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Steam Fest II 2010, Niles Canyon Railway

March 22, 2010

Today, I went out to the Niles Canyon Railway located in Sunol, Calif. to partake in a relatively new festival, the second annual celebration of small steam locomotion known as “Steamfest II”. The crowds were unlike anything I’d ever seen, which is great! I’m glad that the NCRy is making Sunol a “destination town” for interesting railfanning opportunities.

FOUR tank locomotives of all distinctly different design were out to make this day unforgettable. First there was the well known Quincy #2, a 2-6-2T Side Tank locomotive She was built by ALCo in 1924.

Then next on the Arrival Track was the Robert Dollar Company’s #3, a 2-6-2T Saddletank Locomotive, the last wood burning locomotive ever built (although it has since been converted to burn oil.) it sports antlers from an elf atop its headlight and a great looking diamond stack, which was necessary to capture the wood cinders back in the day. She was built by ALCo in 1927.
Robert Dollar Co. #3 ALCo 2-6-2T

Hailing from the Sacramento Southern Ry. of the California State Railroad Museum, and the only visitor last year, the well-traveled (ex-US Army) Granite Rock 0-6-0T #10. She was built by H.K. Porter.
H.K Porter US Army 0-6-0T

Finally, the real reason I was excited to be there was the visitor from “Roots of Motive Power” of Willits, Calif. This beautiful 2-6-2T Side Tank locomotive was saved from the rain-forests of Washington State and fully restored by the crew at the Mt. Ranier Scenic Ry. back in 2001. The earliest example running today, she was built by Baldwin in 1910. What a gem she is too! The Yosemite Valley 330 and the Arizona Eastern combine never had it so good!
Mason County Logging 2-6-2T

The interesting thing about today was that for the first time in a major event they were running trains in both directions from the Sunol depot, which was really quite interesting. The Mason County Logging 2-6-2T #7 held down the eastbound train to the siding at Hearst all day, whilst the other three locomotives worked the Sunol-Niles westbound route with two trains and alternating power for each trip due to the lack of a passing siding at Niles, so they would go down engine-first downgrade into Niles, with the second locomotive trailing a few minutes behind, running light. Then they would uncouple the first locomotive which took it down the canyon, and was now stuck between the end of track at Niles and the cut of passenger cars it had brought down. The Trailing locomotive would then couple up onto the cut of cars and take them back up the hill into sunol, the first locomotive trailing light a few minutes later.
Meet At Sunol for Steam Fest 2010

The crowds took the employees and volunteers by surprise, every train to Niles was Jam-packed, but the crowd couldn’t figure out the idea behind the rides to Hearst until later that day, when I boarded there were only about 9 people on board including the crew. It was a real blast seeing such a neat locomotive, and from the front passenger car you could watch the engineers operate the locomotive, very cool!
Inside the Cab of 2-6-2T
The beautiful Yosemite Valley 330 carried the Markers on the train to Hearst that day. In it did so in style albiet that it’s still in the middle of an extensive rebuild. The rear platform was nicely set up and featured period folding chairs. The restoration seems to be going really well, the exterior looks beautiful and the wood work on the interior seems to be an ongoing project of some note.
YV 330 and Mason Logging 2-6-2T head towards hearst

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Karl permalink
    March 22, 2010 4:29 pm

    They’re pretty close to me and I had no idea…. I’m a bit of a tank engine junkie so I’m definitely going to head up there!

  2. larry mostachetti permalink
    May 3, 2011 5:21 am

    My uncle Clinton Occumpauh was the engineer on the dollar #3 when it was in cottage grove, or. When I was a boy in the late 40’s I would sometimes ride with my unckle when switching in the yard.

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