California Western Locomotive No. 14: A Preserved Logger

by Kevin V. Bunker Locomotive Purchase At the close of the 1930s and faced with the need to replace at least one of its aging group of tank logging locomotives, but also feeling the capital funds pinch brought by the Great Depression, California Western Railroad & Navigation Company purchased a well - maintained, thirteen year old 2-6-2ST from the distant Plumas County town of Graeagle.
CWR No.14 takes on water in yard at Fort Bragg, CA - 1948
Outshopped by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1924 to Memorandum specification 24062, and classified by the builder as 10 24 1/4D 159 (the 159th unit built within the 10 24 1/4 group), it left the Philadelphia plant with badge plates bearing serial number 58050 and entered service as the sole engine of the California Fruit Exchange Lumber Department. Working on short, temporary branch lines laid into the pines surrounding Graeagle, DFE No. I brought raw hard pine, cedar and fir down to the mill to be made into fruit box shook, and then hauled packaged shook and crates up to the Western Pacific interchange at Blairsden. Fort Bragg Arrival - 1939 Its early 1939 arrival at Fort Bragg allowed the CWR&N to retire and scrap onsite its oldest saddle-tank Prairie No. 17(originally produced as passenger engine No. 7 by Baldwin in 1909). The latter weighed 10,000 Ibs. less than its 54-ton Superheater equipped replacement. The engine was given road number 14 in the company's not quite logical numerical scheme. There had never been a No. 13, nor any engines between No. 14 and 21, the latter having been ordered new in 1920, hence beginning a new double-digit numbering plan based on the new decade. The Fort Bragg mechanical forces set to work immediately on the "new" engine, making a few functional upgrades and modifications to suit the railroad's needs. Alterations Among the alterations were the swapping of oak pilot beams ("bumpers" in Baldwin order book parlance) for hollowed cast iron versions; electrified train classification lamps were permanently hung at 11-and-l positions over the smoke box front flanking a larger 18" diameter Sunbeam headlight than the 14-inch diameter Sunbeam models that the engine received from Baldwin. Additionally, a five port hydrostatic lubricator formerly located atop the left running board (ahead of the water tank) was relocated, probably into the cab. A full-width boiler tube road pilot took the place of oak foot boards up front, and to make the fireman's work of watering the loco a lot safer, a pair of rigid two-step steel ladders were fabricated and set between the running boards and pilot deck. Following the boiler and ladders, a set of tall handrails stretched from cab front to the front edge of the running boards; below the right running board, for a time, was a long toolbox. The original low level water fill manifold was replaced by an expanded, taller version of welded steel. Vertical four-rung ladders were riveted to the rear comers of the water tanks just ahead of the cab. A coiled fire hose and reel were located atop the cab roof on the engineer's side adjacent to the backup light. Later in its Cal Western life, sometime between 1945 and the photo sessions of 1947, the original riveted side tanks were replaced with welded steel tanks. CWR No.14: A Woods Engine CWR locomotives assigned to Fort Bragg to Willits mainline duties had to be fitted with lighted train number indicators in the manner of Northwestern Pacific and its parent, Southern Pacific. As evidence that No.14 was primarily a "woods engine" it never received these number boxes either side of its smokestack (although it would have made for a very crowded front end if added). And while the smaller and larger 2-6-2s did carry train indicators, all having need to work the mainline in mixed services, No. 14 had to make-do with classification lamps lit white, or white flags by day for the always "extra" (unscheduled) log trains and choppers' shuttles it would power. Pacific Coast Chapter/Railway & Locomotive Historical Society Entering day shift switching service in early 1938 in the Ten Mile woods (Union Lumber Company's two-truck Shay No.2 held down the night shift), No.14 began its next sixteen years in relative obscurity, being rarely photographed, that is until the weekend of October 17-18, 1947. Between 1938 and 1947, no major rail fan activity within the west had occurred due to the exigencies of World War II. In 1938 a spectacular two-day club fund-raiser tour over the Northwestern Pacific, California Western and the Caspar South Fork & Eastern's rails was made by the newly-formed Pacific Coast Chapter/Railway & Locomotive Historical Society.
CWR No.14 near Camp 2, Ten Mile Branch line of Union Lumber Company
During that trip No.14 and its Shay assistant were working out of sight in the Ten Mile log camps. But in 1947 the Pacific Coast Chapter was anxious to return. The Caspar operation had already shut down for good, but the Ten Mile Railroad, never having seen public passenger trains, beckoned. Thus, on Sunday October 18th, No.14 coupled to a trio of fence-sided flatcars, the CWR's two venerable wooden coaches No.43 and 44 (lately used for chopper shuttles) and CWR caboose No.05. Left behind were the heavy steel mainline coaches brought up over the NWP since such a train could not safely operate over the beach-front trackage on the way to Ten Mile River. Since No.14 was the newest engine on the line, and had not been photographed in 1938, it was the chosen motive power of the day. At 9:00 a.m., the "Rocket" headed northward for an hour's run to Camp 21. On arrival there, No.14 ran around and backed the train to Camp 2, where the engine turned on the wye. En route to Fort Bragg, the train paused on the MacKerricher headlands to allow photographers and daisy-pickers to hop off for a smoky run-by. Arrival back at Fort Bragg came around 11:30, where No.14 and big Prairie No.22 then double-headed the excursion extra back to the NWP and Willits. Ten Mile Railroad Phased Out On June 17, 1949 a major chapter of the Union Lumber Company and California Western history was being brought to a close. After thirty-five years of steady operations, the Ten Mile Railroad was being phased out and replaced inch for inch with a logging road and tractor-trailer rigs. The day had finally come for the last ceremonial passenger run over that line, and No.14 had the honors of repeating a run to end of track at Camp 5 landing. With coaches 43 and 44 again and over 90 guests of the company aboard - officials, their wives, family and friends were treated to the sight of a diesel loader lifting redwood logs from the Clark Fork truck dump onto flatcars. Down at Camp 2, a massive barbecue picnic was given along with double-shift tours of the camp. The train crew that day were identified as Engineer William Monsen, Fireman Stanley Horstman, Brakemen Al Roberts and Ed Taubold, and Conductor Leland Feider. Over the intervening weeks, the reloads were gradually cleaned out and the tracks replaced with oiled dirt and asphalt. The big Prairies, 21, 22 and 23 had the honors of hauling in the last loads of timber. From that point on, Union Lumber Company truly no longer operated logging railroads. With the 1949 arrival of Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton diesel-electric locomotives 51 and 52, followed by No. 53 in 1956, CWR steam power was gradually pared down to three locomotives, held in reserve for days when the diesels were undergoing heavy shopping, (Editor's Note: CWR #53, a 1949 Baldwin Locomotive Works product, CIN 74193, ex-Army Corps of Engineers W8380, is also in the Roots of Motive Power Collection.) The Last Mainline Steam Operation The last California Western mainline steam operation was purely honorific; Baldwin diesels brought another Pacific Coast Chapter "Weekend in the Redwoods" tour over from Willits as far as Northspur. There, No.14 waited under steam to pilot the train, with diesels coupled to its rear knuckle, into the seaside terminus, but the diesels returned the train to Willits unaided. The reason given for No.14's unavailability to Willits and back by CWR General Manager A. T. Nelson was "insufficient water capacity" for the entire run over the mountain. No.14 continued to occasionally switch the Fort Bragg mill yards, powered a winter cleanup and bridge construction work train during 1951. High waters from the Noyo River during the winter of 1952-53 precluded the running of any "Skunk" motors or diesel-powered coach trains. With only No.14 available for service, it was called out of slumber for at least a few trips to get woods-dwelling folks to town and to handle the mail; what coaches were used was not reported. The End Steam Power - 1956 The end of California Western steam power came in 1956 when No.14 was quietly sold to Willits rail fan Bertram Rudolph for his growing collection of railroadiana. In an interview with "Bert" years ago, he related that his first choice had been CWR's 2-8-0 (2nd) No. 41 or Mikado No. 44. Such was not to be, however, as California Western management stood to get top dollar for scrap of the heavier engines compared to what they could get from the smaller No.14. Whatever the case, it seems appropriate that No.14 and the engine that revived CWR steam in 1965, 2-8-2 No. 45 (Baldwin builder's number 58045 - were both locomotives on the Philadelphia factory floor at the same time in 1924) have continued to reside in Mendocino County, still making history and looking to a long future.
CWR No.14 on beach on Ten Mile Branch with excursion train - 1947