Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad (CORP) has an Engine in Weed, CA (GP38-3 #3809) that switches the local mills, and trades out cars with the Union Pacific RR from the junction at Black Butte, CA.
CORP runs on the older, more mountainous, former Southern Pacific Siskiyou Line, Union Pacific runs on newer, less mountainous, former Southern Pacific “Natron Cutoff” mainline. The two meet near Weed, CA at Black Butte, just off of the South Weed exit of I-5. There is an old water tower there and there used to be an old water spout for filling the tenders, until a misfortunate accident involving an Amtrak train and some cars fouling the main line, causing the Amtrak to derail and wipe out the old spigot.
Read more about the history of Black Butte Yard/Jctn. here
It is a rare thing indeed to actually see the job #701 in action when you have to travel 80 miles and only get down there once or twice a year or so. Northern California recently had storm after storm dump tons of snow in the area, and I was anxious to get down there and get some train/snow shots (actually, my Jeep was threatening to cut me off if we didn’t go play.) It was just by luck that I was there about 5 minutes before it arrived at Black Butte. It must first climb around a steep grade to get there and I could hear the horn and laboring prime mover.
I knew right away what it was, as earlier in the day, I had seen the load and engine waiting at the Weed yard.
(above) taken at Weed Yard
(above) Arriving at Black Butte.
(above) backing train to existing load. Mount Shasta, (middle) Black Butte, (right)
(above) Old water tower, CORP employee SUV, he ran around throwing switches for them, probably no conductor on board.
Up until this point it was not a great day for spotting trains. I stopped at Yreka Western RR on my way down there, no action, just a few of the engines sitting at the depot. Then I went down to Dunsmuir where the snow was deeper but no trains. Just the snow removing equipment sitting idle in the yard. (below)
I did see a train however, just as the CORP train got next to the mainline, backing it’s load, a south bound mixed freight rolled through with two helpers on the end.