I headed north out of my caboose digs in Dunsmuir to Highway 88 and the town of McCloud.
McCloud was the epicenter for the logging railroad, the McLoud River Railroad (later to become the McCloud Railroad). Much of the ninety miles of track has now been removed and the railroad bed is slowly being converted into a hiking and biking trail called the Great Shasta Rail Trail.
I wanted to get out on the trail and to see what was left of the railroad; quite a bit as I was soon to find out. One section of the trail that I wanted to visit was east of McCloud near the small collection of buildings at Bartle.
It was here that there was once a 25,000 gallon water tower built in 1933. This tower served as a watering stop for the McCloud’s steam locomotives. The water tower was filmed in a beautiful crane shot in the 1986 film, Stand By Me. In the scene, the four boys are walking east down the railroad and the leaky Bartle water tower is on the left.
The film’s director, Rob Reiner, called this shot “one of my favorites in the whole film.”
In 2020, the large water tower is gone, it collapsed in July of 2011. Half of the stand that the tower stood on is still by the side of the former railroad bed. I pulled out my sketching stool and stretched what was left of the tower.
After sketching the remains of the Bartle Water Tower, I headed back along Highway 88 to McCloud. I wanted to see what was left of the McCloud Railroad. The company had abandoned most of it’s tracks by 2006. I had a vague idea that the rail yard was in the northern part of town.
After a search, I came upon a railroad grade crossing. I pulled over and hiked up the tracks and I was unprepared for what I was about to discover.
This was any rail fans’s dream: having an abandoned rail yard all to yourself!
A special thanks to railroad author Jeff Moore who helped give me information about the past and present of the McCloud Railroads. I highly recommend his Acadia Publishing book Rails Around McCloud. His website about the McCloud is: http://mccloudriverrailroad.com/index.htm