Derailment of Two California Western Railroad (CWR) Prairie (2-6-2t) Locos north of Cleone on CWR’s Ten Mile Branch – Maybee?????

A few days ago a gentleman named Mervin Mahler sent me four photos that I believe were taken from a scrapbook or photo album. I have separated them and you can see them below:

Derailment crew

Derailment #1

Derailment #2

Derailment #3

In his e-mail Mervin said …… “I received this with a group of Rockport photo’s. I know that these engines would not be [from there]. Have you seen these engines before? Willits to Eureka line?”

I wrote back ……….  Attached is the picture of the train crew which I have converted to black and white and enlarged. If you look behind the left gentleman’s elbow it looks like rocks or possibly a pier in the water. Looking along the line of the right hand gentlemen’s shoulder to the edge of the photo looks like cliffs. The ground in all the photos looks very sandy.”

Derailment crew converted to b & w and enlarged

I continued ….. “One engine is a 2-6-2 and has #1 on it so I’ll search to see what pics I have of 2-6-2’s and get back to you.  So, your guess of Rockport I think is a good one. My guess would be the Ten Mile Branch not too far from Ten Mile river.”

I started to go through my collection and homed in on the Western Railroader devoted to the CWR. Shonuff there they were:

CWR Locos 11 and 12

The final question is where the derailment happened. Well, the only place that I know of that the CWR went near the sea was on the Ten Mile Branch. This photo shows the route of Ten Mile branch along the dunes by Inglenook Fen.

Coast line along Inglenook Fen with path of Ten Mile branch marked

This pic is for the same stretch of coast taken from the above.

Google map of location of Inglenook section of the Ten Mile Branch

Anyone have more info or better ideas?


Union Pacific’s (UP) Big Boy (4-8-8-4) on display in Omaha

Over 40 years ago I lived in Omaha. Whilst there I managed to wangle a visit to UP’s shops. I took photos I know but can I find them? No way, Jose.

The exhibit you are about to see did not exist when I was there. The vid shows a Big Boy on display. I learned of it courtesy of a heads up from our Club’s (The Mendocino Coast Model Railroad and Historical Society) VP, Lonnie Dickson. Lonnie worked for SP (Southern Pacific) and UP after the merger of the two for his entire career.

Pretty cool eh?

Pomo Native American Tule Reed Canoes

The blog started off when I found this pic on Lynn Catlett’s “You know you are from Mendocino if ……”:

Tule Reed Canoe on Clear Lake (Lake Co, CA.)

Something told me I knew more about a canoe on Clear Lake (in Lake County, CA). But what? A week or so after garnering the photo I was in the weed patch shovelling horse poop when it hit me.

Soon after we came to Fort Bragg in 2000 my sister Karen came to visit. By a collective decision (wife Sarah and the tribe of four kids) a trip to Lakeport was decided upon. It was ghastly hot so the  all but went pedaloing on the Lake. I toddled off to the Museum to see if they had any examples of obsidian arrow heads used by the Pomo Native Americans. And much to my gratification there was a superb collection of arrowheads and spear points – see below:

Pomo native American obsidian arrowheads and spear tips

I was very surprised to see a canoe there. At the time I never knew that the Pomo Native Americans built canoes. The canoe is still there …….

Pomo Native American Tule Reed Canoe in the Lakeport Museum

Pomo Native American Reed Canoe in the Lake Port Museum

Being one who wants to know the ins and outs of everything I learned that the reeds used were Tule reeds. I had heretofore always associated the word “Tule” with fog. Wrong again!

Tule (pronounced too-lee) is a plant that has been a part of California Indian culture for millennia. It is one of the most versatile plants in California, and multiple species grow in different environmental regions. Two major species in California are the common tule and California bulrush.

Bundle of Tule Reeds

Tule is related to papyrus, one of the most famous plants worldwide due to its use by the ancient Egyptians. Early surveyors to California lauded the potential of tule for paper products, due to its similarity to papyrus. The industry never took off, to the benefit of the plant, but those early accounts reveal the richness of the resource two centuries ago. Tule used to thrive all over California. Essentially, as long as there was a waterway, there was tule. Tule can grow in any type of freshwater—along rivers, lakes, and estuaries, both near the coast and inland. Huge tule fields spanned the state. There used to be a large tule field in the center of Santa Barbara, which the Schmuwich Chumash called Kaswa’ (place of the tule). Early photographs from the turn of the twentieth century reveal tule fields in Pomo Native American territory near Clear Lake; community members used those tules to build traditional dwellings. The Pomo tribes say the tule along Clear Lake is not doing very well.

Tule Reeds being cut by a Pomo Natibe American woman at Clear Lake

As a water-loving plant, tule has faced a multitude of threats due to drastic landscape changes over the past two centuries. For example, the former Tulare Lake in Central California, was named for the rows of tule plants that lined its shores. This lake used to be the largest freshwater body of water in California, home to tule elk (also named after the plant, one of the elk’s primary food sources), waterfowl, fish, and mussels. By the 1930s the lake had completely dried up, due to the conversion of land for agriculture and ranching in the Central Valley. The loss of Tulare Lake severely impacted the cultural traditions of the Yokuts peoples, who have lived in that area for thousands of years.

The health of the water also impacts tule. Although tule is mostly used as a building material, it is also a traditional food source. Native California peoples ate the white tuber portion of the root that goes down into the water. Today, the water that tule grows in is often stagnant and polluted.

Tule Reed canoe on the water

Tule Reed Canoe on the bank by Tule Reeds

Modern Tule Reed Canoe




Mendocino Coast Model Railroad located in Fort Bragg, CA. – Dates and Times Open

During the pandemic we are closed. Normally we are open when the California Western Railroad’s Skunk Train runs.

When open our G Scale logging layout (The Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Navigation Co.)  has seven trains running on it.  When possible our Ain’t Goin Nowhere Railroad (which features our very large locomotives) is also open. Our Logging Museum incorporates a mini cinema showing old logging movies. We also have a space devoted to The Little People where they can play trains.


  • Free with a Skunk Train ticket.
  • If not riding the Skunk Train:   Adults – $5.00; Children – $3.00

Rainbows along the Mendocino Coast

Rainbows are as rare as hen’s teeth along the Mendocino Coast. My grandma used to tell me that a rainbow meant it was a monkey’s birthday – don’t ask I don’t know. These pics are the result of several years of collecting. I’d like to thank those who took the pics – regretfully I can’t thank each personally.

Click on any photo to see full size and initiate the gallery.

Rockport – The Finkbine-Guild Lumber Company

The website has info on Rockport here. In this blog there are several blogs about Rockport – use “Rockport” in the word search.

Initially pictures and info on Rockport were as scarce as hen’s teeth. As time has progressed many of the initial ones have re-appeared over and over again. Those in this post are new to me.

Click on any photo to see full size and activate the gallery.

Exbury Gardens 12 1/4″ scale railroad and its Rhododendron Gardens in Hampshire, England

Most evenings I retreat to my office and read, work on blogs and try to figure out how the pyramids were built. When I am done I join wife Sarah in the sitting room and get dessert. Sarah sits and knits and watches the telly whilst I root around in my office. Sarah likes gardening and gardening shows. I hate gardening but labour in our garden on the basis that it is a shared job albeit I am the very junior partner.

Recently Sarah has been watching a five part BEEB (BBC) production about the 2019 RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) show at Kew. As I watched I was generally amusing myself trying to decode at least one of the latin names that these green fingered bods throw out like machine gun bullets. In the production there are visits to the genius gardeners showing how they do it. Raising 214 different type of Hostas seems a bit excessive to me but, different strokes for different folks. Right?

Any road, I came to attention when the proggy centered on Rhodies (Rhododendrons). The reason for my perking up was that Bob Bodie (one of the clubs earliest members – he was N scale) owned on of the largest Rhodie nurseries in Fort Bragg and current member Bruce Philp still operates a Rhodie nursery. Our modified weed patch has quite a few rhodies acquired from Bob when he was alive and Bruce.

The visit was to a place called Exbury Gardens which, whilst I am English, I had never heard of or been to. So here I am checking out Exbury Gardens and, more importantly, their steam train which, the BEEB insisted, was 12 1/4 inch gauge.

Exbury Gardens is a garden in Hampshire, England, belonging to a branch of the Rothschild family. It is situated in the village of Exbury, just to the east of Beaulieu across the river from Bucklers Hard. Exbury is a 200-acre informal woodland garden with very large collections of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias, and is often considered the finest garden of its type in the United Kingdom.

Exbury is not too far from Brighton on the south coast where my folks live. Click on any image to see pics full size.

Brighton to Exbury Map

These pics show off thew gardens”

In the north east corner of the gardens there is also the 12 14 in (311 mm) gauge Exbury Steam Railway that goes on a journey through a tunnel, around Dragonfly Pond, through the Summer Lane Garden, along the top of the rock gardens and into the American Garden. The railway was built in 2000–2001 as an additional attraction in the gardens. Three narrow gauge style 0-6-2 tender tank locos were built specially for the line by the Exmoor Steam Railway. The railway has proved to be more popular than anyone had anticipated, with trains often needing to be double headed.  It is notable for having carried the Queen on a footplate trip round the railway.

If you are up to it here is a vid. There were quite a few available vids but I liked this one the best.

I’ve put it on my bucket list!!!!

And, I never did find out why 12 1/4″ (311mm) gauge.

2009: Trains in the Gardens – The Digger Creek and Northern R.R. G scale layout built by the Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Historical Society

In 2009 the Club did not have a website. I had created a very thick looseleaf book of articles and background material for our Digger Creek & Northern Railroad. In the spring of 2009 the idea was mooted of creating a book using the material I had collected which we could sell to the hundreds of visitors that the layout received. I met our to-be computer guru Roger Thornburn that summer and he and I decided we would try and create a book basically of pictures of Digger Creek & Northern through a website of which he knew. Roger took pictures and I took pictures and with the help of Roger’s wife Nancy we created and sent off a book. I still have my copy.

The book has never made it to the internet ‘cos I did not want to destroy my copy scanning its contents. Very recently I have been going through a hard drive of “stuff” that Roger left me of things we worked on before he died and things that never got worked on. As I was going through I saw a file folder named “full.” Intrigued I opened it up and lo and behold there were the pages of the book that Roger sent off to the printer.

So, here in a gallery, is our book, “2009: Trains in the Gardens.” Click on any picture to bring up the gallery and see the pages nearly full size.

Three things – One, Basil Casabona worked like a champ on the layout and somehow a pic of him never got into the book. Two – we never sold one damned copy of the book!!!!!- Three – the sayings in the book were found by Roger and Nancy.