational problems is the age and weight of its' rail.  Handling the heavy lumber cars of today is difficult when your road is light 75 and 90 pound rail the last of it laid in 1931. 

Contrast that with the UP main line here which is 136 pound welded rail laid in 1984.




The M-9 needs a little help getting up the hill from Mt. Shasta City.  From the passenger seat of the belt drive, Will Rust takes the photo below showing the graceful curves on the climb back to Signal Butte.  On returning to the McCloud engine house, and with rain about to arrive, half of the group sets off and heads home.  After a lunch break, seven operators head back toward Bartle.


Sunday - Last look

Switching onto the scale track.

Matt Shuman in his Woodings tops a small ridge.


Dave Cook passes the Bartle water tank.

Rudie and Millie Niemi in the Hy-Rail set off.


Turning Ron Huey's Woodings.

To turn his Santa Fe A car, Evan Chapman jacks up the front and rear and inserts large swivel wheels into receivers on the frame.


The tracks of the McCloud River Railroad disappear into the cold mist and descending twilight.

Approximate Mileage  
Saturday McCloud to MP 22.5 and return 45.0
Night Run McCloud to Hwy 89 and return 40.0
Sunday McCloud to Mt. Shasta and return 30.4
Sunday McCloud to Bartle Y and return 36.0

Click here to jump to June 2007 McCloud Run

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