There 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.
Railroad Misadventures (cont):
Bully Boy did a three-sixty and landed right side up. The locomotive was crippled but no lives were lost. That is one acrobatic engine!
In another incident, the heavy rains of 1920 washed away much of the line just past Mesa Grande (now Villa Grande) along present-day Moscow Road. All attempts failed to clear the tracks. From Sausalito, the Northwestern Pacific sent a hydraulic pump and a heavy duty locomotive with 200 pounds of steam pressure. The beast traveled at just 10 mph but still managed to break 15 rails. Upon its arrival, another storm hit the area, creating another slide which flipped over the engine and the steam shovel operator. A fellow worker waded through the soup, latched onto the ankle of his buddy and pulled him back up to daylight. The operator suddenly came back from the dead and nearly bit off his rescuer’s hand who was clearing debris from the victim’s mouth. Mother Nature won out for the rest of that winter as passengers would have to dismount the train on one side of the slide, walk around and board another car for the remainder of their trip to Duncan Mills and beyond. A hardy bunch for sure.
Thanks to Fred Stindt, author of Trains to the Russian River.