NWP Noir: Scarlet and Gray EMD Runs In San Rafael Again
Author: Nollo Prosequi
Date: 08-17-2018 - 12:27

This time of year NWP fans soberly observe the demise of the San Rafael branch 33 years ago. August 17, 1985 the NWP ran down to San Rafael from Petaluma to pick up the last freight car to be delivered to a customer on the branch. Customer was a lumber yard. On August 1 of that year, the SP had imposed a $1200 "light density" surcharge on every car delivered on the branch, according to Angelo Figone's stunning and heartbreaking "The Northwestern Pacific Railroad: Lifeline of the Redwood Empire Boom and Bust 1951-2001". The writing was on the wall, and finally the walls came down on freight railroading in San Rafael.

Power for that last move would have probably been a pair of SW1500s. Last week, a very similar looking engine, the NWP's MP15DC 1501, lettered for the Northwestern Pacific instead of the SP but painted in SP scarlet and gray, led a work train down the branch. Pictures below.

The evening began as all NWP evenings do, mostly, at the Ignacio wye where the crew spotted some grainer empties on the south leg of the wye, before coupling back on to its single ballast car and the SP 1971 caboose. They also took on a few SMART MOW personnel.

https://s6.postimg.cc/9sg35c3en/RP_00001.jpg

As night fell, the work train waited at the approach signal on the north leg of the wye as a job briefing was conducted. In this pic a SMART employee heads out of the middle of the wye in a SMART SUV.

https://s6.postimg.cc/56jyx0kgf/RP_00002.jpg

A few moments later the dispatcher has put up the signal for the NWP to proceed onto the SMART mainline, shown here looking south down the old San Rafael branch. The north leg of the wye was the NWP main line for more than fifty years--from the end of passenger service out of San Rafael in 1958, a story covered poignantly in Angelo Figone's epic tome on the NWP, referenced above.

https://s6.postimg.cc/r5qdk7lv3/RP_00003.jpg

No freight service south of the Ignacio wye, and none of the gauntlet tracks that would allow such service neither. There are two platforms the NWP had to pass on this night. The caboose's bay window and the ballast car were the widest parts of the train, the engine being narrower by a several inches. The SMART and NWP folks walked the train down the platform at Hamilton as shown here:

https://s6.postimg.cc/s80k2rrtr/RP_00004.jpg
https://s6.postimg.cc/vrmhskf3z/RP_00006.jpg

Then a few miles and about ten minutes later the NWP, now in San Rafael, approached the Civic Center station, doing the same drill as at Hamilton:

https://s6.postimg.cc/y8y8ztbv3/RP_00007.jpg
https://s6.postimg.cc/pqosvgpwv/RP_0008.jpg
Leaving Civic Center station behind, the NWP and SMART crew members ride the engine to inspect the portions of track to receive ballast:
https://s6.postimg.cc/449segehr/RP_00009.jpg

This picture about captures the southernmost progress of the train. Some of you might wanting to quibble that the train didn't actually make it into city limits should note the sign at left in this photograph. This is Los Ranchitos road, looking north, with downtown San Rafael a couple miles to my back:
https://s6.postimg.cc/hl6qxcre7/RP_00010.jpg

The train dumped ballast, stopped, dumped some more, in the vicinity of the pedestrian crossing on Las Gallinas Avenue and then returned to the Ignacio wye:
https://s6.postimg.cc/bx0g6gurj/RP_00011.jpg
https://s6.postimg.cc/xjfgni11r/RP_00012.jpg

At the wye they had made up a little ramp with concrete blocks and a front end loader would quickly replenish the ballast supply in the hopper and off they'd go again.
https://s6.postimg.cc/y8y8zvh0v/RP_00013.jpg
https://s6.postimg.cc/6lljlsqpb/RP_00014.jpg

Here they make the second trip south on the old San Rafael branch, passing the Safeway in Hamilton neighborhood of Novato. They did not return to San Rafael as far as I could tell. I think I spotted them around St. Vincent's, and later on the passing track section that passes the wye.
https://s6.postimg.cc/lubgzjx8f/RP_00015.jpg

Another view of the loading situation:
https://s6.postimg.cc/ks1agzyzj/RP_00016.jpg
And a departure north to the north switch of passing track section. They got onto the siding, which is the near track, and dumped some ballast around the industrial park area.
https://s6.postimg.cc/kf9waur0f/RP_00017.jpg

Here they are on the Hamilton siding near the old Frosty Acres refrigerated warehouse (never a customer) and the PG&E substation:
https://s6.postimg.cc/dotf1eof3/RP_00018.jpg

After this they headed north and worked the area north of San Marin station, which is the northern of the three Novato stations. The overpass is highway 101:
https://s6.postimg.cc/68u5flszz/RP_00019.jpg
https://s6.postimg.cc/giwkevdqn/RP_00020.jpg

Happy End of NWP Service in San Rafael Anniversary everybody!



Subject Written By Date/Time (PST)
  NWP Noir: Scarlet and Gray EMD Runs In San Rafael Again Nollo Prosequi 08-17-2018 - 12:27
  Re: NWP Noir: Scarlet and Gray EMD Runs In San Rafael Again HUTCH 7.62 08-17-2018 - 12:47
  Re: NWP Noir: Scarlet and Gray EMD Runs In San Rafael Again Bongoman 08-17-2018 - 13:55
  Re: NWP Noir: Scarlet and Gray EMD Runs In San Rafael Again WebDigger 08-17-2018 - 12:54
  Re: NWP Noir: Scarlet and Gray EMD Runs In San Rafael Again Al Merkrebs 08-17-2018 - 13:34
  Re: NWP Noir: Scarlet and Gray EMD Runs In San Rafael Again james Clapp 08-17-2018 - 13:50
  Re: NWP Noir: Scarlet and Gray EMD Runs In San Rafael Again Richard (Dick) Head 08-17-2018 - 13:51
  Re: NWP Noir: Scarlet and Gray EMD Runs In San Rafael Again Bongoman 08-17-2018 - 16:24
  Re: NWP Noir: Scarlet and Gray EMD Runs In San Rafael Again sklinck1 08-17-2018 - 21:09
  Re: NWP Noir: Scarlet and Gray EMD Runs In San Rafael Again synonymouse 08-17-2018 - 21:25
  Re: NWP Noir: Scarlet and Gray EMD Runs In San Rafael Again JDM 08-17-2018 - 22:13
  Re: NWP Noir: Scarlet and Gray EMD Runs In San Rafael Again Mike Pechner 08-17-2018 - 22:39
  Re: NWP Noir: Scarlet and Gray EMD Runs In San Rafael Again Nollo Prosequi 08-17-2018 - 23:09
  Re: NWP Noir: Scarlet and Gray EMD Runs In San Rafael Again NWPGM 08-18-2018 - 04:13
  Re: NWP Noir: Scarlet and Gray EMD Runs In San Rafael Again Jack S. 08-18-2018 - 05:13


Go to: Message ListSearch
Subject: 
Your Name: 
Spam prevention:
Please enter the code that you see below in the input field.
 ********        **  ********   **     **  ********  
    **           **  **     **  **     **  **     ** 
    **           **  **     **  **     **  **     ** 
    **           **  ********   *********  ********  
    **     **    **  **     **  **     **  **        
    **     **    **  **     **  **     **  **        
    **      ******   ********   **     **  **        
This message board is maintained by:
Altamont Press Publishing Company