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Photo Gallery of Western Pacific trains through the Feather River Canyon

Photograph of Western Pacific trains meeting in the Feather River Canyon at Keddie

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. However, by 1917, it only had signals on 11 miles of track. With the completion of the Inside Gateway in March 1931, the WP installed a US&S desk interlocking machine in the station at Keddie with 8 levers to control 2 switches and 13 signals. The railroad installed a primitive form of CTC between Belden and Portola in 1943. This was extended to Oroville by June, 1944. 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 power switches) followed at the conclusion of the War. The CTC machine and dispatchers were located in the Keddie depot. As of July 1, 1946 WP had no signals in the following areas where passenger trains exceeded 60mph and freight trains exceeded 50mph:
Chestnut to Stockton 46 miles 19 trains/day
Stockton to Oroville 57 miles 16 trains/day
Portola to Winnemucca 177 miles 13 trains/day
Wells to Wendover 78 miles 38 trains/day
Wendover to SLC 117 miles 13 trains/day.
It installed US&S CTC Stockton to Oroville 112 miles in 1949. The CTC machine was at Sacramento. The WP installed CTC across Nevada between 1949 and 1952. Wendover to Salt Lake City was completed in 1953. The WP installed 17 US&S signals and CTC between Niles Tower and San Jose, CA 17 miles in 1955. 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
Camp Rogers
Keddie Wye
Inside Gateway
Crescent Mills
Williams Loop
Spring Garden
Portola Museum
Portola Yard
Reno Junction

Western Pacific Railroad Map western half

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