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December 1997 - Page 51


c l osed from December 2 8 u n t i l M a rch 1 2-only worsened the problem, sending t he rai l road further into debt from lost business. Just another winter in the canyon. And now, though the track gangs have scarcely had time to scrape last winter's mud off their shoes, the National Weather Service is predicting another wet winter in northern California, with the possibility of

the worst flooding in a decade. At times NWP's sur vival seems so tenuous that every car making it from Eureka to Schell ville becomes a symbol of persever ance, overcoming an impossible landscape one more time. Its trackage lies on some of the most unstable ground in the state, and is said to be more expensive to maintain than any other rai l road in t h e worl d . Though seemingly cursed o f late with more than its share of bad luck, NWP has lasted through nearly a century of winters and s t i l l m a n ages s o m e h ow to stay one step ahead of t h e next dark storm on the horizon. " Everything was float ing down the river: trees, cattle, houses, you name i t . " A former NWP e m ployee a n d long-time res ident of Dos Rios was re calling the h istoric flood of 1 9 6 4 , w h i c h w i p e d t h e rail road from t h e side o f t h e c a n y o n for 1 0 0 m i l es . "A month before, I 'd been working on the I sland Mountain bridge, and I w rote my name on one of the girders when we fi n i shed the j o b . So

ABOVE: Nos. 5305 a nd 3850
head south at Cummiskey with the Schellville Hauler o n May 1 5 , 1 997. FAR LEFT: I n its early years, the North Coast Railroad leased locomotives from SP.

RaiiNews 51

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