Motive Power of the Modoc Northern

(and its only caboose)

 

Roster and brief history of the locomotives of the railroad.

 

MNRR 439

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EMD SD9 number 439 has had a rather complicated past, present and future.  Built by EMD in May, 1955 for the Southern Pacific, it started out its life as SP 5436.  Over its years with Southern Pacific, it had been rebuilt once and renumbered twice; first to 3914, then to 4439 when rebuilt.

Southern Pacific retired the locomotive in 1995, and it was purchased by Chrome Crankshaft and then by Rail Link, Inc.  They renumbered it to 439 and it was leased to Tacoma Eastern Railway.  In 1998, it was sold again to Livingston Mountain Locomotive Works, who subsequently leased it out to Portland & Western Railroad, then Lewis & Clark Railway, and finally to Yreka Western Railroad, as it is seen in the photo above, taken at the YWRR yard in Yreka, California (map location).

Modoc Northern Railroad purchased the 439 in 2009, but could not take delivery of it due to Union Pacific's requirement that alignment control couplers be fitted prior to interchange with the UP for transporation.   In the meantime, Union Pacific pulled the plug on Modoc Northern Railroad's lease of their Modoc Subdivision, so the railroad never got a chance to obtain and use the 439.

It was then sold to Western Rail (WRIX), who has since chopped the short hood and leased it to Columbia Basin Railroad in Washington state.

 

MNRR 650

SD9 (SD-M)

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This EMD SD9 was built in 1958 for Duluth Missabe & Iron Range Railway and entered service as their number 152. During its stint with DM&IR, it was rebuilt into an SD-M with the addition of several improvements.  It was subsequently acquired by Birmingham Southern Railroad and renumbered to 652. 

Its next owner was S&S Sales & Leasing, who acquired the locomotive in April, 2007.  It was sent to Titan Rail for refurbishing and modifications, and  Modoc Northern leased it in March of 2008 when it became their number 650.

After Modoc Northern went under, the locomotive sat derelict for several years in Tulelake, California with the other MNRR power, and finally was purchased by Western Rail (WRIX) in 2014.

 

MNRR 651

SD9 (SD-M)

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This EMD SD9 was built in 1957 for Duluth Missabe & Iron Range Railway and entered service as their number 130.  During its service with DM&IR, it was rebuilt into an SD-M with the addition of several improvements.  In 1966 it was acquired by Birmingham Southern Railroad and renumbered to 640.  BSR sold it to Titan Rail in 2007.  Titan completely rebuilt it, modernized it, and added additional equipment.  It was then leased to Modoc Northern Railroad in March, 2008 as MNRR 651.

After Modoc Northern went under, the locomotive sat derelict for several years in Tulelake, California with the other MNRR power, and finally was purchased by Western Rail (WRIX) in 2014.

 

MNRR 700

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Number 700 is an EMD GP7u, built in August of 1953 for the New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad (reporting mark NKP, commonly known as the "Nickel Plate") and entered service as their number 436.

In 1964, NKP merged several other railroads to become the Norfolk & Western Railway, and the locomotive became NW's number 2436.

The locomotive was sold in 1977 to Weyerhaeuser Timber Company in the state of Washington and became WTCX 776.  Early in the 1980's, the locomotive was assigned to the Chehalis Western Railroad (owned by Weyerhaeuser), becoming CWWR 776. 

Its next owner was the Columbia & Cowlitz Railway (CLC -another Weyerhaeuser property, later Patriot Rail)  as 700, replacing an older Fairbanks Morse H-12-44 of the same road number in 1989.

It was purchased by Lake County, California and became Lake County Railway number 700 in 1998. 

Modoc Northern acquired the 700 in an operating agreement with Lake County in 2006, and in 2007 MNRR stripped her yellow paint and painted her in the Modoc Northern green and yellow color scheme, replacing the Lake County Ry lettering with its own.

Soon after the termination of Lake County's operational agreement with Modoc Northern in May, 2009, Lake County awarded operation of their line to Frontier Rail (owned by Paul Didelius), which set up operations of the line as the Lake Railway (LRY).  700 was acquired by Frontier Rail who painted out the Modoc Northern markings, and it went to work for Lake Railway as LRY 700.

Then in 2017, when Frontier Rail lost their operating contract with Lake County, the 700 was relocated to Frontier's Washington Royal Line/Rainier Rail (WRL). As of this writing, to the best of my knowledge that's where the 700 is today.

 

MNRR 1011

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Built in September, 1978 by General Electric, 1011 is model B23-7; a 2,250 horsepower locomotive ordered by Southern Railway.  In 1982, Southern merged with Norfolk & Western Railway to become the Norfolk Southern Railway.

At some point, either while with NS or its next owner, the short hood was chopped down to a low hood configuration. It was purchased by a Canadian railroad called Alberta RailNet, who numbered it their 1011 but I have been unable to determine when they acquired it or if they were the ones who lowered the front hood. The only reference I've found says 2005.

If that's the case, it would seem that 2005 was a busy year for the locomotive, because in that year it also became Utah Central Railway's 1011.  2005 was also the year that Modoc Northern Railroad came into existence, and UCRY 1011 was painted for Modoc Northern and became their 1011.  (Both UCRY and MNRR were operated by Don Blansett and his wife Beth, who each owned a 50% interest in each railroad until the Blansetts divorced in 2006).

At some point, the 1011 suffered a traction motor failure and an axle locked up. It was set out on the Canby siding in Canby, California, and remained there, dead and increasingly vandalized (its horns were the first thing to disappear), for the remainder of Modoc Northern's existence.

Soon after the termination of Lake County's operational agreement with Modoc Northern in May, 2009, Lake County awarded operation of their line to Frontier Rail (owned by Paul Didelius), which set up operations of the line as the Lake Railway (LRY).  1011 was acquired by Frontier Rail.  Frontier made basic repairs and painted out the Modoc Northern markings, and it went to work for Lake Railway as LRY 1011.

In 2013, the 1011 was shipped out of Klamath Falls, stopping in Albany, Oregon for more repairs.  It worked for short time in Washington State, and eventually became Cincinnati East Terminal Railway 1011 (another Frontier/Paul Didelius property, to my understanding).  As of this writing the 1011 is leased to Columbia Grain in Portland, Oregon bearing the CCET 1011 reporting marks. 

 

MNRR 3647

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This EMD SW1000 switcher was built in May of 1966 for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad (CB&Q) as their number 9315.  During the CB&Q's merger with Great Northern Railway, Northern Pacific Railway, and Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway to form Burlington Northern, it became BN 579 in March 1970.  Then, when Burlington Northern merged with Santa Fe on September 22, 1995, it was renumbered again and became BNSF 3647.

Modoc Northern acquired the 3647 from BNSF on May 23 of 2008 for use as their Lakeview Switcher.  Unfortunately, it seemed to have a penchant for starting brush fires, and as such it became a bit of an "engine house queen" in Lakeview. 

MNRR never got around to relettering it before the Modoc folded.

After the demise of MNRR, it was sold to Titan Rail and then almost immediately purchased by Larry's Truck and Electrical in McDonald, Ohio.

 

MNRR 7780

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The 7780 is an EMD B30-7 built in March, 1980.  It began its life St. Louis Southwestern Railway ("Cotton Belt") 7780.  The Cotton Belt was a Southern Pacific company since 1932, so technically the 7780 was a SP locomotive.  When Union Pacific acquired Southern Pacific in 1996, the locomotive became UP 7780 although it was never repainted or relettered for the UP.   UP retired the 7780 on January 29 of 2001 and it was picked up by the Utah Central Railway. 

As mentioned above in the section about the 1011, UCRY was the "parent company" to MNRR, as it was owned by Don and Beth Blansett as a 50-50 proposition, and the 7780 was painted for the Modoc Northern and sent from Utah to Klamath Falls, Oregon along with the 1011 to go to work for the MNRR. 

The 7780 was returned to UCRY in December of 2006.  Patriot Rail Corp bought Utah Central Railway in January, 2008, and 7780 has since been scrapped.

 

Caboose 01480

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Caboose 01480 was built in 1959 by Denver & Rio Grand Western Railroad's Burnham Shops in Denver, Colorado.   It was one of the last cabooses manufactured by the Burnham shop.   After it was retired by D&RGW, Don Blansett purchased it for use on his and his wife's Utah Central Railway.  When Modoc Northern came into being, the caboose was repainted and lettered and sent to Klamath Falls in time for the ribbon cutting day on November 11, 2005.

As of this writing, it remains at Tulelake, California, faded by the weather, the last remaining physical testament that the Modoc Northern Railroad ever existed.

Update, August 9, 2020.  Today, I spotted the caboose in the Klamath Falls, Oregon Union Pacific yard.  It is apparently on its way to a new home and is no longer on the previous Modoc Northern property. 

The Modoc Northern is now officially gone.

Former MNRR caboose in the Union Pacific yard in Klamath Falls, Oregon on August 9, 2020

 

 

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