Motorcars, Speeders and Railcars

By Wayne Parsons

McCloud Railway

Saturday - June 9, 2007

Coordinator: Tom Phair

Southwest Railcar Ltd.

Burney To Bartle To Hambone

The McCloud Railway Company (MCR) headquarters is located in McCloud, California, 70 miles north of Redding, near the snow capped natural landmark of Mount Shasta.  The line runs east from the city of Mt. Shasta (where it interchanges with the Union Pacific) to McCloud and on to a wye at Bartle.  From Bartle (see map right) the line runs northeast to Hambone and south to the town of Burney.  At one time Burlington Northern track connected at Hambone permitting interchange of lumber and wood chip products from the Sierra Mill near Burney.  Unfortunately this traffic declined and BNSF filled for abandonment in 2003 and removed the Hambone connection in 2005.  According to the McCloud Railway web site: "dinner train business [at McCloud] remains strong.  Several hundred GE Capital owned boxcars are stored on the railroad, producing small amounts of revenue from storage fees.  The railroad continues to search for additional revenue sources; talks are on-going with potential freight shippers, including bottled water facilities interested in locating in McCloud.  [The McCloud Railway] continues to live on the edge, and economic winds could easily blow the company either direction.  Only time will tell."

On Saturday June 9,2007 twenty three speeders ran the Burney Line and what remains of the Hambone-Lookout Line from Bartle to Hambone.  Hundreds of UP refrigerator cars are stored on the main line west of Bartle.  So the group returned to Burney in the afternoon, set-off, and hauled their cars by road to McCloud for Sunday's operations.

Set-on and set-off in the Burney equipment yard is very easy due to the long section of track at grade level.  Mike and Lynn Flaherty from Newcastle, CA have a tilt bed trailer.

After the safety meeting and departure from Burney, the first event is taking this spur at mile post B54 two miles to an old mill site.  On maps this is shown as the Four Corners Spur.  On timetables it is listed as the Lorenz Spur.


Meet Coordinator Tom Phair talks about the closed mill and the quarry now operating on the site.  The quarry does not use the line for shipping.
Always exciting is crossing this high bridge over Lake Britton.  Sadly, with much track to cover today, we do not stop for one last group photograph.

North of Clayton this crossing was damaged by a low boy truck or heavy equipment.  The work party installed wooden runners in place of the rail.
West of the wye at MP 19 is this spectacular view of Mt. Shasta.  The water tank pictured at the top of this page is just around the curve.

Our turnaround point is a road crossing near this speeder shed.  The track on the right is a short stub.
I think this speeder shed is one of the most picturesque anywhere.  Model railroaders can easily add the barrel and switch stand details seen here.  Capturing the texture and colors of the aged wood, faded paint, and rusty roof are more challenging.

To the right is Bartle where we set-on.  Tom Phair operates the switch sending us off northeast to Hambone.
I call this "Driving through Bambi's house."  With this part of the line no longer connecting with BNSF, MCR has not allocated the resources to clear the small brush and trees that grow on the right of way.  That may change when more UP cars arrive for storage here.

This is Hambone at mile post 31.  Bo Johansen from San Leandro, CA looks past the end of track in the direction of the BNSF junction at Lookout, 34 miles away down this roadbed of red lava rock.  Along the way the track passed Porcupine (N4123' W12135') where the lava rock, found on the entire MCR line, was quarried.  Model railroaders should note the depressions left by the removed ties and the added service road found along the roadbed on even this remote section of line.


This tool shed /warming hut was very useful to repair crews as evidenced by the effort to preserve it with the addition of modern plywood over the original plank walls.  The altitude here is 4,300 feet.  In the winter, hungry deer eat the plywood to get what little nutrition there is in the glue and paint.  As the winter snows rise, the deer eat ever higher.
Inside the shed is this wood stove made from the rounded end of a tank.  Graffiti on the walls records weather conditions.

If the track becomes blocked by cars in storage, speeders may never get back here.  Already gone is the Hambone sign seen in October 2004.
This is the south end of the wye at Bartle.  Lumber cars from Burney (ahead in the direction of travel) used this now broken switch for movements to Hambone.  A derailment caused this damage.  The end of interchange traffic to Hambone and design / dimension factors unique to this switch have prevented repair. 

Near mile post B26 is this beautiful sweeping curve (left) that has twice been the site of very expensive wash-out repairs by the current owner.  Continuing with ideas for a model railroad: add damaged rail and culverts to create a repair scenario.  Note how the rocks around the new culverts are stabilized with concrete.


Here at Obie Junction, mile post B31.4, a one mile spur ran to a mill and balloon loop at Pondosa.  The spur was put out of commission when an over-height truck hit the spur trestle that crossed Hwy 89.  The inset detail is a body removed from a boxcar to create a flat car.  Several of these bodies are used for tool and equipment shelters around the railway.
At Ditch Creek, mile post B41, a short stub is all that remains of 12 miles of lumber spurs. 

Cayton, mile post B47, has a 1740 foot siding.  The small shed may have once been used for speeders but, the heavy rail and lack of doors suggest that its' last use was for equipment such as a tie puller.
The MT-14L on the left belongs to Debbie and Lonnie Hughes from Moorpark, CA.  The lineup gathers to cross Hwy 89 as a group.

Above the lineup is approaching Berry.  We're about four miles from Bartle and set-off at 5:00pm. 

Set-off in the Bartle equipment yard went quickly.  After driving to McCloud, over half of the group set-on Saturday evening.  Thank you Southwest Railcar, Tom Phair, and members of the work party for making this a great speeder run!

Burney (Set-on) to Lorenz Spur Junction 7.0  
Junction to Lorenz Mill site 2.0  
Lorenz Mill site to Junction 2.0  
Lorenz Spur Junction to Bartle 36.0  
Bartle to Hambone 13.0  
Hambone to Bartle 13.0  
Bartle to Burney (Set-off) 43.0  
Total Saturday Mileage   116.0

Click here to see Sunday's ride from McCloud to Mt Shasta

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