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Western Pacific Other Acquisitions

The Nevada-California-Oregon Railway

The N-C-O was essentially the present-day 33 mile branch from Reno Junction (formerly Rainbow) to Reno, Nevada, is related to the N-C-O only by use of two segments, aggregating fifteen and a half miles, of that road's former narrow gauge right-of-way, but the story back of it is quite involved and interesting. In 1917, the year the Western Pacific entered the Reno picture, the Nevada-California-Oregon Railway had trackage from Reno north 235.71 miles to Lakeview, Oregon, via Plumas Junction (formerly ''Junction,'' ''Moran,'' and ''Cuba'') Doyle, Hackstaff, now Herlong, Wendel, Madeline and Alturas, California. There was also a 39.4 mile branch, then known as the Sierra Valley Branch of the N-C-O, extending west from Plumas Junction to Davies Mill, now known as Graeagle, near Blairsden. Originally this line had been projected to Quincy and construction authorized to Mohawk, but was never constructed beyond Davies Mill. On March 24, 1917 on agreement was reached to sell to the Western Pacific the 64.42 mile section between Reno and Hackstaff and the 39.4 mile branch from Plumas Junction to Davies Mill and the sale of the total 103.82 miles took place on June 11, 1917 for a price of $700,435.00.

The WP then started construction of the standard gauge line. Commencing from the east entrance of the Chilcoot tunnel a new right-of-way was laid out in a southeasterly direction 2.61 miles to Milepost 35.00 on the N-C-O, just eight-tenths of a mile north of Plumas Junction. (The Sierra Valley Branch west from Plumas Junction followed a longer course via Dinwiddie Creek and on up over Beckwourth Pass.) They then standard gauged the N-C-O track 7.5 miles to Purdy, now Peavine, on the California-Nevada state line which was Milepost 27.5 on the N-C-O, constructed a new and shorter (by 5.04 miles) line along the south side of Lemmon Valley via Copperfield and Anderson to the top of the hill at Milepost 8.0 on the N-C-O, then standard gauged and followed the old winding N-C-O line, except for changing the alignments of the curves into Reno. Standard gauging of the narrow gauge line was done by laying rails outside of both narrow gauge rails and narrow gauge operation continued while standard gauge construction was in progress.

The old N-C-O route from Milepost 8.0 to Purdy originally followed along the north side of Lemmon Valley via Summit, Milepost 9.75, Cedar, Milepost 15.61, and Francis, Milepost 21.40, but had been shortened 1.5 miles around 1888 with a change near Summit account of bad snow conditions.

On January 30, 1918 the lost narrow gauge train left Reno and this must have been quite a sight to have seen. All locomotives and equipment were placed in one train bound for the new terminal at Alturas and with blaring of trumpets and roll of drums the train started. Engines that had not held steam in their boilers for years hissed and puffed and ''got 'er rolling,'' but the long train failed to make the grade out of Reno. The second try, though, after backing down the hill, was successful and thus, during the height of World War I, came the end of slim gouge operation into Nevada's largest city, (and standard gauge operation commenced February 4.

All the N-C-O track south of Hackstaff and west of Plumas Junction was then abandoned as these lines roughly paralleled the WP's own standard gauge route, leaving the N-C-O operating only from Hackstaff, which was formerly known on the WP as ''NCO transfer'', to Lakeview, a distance of 172.06 miles. In 1922 the 16-mile section between Hackstaff and Wendel was abandoned, and the remaining mileage was token over by the Southern Pacific and standard gauged to Alturas by September 29, 1927 following ICC approval on May 3, 1925. Southern Pacific engines 1618, 1667, and 1670, all 2-6-0s, became standard gauge N-C-O numbers 24, 25 and 26 in October 1927, but were returned to the SP when the line from Fernley to Klamath Falls (crossing the WP at Flanigan) was completed and opened for traffic on September 15, 1929. Practically all of the narrow gauge engines went to the Southern Pacific, two to the now-abandoned Pacific Coast Railroad of San Luis Obispo, California, and the others scrapped. No N-C-O engines ever went to the Western Pacific. The start of the narrow gauge was back on December 12, 1879 when the Western Nevada Railroad Company was incorporated to build a line from Wadsworth, Nevada south to a point near Walker Lake and eventually to Bodie, California but this never got beyond the paper stage and plans were changed to build from Reno to Oregon and later Reno south to Bodie and The Nevada and Oregon Railroad was incorporated for this purpose on June 5, 1880. Ground was broken at Reno on December 22 of that year, but work was suspended after a few miles of grading had been completed. New management took over and incorporated the Nevada &Oregon Railroad on April 25, 1881. The first rail was laid about a month later and construction proceeded slowly amid great difficulties. However, on October 2, 1882 regular train service started over the 31 miles of road just completed to Oneida. In a few months, though, operations were suspended and after extensive litigation the road was sold under foreclosure to Moran Brothers of New York on April 17, 1884. The Moran Brothers had supplied the money for construction of the line by purchasing the N &O First Mortgage Bonds. As new owners of the railroad, they placed it in operation again under the name of the Nevada &California Railroad (not incorporated) and the line was extended northward. The Moran Brothers formed the Nevada-California-Oregon Railway (known colloquially as the ''Narrow, Crooked and Ornery'') on March 31, 1888 and transferred the property of the N &C to this corporation on January, 1893. The line reached Hackstaff, the point where the WP was later to cross, by the middle of 1889, Alturas by 1908, and Lakeview, Oregon on January 10, 1912.

The Sierra Valley &Mohawk Railroad Company was chartered October 1, 1885 to build a line from Junction on the Nevada &California Railroad (N-C-O) to Quincy, California and fifteen miles were completed by 1888. The following year rails were extended eight miles to Kirby's Mill. The road was reorganized January 5, 1895 as the Sierra Valleys Railway Company and opened for traffic on June 1, 1895. About the turn of the century it came under the control of the N-C-O, but was separately operated. On January 3, 1909 it was sold under foreclosure to a trustee of the N-C-O and on June 11, 1911 a new charter was taken out for the same line of railroad under the name of the Sierra &Mohawk Railway Company as successor to the Sierra Valleys Railway. On January 1, 1915 it was consolidated with the N-C-O becoming known as the Sierra Valley branch. The original project of building to Quincy was abandoned and the line was built only as for as Davies Mill, a distance of 39.4 miles from the point that was known as Plumas on the Reno branch of the WP.

A final note concerning the Reno branch: Not shown on any official map is the Lemmon Valley branch built during World War II 4.2 miles eastward to the Reno Air Base from Milepost 21.3, Martin.

The Boca &Loyalton Railroad

The Boca &Loyalton Railroad ran from Portola, California eastward 5.7 miles to Beckwith (Beckwourth) then south 40 miles to Boca on the Southern Pacific, with a 1.6 mile branch known as Grizzly Creek Spur (later part of the WP Gulling Branch) extending north from the mainline at a point 3.3 miles east of Portola. The B&L engine house and shops were at Loyalton, milepost 19, a wye at Summit, milepost 30.5, the Verdi Lumber Company track crossed at Merrill, milepost 33.5 and at Boca there was another wye, an engine house and a quarter-mile switchback from the end of the mainline at milepost 44.85 down the hillside to a connection with the Southern Pacific. Equipment as of June 30, 1909 included 7 active engines and as of June 30, 1914, six engines. The Boca &Loyalton was incorporated September 24, 1900 and opened in 1902 and at that time was controlled by the D&RG through ownership of 51% of capitol stock.

The Western Pacific purchased the B&L on November 30, 1916 but never operated into Boca, for authority had been granted November 25, 1916 to abandon the portion south of milepost 23 and the tracks and other facilities were removed in the summer of 1917. During construction westward in 1909, the WP had rebuilt the B&L right-of-way between B&L Junction and Portola, 2.7 miles and later it abandoned the B&L trackage between Grizzly Junction and Beckwith (Beckwourth), 2.4 miles. The rails were taken up in August 1920, and in 1939 the 2.4 mile Gulling Branch was abandoned.

The Clover Valley Lumber Company, operators of a large mill at Loyalton, had trackage rights over the Loyalton Brunch, which is the present name of the remaining B&L trackage between Loyalton and Hawley, near which their own track connected and extended fifteen miles or so north into the timber area. The Clover Valley had two steam engines, a 2-6-2 saddle tank, No. 4 and No. 8, a little 2-6-2 obtained from the old Hobart Southern Railroad at Hobart Mills, California.

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