Once the train had cleared the Tingley Road crossing, the crew cut the passenger cars from behind the caboose and pulled it ahead while guests boarded the train.
The crew then pushed the caboose back onto the south leg of the wye and dropped it there, preferring to give the guests a smoother ride without the slack action the caboose would introduce.
Chris, the train's engineer and Supervisor of Locomotive Engineers on the Modoc Northern, then brought the the locomotives back to couple onto to the passenger cars.
Once the locomotives were coupled onto the train (a very gentle joint, by the way), we were on our way east to Tulelake.
The cars were comfortable in the way that only older passenger cars can be, kind of like your favorite easy chair.
Two young girls about 7 to 10 years of age (daughters of some of the guests) were sitting in the row behind me. I overheard one remark, "I've never been on a train!"
To which the other replied, "Me neither, but today is special!" A very astute observation on her part!
A few minutes after departing Texum, Reba Van Acker, President of the Klamath County Chamber of Commerce, introduced Don to the guests and he in turn introduced the train crew and other Modoc Northern representatives present, and then spoke briefly about the vision of the railroad. He covered the history of the Modoc Northern from when it was a "paper railroad" of the Southern Pacific to present (including the conversations he had had with the Union Pacific beginning four years ago).
He reiterated the statement that the success of the Modoc Northern Railroad is tied to the viability of the communities it serves. He also explained that although a new office trailer has been set up at Tule Lake, they plan to construct a new depot there beginning next summer. He also mentioned that the Modoc Northern will be a "daily except Sunday" operation, running, as has already been reported, between Klamath Falls and Tule Lake on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and between Tule Lake and Alturas on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They will run Saturdays on an "as needed" basis.
In speaking with Matt McGrath, Station Agent for the Modoc Northern, I found that they plan to run during daylight hours when at all possible.
Although track east of Canby is a little soft in spots, an engineering crew will be out on the line very soon tamping ballast and making repairs on the line to Alturas.
Currently there are 17 customers on the railroad, some of whom were present on the train. One customer was impressed when a string of loaded cars was spotted on his siding one afternoon and picked up empty the next morning. (He had to wait a week between trains under UP's schedule.)
At Merrill, we passed a collection of old steam locomotives and equipment in various stages of repair. Jeff Forbes, McCloud Railroad's owner, pointed out that these belong to Fred Kepner. Mr. Kepner had plans to construct a logging and railroad museum and had moved this equipment to Merrill several years ago.
Approx. Coords: N42 01.105 W121 35.231
At Tule Lake we stopped for a leg stretch and they opened the cab of the 7780 for inspection. A little boy of four or five got to blow the horn, much to his excitement and everyone else's amusement.
Approx. Coords: N41 57.415 W121 28.438
A box lunch was delivered for everyone to enjoy, then the train pulled out of Tule Lake headed back to Texum with UP 9212 at the point. We made good time running at track speed until we were stopped by a hotbox detector just east of the east switch at Stuckel. After stopping and inspecting the train and finding no defects, our crew had us back at the Texum wye at 3:55 pm. I had a previous engagement at 4:00 pm so I had to take off right away, but I would have much preferred to hang around a little more.
Approx. Coords: N42 11.083 W121 46.330
Today's train itself is now part of the Modoc line's history. It will also probably be the last passenger train for a very long time.
Click here for photos and narrative: Klamath Falls to Alturas on January 6, 2006