Trains Along the Russian River

images of trains along the Russian River

When the first excursion trains rumbled to the Russian River area on Sunday, March 25, 1877 the passenger cars were an assortment of open-end platform wooden coaches.  Fifty years later the same type of cars were still bringing thousands of excursionists to the local resort towns. It must have been something to see the black smoke billowing from the balloon stack, listening to the whistle as ol’ NO. 11 rolled into the station.  Perhaps the best part of the summer months was having the entire lower river available as your personal playground. When passenger and freight trains weren’t scheduled, the railway used the tracks to offer a kind of trolley service using an ancient steam engine and open railway car recycled from the old timber days. (more…)

Freight Trains from Occidental to S.F., 1915

Image of 1915 freight trainFreight trains in 1915 would normally leave Occidental in rural Sonoma County around 7:30 a.m. for the ferry terminal at Sausalito and return late afternoon.  While timber had been the main cargo for the previous three decades, greed reduced the redwoods to 5% of their original growth.  The final knockout was the Russian River fire of September 17, 1923, which burnt everything from Guerneville to the Pacific Ocean.  With this calamity, there was a shift in merchandise.  (more…)

Railroad Misadventures along the Russian River of Old

Image of railroad at Monte RioThere were plenty of railroad misadventures along the banks of the Russian River of old.  The first wreck of the Fulton and Guerneville Line (an offshoot of the SF & NP R.R.) was in 1898.  While a locomotive was switching over to the turntable in Guerneville, it gave a nudge to a string of flats.  The brakes bled and the cars started off on the slight downgrade to Guernewood Park.  At the same moment, the Bully Boy was coming from Mission Gulch (present day Old Cazadero Rd.) with six loads of logs.  On the curve (where Old Caz Rd & Hwy. 116 meet), a head-on crash sent Bully Boy airborne. (more…)

All Aboard the Northwestern Pacific R.R.

image of Northwestern Pacific RR posterImage of Northwestern Pacific R.R. train“All Aboard for the Russian River” was a familiar call back in the day.  It must have been a thrilling sight when the Northwestern Pacific R.R. pulled into Guerneville along the Russian River.  The route began in 1876 and reached its peek in 1926 with 14,000 passengers on a summer weekend (30,000 on 4th of July).  After paying your round-trip fare of $1.25, you would board a ferry at the foot of Market Street in San Francisco for Sausalito.  From there you might do the “Triangle Trip”.  (more…)

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