Monday, May 26, 2014

Niles Canyon Railroading

Niles Canyon Railway; Fremont, Calif.; March 9, 2014
So far we have had a quartet of posts from the California trip in March. We visited the bridges of downtown Los Angeles, spent an evening watching trains at Commerce, visited Merle Haggard's boyhood home of a converted refrigerator car, and watched dusk turn to night on The Embarcadero. In this, our final installment on the trip, we visit Niles Canyon, located just east of Fremont.

On the day after Winterail, the Niles Canyon Railway hosted its annual photographers' trip. The stars of the show were Clover Valley Lumber 2-6-6-2T No. 4 and Western Pacific F7 No. 918-D (above). The steam locomotive (which powered a freight train) was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in March 1924. The F-unit was built by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors in January 1950. While both locomotives are now working in Niles Canyon, they spent some (if not most) of their working lives further north in California in the Feather River Canyon.

The first set of photo runbys were held at Niles Junction right on the edge of Fremont. No. 4 made for a fine sight as it pulled its freight train.
Niles Canyon Railway; Fremont, Calif.; March 9, 2014
Moving further east into the canyon, No. 4 put out some smoke for the assembled photographers. Not to be outdone, No. 918-D also put a wisp of diesel exhaust into the air.
Niles Canyon Railway; Fremont, Calif.; March 9, 2014
Niles Canyon Railway; March 9, 2014
One more set of runbys was held as the two trains made their way back to the starting point of the trip -- the station in Sunol. The trackage used by the trains is former Southern Pacific. The former Western Pacific (now used by Union Pacific) also shares the canyon (we'll get to that in a minute). No. 918's orange nose along with the green foliage gave a very Feather-River-Canyon-ish look to the scene.
Niles Canyon Railway; Fremont, Calif.; March 9, 2014
Niles Canyon Railway; Fremont, Calif.; March 9, 2014
Back at Sunol, conductor Mike Roque posed for photos with the two trains. Mike coordinated the runbys under sometimes tough conditions (the riders ranged from casual photographers who wandered everywhere to serious photographers who wanted people-free shots). Mike somehow herded the cats to give everyone who wanted a quality photo the results they were seeking.
Mike Roque; Niles Canyon Railway; Sunol, Calif.; March 9, 2014
At the Niles Canyon Railway shop at Brightside (just west of Sunol) a quick peek inside revealed the restoration work on Southern Pacific No. 9010. This unit is a unique diesel-hydraulic machine imported from Germany. Only SP and the Denver & Rio Grande Western purchased them, and No. 9010 is the sole survivor. It is being returned to operating condition by the NCRy forces.
Niles Canyon Railway; Brightside, Calif.; March 9, 2014
Word had come down that Union Pacific was sending a freight over the former Western Pacific through Niles Canyon. With the activities at the Niles Canyon Railway complete, I headed into Fremont to the extreme west end of Niles Canyon and shot the train there.
Union Pacific; Fremont, Calif.; March 9, 2014
There was one more shot to get in the area, as Amtrak California sends several trains through each day. I headed to the bank of Alameda Creek and got a train approaching the site of where Niles Tower once stood. The rear of the Amtrak train is actually only a couple hundred yards away from where the top photo in this blog entry was taken.
Amtrak; Fremont, Calif.; March 9, 2014
Once I was done here I headed into San Francisco for the previously-posted evening on The Embarcadero. You can see all the photos from this day here.

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