Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Boca and Loyalton Railroad


Sierra Valley (California): Back at the turn of the 20th century, this valley hosted four railroads. One lasted 40 years; one was absorbed into the Western Pacific. The other two quietly slid into "ghost railroads." Ok, so....

Little is written about these rails. Even the Sacramento RR museum only has a few items – and some "kodak moment" pictures. Calif. Historical Society has almost nothing. Afterall, who cares about these small "roads." All they did was haul lumber and dairy products (Over to Virginia City, NV).

My hypothesis: One of the railroads just might have been built to assist the Central Pacific. The Boca and Loyalton went over to Truckee. I am researching links/people who might validate this claim: that the B & L was built to supply lumber/ties to the Central Pacific [Much of the timber at the Truckee/Tahoe area was spoken for. The Nevada mines hauled volumes out for their mining and railroad needs.] The B&L was one of the earliest rails in CA, yet little is known about it or its place in rr history



Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "James Mark French"

I am not sure where you are getting your facts from but I do know that it is obvious that you are getting several Railroads confused here.

For one, the B & L did not go into Truckee, CA. That was the Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Company. The B & L went from Boca on the CP/SP main to Loyalton in Sierra Valley to the north.

Also as far as I know, the B & L didn't start operations until about 1900. That would certainly not make it one of the earliest Railroads in the State of California.

The other two you mention would be the Clover Valley Limber Company also located in Sierra Valley and the Verdi Lumber Company, but here again both these were started long after the CPRR was in place


8/02/2006 10:50 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


All of the lumber railroads in the Boca/Truckee area connected with the CPRR, that is one of the reasons they were built. But all came into existence after the CP was completed. However replacement ties for use on the CP's Sierra Nevada division most certainly could have come from these roads. The V&T received replacement ties from the Sierra Nevada lumber mills, many invoices exist for same.

—Charlie Siebenthal

8/02/2006 11:53 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Chris Graves"

The Report of the US Pacific Railway Commission 1887-88 says that redwood ties were used until Clipper Gap was reached, then local timber was used for ties. That being said, Towle Bros. had a mill at Clipper Gap, and Towle Bros. had a close relationship with the CPRR until the early 20th century: Iron rails used in original construction of the CPRR were sold the Towle Brothers for the lumber railroad, relics of that iron can still be found today along the old Towle Bros. right of way.

—G J Chris Graves, NewCastle

8/02/2006 2:23 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Wendell Huffman"

Boca & Loyalton, Sierra Valleys Railway, Verdi Lumber, and Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber are all covered in David Myrick's "Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California" (vol.1). Boca & Loyalton is interesting in that it crossed the crest of the Sierra Nevada (from the watershed of the Truckee to that of the middle fork of the Feather).

On the bottom of Myrick's p. 414 is a photo of Verdi Lumber Co's side-door caboose. I have a photo of that same caboose lettered "TRRLCo" No.1. Anyone know what TRRLCo stands for? I'd guess Truckee River Railroad [&] Lumber Co., but I find no record of such a company.


8/02/2006 2:42 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


First, Wendell's question. I'm pretty sure that TRRLCo stands for The Red River Lumber Company (much like TPL stands for The Pacific Lumber). I've seen that usage for Red River Lumber. They were up at Westwood above Susanville. The last bit of Red River's extensive rail lines is the Almanor RR connecting chester with the old WP Northern California Extension – now owned by BNSF (UP had to sell that line as part of the UP-SP merger).

Next, railroads in Sierra Valleys.

I believe the earliest common carrier into Sierra Valley was the narrow gauge line best known as the Sierra Valleys Railway (which operated under several names). This connected to the east over Beckwourth Pass with the Nevada-California-Oregon (under its various names), which in turn connected with the Central Pacific/SP in Reno. After a false start in 1885, the Sierra Valleys was actually built in 1895-96. Check Tom Armstrong's NCO chronology although note he seems to indicate it operated under the 1885 company name Sierra Valley & Mohawk, which was not actually the case. (Some Carter-built SV&M equipment from the still-born 1885 company was sold to the Towle Bros Logging and shows up in a photo or two there.) Ultimately the Sierra Valleys was acquired by the NCO as a subsidiary, and later absorbed by it. The Sierra Valleys line continued in operation (under NCO control) for a time after the Western Pacific was completed through the area (ca 1909-1910), but pretty soon became redundant and was taken up. The southern end of the NCO was sold to the WP and became the basis for the Reno Branch. Most of the rest of the NCO was later sold to the SP and became the Lakeview Branch, standard gauged by SP in 1929 (with a lot of narrow gauge equipment being transfered to the SP-owned former Carson & Colorado which ended as the Owens Valley lines between Laws and Keeler. SP locos 8, 9, and 18 were all ex NCO, as were many cars.

The next common carrier in Sierra Valley was the Boca & Loyalton, completed in 1900 from Boca on the Central Pacific (just a little east – down canyon – from Truckee). There were earlier lumber railroad operations out of Boca dating back into the early 1880s at least (Union Iron works appears to have built a 4-4-0 for a company at Boca arond 1882 – assuming the Boca Transportation Company was located there), and also ice harvesting – all shipped over the Central Pacific. While the CP/SP was no doubt friendly with the B&L, they clearly had no financial control over it, as witness the fact that George Gould was able to buy it for his developing Western Pacific in the mid 1900s. Today's Loyalton Branch of the WP is the stub end of the old B&L. With the completion of the WP, the B&L line through to Boca became redundant and the south end was taken up. It's a question how much longer the remaining Loyalton Branch will last.

Western Pacific makes the third common carrier in Sierra Valley. If there were any others, I'm not thinking of them.

Everything else around Sierra Valley was non-common carrier logging lines, I believe. Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber – later Hobart Estate extended narrow gauge logging lines into the area, but their standard gauge common carrier Hobart Southern only ran the short distance between Truckee and Hobart (originally called Overton). There were a number of other logging lines – check Myrick's RRs of Nevada, vol. 1. Depending how you define your area these might include Clover Valley Lumber, Verdi Lumber (from Verdi on the CP/SP), Fruit Growers Exchange (who's Baldwin 2-6-2T became California Western #14 and still exists today in Willits), Feather River Lumber (in both narrow gauge and standard gauge versions, I seem to recall – Feather River Lbr took over a portion of Clover Valley Lbr's operation, including their 2-6-6-2T #4, which is owned by Pacific Loco Assn today, as well as former SNW&L standard gauge 2-6-2 #8, now owned by the fan group Feather River Short Line and presently on the reconstructed Virginia & Truckee) and several other standard and narrow gauge lines.

Westward on the Western Pacific, well west of Sierra Valley, there were some other common carriers – Quincy RR and Indian Valley RR – both constructed after the WP was completed. Indian Valley actually became a WP subsidiary, I think. Quincy is still operated by the Sierra Pacific Lumber Company – the latest owner.


8/03/2006 5:33 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


Good article on TRRL Co. at McCloud Historical site.

Seems rr ran from 1920-1940. Even made a run at beinga common carrier; like most "short hauls," scale of economies just didn't work out.

Thanks for your input on Sierra Valley rr. Interesting to note that there are many versions on what went on in the Sierra Valley during the late 1800's to early 1900's. One of my challenges is interviewing SV residents who heard stories/have articles/px on these railroads. Sadly, most of the primary sources are gone. And my focus is not on the stock of the rails, rather the people and the role they played. Not certain that I'll ever have the "facts," but do hope to have a fairly accurate historical interpretation. Time and time again, I hear that what they did was just not important. Hmmmmm


8/04/2006 9:15 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


Red River Lumber shut down about 1945-46 after an internal family disagreement split the owners. Parts of the operation were sold off to nearby lumber companies, most notably the Fruit Growers Supply based in nearby Susanville. Collins Pine had previously purchased the property and rail line around Chester (on the shores of Lake Almanor) from Red River in 1941.


8/04/2006 10:55 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Lynn Farrar"
Subject: "Western Pacific: The Last Transcontinental Railroad (Colorado Rail Annual, No. 27)" by David F. Myrick

Dave Myrick just came out with his book on the Western Pacific and he devotes a good many pages on the early history of that part of California. DFM is a first class historian and does a thorough job of research. You might want to contact him. He can be reached at


8/14/2006 2:01 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "John Snyder"

... I'm going to have to add this book to my library. Anyone got the full title, and perhaps the ISBN number?

—John Snyder

8/15/2006 4:13 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

See above. This ISBN is 0918654777.

8/15/2006 4:21 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


It is Colorado Rail Annual No. 27, published by the Colorado Railroad Museum.  I just picked up a copy at the California State Railroad Museum store.
Title is:  Western Pacific: The Last Transcontinental Railroad
ISBN 0-918654-77-7

8/16/2006 8:41 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Jim McDonnell"

Thanks again for taking so much time and assisting me on my discovery of data for Sierra Valley railroads. You have saved me incredible time and effort. If you'll recall, I'm the lad who comes to the CSRR library periodically and chats and works.

Came across an original map of Plumas County. Name is Map of Plumas County as compilied and surveyed by Arthur Keddie; the map is dated 1912; copyright 1911. This comprehensive map actually includes data on Plumas and a small eastern portion of Butte County,

What is impressive about the map are the details on the four extant rail lines located in the Sierra Valley, as of 1911. This map is located at the Butte County Historical archives (I'm cataloging old maps for the group.). More later on this....

And I have "chatted" with Tom Armstrong on his findings.

My goal this next year is to pull all of this data, relating just to the Sierra and Clover Valley. I'll also locate pictures, maps and written materials. ...

—Jim McDonnell

12/20/2006 7:38 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


Always glad to help. I'll be interested in what all you find. That Keddie map sounds interesting.


12/20/2006 8:10 AM  
Anonymous Lorry Dunning said...

Good Day Folks

As you are searching the RR Archives I am looking for photos of Best Steam Traction engines that transported lumber/logs to the RR's and Mills in Sierra Valley. The Steamer came from Loyalton and went to Donner Park for several years and is now back at the Loyalton Museum.

Also Towle Bros owned one of the first ones produced that they used on Texas Hill. They may have had others.


Lorry Dunning

5/25/2010 2:42 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Jim"

Information on the Loyalton museum, including a contact number. A second suggestion is visit the community and go to city hall. The folks are friendly, informative and helpful. Lots of old timers hang around the office.

Another source is the Plumas County Museum. Helpful folks here. Sources on Plumas County; some materials on eastern Plumas, Sierra Valley area.

And finally, there is a book available. Good read with pictures. Deals with Clover Valley, Sierra Valley. J.M. Olsen was raised in some of the logging camps. ...


5/26/2010 3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My grandfather surveyed, laid out rr bed lines in the Sierra California timber lands, managed the Loyalton mill for the clover valley lumber company 50s, before logging trucks started.

10/14/2013 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

adding.... Years 30s,40s to the above said.

10/14/2013 5:44 PM  

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