Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Railroad revisted. Short story.

Believe it or not, the railroad was actually functioning less than 10 years ago. I have a few friends that worked for the North Coast Railroad Authority. One of my buddies was the last engineer who took product in the form of 16 cars southbound on February 11th 1998 and was stranded at Island Mountain. (Just a few miles East of Garberville) He was told to abandon the cargo and head back to Alderpoint for pickup. Then the Federal Railroad Administration red tagged the North end of the line because of shoddy bookkeeping and reporting on the repair work by short line operator Railways Inc. According to my sources, it was not the yearly slide and riverbed issues that shut the line, they had to deal with that every year and 1998 was not that drastic of a change from other years. It was the shortfall of funds Railways Inc. had for repairs. At the time, now bankrupted Railways Inc was led by Director John Darling. In 1997 the rail was able to survive on a shoe string budget of 1 million dollars for repairs and upkeep. Railroad workers in 1998 worked for over a month with just the hope of a future paycheck. Over 8 million dollars was earmarked for the rail by FEMA but were not dispersed because of the book keeping issues. Darling passed blame on NCRA for their weak bookkeeping. (Darling was taken to court by railroad workers for past due wages a few years later.)

Anyways, too bad this was not all settled a long time ago. The further the years move along, the more doubtful it becomes for rail service to come back.


Anonymous said...

what was the railroad hauling in 1998? gravel? wood products?

Anonymous said...

The railroad is easy to fix.Locally we think it's a huge sum of money or their won't be freight enough to pay it's way when running. Both are so-so true in the small picture but if the state or the fereral gov. deems the railroad important for homeland security type reasons or simple transportation due to sea level rise fears or legislation on fuel standards it will be fixed and running in a blink of an eye. 660 million is to much money you say. If the Feds and State want it ten times 660 mill won't stop the railraod. Thinking locally is a good thing but reality tells us we still have to piss with the big dogs too.

samoasoftball said...

1998-Palco Lumber-Particleboard & Pulp from Louisiana Pacific-Gravel from riverbeds. Schmidbauer Lumber? I am not sure what were the other products.

The 16 cars left at Island Mountain east of Garberville were Palco Lumber. They had trucks go in and unload and continue the trip. Those 16 cars are sitting there to this day I suppose.

Babushka said...

Agree with anon 3:55, well said. And we are the only country on earth that does not subidize its rail system as a public necessity.

Fred said...

Hey!!! The perfect issue for Rich to run for State Senate (or Board of Supes) on: Get the railroad up and running again. You can't lose with that one, Rich.

Anonymous said...

This railroad has never turned a profit. Why would anyone try to restart it?

rick said...

I belive the railroad has been profitable many times. The public has always been told different. And the money goes into the wrong pockets.
Hats off to the men and women that have put all there heart and soles into keeping it up and going all these years it operated. And as a matter of a fact hats off to all those who live in Humboldt county. And keep all the Industries up and going, And that have raised there childeren here.

samoasoftball said...

11:47-The rail turned a profit the few years before 98'. Who have you been listening to?

Anonymous said...

"Who have you been listening to?"

A former auditor for the state. He audited RR's for approx. 10yrs in the late 70's & 80's.
His statement to me was,"even in the lumber heyday the northern line has never turned a profit."
I can't believe it was profitable in the 90's, when it wasn't when there was a sawmill on every corner.

samoasoftball said...

2:12am-I talked to employees of the rail. Ones who cashed their checks and made a living out of working for the rail. (In the 90's I loaded rail cars at LP Particleboard plant. My income was affected by the rail then as many other wage earners in the county.)

Anonymous said...

what does cashing a check have to do with the rr making a profit or not?

Mike Buettner said...

Gravel from the Eel to Samoa on rail coming soonish...

Re: Trade Corridors Improvement Fund Application (TCIF) – Other Corridors
California Northern Freight Corridor Restoration Project

Dear Mr. Barna:
The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District (Port of Humboldt Bay)
and North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA) with its operator, NWP Company (NWP)
are pleased to make this joint application requesting $19.117 million from the TCIF for
the California Northern Freight Corridor Restoration Project (Project). The Project
provides improved rail and port service, creates jobs, relieves congestion on northern
California roads and highways, and provides the Port of Humboldt Bay with the future
capability to fully utilize existing Port properties, and, through future expansion, to
reduce congestion of other California ports. The California Northern Freight Corridor
Restoration Project is divided into a rail and navigation component, and would:
1. Restore competitive and cost-efficient rail service between South Fork and
Samoa, NWP’s “Northern Corridor”.
2. Enhance navigation efficiency and safety at the Port of Humboldt Bay.
3. Create velocity of rail freight movements in the Northern Corridor where no rail
service now exists.
4. Relieve congestion on the region’s roadways and reduce vehicular air emissions,
both in California and in the Northern Corridor in particular.
5. Provide jobs and generate beneficial economic impacts in the Northern Corridor
through Port and railroad activities.
These benefits can be achieved for a relatively small investment and in a reasonably
short time frame, by rehabilitating essential infrastructure that is and will be needed to
move goods in northern California.

Anonymous said...

12:01 PM
sounds like someone is blowing smoke up somebodies ass!

Anonymous said...

No this is real...all too real. Unless the legislature pulls the plug on NCRA which is really on life support even though they pretend to be alive, this idiocy will happen. The NCRA and the Harbor District have forged an unholy alliance and unless stopped will waste a huge amount of money in pursuit of an impossible dream.

Mike Buettner said...

Marin Judge Prepares Railroad Slam

From Hank:

"In a pretrial memorandum, Marin County Superior Court Judge James R. Ritchie has signaled that he is inclined to issue a preliminary injunction on all railroad repair work currently underway on the south end of the line. (Technically, he writes that he’s inclined to stop all work contracted after Oct. 15 of this year, or work contracted before that has not actually begun.)"