Geared locomotives were used by the Sugar Pine Railroad between 1909 and 1965 to haul logs from the Stanislaus River Canyon to the Pickering lumber mill some 70 miles away. The challenges facing this operation led to what may be considered the most spectacular logging railroad show in California’s history.
This unique video documents Pickering’s operation through the recollections of two brothers who worked on the railroad from 1920 to 1942. Manny Marshall was a locomotive engineer; his "kid brother", Tom, was first a brakeman and later a conductor.
The early history of the railroad, with its wrecks, run-away trains, and the rickety incline tramways of the Empire City Narrow Gauge feeder line, is presented through more than 100 rare and previously unpublished photographs. 16mm color film from Catenary Video Productions’ archives looks at the camps where steam donkey loading is shown in detail and then follows the swaying loads on their trips to the mill.
Roadbeds carved out of vertical granite cliffs present a mighty challenge to Pickering’s Pacific Coast Shay No. 11 as it tows 17 log cars in a double headed battle up the adverse grades of the "Peeled Onion." Five other geared locomotives are shown in action, as well as rare footage shot from within the cabs. Full sound effects and original music underscore this fascinating retrospective of Pickering’s Sugar Pine Railroad.
62 minutes • DVD
Black and White, Color and full sound track.
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