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I wish I had had more time to photograph the Western Pacific. Growing up along the Southern Pacific I was more interested in Donner Pass than the Feather River Canyon. This was especially true after seeing the works of Steinheimer and other California photographers on Donner. My early trips over Donner Pass in 1972 and 1973 were not very successful. I discovered that Donner Pass was a difficult area for photography. Access was limited and the SP traffic was down to about five trains in each direction during daylight. It wasn't until 1973 that I ventured north and discovered the beauty of the Western Pacific in the Feather River Canyon. Although traffic levels were about the same as the SP, access to good photo spots were numerous and it was possible to chase trains from James (20 miles north of Oroville) all the way to Keddie. Unfortunately, the Yellow Borg took over the Western Pacific on September 13, 1982. The WP quickly faded to a mere memory.
For this series we will follow the Western Pacific through the Feather River Canyon to the Nevada border. In 1911, the WP installed automatic block signals between Spring Garden and Tobin and planned to extend the signals down the Feather River Canyon to Oroville. The railroad installed a primitive form of CTC between Belden and Portola in 1944. This was extended to Oroville by June, 1945. The dispatcher had control of the signals but not the switches. The train crews had to manually line the switch to get their train into the siding to meet other trains. Improvements to full CTC (control of the switches) followed the conclusion of the War. The WP installed CTC from Stockton to Oakland in 1946, then across Nevada between 1949 and 1952. Wendover to Salt Lake City was completed in 1953. The biggest line change to the original railroad was the Oroville Dam project. Work on relocating the line began in 1957 and the new line was completed in October 1962. See the map below the links to get a better idea where we are going.
All pictures in this series are on disks 25 and 26. You can purchase a disk and printout any of the pictures for your own use to dress up your train room or add color to a house that just cries out for more train pictures.
Rock Creek Bridge