For nearly a decade Hammond Lumber Company Number 16 had slept quietly at the entrance to Fortuna's Rohner Park while kids (and adults) sat in the engineer's seat and took countless fantastic and uncharted journeys. Youngsters ducked under the 80-ton machine and climbed its black frame, workin' on the railroad. But Number 16 was destined for a whole new life when in 1974 two sturdy cranes lifted the locomotive onto a truck flatbed and it left California for Shelton, Washington.
Number 16 was one of twenty-one 2-8-2T oil fired saddle tank engines built by the American Locomotive Company, designed for use on the tight curves and steep grades of logging railroads. Delivered in March of 1929, it had a long lumbering history, spending fourteen years in Oregon with the Crossett Western Company and nearly twenty hauling redwood logs for the Hammond Lumber Company in Samoa (which became part of the giant Georgia-Pacific Corporation). In 1964 the engine was acquired by the Fortuna Kiwanis Club for installation at Rohner Park.
It's difficult to find a Fortuna resident born in the 50's who had not spent some time on this locomotive, dreaming of faraway places and exotic locales, and it was with some regret that the engine had to leave. But that was a new beginning for Number 16. It went back to work hauling logs for the Peninsular Railway Company. After four years of again pulling lumber in from the woods and some quality time at the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad it underwent an extensive restoration process and is now operating excursion trains on the Battle Ground, Yacolt & Chelatchie Prairie Railroad in North Clark County, Washington, between Portland and Mt. St Helens.
We received a September 2006 message from Kurt Anders who is familiar with #16 after it left Fortuna:
"#16 never spent anytime at the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad. Its sister #17 was restored and operates at Mt. Rainier."
"When #16 was pulled out of the park in Fortuna by Pete Replinger and Harold Borovec it was shipped by rail to Shelton, Washington where it was restored by Pete and Harold where it saw limited service as a log hauler and tourist passenger train. After numerous years sitting rusting away in a mill area above Shelton, it was sold to members of the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad who are currently restoring it to operating condition. In talking with them last week the restoration process should be done by May for the start of the 2007 season if all goes to plan."
"A note on Harold Borovec. Harold is the dean of steam railroad restoration in the Pacific Northwest and runs the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad which is the most successful non-profit steam railroad in that region."
And a few months later Kurt sent us this:
"Well, the old steamer made its sneak preview debut on December 2nd on a beautiful crisp fall day in Yacolt, Washington. It was our annual Christmas tree run and only a few knew it would be out that day. I got a call just a few hours before it was to happen and drove almost 100 miles to see it."
"There were no dry eyes in the house as steam returned to those rails for the first time in 50 years. To everyone's surprise and delight the steam locomotive now carries its original company's name, Crossett-Western and number, 10, which it had when it first began hauling logs in 1929 out of Wauna, Oregon just 70 miles northwest of Yacolt. So, it is back in its home area looking good with a very bright future ahead of her."
Northern California railroad pictures are from past calendars by the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Historical Society. Become a member!
The Alton & Pacific Railroad was a privately owned tourist attraction located on Highway 36 in nearby Alton. It no longer exists.
Heralded the "City of Fortuna", this steam locomotive, originally the Hammond Lumber Company Number 16, was once located near the entrance in Rohner Park. It is now being operated as an excursion train in Washington.
More information about this ALCO 2-8-2T.
Three trainmen were killed in January 1953 at the Scotia Bluff, the same location as the picture to the left, when a landslide took their locomotive, the NWP184, into the icy Eel River. (Bill Bish pictures)
Pictures and information on local railroad depots.