NWP (Northwestern Pacific – A Few Moments in History including the Petaluma and Santa Rosa R.R.

This slim booklet came into my possession when Roger Thornburn,my great friend and guru, was still with us. Putting this booklet onto the website/blog was something that we never got done. But, better late than never. Alas, I do not have the skill to create an E-Book like Roger so I have added every page in a gallery.

Until I re-read this booklet before I started this blog I had no recollection of ever heard of the Petaluma and Santa Rosa R.R. Check out pages 8 through 12 and you’ll know what I know.

Click on a page to see full size.




CN (Canadian National) Steam Loco #6060

Once upon  a time I lived in Montreal. One of my favorite places to on the weekend was the Montreal Locomotive Works (MLW). MLW was a Canadian railway locomotive manufacturer which existed under several names from 1883 to 1985, producing both steam and diesel locomotives.

CN_Steam_Loco #6060

CN #6060 was built in November 1944, and was one of 20 Mountain’s ordered for Canadian National. They were ordered during the Second World War, and were a step down in size from the much more prevalent Northern’s. As a result of the step down in size the mountain type had less power but more speed and served well as a general purpose workhorse.  In later years several locomotives lost the distinctive cone-shaped smokebox door cover, giving them the nickname “Bullet Nose Betty’s”.

CNR #6060 operated high-speed passenger and freight in Canada, until 1960 when her class was retired in 1960 due to dieselization. CNR 6060 was then put on static display in Jasper, Alberta in 1962. Then in 1972, she was restored, replacing Canadian National 6218 and became CN’s main excursion engine until the 1980’s, when she was retired again.

In 1985, Harry Home led efforts to restore CN #6060 and run it to Expo 86 in Vancouver after she was restored in Jasper, Alberta. She ran to Expo 86 along with Canadian Pacific 2860. After Expo 86, she was moved to the  Alberta Railway Museum, where she was stored until 1998 when she was moved to Stettler so she can operate regularly in the service of Alberta Prairie Steam Tour. As of 2009, she has been stored at the Rocky Mountain Rail Society.

I tell you all this ‘cos Club Member Ben Sochacki sent me a heads up of a abfab vid of CN #6060. Not a vid of the real thing but a vid of a seven and a half inch gauge model built by Ernie Beskowiney. Ernie put approximately 7 years and 35,000 hours into the design and construction of this flawless live steam locomotive. It is nearly entirely CNC’d out of stainless steel and is slightly larger than 1/8 scale. The operating pressure is 150 PSI and develops about 483lbs of tractive effort. It has pulled a train of 48 people without blinking. Here is the vid of Ernie firing up and running the locomotive at the Bitter Creek Western railroad.

Thanks Ben.

5.9 Earthquake North of us in Fort Bragg CA near Eureka

A small but strong earthquake shook through the Northern California coastline Sunday evening, March 8, at approximately 7:59 p.m.

The National Weather Service has reported the event was a magnitude 5.9 earthquake that began about 70 miles off the coast of Eureka, to the southwest, at a depth of approximately 1.2 miles, in the Mendocino Triple Junction.

The Mendocino Triple Junction is a point where three faults — the Gorda plate, the North American plate and the Pacific plate — meet in the Pacific Ocean near Cape Mendocino in Humboldt County. Seismic activity there is often responsible for the earthquakes felt in our area. There is strong suspicion that this triple junction might be the site of a future Tsunami.

I was sitting in my chair reading a book when the quake struck. No damage at our house.

5.9 Earthquake map

Seabiscuit – a horse that became the symbol of hope in the Depression

To get to visit Fort Bragg most visitors from the Bay Area go north up Route 101 and then turn west on Route 20 in Willits. When you are about 16 miles from Willits you pass a Casino on the east side of the road. At the Casino Route 101 starts a climbs of some nearly 800 feet to reach Willits. The climb is up what we call the Ridgewood Grade.

Seabiscuit was a champion racehorse in the United States. From an inauspicious start, Seabiscuit became an unlikely champion and a symbol of hope to many Americans during the Great Depression. Seabiscuit became the subject of a 1949 film, “The Story of Seabiscuit”, a best selling book, “Seabiscuit, An American Legend” and a 2003 film, “Seabiscuit”. SeaBiscuit spent his retirement at the Ridgewood Ranch off 101 south of Willits.

The one and only famous person (two or four legged) in a fifty mile radius of Fort Bragg is Seabiscuit. Seabiscuit is buried at the Ridgewood Ranch which you can visit. At the Ranch is the second of the two statues made of Seabiscuit. The first is at the Santa Ana Racecourse in Southern California – the scene of some of Seabiscuit’s triumphs.

Statue of Seabiscuit at the Ridgewood Ranch

Now to England. If, like me, you like “investing” on horses then Cheltenham is a good place to go. Cheltenham Festival is one of the most famous events in the National Hunt jump racing calendar and attracts thousands of spectators each year. It offers the second largest prize money in UK jump racing, second only to the Grand National.It is your chance to see the elite of the jump racing world compete at the highest level.

Racing at Cheltenhan in England

A visitor to our website recently pointed out that the link about Seabisuit is wrong. Finn wrote, “The website about the movie ‘SeaBiscuit’ included in your page is no longer providing useful information about the movie (the website has been bought by someone else and is now being used as a foreign blog about gambling!). If you’d still like to reference a page about this movie then we have a page with cast/crew/production information, where to watch it online and the trailer, and we’d love if you used it as a replacement -https://www.ahume.co.uk/blog/the-cheltenham-festival-etiquette-and-style-guideval/#seabiscuit. This link is adjacent to a whole piece about Cheltenham.

To save you looking here’s the text created by Finn …….

The SeaBiscuit Documentary

SeaBiscuit is one of the most popular race horses of all time, and when the film premiered in the UK the British Horseracing Board (who manage Cheltenham Festival) decided that they should sponsor the event. The documentary shows the life of the famed horse called SeaBiscuit, and all of the incredible obstacles that the horse and it’s team had to overcome to reach the top. It was released in 2003 and was based on a book called Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand. It was nominated for 7 academy awards and is crucial watching if you want to scrub up on your horse racing history.

The film stars Tobey Maguire and was directed by Gary Ross. You can watch it online in lots of places currently so no excuse not to check it out! It can be watched on Amazon and iTunes, and here is the trailer. 

I highly recommend the trailer. It gives you a quick overview of the film.


Mill info in the Fort Bragg Advocate of February 24th 1904 (Hardy Creek, DeHaven and Glen Blair)

This snippet appeared in the Fort Bragg Advocate on February 24th, 1904.

Mendocino Coast Mill Info

None of these  mills/places exist today. They are signs, dots on the map and/or inaccessible. Our website has their stories.

DeHaven ……. https://mendorailhistory.org/1_towns/towns/de_haven.htm

Glen Blair …… https://mendorailhistory.org/1_towns/towns/glen_blair.htm

Hardy Creek ……. https://mendorailhistory.org/1_towns/towns/hardy_creek.htm

How close have you ever been to a Nobel Peace Prize and an Olympic Gold Medal?

Not very I bet. Don’t fret. Neither have I. On the other hand daughter Annalise has. She sent me this e-mail today …….

“They’re very heavy. I got to explain 3D printing to two Olympic gold swimmers and a Nobel Laureate on Saturday night. Very strange evening. They were all very lovely people. The last picture is a 3D printed light up badge I made for (Berkeley University – where she works) library event staff that one of the Olympians ended up leaving wearing. ”

Nobel Peace Prize Cerificate

Nobel Peace Prize Medal and two Olympic Gold Medals

Lighted 3D printed medal

The sinking of the Arctic on July 12th, 1922

The Arctic was a wooden steam schooner built in 1901 by H.R. Reed at Bay City, Oregon for J.S. Kimball of San Francisco. She was used for the coastal lumber trade, was 392 tons, 145 x 32 x 11 feet with a single deck. She had a 350 h.p. triple expansion (3 – Cylinder) engine and 325, 000 board foot capacity. Other owners of the Arctic were Hammond Lumber Company; sold in 1908 to National Steamship Company and sold again in 1919 to Union Lumber Company. The Arctic wrecked at Point Arena on July 12th, 1922.

I have recently gleaned a little more about the wreck in a snippet that appeared in the Fort Bragg Advocate at the time of the wreck:

Wreck of the Arctic in the Fort Bragg Advocate

And, we even have a picture of her …..

The Arctic


Indian Pacific – the Australian Trans-Continental Train

I was talking to a gentleman at our Model Railroad a while back who thought I was an Aussie. Before I could tell him otherwise he asked me if I knew of Slim Dusty. I replied, “Yes.” “Then, ” he said you being “into” trains you know his song about the Indian Pacific.” Before I could answer he said, “You sound just like Slim in his song, “G’day, G’Day.”

As is usual as a result of such encounters I jot down something to help remind me of the conversation and to look up what I was presumed to know. Today I found a note with the words, “G’day, G’Day,” recalled the conversation and wrote this blog ………

If you want to learn Oz the song, “G’day, G’Day” is as good a place to start as any.

The Indian Pacific is Australia’s most famous train. It runs across Australia from Sydney to Perth. (Click to enlarge the map.)

Indian Pacific Route Map with elevations

It is one of the few truly transcontinental trains in the world. The train’s route includes the world’s longest straight stretch of railway track, a 297 mile stretch over the Nullarbor Plain. The length of the journey is 2,704 miles and takes between 70 and 75 hours.

This vid by Slim Dusty gives you an idea of what the Indian Pacific is all about.

My good friend and club member Hank Simonson and his wife Flo rode the Indian Pacific when they visited Oz to meet Flo’s cousins. Hank told me it was the highlight of his retirement.

PS – I was born in England