Thursday, February 14, 2013

I been workin' on the Railroad.

I had Lunch with our new 2nd District Supervisor, Estelle Fennell, the other day, and I was somewhat excited to find the she had been appointed by the Humboldt Co. Board of Supervisors of be our representative on matters of railroads into Humboldt County. As many of you already know, there has been some talk about building an entire new rail-bed, on an entirely new route, East and West, from Eureka to the Sacramento valley, while abandoning the existing Eel Canyon, flat ground, rail-bed that is already an established right-of-way. I’ve probably already tipped my hand of the route that I prefer, more information on that later.


I am a big fan of large machines and technology, like trains. I am also a big fan of fishes, critters, and the environment. In the interest of full disclosure, I include my good friends the human beings as part of the environment. I feel that the world is way over-populated at this point already, and we need to start addressing what we need to do about world population. Are you ready to get of the world? Neither am I. That leaves us with convincing the young breeders of the world to try to limit themselves. Good luck with that. I can be rather pious, in that I only produced one offspring. However, that offspring produced two children and one of them produced one more. You see the dilemma. I am now responsible for three replacements for myself in this world. As you might guess, I am very happy with my offspring replacements, so you began to see the population dilemma.

Back to the subject of railroads. I told Estelle that I was a big proponent of rebuilding the Eel River Canyon railway. First, it is an established right-of-way, there will be no land acquisitions, no major excavations, and most of the historic problems of building the original rail-bed have stabilized. Some people reel in horror at the thought of a railway down the Eel canyon. Their first thought is the environment… mine too! But, give it some thought. Many will point out all of the problems that have been related to the Eel canyon rail. Some will point out all of the debris that has been caused and left by from the rail. Old rail cars can be seen dumped in the river and abandoned. Many old bridges have been pushed aside and abandoned, not to mention all the old coal loading stations, water tanks and equipment from the steam locomotive days. Some trash was hauled off, but a lot was simply abandoned.

My thoughts are that the trash left behind will never be cleaned without a railway to haul it off. We no longer live in the early twentieth century. The new rail will not be constructed in the manner of the early rail. The rail-bed that is left is stable, with a few remarkable exceptions. A new rail should be constructed with concrete rail-ties similar to what the rest of the world uses. Creosote rail-ties are no longer allowed to pollute the river. The trash left from the old railroad could be cleaned as the new rail is completed. The slides that are in the canyon now are historic slides that were there as far back as history itself. They may have been aggravated by the railroad, but they were there first, and, indeed, they are still there, some many years after the trains have been gone. They will be there thousands of years from now. Truth! The good news is that we have had much more soil added to the north coast hills than we have lost. The soil in Petrolia is four feet higher, and Kings Peak is 16 inches higher after the great earthquake in the early 90’s. We are NOT going to run out of dirt folks. Erosion on the North Coast is as natural as, well, erosion on the North Coast.

As I said earlier, this is no longer the early twentieth century. We no longer kill the Indigenous People, and we have made several improvements in technology also. We have technology to avoid land-slides. Viaducts, similar to the one in front Native Lady Rock in Sonoma County, and closer still, the Eagle point Viaduct south of Myers flat are used to get past slides. The Twintrees bridge, south of Benbow, has an active slide that goes under it moving into the river. We can leave the historic slides alone and go past or over them. We now have the technology.


So, now that we have come up with a plan to clean up the trash, leave the slides alone, and get rid of all the creosote rail ties, you are now probably thinking that it will never work because it will never make any money. Europe is probably a poor example to use right now, because there economy is in the pits, but most travel in Europe is by rail. Their rails don’t make money, they are built by the governments, similar to our highways. The only place that highways are owned by big business is in major cities like Los Angeles. We will need a Government subsidy. Maybe Obama will give us some economic recovery money. Think of how nice it would be to have some legitimate jobs and good wages in Humboldt County again, just one more reason to go down the Humboldt Eel river Canyon. If you still doubt the rail will bring us prosperity, just remember how prosperous Humboldt was when we had a rail.

I’ve heard much ballyhoo about Short Sea Shipping. If S.S.S. is so viable, why aren’t they doing it? There is already an ocean route and many, many ships. The short answer is handling, time and poor economics. There are already well established routes along the coast of California. The big need is a method to move freight inland without reloading it off Short Sea Ships. Plus docks are already too crowded. S.S.S. would only add to the dock congestion. We will never see a viable Short Sea Shipping without dock space in the southern harbors. If you think that it is possible, think it all the way through, and give me a plan. I don’t see it happening.

Humboldt Bay has been a historic shipping point up until very recently. The bay has not, nor will it ever be crowded by ships. The bay is a large place. Dock space will always be the limiting factor. There will be plenty of room for cruise ships and tourism. The further dredging of the harbor will be paid for by the increased shipping.

The economics of a passenger railroad will probably be prohibitive, but my fondest hope would be to have a passenger quality railway through the north coast. We have such wonderful trees and such a beautiful country. Wouldn’t be great to connect the world to Humboldt County? Can you imagine a slow speed rail tour through the redwoods? Say, about forty MPH. We don’t need a high speed passenger rail, we need a view. Glass top rail cars up the Eel canyon. Those of you that get fogged out of the Arcata Airport can catch a train up the canyon from San francisco.

Container ships are designed to offload onto rails. A ship could offload a container that could go pretty much through to Salt Lake City with no more handling. Small rock mining operations along the Eel canyon could be done with limited environmental impact. We have hard rock in the main Eel that makes premium concrete. A passenger rail would be the Crème de la crème. So give me a railroad, or birth control. As a good friend of mine once said: “Poverty is the number one pollution”. Humboldt deserves a railroad and the prosperity that it can provide.




64 comments:

Fred Mangels said...

The bay is a large place..

I'm thinking the bay isn't as large as some think.

Anything north of the Samoa Bridge is pretty much off limits since ships can't get under the bridge. Anything to the south of the jetties is probably off limits, too, as that area is all mud flats.

So, you have just the area from the north jetty to the Samoa Bridge. Much of that area seems pretty shallow to me, with the exception of a few channels that are deep enough for ships to navigate.

I'm basing that on just from what I've seen of the bay at low tide. I don't think there's a whole lot of room for modern larger ships to move around in there. I hope I'm wrong and wiser men than I disagree. We shall see.

Fred Mangels said...

I wrote, ...and wiser men than I disagree..

Scratch that. I miswrote it. What I meant is there seems to be plenty of people who thing the bay is big enough to handle a bunch of large ships.

Ellin said...

Bravo! Your points on existing right-of-way and glass topped viewing cars are right on. I've always wondered, if a railroad is a great idea for here, why not reactivate the old one which connects with the Bay Area with its huge market rather than uphill Reading with far less?

It seems like it would take a lot less time and money to reopen the Eel River course than to start all over again at zero. And you're absolutely right, it would be a premier tourist train with world-wide appeal.



Fred Mangels said...

There's a guest commentary on the proposed east/west line in the Times- Standard today.

A couple interesting things I never knew that he brought up:

Humboldt County had more rail lines than anywhere else in the state back in the day.

There was supposedly a tunnel dug beneath Table Bluff for a rail line between Eureka and the Eel River Valley. Never heard of that before. Anyone know where it is? Why not just go over the top of Table Bluff?

Anonymous said...

As I remember, the Skunk had a flatbed car with side rails which I think would be great for a viewing car.
Folks that ride the Alaska Ferry from WA. to KET. AK, 39 hour ride , usually take a sleeping bag, sometimes a tent and stay on the deck under the solarium. They might be a little tougher than the lower 48 folks tough.

Oregon

Ernie Branscomb said...

Fred
The bay used to have many ships coming and going daily. The channels are quite deep, and there is a turning basin. There are channels into all the docks. As shipping increased dredging could improve the access.

The problem with America today is that it's easy to stop progress, but darn near impossible to do any kind of a project. Myself?,I don't mind improvements, I just want them to be done right.

Thanks for your input folks.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Oregon
I used to ride an old passenger rail car that had been motorized from Longvale to Eel Rock when I lived there. It even had a heater.

Anonymous said...

I love heaters, I am old and frail these days and hate to even go out to the shop in the winter months. The last trip I took on the AMFS I rented a cabin but when the bar closed I wished I only had to go to the solarium. My cabin was the other way. The swells were close to 15 feet and and it was okay on the way up but then ferry dropped out from under me the other way. Not like that on a train car. Like I said, not for the weak kneed.

Oregon

Anonymous said...

I think the last rail car I rode on was in Eel Rock, made of 4 2X6's nailed together with roller bearings for wheels and man powered.
That was awhile back I might mention.


Oregon

P.S. Not quite in the fall of 39 but close.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Ross
I you stop by here, please email me. I have a private message for you.

When my computer was being used a a "point of sale" in the store my emails and edresses were deleted. Oops!

Monte Provolt said...

Nice BLOG, having the north south rail line put back in operation would be great.
I am also a supporter of the East/West rail. With gas predicted to reach from 7 to 10 dollars a gallon in the next few years, rail is the direction we are headed in.

What people must realize is, there's already a train running in and out of Humboldt County.
It is a train of trucks. They run 24 hours a day, north south, east and west.

Anyone serious about reducing carbon emissions should be for looking into all options.

Anonymous said...

Nice blog. I discovered this when I was searching for information on redwood trees (having trouble with a retaining wall dig due to roots of a large redwood).

Why haven't we built more railroads or modernize the ones we have? It is the way to go. We cannot keep pretending we will have cheap gas to run the cars and trucks forever. Besides, having railroad will boost the economy, it will bring prosperity. It will be life line that will bring more economic activity and mobility for people work and trade.

Fred Mangels said...

Besides, having railroad will boost the economy, it will bring prosperity..

Not by itself it won't, other than using other people's money in a make work scheme. A railroad simply taking people the same places they already go, to do the same things they're already doing won't accomplish anything but cost money and provide a handful of people jobs.

A train line developed to expand commerce- as the proposed east/west line is intended to do- might well bring economic development. However, suggest that we develop a new rail line to ship goods into and out of the the area and the environmentalists have a fit over it. It likely would never happen even if the the funding penciled out. After all, this is California: The State of No.

Ernie Branscomb said...

When the railroad closed, a lot of out-of-work logging truckers converted their loggers to freight movers. But, the cost of trucking is so high that business is fleeing Humboldt County. We need a subsidized railroad because rising fuel costs will almost completely isolate us without an economical freight mover like a railroad.

The East-West rail makes sense in that it will avoid the congestion in the bay area, Sacramento, and Donner Summit. The East-West could connect to the Northern rail system at Cottonwood. It would also allow for back-hauls of coal out of Montana.

There is an established public utilities right of way existing East-West. The natural gas pipe line is already in place. The ground is stable. All that it is needed is the blessing of the nay-sayers.

The Eel Canyon has advantages of shipping much needed gravel and rock to San Francisco. I have been told that when the viability studies were done, rock was selling for $19.00/ton. Rock now sells for $100.00/ton. Big difference.

I need to thank an anonymous friend for my recent education on the rail business. Thanks!

Ross Sherburn said...

Just saw my name mentioned on the 17th???

Robin Shelley said...

Ross,
Send Ernie your e-mail address. He lost it (through no fault of his own)!

Monte Provolt said...

I've done some research on coal.
In order for coal to be profitable, it is hauled in great quantity. Coal trains tend to be a mile, sometimes a mile and a half long. The trains usually stay on the more level routes.
Three things that would prevent coal from being shipped to Humboldt are;
Hauling long trains over the coastal range, our ports capicity is only five ships per week, and acoal train requires a coal terminial. Land use and public feelings would prevent this .
On the bright side, who needs coal.
There are thousands of smakk companys such as Yakima racks that need access to the pacific rim and the national rail system. Also the Sacramento valley ships most of its rice nuts grains etc. from the conjested ports of Stocton and Oakland, which are more than a day farther.

Ernie Branscomb said...

For all of you that are wondering, I was able to get Ross' eddress and send him a link to a long lost relative.

I have also recently been contacted by a college researcher that is writing about Indians held in slavery by whites. I referred him to Olmanriver, as I do most research questions. OMaR is a wellspring of historic knowledge.

Ross Sherburn said...

Ernie,I sent that Cousin an email,but haven't heard back???
Thanks for your time & effort!!

Ross

Ernie Branscomb said...

Ross
Hmmmm... He must be related to me.

On a happier note, the researcher that I put in contact with Olmanriver is getting a great wealth of Indian history and knowledge from him.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

Ross Sherburn said...

My first cousin "Robert Begley" married a Drury girl from the Bell Springs area,I believe? Ernie you know the family/ranchers I'm talking about?

Ross Sherburn said...

Ernie,In one of my logging history books,it mentions a Joe Flora who mostly logged in Oregon. Could this be Jerry Flora's dad?I had Jerry as a teacher in Redway when he was pretty young.

Ernie,sorry I get off subject.........

Ernie Branscomb said...

Ross
The family that I know from the ranch at the Mendocino/Humboldt county line is Dick Drewry. His dad was Dan Drewry.(one arm shot off in a gun accident)and his mom was Barbara Drewry that wrote a coluum for the Redwood Record called "The Bell Springs Buzz".

I don't know about "Flora". I know Jerry and Turrid though.(sp?).

There is no subject to stick to on this blog. Hey, wanna' talk 'bout butterflies?

Anonymous said...

I don't have any butterflies but since reloading components are so hard to get now days I decided to share some of my cache. I am willing to sell several thousand of my once fired primers. It will have to be a cash only sale.

Oregon

Ross Sherburn said...

Oregon,I always swep up my primers after reloading. But I like the way you think!! LOL!

""Preppers""
Speed Devee had a bomb shelter in the fifties. He was a "prepper" before it was popular.
Ernie,you could do a thread on this.................

Anonymous said...

Ross. Sorry, if I'm the Cousin you sent an email to. I haven't been on this site for quite a while.
Penny

Ross Sherburn said...

Penny,I'm confused??
Please do tell more..............

Ross Sherburn said...

Ernie,have any idea who Penny is ???

Anonymous said...

Dang Ross, I beginning to wonder who Ernie is:)

Oregon

Ross Sherburn said...

No sh!t,Oregon!!!!

Ernie Branscomb said...

I just left a big looooong comment and GOOGLE CHROME ate it! I hate Google chome. The yuppies invented it to screw up Internet Explorer. I was out cruizing among the yuppie blogs and forgot to switch back to I.E. Blogspot only works well in I.E. OH WELL!!! I start again. (To be continued below)

Ernie Branscomb said...

I kinda figured that the "cousins" would figure out for themselves what was going on, but I guess not.

The cousin that didn't check back was Ross' cousin from Hawaii. Penny is my cousin from Laytonville. Penny, Oregon, and I, are all first cousins. We are related to everybody whose ancestors go back to the 1800s in laytonville. If we had the time we could figure out how we are all related to Ross Sherburn. Them sneaky Sherburns married up all the school teachers back then and left the Branscombs without a school because married school teachers were tooo scandalous to teach.

Oregon
When you get enough used primers you can sell them to the Chinese. They melt them down and make rebar for their dams that they use to make power to manufacture stuff to sell to the U.S., because we are shutting down and tearing out our dams because they pollute and kill fish. The Chinese already killed all their fish, so they don't care about pollution. I don't quite get why we buy from the Chinese, knowing about how pollution drenched their products are. Can anybody tell me????

Ernie Branscomb said...

Dang, Internet Explorer Works good !!!

Ernie Branscomb said...

Ross
Did you ever hear from your Hawaii cousin?

Anonymous said...

I hear the Chinese are marinating pigs in their water supply and we have some damns in Washington but we mainly use the Hanford Nuclear Reservation to do our local polluting.

Oregon

Ernie Branscomb said...

China no longer has fish in their rivers so they are trying out pigs, but aparently they don't swim much better than they fly.

When is it not a crime to throw dead pigs in the river? When it happens in China.

Ross Sherburn said...

Ernie,Please tell me more about a Sherburn being married to a school teacher. I know one was,but can't remember who??

Thanks,Ross

And no,the cousin never got back to me!!!!

Anonymous said...

hmmmmm, still blank this morning.

Ross Sherburn said...

I check in here,every couple of days. Maybe I need to make it,every couple of weeks???

Anonymous said...

Ross, I check here a couple times a day. I don't even see an abandoned sign.

Oregon

Anonymous said...

Whar's that Devee bunker Oregon? I might need it.

Ross Sherburn said...

Speed had a bomb shelter,That he built in the fifties!

Anonymous said...

In the end it was not Russki bombs that he needed protection from, it was the bulldozers who built the freeway and took his home and his bombshelter south of where the southbound 101 onramp out of Garberville merges onto 101. I believe there is still a madrone, all that is left of the old property.

AND A BELATED BY A DAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU ERNIE!

Ernie Branscomb said...

Thanks for the birthday wish.
Just across from the defunct "Poor Man's Parts" there is a juniper tree that was part of the Sherburn's yard. It's still very healthy and growing.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Believe it or not I'm working on a great post, but it still needs some research.

Ross Sherburn said...

Gib & Peggy Clifton lived below us. The tree might have been in their yard???

Ernie Branscomb said...

Nope, the freeway took their place completely. The tree would have been in your yard.

Ross Sherburn said...

Pretty sure it took our place "completely" also? I walked up around there about 40 years ago!LOL!

Anonymous said...

While waiting on Ernie's next offering, some may wish to take this journey down the Eel on the RR tracks, after the RR shut down.

Ross Sherburn said...

Anon,That was a good read! Sounds like it would have been easier,to just "walk" it!

Ross Sherburn said...

"
Ross, My brother finally called back. He is working 13 hours a day between Hayfork and Hyampon and has no cell service here. Anyway he got a hold of Oma Teague.
According to Oma, her and Cliff were headed to Oregon from Arkansas in 1951 to work for Cliff's uncle. They stopped in Phillipsville, CA for gas and was told they needed to go back to Garberville to get gas. They ran into this guy at the Mobil station named Shine Sherburn and he offered Cliff a job at the mill by the Briceland Bridge and so that is where Cliff and Oma lived and worked.
I do have Oma's phone number if you are interested in talking to her. She remembers everything and likes to talk about the old days."

Oregon

Fred and Ann Fluke stopped by the other day and visited awhile!
Any you folks know them??

Ross Sherburn said...

Just tryin' to keep this blog alive!!!

Ernie Branscomb said...

Ross, I appreciate your efforts. I still read all the comments. We all have had so much fun here. I just hate it when somebody tells me that "they're busy". .. but I have been busy. Some of the reasons that I've been busy can't be discussed on a blog. Maybe I'll send all my regular commenters a "Christmas letter" of sorts. Humm... Unfortunately, that would leave out all the anonymous commenters. There is some justice in the world don't you think?

I remember the name Fted Fluke but can't place him. I seem to recall a "Fred Fluke Lumber Company". Close?

Anonymous said...

Ditto what Ross said.
4-10-13

Oregon

Ross Sherburn said...

In the early 50's Fred Fluke worked for Ford & Sherburn Forest Products, At the larger mill in Laytonville and the other mill down by the Briceland bridge at Garberville.In the mid 50's he had three logging trucks hauling for the same stinkin' outfit.
They lived on Kimto road renting a house from Joe Swithenbank.
When the logging went to crap,he went to work for the State road dept. ,Retiring from there years later.
I'm sure he did better with the state job in the long run,than most loggers of that time!

Anonymous said...

Yes, there is a rr tunnel in Loleta that goes under Table Bluff and a graveyard.

Anonymous said...

Yay!!! A new post on here:)

Ernie Branscomb said...

Where? Did I miss something?

Anonymous said...

anon 7:37 AM. Maybe it is called something else. Not a post?

Ross Sherburn said...

On one of my Gun Blogs,its called a "thread"!!!
OOPPS,shouldn't mention "guns" around all the yippies that have moved into Gods country.

Ross Sherburn said...

Ernie,you need to start "something",even if it's stupid...........

Johnathan Wilson said...

Ernie, your starting to scare me.

Anonymous said...

Ditto on 4-19-13 and the two from 4-24-13.

Oregon

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