Montague CA is the location of the Yreka Western Railroad's interchange with the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP). Here SP train No.16, the "Oregon & California Express", is stopped at the SP's depot in 1910 and making the connection behind the depot is Yreka Railroad's Hall-Scott Motorcar No.5.
Yreka Western Railroad Co. (YW)
The Yreka Western Railroad Co. (YW, AAR #873)
is a Common Carrier Class III (Shortline) railroad serving the Siskiyou County California communities of Yreka and Montague. The YW
built and has been operating the rail line since 1889 and interchanges with the Union Pacific Railroad (UP)
and Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad (CORP)
in Montague CA. The YW
operates both freight and tourist excursion trains. The YW
was incorporated in the State of California on August 24, 1933 and was the successor to the original Yreka Railroad Co.
The Yreka Railroad was incorporated in May 1888 with capital stock of $100,000, and opened in January 1889, connecting Yreka to the Southern Pacific Railroad Company lessor Central Pacific Railroad (ex-California and Oregon Railroad). The decision to build the Yreka Railroad was due in part to the Central Pacific's decision to bypass Yreka in favor of a shorter, and more level route through the Shasta Valley and the City of Montague. Not to be left without a rail connection, the citizens of Yreka formed their own railroad. The railroad hauled passengers and local freight. On August 24, 1933, the railroad was re-incorporated as the Yreka Western Railroad Company. The railroad was acquired by Willis Kyle in 1953 who eventually formed the Kyle Railways empire. In 1995 the Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad acquired the Southern Pacific (later Union Pacific) connection at Montague. In 1999 Kyle Railways sold the YW
to the Rocky
Mountain Railway and Mining Museum of Denver, Colorado.
In December 2016 the YW
was sold to Railmark Holdings, Inc. (www.railmark.com
) who owns and operates the railroad.
In 1986 under the Kyle Railways ownership, the YW
started operating a steam passenger train excursion known as the "Blue Goose" between Yreka and Montague, offering scenic views of Mount Shasta, the Shasta Valley and the Siskiyou Mountains. The most famous locomotive on the line was the 2-8-2 Mikado, Baldwin-built 90-Ton logging locomotive #19, nicknamed "Pancho" due to its time spent in Mexico in the 1920s
and possible squabble with the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. The #19 steam locomotive has starred in many movies, the two most famous being "Emperor of the North"
and "Stand By Me"
. The locomotive was built in 1915 by Baldwin for the Caddow River Lumber Company in Arkansas and stayed there until sent to Mexico in 1920 where it was believed to have been converted to oil. In 1924 the locomotive was purchased
by the McCloud River Railroad and stayed many years there hauling log trains until sold to the Yreka Western Railroad in 1953. The locomotive remained on the Yreka Western Railroad until it was sold in October 2016.
The railroad today is a modern shortline railroad providing rail direct freight services, rail logistics (transloading), intermodal, railcar services, track construction & maintenance and maintains active industrial development to attract industry to its line and the communities which it serves. The freight traffic is primarily wood chips, forest products, propane and a variety of transload commodities.