Niles Canyon Railway

by Joe Thompson

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Niles Canyon locomotive Our eastbound train was pulled by Western Pacific GP7 713. I took the photo at the Sunol depot. August, 2016.

We took a Sunday drive over the San Mateo Bridge to the Niles district of Fremont. The Niles Canyon Railway operates trains over the line of the first transcontinental railroad to reach San Francisco Bay, the original Western Pacific Railroad. The Southern Pacific abandoned the line and tore it up in 1984. The Pacific Locomotive Association began rebuilding it in 1987.

We drove through the Sullivan underpass and followed the directions of volunteers to the parking lot. One of them mentioned that the place is hard to find.

Niles Canyon coach I think we rode on Harriman coach 1949, behind a caboose which was hosting a children's party. August, 2016.

I didn't get many good photos on the eastbound trip, but I enjoyed the scenery in Niles Canyon.

Niles Canyon locomotive and caboose Western Pacific GP7 713 and a Santa Fe caboose at the Sunol depot. August, 2016.

Sunol depot/1 Western Pacific GP7 713 and a Santa Fe caboose at the 1884 Southern Pacific Sunol depot. August, 2016.

Sunol depot/2 The other side of the Sunol depot with locomotive 713 in the background. August, 2016.

Sunol depot sign The sign on the Sunol depot. 35 6/10 is the distance to the Ferry Building in San Francisco. August, 2016.

On the westbound trip we were pulled by SP SW2 1423. The runaround track at Sunol is not long enough for the locomotive to switch to the other end of the train. We sat in an open car and had a better view of the sights.

Hillside It was easier to take photos from the open car on the westbound trip. I love California hills. August, 2016.

Yard limits We soon reached the limits of the Brightside Yard. The pole in the background once carried Western Union's original transcontinental telegraph lines. August, 2016.

Brightside Yard contains a wide variety of equipment, much of it waiting to be restored.

US Army 7348 US Army GE 65-ton locomotive 7348. August, 2016.

WP 918-D Western Pacific F7 918-D. August, 2016.

SP diner 10040 Southern Pacific diner 10040. August, 2016.

Wig wag A wig wag guards a road at the lower end of the yard. August, 2016.

The line crosses two nice steel bridges, but I couldn't get a good photo.

SP line Empty poles on the canyon side of the tracks once carried lines for the Southern Pacific's communications system. August, 2016.

hillside Another hillside view. August, 2016.

When we got back to Niles, we had some lunch and watched the next trip leave and then visited the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum and the Niles Depot Museum.

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Copyright 2016 by Joe Thompson. All rights reserved.

Last updated 31-August-2016