McCloud Railway

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McCloud Railway
Reporting marks MCR
Locale Mount Shasta, California
Dates of operation July 1 1992 – present
Track gauge ft 8½ in (1435 mm) (standard gauge)
Headquarters McCloud, California

The McCloud Railway (AAR reporting marks MCR) is a Class III shortline operating near Mount Shasta, California. It began operations on July 1 1992 when it took over operations from the McCloud River Railroad. The MCR was incorporated on April 21 1992.

The MCR provides both freight service as well as passenger excursion trains like the Shasta Sunset Dinner Train.

Freight traffic consists of outbound lumber and forest products as well as diatomaceous earth (filtering). Approximately 3,000 carloads of freight (1996 estimate) are handled annually.

The MCR interchanges with the Union Pacific (formerly known as the Southern Pacific) at Mount Shasta, California.

On June 27 2005 the MCR applied with the Surface Transportation Board to abandon most of its line. The proposal requests to abandon all MCR track 3.3 miles east of McCloud, California.[1]


The railroad operates on 95.5 miles of track. The principal line runs from Mt. Shasta to Bartle. At Bartle, the Burney Branch heads south. The Burney Branch was completed in 1955.

The MCR also has a 19 mile branch running from Bartle to Hambone, California. At Hambone the ownership changed to BNSF Railway (Great Northern) but was operated by the McCloud River Railroad. That line extended to Lookout Junction where it connected with the Great Northern Railway (US) mainline just north of Bieber, California. The BNSF track east of Hambone (Hambone-Lookout) was abandoned and removed by A&K Railroad Materials in October 2005.


The MCR was originally built by the McCloud River Railroad. The McCloud River Railroad was chartered on January 22 1897. By 1901 the line was running on 17.8 miles of track between Mount Shasta and McCloud, California.

The railroad was primarily a logging railroad and thus had several different owners over the years including: U.S. Plywood Corporation (1963), U.S. Plywood-Champion Papers (1969), and Champion International (1972), Itel Corporation (1977). The railroad was sold to the current owner, Jeff E. and Verline Forbis (4-Rails, Inc.) on July 1 1992.

The McCloud also had regular passenger service up until 1952.

Motive Power

The railroad has 3 EMD SD38 locomotives numbered 36-38. Engines 36-38 were built for the McCloud River Railroad in April 1969 (Builder No. 34880-34882).

The railroad also had two steam locomotives but one, No. 18, was sold to the Virginia and Truckee Railroad in 2005. The railroad still owns No. 25 which ran on special occasions, but has not run since the double-header in 2001. According to the owner No. 18 is not currently in service due to federal regulations requiring the pipes to be replaced every 15 years. Both No 18 & 25 were oil burning locomotives.

MCR also owns 1,182 freight cars (1996 estimate).


  • Fickewirth, Alvin A. (1992). California railroads: an encyclopedia of cable car, common carrier, horsecar, industrial, interurban, logging, monorail, motor road, shortlines, streetcar, switching and terminal railroads in California (1851-1992). San Marino, CA: Golden West Books. ISBN 0-87095-106-8. 
  • Robertson, Donald B. (1998). Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History - Volume IV - California. Caldwell, ID: The Caxton Printers. ISBN 0-87004-385-4. 
  • Stindt, Fred A. (1996). American Shortline Railway Guide - 5th Ed.. Waukesha, WI: Kalmbach Publishing. ISBN 0-89024-290-9. 
  • Walker, Mike (1997). Steam Powered Video's Comprehensive Railroad Atlas of North America - California and Nevada - Post Merger Ed.. Faversham, Kent, United Kingdom: Steam Powered Publishing. ISBN 1-874745-08-0. 

External links