Tony Johnson
8/22/1944 - 7/14/2021

A long time and well known railroad historian, Tony had been a continual help to me with the C&OC page for several years, and before that, with subjects dealing with the San Francisco area, where he grew up. Of late, he was treasurer of the Southern Oregon Chapter of NRHS, where he participated on the restoration of Medco #4. I shall greatly miss our exchanges over subjects of mutual interest. His depth of knowledge was enormous.
- EO

Beyond covering the Twohy Brothers years with C&OC, this book - available online from Internet Archive - covers a multitude of their other railroad endeavors in the Northwest (click on image).

The original permutation of this page appeared in 2003, early in Wx4's existence. Sometime after the last update in 2011, the mysterious forces of the Internet preyed upon it and erased several photos. We failed to notice the issue until recently, so by way of an apology, we offer this new and improved version, with much additional material. Got C&OC / Hobbs, Wall & Co. pics or info? Please email - E.O. Gibson

note: A discussion of sources referenced on these pages is located HERE.

update: 9-23-19:

additional photos and information about Del Norte county operations from Jeff Moore and the book The Lonesome Whistle, by Berden O. Bretz

update 6-2021:
Thanks to Jeff Moore, Roger Phillips and Tony Johnson for their considerable contributions to this update.

  • added 1935 and 1941 rosters
  • added photos and info about elusive Twohy (C&OC) #127
  • added photos of #1, #Pacfic Portland Cement Ideal Cement (C&OC) #103
  • added info re leased SP 4-8-0's
  • added info on Twohy contemplated purchase of 2-6-2
  • added many photos of HW&Co

update 9-29-22

  • New photo of C&OC #1
  • colorized photo of C&OC boxcar #1503
  • photo: CC&SR #1 with "one log" train
  • two maps created by Jeff Moore of Hobbs-Wall branches / spurs
  • Hobbs-Wall photos from Del Norte Triplicate, courtesy Joan Thompson

Many thanks to the friendly folks at the Josephine County Historical Society for kindly allowing Wx4 to reprint (so to speak) this issue as a PDF (click on image).

A grand design to unite Grants Pass with the Pacific Coast

An obscure footnote in the history of the "Octopus", the California and Oregon Coast Railroad and its predecessors / successors stumbled along for half a century, a continual, if somewhat unrealistic, grand dream of the folks in Grants Pass, Oregon. Even after its comversion from a common carrier to a privately operated industrial railroad, plans to finish the road resurfaced surfaced from time-to-time, but invariably they never worked out. C&OC was contemplated for the same reasons as so many other shortlines, as a reaction to the monopolistic practices (read: high freight rates) of Southern Pacific. The town fathers' grand hope was to build a competing line southwest out of Grants Pass through the rugged Coast Range mountains to Crescent City, California, with the last part utilizing the existing rails of Hobbs, Wall & Company's Crescent City and Smith River Railroad. Crescent City held ambitious plans of its own: to become a major Pacific Coast seaport. Historically, Crescent City had been Southwestern Oregon's major connection to the outside world, linked by pack mule, and later freight wagons, from the time of the Gold Rush until Southern Pacific's Oregon & California Railroad came to Grants Pass in the 1880's. It was a natural consequence of this association that, in the face of opressive SP rates, Grants Pass looked towards its traditional trade partner for relief. In the end, C&OC never joined with CC&SR, let alone made it to anywhere near the California border, so what follows is basically a parallel investigation of the two separate concerns that never managrd to connect with each other. Some little-known railroad operations in the Crescent City vicinity are thrown in for good measure.

The following "North End" section does not offer full C&OC coverage, but instead serves as supplementary material to two freely available works. The first is a general history contained within the July,1963 issue Josephine County Historical Society's The Oldtimer, which is offered here as a PDF - click image at left for download. The years of Twohy ownership are well covered by Ten Spikes to the Rail, by John Roger Twohy, available for online loan at the Internet Archive - click image at left for the link.

The "South End" section is a fairly detailed history, since the railroads of Del Norte County have been somewhat of an enigma. It is hardly the last word, however, so it is written in a manner that hopefully will spur discussion and further research. This part covers the three successive Hobbs, Wall and Co. railroads: 1884 - ca.1914 Crescent City & Smith River Railroad (a log-hauler that also was a common carrier with a passenger business), 1907 - ca.1925 Del Norte Southern and ca.1925 - 1939 operation that ran under the Hobbs, Wall & Co. banner. It also includes what little we have learned about four other nearby railroads: ca. 1871 - 1903 Crescent City Mill & Transportation Company's mule-powered lumber railroad, 1885 - ca.1905 Hume, Westbrook & Bromhoff logging railroad, 1922-1925 Smith River & Northern logging railroad and 1923 - 1926 Kern & Kibbe quarry railroad.

For those who wish to explore the former C&OC right of way, has a dandy road guide accessible using Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. Sadly their current online guide suffers from Google's recently instituted decision to charge hefty fees for map access to both for-profit and non-commercial organizations alike. Formerly the service was free for the latter

Note that images outlined in blue on this page are clickable for larger versions

The North End: California and Oregon Coast Railroad
California and Oregon Coast never nearly fulfilled its boosters' expectations. The net result for several years of construction and corporate changes was a mere 15 miles of line that terminated in the lumber / mining settlement of Waters Creek, notwithstanding the wave of optimism that followed Twohy Brothers' acquisition of the franchise line from the City of Grants Pass in 1915. Ultimately, investors were skeptical that potential traffic levels would justify the estimated cost of forwarding the railroad through the intervening 72 miles of steep, winding mountain terrain to a connection with Crescent City & Smith River Railroad. A short 1915 boom of mine and lumber traffic, and an even shorter sugar beet boom-gone-bust accompanied Twohy Brothers's extension of tracks from Wilderville to Waters Creek, but traffic soon fell off to a comparative trickle - so much so that C&OC spent most of its Twohy tenure in receivership. Passenger trains were only operating three times a week by 1917, and passengers seemed more ready to endure muddy roads than suffer the punishing ride provided by the line's four wheel puddle-jumper of a railcar, dubbed the Yellow Peril.

The City of Grants Pass repossessed the franchise in 1922, since the Twohy's never fulfilled a contract-specified extension to Waldo, and in turn sold the railroad to Beaver Portland Cement Company the following year. This was not the final chapter for Twohy, as they would surface again during the late Depression with a new failed effort aimed at completing the railroad as originally contemplated. It failed. Beaver Cement essentially ran the railroad as an industrial operation, alhough it still had a few other customers. Passenger service ceased altogether in 1924. Upon assuming ownership, the cement company proceeded to construct a short branch line from a point about 2.5 miles west of Wilderville to the site of an aerial tramway strung up a hill to company-owned Marble Mountain [limestone] Quarry. The tracks southward from the branch junction down to Waters Creek remained in place, but fell into disuse. Likely in 1927, Beaver began operating C&OC trains under trackage rights over Southern Pacific from Grants Pass to their cement plant in Gold Hill. Ideal Cement Company later purchased Beaver Portland Cement in 1936, but operations continued largely unchanged until a 1950 winter flood downed the railroad's Applegate River bridge, isolating the limestone quarry. Faced with the cost of reconstruction, Ideal substituted trucks and otherwise continued switching duties for a few customers south of the Rogue River bridge in Grants Pass. This modest operation ceased on October 31, 1954, and any chances of resumption were washed away with the Rogue River bridge on Christmas day in 1955. The line officially quit on November 26, 1956.
A Slightly Shady Foray Towards Nowhere:
Grants Pass & Rogue River Railroad

After various early promoter plans to build to the coast fell through, Grants Pass & Rogue River Railroad jumped into the fray, not to build to Crescent City or Brookings, but instead a 30 mile long railroad to the middle of nowhere. Rather than follow the later C&OC route south, then west of town through Jerome Prairie and across the Applegate River to Wilderville, and Waters Creek, GP&RR planned to follow the north bank of the Applegate for several miles east to a crossing near Williams Creek ("River" on the map). It would then follow the creek to its west fork, cross a divide and terminate at the fanciful town of Josephine on Grayback Creek, west-northwest of Grayback Mountain. (see the USGS "system" map below)

Why the railroad to nowhere? Real estate. GP&RR and two associated real estate companies were owned by Pacific Western, a holding company formed by a group of real estate speculators intent upon making a killing. The map below graphically shows how the railroad would link, in somewhat convoluted fashion, their various subdivisions. South Grants Pass was their first goal, which they barely managed to achieve in March, 1911 with the completion of one mile of track and a temporary trestle over the Rogue River. At that point, they ran out of money. The overall arrangement had been to depends upon using a portion of land sale to pay for railroad construction, but sales were sluggish. Worse, the financier who had committed to float the railroad’s securities failed to follow through. By fall, after several months of railroad inactivity, Grants Pass officials began to worry that GP&RR's trestle was so ill designed that it would cause winter flooding from debris building up against the pilings during storms. By the next January, the railroad was in receivership, and the Pacific Western gang was indicted on charges of running an illegal land sales lottery. At the time, Pacific Western’s assets were $423.58 in cash and the railroad, valued at $2600.

A year later, the bankruptcy court sold off GP&RR to S.H. Riggs (one of the Pacific Western principles, who somehow escaped prosecution) for $1500, contingent upon him accepting responsibility for “the safety” of the now partially washed-out bridge. By then, Riggs had moved on to another caper, the Portland, San Francisco & Coast Railroad, whose exalted name belied the promoters’ actual intentions to build along the coast only from Marshfield, Oregon to Trinidad, California, along with a branches to up the Rogue River to Grants Pass, into the Illinois Valley and, of course, up the Williams (Creek) Valley to Riggs’ holdings. At the time neither coastal endpoint as yet had outside connections - Marshfield got theirs in 1916 and Trinidad in 1914 - so the project basically was doomed from the beginning. Grants Pass still wanted a railroad to the coast, so in October, 1913 the city bought out Riggs for $7,250 and held a successful election to issue bonds and other indebtedness to finance construction of the now Grants Pass Municipal Railroad. Interestingly, Rigg’s scheme was not totally a “paper railroad”, as sometime during his short tenure as full owner of the railroad, he managed to grade approximately nine miles of right-of-way, nearly to the Applegate River.

(click on the map to download the ad from Historic Oregon Newspapers - the JP2 file has the highest resolution)

Zenith of Optimism, 1916

While optimism about the Crescent City extension was at its height, the above entries appeared in the November, 1916 editions of the Official Guide of the Railways (top) and the Official Railway Equipment Register. The railroad was originally conceived as the California Oregon Coast Railroad, projected as the Oregon and Pacific Railroad (see map) and briely operated as Grants Pass and Rogue River Railroad. When Twohy Brothers acquired ownership, the name changed to California and Oregon Coast. A competing paper railroad, Grants Pass and Eastern, also appeared in 1910, owned a consortium of SP officials, but the project never got beyond a survey. Curiously, a rumor circulated that SP favored the GP&RR, even though SP's record of incorporating competing paper railroads to discourage investors was general knowledge. There also was a ghost-like Grants Pass and Eureka Railroad, which purchased an old SP 4-4-0 and some rail, but its exact circumstances are unknown. Above is the same-year entry from the Official Railway Equipment Register.

At right are photos recorded during a 1916 excursion that took place shortly after the Twohy Brothers completed the route as far as Waters Creek, spurring a short term boom of activity. The top photo shows the congestion at Waters Creek, where the road received heavy loadings of lumber and copper ore. By the next year, lumber loadings were already trailing off as nearby timber stands became depleted.

North End Maps

Click on the thumbnail at left for a "system" map of the railroad as it was from the time of completion until about 1924, when new owner Beaver Portland Cement ceased operations beyond a point slightly east of Wonder, where the company constructed a new branch (see following paragraph). Also seen is the Southern Pacific "Siskiyou Line" to Gold Hill, upon which C&OC had trackage rights after the Beaver Portland Cement beginning in 1927, after the Siskiyou Line became a secondary line (due to the opening of the Cascade Cutoff in 1926) and C&OC acquired a suitable "main line" worthy loco, #301.

The two maps above come from portions of a 1954 USGS Grants Pass quadrangle. The right hand image shows the location of C&OC's Grants Pass yard, while the left hand one shows the far end of the line (as abandoned) after it was isolated by the washout of the Applegate River bridge during a 1950 flood. Beaver Portland Cement's post-1923 branch (Marble Mountain Railway), tramway and limestone quarry site are located at map lower left. As can be seen by comparison with the map at left, the branch diverged off the main route about midway between Wilderville and Wonder. Careful scrutiny reveals the approximately 2.5 miles of original main line was replaced with a new alignment south of the Applegate bridge while the branch was under construction (as well as some marked cartological disparities). Once the branch went into operation, the main line between the junction and Waters Creek fell into disuse.

North End Equipment

(data from typewritten company document courtesy Roger Phillips)
C&OC 1
Twohy Brothers No. 127 "Junk"
C&OC 201
C&OC 301
UGYX 90061 [unknown company's reporting mark,
xxxbut letter "G" is blurred on document; may
xxxbe a "C"]
(non- revenue)
1 - Motor Car "Junk" [Yellow Peril?]
1 - Section Motor Car
1 - Speeder
1 - Push Car
Box Cars
1501 "Junk"
Flat Cars
1019 "Steam Boiler"
1023, 25, 27
Log Flat Cars
1005, 16, 22, 24
1 - "Gasoline Engine for pumping fuel oil"
8 - "S.H. Tires for Locomotive No. 301, need
4 "Pair Car Trucks & Wheels S.H."

"Report of C.H.Demaray, Receiver, California & Ore. Coast R.R. Dec. 1, 1941"
(selected data from typewritten company document courtesy Roger Phillips)
"Additional Equipment Purchased"
"1 - Locomotive #3 from City of San Francisco, in use"
xxx[presumably this is #301, ex Hetch Hetchy #3]

"1 - Caboose, in use [likely UGYX 90061]

6 - "steel bunk logging cars. 1 wrecked, in yards, 5 sold to Medford Corp. 1941. $500.00 check held by County Treasurer."
"Materials Sold"
"Station Building (Wilderville), $25.00 on hand C.H.D"

Note: Ideal Cement Company (formerly Beaver Portland Cement) leased C&OC from the City of Grants Pass, whose interest was administered by Receiver Demaray. "Additional Equipment Purchased" seems to indicate that Beaver Portland Cement purchased C&OC's rolling stock when it began operations, but in 1941 Ideal regarded the listed items as surplus and sold them back to the city. Locos #1 and #201 do not appear in the report, nor does Ideal Cement owned #103. Further disambiguation is needed.

Old Number 1

How #1 came to C&OC has been the subject of debate. As Menke notes, according to a "master copy" of the SP 1907 RCA in the Peery collections says that SP #1524 was sold to "NBLCo for Rouge [=Rogue] River[Valley] RR ", but Diebert & Strapac maintain that it came to Grants Pass & Eureka Railroad via N.B. Livermore & Co. and later went to C&OC. The 1907 RCA is judged to be the more accurate, as we have found no evidence of a Grants Pass & Eureka railroad, and the loco first served predecessor Grants Pass & Rouge River RR before being lettered for C&OC. The loco arrived in Grants Pass on 3-17-1911, less than a week after GP&P acquired it.

SP converted her to oil prior to sale, and she arrived with a straight stack. From photos, it appears that she reverted to wood burning sometime after 1914. After retirement from active service, the loco appears to have been used as a stationary steam supply at Grants Pass. Perhaps she was fitted with the diamond stack for this service. An alternative might be that she was converted to wood for use as a contractor loco in the building of the Marble Mountain Railway. It is unlikely that she ran much, if at all, for Beaver Portland Cement.

About the top photo above, it mysteriously showed up sans description on Pinterest Roger Philips believes that this may be a John Vorhees press photo. Notice the "Grants Pass" name under the cab window and the Caveman pennant draped over the headlight. Second above, we see the loco at the far end of her career, at Grants Pass in September, 1939. A year later, she was overgrown with blackberry vines (below). We can catch a glimmer of other C & OC equipment in the photo, with the car on the right apparently being a log car. The engine fell victim to a WWII scrap metal drive. (both photos: Ken Frick; Wx4 collection)

Vital Statistics: 4-4-0 / 17x24 cyls / 63" drivers / 130 lbs. b.p. / 72,100 lbs. total weight / 43,200 on drivers / 12,166 TF / Rogers #2125, 10-1872, in service 11-4-1872 as Central Pacific # 180 (see photo of CP #180 on page 16 of David Myrick's Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California: More on the northern roads); to Southern Pacific # 1287; to SP # 1524, vacated 11-10-10; to GP&RR through dealer N.B. Livermore, 3-13-11; to C&OC 1914; scrapped 1942.
Stats from Diebert & Srapac, as amended by Menke

For some reason, photos of #1's left side rarely turn up. The one above - unknown photographer and post Jan, 1933 date - is the best that we have seen.

#201 - the early workhorse

This loco arrived on C&OC as an oil burner, but was converted back to wood by employee Jack Hathaway. Its fuel came from the wood harvested from Jerome Prairie by farmers engaged in clearing their land. When exactly it was converted back to oil is speculative, but the above image suggests a theory:

When the purchase of #301 relegated the loco to standby service in 1927 #201 was converted to oil with the idea that this would make the loco acceptable for pinch hit duties on the SP main line down to Gold Hill. Judging by its condition, the shot above (photographer unknown) showing the loco sans stack, was taken a earlier (in 1927?) than the three lower photos. It may be showing the loco in the process of conversion from the balloon stack to a straight stack, with #1 contributing the tender oil bunker (note what appears to be a wood bunker). See left column, further below, for a picture of #1 in stationary steam service, when it probably was fueled with mill ends and whatever else that could be scrounged up. This is the theory, anyway.

In 1930, C&OC reported to the ICC that #201 was "Out of service [along with #1 and #127] account no business", but the two shots below by Douglas S. Richter and L.L. Bonney in 1934 and the undated one 3rd below (by unknown) suggest that the loco still may have been used when #301 was down for its annual inspection, at very least. A 1936 photo in the Labbe collection noted the loco as "derelect", however. Could it be that SP still allowed this ancient loco to haul lime hoppers down to Gold Hill in the 30's? Maybe, but another possibility is that the varying photo locations arose from the limited amount of yard tracks in Grants Pass, which caused it to be shuffled around when it got in the way, as was other equipment.

Chase and Helms characterize the loco as "The third engine". Diebert and Strapac / Menke show the loco going from SP to Twohy to GP&RR (chronologically meaning that it was the second loco), then C&OC. This is incorrect, as period newspaper articles list #1 as GP&RR's only locomotive. Locomotive #201 came directly to C&OC from Twohy Brothers most likely was #127's replacement (see discussion of #127. Exactly when this was is currently anybody's guess, but the smart money says sometime in 1916.

Reportedly, the loco provided scrap steel for the early war effort.

#201 Vital Statistics: 2-8-0 / 51" drivers / built by SP Sacramento Shops c.n. 48, 11-1887 as Oregon & California #47; to SP #1908; to SP #2508, Class C-1; vac. 3-1911 as an oil-burner; to Twohy Bros. #28 via Atlantic Equipment Co., 4-21-1911; to California and Oregon Coast #201, 1915, or later; converted back to oil ca.1927, but probably rarely used thereafter; scrapped 1942
Stats from Diebert & Strapac, as amended by Menke; additional info from Roger Phillips; Chase and Helms.

Mysterious Twohy #127

The fog of #127's ghost-like history has perplexed us for many years, but thanks to the efforts of Tony Johnson, Roger Phillips and jeff Moore, the shroud is beginning to lift. Thank you, gentlemen!

Southern Pacific sold its #2505 to construction contractor Twohy Brothers in 1910 as their #12. A photo recorded of her ca1910 just prior to the sale shows her berthed in the Dunsmuir roundhouse, making her a true "State of Jefferson" citizen. According to a contemporary local newspaper article, the loco came to C&OC on 11-27-1915, soon after Twohy assumed the franchise. From there, her history is unclear. According to Chase and Helm (see Note about sources), the locomotive had displayed "very little power" and could only pull four cars of lumber, or three of lime rock, and soon #201 was brought in to do the heavy work. Whether #201's job was to augment the roster, or outright replace #127 is open to speculation, but the November, 1916 Railway Equipment Register displayed above lists two locomotives, the first presumably being #1, and the other being one of the consolidations.

Judging from the two undated photos (photographers unknown) at right, #127 spent her last days, at very least, as a parts source for #201. The lower image by an unknown photographer likely depicts the loco in 1936, several years after she was purportedly retired in March, 1928. Note that it displays its Twohy and SP heritage, but shows no sign of C&OC lettering. The lower Herb Arey photo shows her much earlier, before the #127 on the tender wore off to expose #2005.somewhere around her retirement dateshows her as badly cannibalized parts source for #201 probably just before the Alaska Junk Company scrapped her, purportedly using dynamite to bust her apart. When that was is open to question. One early 1930's railfan report stated that she was not seen on the property, even though the Inventory of 1935 (above) lists her in "Junk" condition. Roger Phillips figures that this event took place between September, 1935 and 1938. A 12-1941 report by C&OC's receiver (above) stated that the loco was sold by Twohy to Alaska Junk Co., who moved and cut up the hulk, though the report did not specifically state when.

Twohy #127 Vital Statistics: 2-8-0 / 51" drivers / built by SP Sacramento Shops c.n. 48, 11-1887 as SP #239; to SP #1905; to SP #2505, Class C-1; vac. 12-1910; to Twohy Bros. #27, 4-21-1911; to C&OC #127, 11-27-1915; removed from active roster 3-1928; scrapped at Grants Pass using dynamite to break her apart between 9-1935 and 1938 by Alaska Junk Co. (precursor to Scnitzer Steel), Portland
Stats from Diebert & Srapac, as amended by Menke; additional info from Roger Phillips; Chase and Helms; Rogue River News[paper].

above photos - John T. Labbe Collection, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives

The mainstay, Number 301

Number 301 came to Grants Pass in 1927 from Hetch Hetchy Railway (#3) roughly three years after passenger service ceased and the outer reach of C&OC fell into disuse. The loco likely was purchased in order to have a main-line-worthy locomotive acceptable to SP as part of a trackage rights agreement allowing Beaver Portland Cement to run its trains down to its plant at Gold Hill. Beaver upgraded the locomotive with (a larger?) tender, purchased new. Even though SP's Siskiyou Line through Grants Pass became a secondary line after the opening of the Cascade Cutoff through Klamath Falls the previous year, SP still had enough freight and passenger traffic on the older line that the prospect of running old wheezer #201 with them certainly would have unsettled local SP management. What remained of C&OC was operated by the Beaver Portland Cement (later Ideal Cement) as an industrial carrier.

(above) Sporting what appears to be an automotive headlight, 301 sits in her accustomed resting place shortly before she was relegated to standby service by the purchase of Ideal Cement # 103 in 1941. (Photo: Ken Frick; Wx4 collection)

(below) The camera location of on June 16, 1936, below, #301 is almost at the same spot as above. Note that she had a more conventional headlight then, but was otherwise pretty much the same as in 1940. Info on the back says that she was found "in service" in April, 1945. Presumably, she was officially retired after the Applegate River bridge washed out in 1950, ending C&OC's limestone hauling business, but prior to that she was placed on jacks, apparently with the intent of changing out tires. (Photo: D.S. Richter; Wx4 collection

(above) Here we see one of the few extant photos that shows #301's right side, and better yet, actually moving. Ralph Demorro shot this 1934 scene of C&OC's yard just north of the fuel tank in the above photos, as near as we can tell.(Wx4 Collection)

(below) This going-away shot shows #301's normal resting spot in relation to the Grants Pass depot. That appears to be the remains of the Yellow Peril between the loco and the depot. (Photo: unknown photographer and date, Wx4 collection)

#301 Vital Statistics:
2-8-2 / 21 x 24 cyls. / 46" drivers / 165 lbs. BP / 167,000 lbs. total weight / 131,000 lbs. on drivers / 31,330 lbs. TF / Baldwin #35780, 1910; Built for Youngstown & Ohio as #1; to Hetch Hetchy Railroad #3, 1919; to C&OC #301; 1927; to Ideal Cement Company #301, 1941; probably retired in 1950 after limestone hauling ceased. Thanks to logging and shortline guru Jerry Lamper for ferreting-out the stats.

The Last Steamer, Ideal Cement / Portland Cement #103

Locomotive #103 was lettered for Ideal Cement Co. owner Pacific Portland Cement from the time of its 1941 transfer to former C&OC to at least 1952, when this photo was recorded at what appears to be somewhere near the chrome dump on Redwood Highway in Grants Pass. (photographer unknown - Wx4 collection) Ideal Cement lettering later adorned #103- as seen below right in a May 10, 1957 John Labbe photo at Grants Pass, just before she was hauled off to South San Francisco, where at left below we see an SP switcher spotting it at the Purdy Metal scrapyard.

below left: D. S. Richter?; Wx4 Collection; below right John T. Labbe Collection, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives

Ideal #103 Vital Statistics: 2-8-2 / 48" drivers / ex Pacific Portland Cement / acquired 1941 / scrapped 1957

The "Yellow Peril"

In late 1914 (Chase and Helms say 1913), Grants Pass Municipal Railway purchased the above motor car, which was painted yellow and nicknamed the "Yellow Peril", a play on words between a contemporary xenophobic term and the car's less-than-reassuring road-wothiness. By the time this 1918 photo came along, passenger service was down to three round trips a week. The car served most occasions until passenger service was discontinued in 1924 and is seen here in front of C&OC's ramshackle Grants Pass depot. C&OC also owned a ancient combine car which substituted for the motor car as conditions and breakdowns warranted. Postcard photo: Wx4 collection

The One That Got Away

In 1916, a year after assuming the franchise, Twohy still was not happy with the locomotive situation, causing them to inquire with Balwin for "Largest 2-6-2 Tender Locomotive to Suit 40 degree [!!] Curves. Weight of Rail 60# (Second Hand)". A suspicion is that the traffic boom that precipitated the idea went bust before Baldwin produced the specs of December 5. Click on the image for a copy of the full card from SMU.Libraries' Baldwin Collection

Not Suitable for Interchange

Judging by the date (1940) and quality of the photo, we're guessing that this photo of boxcar 1503 was taken by Ken Frick. The car was painted canary yellow, probably from the same barrel of paint used for the Yellow Peril and the line's caboose. The car spent its last years sitting sans truck as a storage house on piers, slowly deteriorating among the weeds between Wilderville and Waters Creek until it succumbed to a fire in the 1950's. (Wx4 collection) 9-29-22: a colorized version of the photo

9-29-22- jack Trego photo - Wx4 Collection

The End of Matters

This is the only photo of C&OC's lone caboose that we have uncovered, so far. The company's 1935 roster (above) lists a caboose #UGYX 90061The car was likely painted yellow. When the photo was taken about 1933, #1's boiler was still in sufficiently good condition to be a source of steam for heating or other purposes - note the pipe extending from the steam dome. A recently discovered photo of #1 (left) taken by Jack Trego in January, 1933 also shows the steam heat connection, and the engine coupled to the caboose. By the late 1930's, the loco was sans whistle and headlight. (photographer unknown, Wx4 Collection)

Not Suitable for Lease

When #301 was sidelined for good in the mid/late 1940's, Ideal Cement no longer had a pinch hitter to substitute for #103 when the latter experienced breakdowns or underwent annual inspections. In at least two instances, the company leased long-in-the-tooth, 19th Century 4-8-0's from SP to fill in. The suspicion is that the same may have happened in the 1930's, once all of the other steamers were pulled from service.

TW-4 #2930 of 1882 vintage was recorded by David Joslyn in The Western Railroader as returning from C&OC lease on 5-23-1949. By then, the loco was pretty well used up. SP yanked it from the roster late that year.

The next year C&OC leased TW-2 #2952 for about a week beginning May 18, while #103 was undergoing annual I.C.C. tests. Although the old girl was ten years younger than #2930, C&OC Traffic Manager N.E. Keller complained in an unsent letter to SP that she arrived at Grants Pass "in deplorable condition" and that they "had nothing but trouble with it." His engine crew reported to him that it was loose all over and leaked too much steam. It was necessary for us to take our usual quota of 13 empty gondolas to the tipple at the quarry in two trips...The locomotive can handle only two loads of rock at one time up a 3% grade on our line at Granite Cut. It uses about 1256 gals. of fuel oil as compared with 400 gals., used by our locomotive and 12,000 gallons of water as compared with 4500 to 5,000 gals., by our locomotive.

On May 23 the engine failed and an SP mechanic [actually two] was sent to Grants Pass to roll and weld the flues and as a result the locomotive did not make a trip to the quarry for the 15 rock cars. [subsequently, the mechanic was forced to weld the flues, raise the petticoat pipe and install 20 new firebricks

As a result of being unable to secure any work out of the locomotive, we have had our quarry crew on straight time for the whole week and have operated at less than 50% efficiency. We are also in trouble with the agricultural department at Salem on account of getting behind with the limerock for their program.

Keller also claimed that "due to the inefficiency of Locomotive 2952" the supply of rock at the Gold Hill cement plan was so depleted that it would take 6-8 weeks to catch up. He concluded that SP should not bill his company for rental ($45.09/day) or transportation charges.

Presumably less strident commentary was forwarded to SP's General Superintendent of Motive Power, but whatever the case, the issue drug on until the end of the year, when a no doubt exasperated Keller sent SP's Portland Division Superintendent a thoroughly detailed description of events, accompanied by an appeal to decency, "...we leave it to your fair judgment to make an adjustment to the bill."

1 Ken Postma photo - Wx4 Collection

Unfortunately, we do not know how things turned out, or if it was resolved before Ideal Cement abandoned its railroad.

The story of #2952 does not end there. Rather than going to the scrap heap after returning from Ideal Cement, SP patched her up and sent her out to Coos Bay to perform chores between there and Myrtle Point. The Ken Postma photo at right shows her contentedly idling away at Coos Bay about two months following the lease. She was not set out to pasture until October of the next year.

Thanks to Roger Phillips for furnishing copies of the correspondence.

Compelling evidence why C&OC never progressed very far...

Southwest Oregon / Northwest California has mountains - lots of them - as you can see from this old postcard view of the Redwood Highway. The projected route generally followed watersheds, but required a half mile tunnel in one spot to keep grades reasonable. The tunnel expense doomed the project. This zig zag road portion of the highway was itself later bypassed by a tunnel, but not until the 1960's.

The south end: Hobbs, Wall & Company and nearby railroads


California & Oregon Coast founders hoped to utilize Hobbs, Wall and Company's log-hauling Crescent City and Smith River Railroad to reach the main prize, Crescent City's municipal wharf and pier. Though the press occasionally mislabeled CC&SR as C&OC for a couple of years, the relationship between the two companies was not official. As we shall see, Crescent City interests neither had the motivation nor the money to buy into the project. Thus, CC&SR and its Hobbs, Wall owned successor railroads remained isolated from the outside world. They did periodically share Del Norte County with at least three other railroads, however.

Del Norte railroads have never been fully explored in print, something that I have attempted to remediate here, but unfortunately, the result has been a figurative Swiss cheese history: full of holes. There is still much to be learned from newspaper microfilms and sources local to Del Norte, but unfortunately I live 2500 miles from all of this and thus far have confined my research to the Internet. Hopefully, the results here will inspire others to fill in the holes.

Due to its length, the main body of south end history is on a separate page:
Hobbs, Wall & Company Railroads and Others in Del Norte County.

A discussion of sources referenced on these pages is located HERE.

I recommend that, before diving into this history, you download a PDF entitled Redwood History Basic Data from the National Park Service website. It covers the overall history of the Del Norte and Humboldt Counties region, and importantly to our purposes, Chapter X deals with the "Del Norte Lumber Industry, 1852-1953", and a later section contains a fair number of related photos and maps in a separate illustrations section - several of which are reproduced on this page. DOWNLOAD FROM NPS WEBSITE

E. O.
March, 2019

C&OC's Intended Destination: Crescent City

C&OC's vain hope was to run trains all the way to the Hobbs, Wall & Co. pier that stood at the foot of C" Street in Crescent City, as seen in the ca.1910 postcard photo at above left (from David Berry's Old Del Norte County Photos folder on flickr; used with permission). Over the years, the town hosted four railroads, but C&OC failed to make the cut. Their rights-of-way were all visible in the ca.1939 aerial photo postcard at upper right. Clicking the image will bring up a much larger version that includes identification tags.

The above clipping of a 1903 Sanborn map, which depicts wharf trackage about the time of the Hobbs, Wall & Co. purchase of Crescent City Mill & Transportation Company, labels the former's railroad between the wharf and the Elk Creek Mill as horse-powered. Note that the two lines join into a single track at Third and "C". Possibly the shared track was actually three-rail to accommodate both lines, as a notation elsewhere also indicates the Third Street line as being "horse powered". Given that the rest of the Hobbs, Wall operation was standard gauge, could the joint trackage been a dua- gauge, three-rail pole railroad?

The 1915 map at left no longer shows a junction, but rather two parallel tracks along "C" to the wharf (the change in arrangements likely occurred in 1905), but a crossover tracks between the two undoubtedly existed.

Kern & Kibbe quarry / breakwater railroad

CCM&T and Hobbs, Wall railroads were not the only ones to occupy the Crescent City waterfront. In 1920, the city finally arrived at a funding agreement for a long-awaited harbor breakwater with the Federal Government that at first forestalled (and by amendment, later eliminated) a precondition that California & Oregon Coast Railroad first be completed from Grants Pass before any breakwater work would be federally funded. Data are scanty on the specifics of its construction, but it appears that some initial work was completed by a local contractor, William B. Arndt, before the project was put up for re-bid in 1923. A Portland construction company owned by A. D. Kern and G. W. Kibbe won the award. As best as can be determined, K&K quarrying progressed up the coast as excavations played out. Hall's Bluff was reported to be the first site, with Woody Island (image directly below) being the only other location specified in available literature. A photo on page 106 of Crescent City and Del Norte County nevertheless shows a K&K train passing active quarrying on Preston Island. At least one of the quarry sites was owned by Kibbe & Kern. The railroad operated until the 2,245 ft. breakwater contract's completion in 1926, but it is unknown if K&K or other contractors utilized it in future works to improve and lengthen the breakwater. It may have operated as late as 1931, when the breakwater was extended by 755 feet, but the ca.1941 photo at below left shows it as dismantled.

K&K's railroad operated with a Climax geared locomotive, which was augmented with at least one Del Norte Southern loaner (see equipment section, below).

Downtown Crescent City and Elk Creek Mill

Left: Another image from David Berry's Old Del Norte County Photos folder on flickr shows the CC&SR Crescent City depot on the northeast corner of Third and K Streets (far right, center). It was situated on one wing of a hay, grain and feed warehouse, which presumably fed the "motive power" of the partially horse-powered railroad. By the time of this photo, the depot's windows were planked over, which likely dates the photo to sometime close after CC&SR's common carrier passenger service ended in 1910. The two homes at center were, at one time or another, occupied by Hobb, Wall & Co. superintendents.

Lower left: (click on the image for a larger image rendered in grayscale to reduce visual clutter) In this postcard view looking west along Third Street ca.1910, we see the Hobbs, Wall & Co. mill yard in the foreground, and tracks extending westward past the old CC&SR depot (large building to the right of the tracks at upper center). One of the company's diminutive tank locomotives steams at photo center.

The above panoramic photo shows CC&SR Third Street tracks leading to Hobbs, Wall & Co.'s Elk Creek mill at upper left. The tracks will eventually curve
around out of view at at bottom right to head out onto the municipal pier at upper right. photo: The Timberman magazine, Vol. 17, June, 1916, pp. 40-41.

We have acquired a postcard, with a much clearer image than the one originally here.
Clicking on the above will now give you a detailed grand tour in B&W,
but (
9-29-22) if you CLICK HERE, you will see a somewhat spectacular colorized version.
The general arrangement of the Hobbs, Wall Elk Creek Mill trackage can be seen in the ca.1910 postcard view above (see description in caption at upper right). The cavernous building to the right of the tracks at upper center is the combination CC&SR depot / horse stables / warehouse that also appears in the second above photo. The general arrangement does not completely jive with the layout portrayed by the 1915 Sanborn Map Co. fire insurance map at right . What stands out the most is the absence on the map of the large warehouse at photo center to the left of the locomotive, as well as several spur tracks within the mill. This suggests a large fire may have swept the mill in the intervening period between the photo and the map. The mill's water tank and some lumber piles were reported destroyed by fire in1904 in an article that hints there was additional damage, but no mention was made of buildings. Though the postcards creator, Maseman, is known to have been active in 1910-12, the actual negative could conceivably date to an earlier year. Unfortunately, no earlier Sanborn maps of the mill have surfaced. A very similar photo taken with a longer lens that better shows the depot is in the online holdings of the California State Library.

above, Crescent City Mill & Transportation Co. Lake Earl Mill in 1897: The original 1869 Wenger mill burned in 1891. Hobbs, Wall & Company assumed ownership in 1903 and operated it until it was closed in 1912. photo: from The Home of the Redwood; a Souvenir of the Lumber Industry of California, 1897

above, Hobbs, Wall & Co.'s Elk Creek Mill in 1897: This is the backside of the mill. In the foreground is a ramp for dumping logs from cars into the pond, although it no longer appears to be serving that purpose, judging by the long deck sitting where rails would have been located. photo: from The Home of the Redwood; a Souvenir of the Lumber Industry of California, 1897

above: This advertisement appeared in Del Norte County California - It's Industries, Resources and Capabilities, published in 1909. What it fails to mention is that the company store was the largest retail establishment in Del Norte County.

The 1929 Army Corps of Engineers tactical map (click on image for entire map) at right seems to be an amalgamation of much older data, which was derived from even older data. The result is a map that may not be entirely accurate for any given time, but seems to most accurately depict CC&SR in 1890's, except that the 2.5 mile Fort Dick Branch is missing. No map of the latter has surfaced so far. Also missing are the Del Norte Southern tracks that ran eastward from Crescent City beginning about 1907.

Del Norte Southern and successor Hobbs, Wall & Company lines over Howland Hill and into the Mill Creek basin are depicted on the 1945 USGS topo map immediately above. The tracks are rightly depicted as abandoned.

Further above is a 1969 National Park Service sketch map from its Redwood History Basic History Data (see preface, above) that seems to be the only one extant that depicts some of CC&SR's many branches. An accompanying NPS map shows a detail of the Del Norte Southern. Note both maps show the the sites of Hobbs, Wall logging camps, which numbered from 1 to 12-2 (superstition caused the latter to be used in place of 13). The map above appears to show CC&SR's elusive, 2.5 mile Fort Dick Branch, which appears here as a a line leading to Camp #2, just south of the Smith River. Another branch follows the south bank of the Smith River to what appears to be Camp #8 in the vicinity of Hiochi. A 1997 railfan railroad atlas shows the branch continuing another nine miles upriver to Gasquet. This is highly unlikely.

9-29-2022 (left and above) Jeff Moore drew these two maps depicting known Hobbs-Wall railroads branches/spurs in existence at one time or another.
Smith River Corners & beyond

As with most other places in the Turn of the 20th Century West, Del Norte was papered with railroad maps that optimistically portrayed railroads that would arrive "a few years hence". Reality was something else. Crescent City and Smith River Corners were located upon a fairly level coastal plain that was surrounded by a virtual fortress of mountains and coastal bluffs cut by fast-running rivers fed by copious amounts of rain. Any railroad wishing to enter Del Norte was faced with insurmountable construction expense, based upon expected revenue return. The promoters that plastered the area with railroad maps did not comprehend this, because they generally drew their maps and visited the area later, only to discover the territory's forbidding topography.

The most ambitious of these was a series of pipe dreams that fell under the general category of a "coast railroad" that was to serve as an alternative to the Octopus in the Portland - San Francisco trade. Rumors and vague plans from various promoters had the route originating in Astoria, or alternately somewhere inland, from where the tracks would project westward to the coast and then southward. At various times Hill, Gould and Harriman interests were all included in the gossip, as were numerous here-today-and-gone-tomorrow "paper railroads" huckstered by small promoters.

C&OC's plans were more modest, merely the line from Grants Pass to Crescent City, hopefully with a branch to Brookings. Its promoters originally hoped that Del Norte Southern would connect with Northwestern Pacific to the south, thereby providing a route competing with SP to the San Francisco Bay Area. Such dreams died when Southern Pacific assumed full ownership of NWP. About the time that Southern Pacific completed its subsidiary Willamette Pacific to the coast at Marshfield (Coos Bay) in 1916, it openly admitted that it was toying with the idea of extending the line down the coast to a hookup with NWP, but shelved the idea soon after preliminary surveys presumably showed how impractical the concept was.

At near left is a 1916 map from a timber trade journal that depicted C&OC's desires. It was already somewhat out-of-date, since it shows C&OC's current terminus as Wilderville, rather than Waters Creek. Inexplicably, it shows the Brookings line and a small part of C&OC west of Adams as already completed. No direct evidence of the latter has surfaced, although a railfan oriented map of recent vintage shows this segment, from Tryon (mis-labeled "Tyon") Corners along the Smith River to Glasquet. About six years later, Brookings and Smith River Corners were connected by rail by the California & Oregon Lumber Company, which logged a tract of timber at Rowdy Creek, just east of The Corners. The CC&SR tracks to the latter were already gone by then, and the operation only lasted a couple of years before C&O went bankrupt.

The California & Oregon Lumber Company's Smith River & Northern Railroad route from Chetco (Brookings) to The Corners likely paralleled the wagon road seen in the far left map taken from a 10-31-1902 page of the Sunday [Portland] Oregonian. No other map of SR&N has as yet appeared. Also evident is a generalized route of the coast railroad du jour. The map in err depicts CC&SR as still running into Smith River, but the structure had been closed In 1900 (see below, left).

At top left is the only known map depicting the obscure railroad that ran from the Henry Westbrook, John Bomhoff and R. D. Hume sawmill near the mouth of Smith River to the redwood foothills roughly four miles east. The mill was erected in 1882-83, subsequently closed, then reopened again in 1894 after CC&SR arrived at Smith River Corners. By 1909 the mill was closed for good. Little is known about the railroad, except that it owned at least one 42" gauge locomotive, which later went to Hobbs-Wall.

CC&SR's Smith River bridge, seen below, was a spindly affair. Originally built by the San Francisco Bridge Company in 1889, it was washed away within two years and rebuilt in 1891. The effects of winter freshets continued to be a problem, causing CC&SR to embargo it in mid-1900 for revenue trains - log trains continued to cross the bridge - and after a few months, abandon it totally. Smith River Corners traffic had never really materialized, as hoped, and failed to justify high bridge maintenance costs.(Image from page 6 of the Oldtimer)

Below is a postcard of Smith River (now minus "Corners") ca.1910. CC&SR has been absent for a decade, and it would be another dozen years before whistles from the log trains of Smith River & Northern would liven up the sleepy agricultural town. Judging by the generous width of the road right-of-way in the foreground, this may be where the tracks once lay.

Lingering evidence of Del Norte Southern photos by Jeff Moore
In late 2018, logging and shortline historian Jeff Moore visited the Crescent City area while conducting research on his latest book, Timber Industry Ghosts. South of town, approximately where DNS made the great 90 degree turn to the east near Highway 101, Jeff encountered these remnant testimonials that claimed, indeed, a railroad once ran through here. Eighty years after the fact, the forest is still in its initial stages of healing, but very soon in geologic time massive trees once again will predominate, confining such things as brush and man's work to the time beyond memory.
South End Equipment

Hobbs, Wall & Company locomotives, 1884-1939
all standard gauge

As with most locomotive rosters, this one represents the best educated guess derived from sometimes conflicting source data. (For example, some published rosters show only a sum total of two CC&SR locos, plus DNS #6). Locos are believed to have been owned by Hobbs, Wall & Co. irrespective of railroad assignment.

Crescent City & Smith River Railroad, 1884 to ca.1913

All CC&SR locos are presumed to be wood burners.

  • #1, "J.G.Wall", 2-4-2T, Baldwin engine class 8-181/4C, const. #7450, August, 1884
  • #2, "Carlton Hobbs", 2-4-2T, Baldwin engine class 8-181/4C, constr. #9946 , April, 1889
  • #3, 2-4-4 Forney type "J. Marhoffer", Baldwin engine class 8-12/24 1/3-C, const. #12567, 3-1892, for South Side Rapid Transit #10, later Chicago & South Side #10; specs 9x15x16-42 Vaulclain Compound coal burner; sold to Pound Construction Co. (Chicago) as #3; to Hobbs, Wall either 8-27-07 or 2-1909 - see notes
  • #4, 0-4-0SD Steam Dummy; Baldwin Const. #4827, 1879, for Geary Street Park & Ocean Railway #2; specs 10x12 cyls., 31" drv., 5' gauge (conv. to s.g. 1892?),horizontal boiler; acquired ca.1903-1906? dummy body probably removed soon after arrival
  • #5, 0-4-2T, Globe Iron Works (San Francisco) 1885, c.n. 2; built to 42" gauge for Hume, Westbrook & Bromhoff, Smith River Corners; to CC&SR in 1906?; specs unknown; converted to standard gauge by Hobbs
  • #'s?, names?; 0-4-0 horses / mules employed on (narrow gauge?) line between Elk Creek Mill and Crescent City wharf; first use ca. 1871; probably replaced by standard gauge steam shortly after purchase of CCM&T, ca. 1904-06


  • #1 & #2 were apparently built to the same specifications and #1 (maybe also #2) had a 2-cylinder steam powered windlass / winch mounted on the front deck, which may have been a design pirated from Dolbeer. Baldwin records indicate locos had both numbers and names. See jpeg copy of #1's specs from Volume 12 of Baldwin locomotive specifications online at SMU Libraries. #2 is catalogued as in Volume 15, but the spec sheet is missing. A notation in a Baldwin Construction Numbers book for #1 says, "To Barre & Chelsea #1?" A typewritten railfan roster by a Mr. Smith speculates that B&C #1 came from a contractor who built the road, but only speculates that it might be Baldwin c.n. 9946. Given that Poor's Manual of the railroad lists Hobbs, Wall as owning two locomotives in 1889, the second locomotive is most likely #9946.
  • Baldwin records show that Forney #3 came to Hobbs, Wall in February 1909, but another source says 8-27-07. The disparity of dates may account for speculation that that this locomotive actually went from C&SS to Nanningsville & Sugar Grove of Sheffield, PA #10, later Sheffield & Tionesta #10; meaning that another Forney went to Hobbs, Wall? Both dates place it on the roster after #4, which suggests that there may have been another, short-lived #3 in the interim. Photos of #3 in later years appear in Carranco & Labbe, and an earlier one along with the CC&SR combine appears in Bretz.
  • #4's acquisition by Hobbs, Wall is open to question. Rice and Echeverria say that Geary Street Park & Ocean Railway ceased steam operations in 1892 and immediately sold three of their four locos to the Navarro Mill Co.' one of which (#4, Baldwin const. no. 5115, 5/1880) is preserved as Union Lumber Co. #1 at Fort Bragg. Other than #4 having 10x4 cyls., it is virtually identical to #4. Rice and Echeverria are vague about when #4 was sold, but another source says 1903. Maybe #4 was retained to maintain the GSP&O cable railroad, which apparently was shut down in 1906. photos as Park & Ocean #2 in Rice and Echeverria
  • #5's data comes from a Globe roster by Taubeneck & Farrell. They indicate that #5 came from Hume in 1906, which could be, but Hume did not close down until 1909, throwing the former date up to question. Non-geared, rather than being one of Globe's Dolbeer (pirated?) patent locos. A photo in Carranco & Labbe, pg. 122 appears to show that #5 was indeed a Globe product, rather than that of San Francisco's Marschutz and Cantrell, as Bretz claims in The Lonesome Whistle. This source indicates that #5 was nicknamed "the Dinkey", but the loco's description matches that of #4.

Del Norte Southern Railroad, 1907-1930

Some, or all DNS locomotives may have been converted to oil.

  • #1, 2-4-2T, ex CC&SR
  • #2, 2-4-2T, ex CC&SR
  • #3, rod locomotive, ex CC&SR
  • #4, 0-4-0T, ex CC&SR
  • #5, 0-4-2T, ex CC&S; retired ca.1926; scrapped 1934?
  • #6,Class B (two truck) 43 ton Shay, Lima constr. #2413, 1-27-1911; built as oil burner; see for stats
  • #7 rod locomotive of unknown type, acquired ca.1911-15


  • #1-5: Hobbs, Wall report to the state for 1910 listed CC&SR as operating five locomotives. How and exactly when they were transferred to DNS is unknown. Perhaps this was piecemeal before and after construction of Shay #6, since CC&SR continued to be listed as an operating entity until at least 1913.
  • #6: Although built as an oil burner, one source claims that it was converted to wood, and photos show a wood "rack" on the tender. A later photo of the loco as HW&Co. #2 shows it with the rack and also an oil bunker. The loco came from Lima through equipment dealer Norman B. Livermore Co. of San Francisco, who may have ordered it for stock, or had a deal with another purchaser fall through.
  • #7: Articles in the 1915 and 1917 editions of trade journal The Timberman both state that DNS operated seven locomotives, six of which were "direct" (non-geared, or rod) locomotives. This is the only evidence of #7.

Hobbs, Wall & Company, 1925?-1939

All locos, except oil-burning #6 and #4, were originally wood/coal burners, but it is unknown how many were converted to oil. The migration of DNS locomotives to HW&C resembles that of CC&SR to DNS in its lack of clarity. Some sources claim that DNS ceased as an operating entity in 1925, but DNS was not disincorporated until 1930. The Shays that arrived on the roster in the 1920's did so in numerically non-linear fashion and were eventually renumbered (along with DNS #6) to #'s 1-4 as the slots became vacant due to retirements. Retirements showing "after 1927" are conjecturally based upon #8's (later 2nd #1) arrival that year. Vital statistics and info on former owners of the the Shays are online at

  • #1 (1st), ex CC&SR / DNS #1; retired in after 1927
  • #1 (2nd) see #8
  • #2 (1st), ex CC&SR / DNS #1; retired after 1927
  • #2 (2nd), see #6
  • #3 (1st), ex CC&SR / DNS #3; retired after 1927
  • #3 (2nd), see #7, 2nd
  • #4 (1st), ex CC&SR / DNS #4; retired 1925 or 1926
  • #4 (2nd); Class B (two truck) 25 ton Shay, Lima constr. #2296, 3-21-1910 for Sugar Pine Ry. (#2); oil burner; to HW&Co (5th owner) 7-17-26
  • #5 (1st), ex CC&SR / DNS #5; retired 1934; ca.1920-30's photos show it as converted to oil
  • #5 (2nd, or unassigned #?), Class B (two truck) 23 ton Shay, Lima constr. #2175, 1-29-1910; purchased by HW&Co (6th owner) on 7-11-1938 and immediately scrapped for parts
  • #6, retained DNS number until assigned #2 (2nd) after 1927
  • #7 (1st), ex DNS, retired prior to mid-1925
  • #7 (2nd); acquired 7-15-25; after 1927 renumbered #3 (2nd); Class B (two truck) 24 ton Shay, Lima const. #2284, 2-26-1910; purchased 7-15-25, at which time it reportedly was converted to oil;
  • #8, #1 (2nd); Class (three truck) B 64 ton Shay, Lima 11-29-1916; purchased 1927; renumbered #1 after retirement of first #1. Built as, and available photos show as, a wood-burner.


  • #1-4 (2nd), #7, #8: HW&Co. shut down in 1939, but these Shays were not sold until 7-30-1941 to equipment dealer Aaron Ferer & Sons of Los Angeles (# may have sold to same in June), who immediately placed them up for sale. All are reported as never sold before scrapping.
  • #5 retirement date per Globe Iron Works roster by Taubeneck & Farrell
  • #5 (2nd or unassigned?): Originally purchased for by Lima agent Hofius Steel & Equipt. Co., Seattle (the same company that speculatively may have sold #'s 3-4 to CC&SR; purchased from Thompson Logging Co., Brookings, OR; parts used to repair #1 (2nd) and #4 (2nd); probably not assigned a number; wood burner
  • #7 (2nd), #3 (2nd): Another loco built for Hofius Steel & Equip. Co., which wound up on California & Oregon Lumber Company of Brookings, OR in 11-1916 to serve as Smith River & Northern #4, until being sold on 1-1920, too early to have served on SR&N's Smith River extension. HW&Co. was the loco's 7th owner.
  • #8, #1 (2nd): Built for dealer Norman D. Livermore (San Francisco), who sold it to California & Oregon Lumber Company of Brookings, where it operated as #4 on the Smith River & Northern. From 1922 to 1925 this line ran the between Brookings and Smith River. After C&O bankruptcy in 1925, loco went to dealer Zimmerman, Wells & Brown Co. of Portland, who sold it to HW&Co.

Note: Several of the photos below are labeled " John T. Labbe Collection, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives". For larger renditions, follow the link and enter "Hobbs" or "Smith River" in the search title box. Quite a few other HW&Co and Smith River & Northern/California & Oregon Lumber Co. photos not shown here are in the collection.

First Nos. 1 & 2

HW&Co's first two locos came from Baldwin and were what was known as catalog engines, standard locomotive models listed in sales catalogs.

above - CC&SR 2-4-2T #1, still pretty much as it came from the factory - note the Baldwin-applied pinstripes on the saddle tank. For comparison, a Baldwin catalog photo of a similar model engine that shows minimal differences from the Hobbs loco. Also note that #1 was lettered for Hobbs-Wall, rather than Crescent City & Smith River.
below - Either #1 or #2 likely in the DNS years - note the headlight. Notation on phot back says "Crescent City, Eng. Brought Around Horn in 1867, R.B., Photo by H.E. High". Clearly it did not come around the Horn.
- both photos Jeff Moore collection

Although the caption of Dick Child collection photo in Redwood History Basic Facts states that the photo's location is captioned as "near mouth of Smith River", the hilly terrain and log loading deck suggest that it is the Hobbs operation further upriver, possibly at Camp 6 or 7. The loco probably is #2, which, unlike #1 was noted to sport a cowcatcher. - this copy of the photo from John T. Labbe Collection, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives

Above, a DNS train behind what appears to be #1, is ready to pull out of Camp 10, at the foot of Howland Hill in this 1914 shot from The Timberman magazine.

Below is #2 in not-so-gentle retirement at Crescent City, likely in the 1930's. Photo: Wx4 Collection

First (Second?) #3

above - Note the fancy HW&Co logo on the tank of Forney #3, apparently about the time that it entered service. As noted in the roster, #3's history is a bit obscure. It supposedly came to Crescent City in either 1907 or 1909, but #4 (1st) apparently arrived in 1903-06, suggesting that this may be the second #3. The paint job says otherwise - it looks more like a product of the 1890's, which could be because its prior history is a bit of a muck.
below - Judging from the wear and tear, this photo of #3 dates to the DNS years. The loco still has its Vauclain compound cylinders, BTW.
both photographs - John T. Labbe Collection, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives

First No. 4

Union Lumber Company's #1, ex Geary Street Park & Ocean #4, seen here at Fort Bragg (where it still is displayed) in 1947, was visually identical to GSP&O #2, the later Hobbs, Wall loco #4 (1st), during their years as dummies. Though no photo of Hobbs Wall first #4 is known, the presumption is that it probably looked much like ULCo #1 after casting off its dummy body. Photo: Wx4 Collection

Second No. 4

One of the smaller Shays, Second #4 was frequently photographed in the vicinity of the mill and docks in the late 1930's, as here. Photo: Wx4 Collection.

9-29-22 Joan Thompson's Clippings
the Del Norte Triplicate
Joan Thompson, a nonagenarian whose family dates back to Del Norte's early days, kindly forwarded this collection of photos that her father, Robert Caughell clipped from the Del Norte Triplicate in the mid-1970's. The notations are his. Of particular interest is his comment in the upper left image that states Hobb-Wall began liquidating its woods operations after 1934. Joan says that her father (1900-1975) "was crazy about trains all his life". When she was a child they watched SP trains pass near their San Francisco Peninsula home, as well as at San Jose depot during trips to visit relatives. She and her dad witnessed the first SP diesel electric loco to run on the Peninsula. Robert had moved away from Del Norte to pursue a civil engineering degree at UC Berkeley and wound up working for Pacific Bell in San Francisco for 39 years.

Robert's father, Hugh, became a Hobbs-Wall locomotive engineer around the turn of the Twentieth Century because he was prone to seasickness while working on the ship captained by his father (Joan's great grandfather), Peter. Joan says that her father had two favorite stories about himself and his dad. "He said on Sundays Hugh and his crew would attach a passenger car to the engine and take their families and picnic out at Hiouchi on the Smith River.  The men took turns running up to shovel fuel into the firebox so that the engine could keep up steam to return to Crescent City. Dad also said that, in the summer when he was bored, he would go down to the mill when Hugh was returning with the first load of logs.  His dad would take him up into the locomotive and he would ride out to the Smith River camp arriving in time for lunch which was a big treat.  After lunch he would ride back to town with his dad and the next load of logs." Another family member described Hugh as "a tough cookie and a top hand in a brawl.” Joan says, "My dad never talked about that." -
photos used with permission of Del Norte Triplicate's publisher, The World

Hobbs, Wall & Company Rolling Stock, 1884-1939
all standard gauge

Rolling stock did not change very much over the years and was a 100% link and pin, hand-braked to the end. As private industrial carriers, DNS and HW&Co were not subject to the more rigorous safety appliance standards to which public (common) carriers were held. CC&SR, on the other hand, slipped through the cracks. As a public carrier, it continued hauling revenue passengers in two cars sans air brakes at least through 1910. Whether this was an oversight of state law or of state regulators is unknown. Federal oversight did not apply to isolated intrastate railroads.

above: All three of the HW&Co railroads depended heavily - CC&SR, exclusively - on what were called "log bunks" or disconnect trucks, two separate four-wheel cars that used the log load as a drawbar between them. Many logging lines phased them out because of the inherent danger of the logs slipping their tie-downs and derailing the train. Not Hobbs, Wall! Below is a photo of a bunk behind locomotive #4 during the last days of the railroad.

Prior to CC&SR submitting reports to the State Railroad Commission, a couple of entries for it appeared in Poor's Manual of the Railroads:

1887 1 locomotive and 10 cars; 5 miles of 25 lb. steel rail

1890 2 locomotives and 50 cars; 10.5 miles of main line and 2 miles of branches

1896 equipment and physical plant summary published by CA State R.R. Commission

The following is an extract from a report to the California Board of Railroad Commissioners that shows CC&SR's equipment during the 1895-96 fiscal year. (The entire company report in PDF form is available here.) This is the company's first report to state regulators, apparently prompted by a San Francisco Call article of a year or so before that took the Commission to task for allowing several small, obviously public-in-nature carriers to elude complying with reporting statues.

This was the fullest description of equipment that ever appeared in state publications. Interestingly, a much less description description of 1903 listed two locomotives and 77 cars, a total unchanged from 1896.

1900 equipment and physical plant summary published by CA State R.R. Commission
After 1896, CC&SR was not so thorough in its reports to the state, usually offering only incomplete financial data. Another fairly thorough description appeared in 1900, part of which appears below. A PDF of the full CC&SR report is available HERE. Mileage: 13.75 of main track, plus 2.6 mile Fort Dick Branch.

1903 This was the next year that CC&SR reported equipment totals: 2 locomotives, 77 cars (not broken down by type, but the same totals as 1906. Mileage reported in 1902 and 1903 was 15.75, reflecting embargoing the main line beyond Smith River Bridge ca. late 1900.

1910 equipment summary published by CA State R.R. Commission
The totals for 1910 below show CC&SR now with five locos and two passenger cars, but unexpectedly with only 57 freight cars. Explanations might variously be that business was down with the recent closure of the Hume, Westbrook & Bromhoff mill; the winding down of HW&Co Smith River operations; and/or the transfer of log cars to new DNS. Mileage now down to 13.75.

Del Norte Southern and Hobbs, Wall & Co. Rolling Stock, 1907 to 1939

No records of HW&Co rolling stock, other than locomotives, for the ca. 1925-1939 period have surfaced, so far. It did have at least one caboose, which was found fairly recently and is the only known extant piece of rolling stock from Del Norte County. Mileage note: DNS seems to have begun major construction in 1910-11, when CC&SR reported a 2.25 mile increase to 16, a total that remained the same in CC&SR's last state report in 1913. During 1907-1913, DNS was included CC&SR reports.

Industry Journal The Timberman published at least three summaries of DNS stock:

June, 1916 (Volume 17, pg. 40) below

1917, "Western Railway and Logging Railroad Directory, 1917", published by The Timberman, below

Del Norte Southern R.R. Hdq. Crescent City, also P.O. Camp in Del Norte County.
Railroad 8 miles, Std. G., 1 geared & 6 direct loco., 80 trucks, 120 flat cars.

1924, "The Timberman Directory of the Lumber Industry Pacific Coast - 1924", below

Hobbs-Wall & Co., Hdq. and camp at Crescent City, 130,000 feet. [per day]
Railroad: 10 miles, s.g., 80 log trucks, 120 flat cars. Output handled by Del Norte Southern R.R.

The Little Red Caboose

Only one piece of railroad equipment from the various Hobbs, Wall and Co. operations is known to exist, this caboose which was discovered in forlorn condition near the old CC&SR right of way near Wonder Stump three decades ago. Over the following score of years, three local fellows restored it to the condition seeen here, and it currently is on display at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds. Its exact origin is uncertain, but it is entirely possible that it is the car listed as a road car in the 1896 roster, above. A nice little story about it appeared a few years back in the Del Norte Triplicate. The photo below shows the caboose as it appears today, in splendid condition.

Jeff Moore photo

Dolbeer Donkeys

Hobbs, Wall & Co. was one of the first adopters of the (John) Dolbeer Logging Engine in the 1880's. These beasts represented a tremendous technological advance over oxen for the movement ("yarding") of logs to the railhead, where they also were used to hoist logs onto cars. The industry began replacing them with internal combustion powered crawler tractors and hoist engines around World War I. When / if HW&Co replaced theirs is unknown, but the company was known for its modern logging methods.

CC&SR / DNS #5 (1st)

above - Crescent City, C1915? kerosene headlights
below - Crescent City, c1930? electric headlight; Globe Iron Works construction number "N2" on smokebox front
both photos - John T. Labbe Collection, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives

DNS No. 6

above - DNS #6 at one of the woods camps probably in the 1920's
below - DNS soemewhere in the ex-woods earlier in its career, when it still had a kerosene headlight on the oil bunker. John T. Labbe Collection, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives
2nd below

below - Hobbs Wall #2 (2nd), ex DNS / HW&Co #6, at the end of the line. The number may have been applied byM.B. Cooke photo, Jeff Moore collection

The Big Engine, HW&Co #1 (2nd), ex #8

At 64 tons, Hobbs Wall three truck Shay #8 was 21 tons heavier than the next largest loco, #6, so its primary use was on the 9% grade south of Crescent City. It appears to be at one of the woods camps, c1935. John T. Labbe Collection, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives

Nine Owners!

The above photo appears in Michael Koch's Titan of the Timber, which identifies it as 5th owner] Howard Creek Lumber Company #3, Union Landing, CA. This would place the photo into the 1920-22 period. The third owner, from 1916-1920, was California & Oregon Lbr. Co. Eight owner Hobbs-Wall acquired it as its #7 in 1925, and renumbered it to #3 a few years later. has the full genealogy. - Photographer unknown - Jeff Moore Collection

One Tree Train

9-29-22 CC&SR #1, probably not many years after its 1884 construction, with a train load made up of one tree - Jeff Moore collection

Other Del Norte Railroad Rosters

Crescent City Mill & Transportation Company, 3 ft.? gauge pole road, ca.1870-1903
  • #?, "Old Knob", 0-4-0 mule; acquired ca.1870; set out to pasture, 18xx
  • #? "Bobbin", 0-4-0 mule; acquired ca.1870; set out to pasture, 18xx
  • #? "Sally", 0-4-0 mule; acquired ca.1870; set out to pasture, 18xx
  • #? "Bill", 0-4-0 mule; acquired ca.1870; set out to pasture, 18xx
  • #? Nabb, 0-4-0 mule; acquired ca.1870; set out to pasture, 18xx; relief mule


  • This is a speculative initial roaster, which employs contemplated typical names of the times. The mules would have been replaced as they wore out. Several generations later, the last mules lost their jobs to WW&Co. steam, ca.1904-06. Sources state that trains consisted of four cars and that passengers were accommodated atop the lumber loads. (-:

Although of a heavier duty, nominally standard gauge operation with six mules, the above photo portrays the general character of the CCM&T pole railroad. Photo from Redwood History Basic Facts who got it from an unknown format work entitled The Titans: Story of the West's Oldest Redwood Lumber Mill (Eureka, undated).

Westbrook, Bromhoff & Hume, Smith River, 42" gauge, 1885-1910

  • #?, 0-4-2T, Globe Iron Works (San Francisco) 1885 c.n. 2, Smith River Corners; acquired by CC&SR ca.1906, but specs unknown; sold to Hobbs, Wall & Co. (CC&SR) 1906? photo as Hobbs, Wall loco in Carranco & Labbe, pg. 122; The Bretz reports the operation as 42" gauge. If so, Hobbs converted the loco to standard gauge after purchase.

Kern & Kibbe (Hdq. Portland, OR), Crescent City, standard gauge, 1923-c1926

  • #1, 2 truck Climax, const. #1225, 5-1913 built for Bayside Lumber; 13x16, 31" drvs., 50 tons, dry; to K&K date? Later used at Reedsport by K&K; photo in Crescent City and Del Norte County

Smith River & Northern (California & Oregon Lumber Co., Brookings, OR), std. gauge, 1922-1925

  • #1, Class B (two truck) 24 ton Shay, Lima const. #2175, 1-1910; acquired from dealer, 1916 - sold 1922;
  • #2, Class B (two truck) Shay; [source states as acquired from Del Norte Southern, #6, but it is highly unlikely, given that #6 was the only Shay that DNS had to tackle its 7-9% Mill Creek grades at the time]
  • #3, 1st, Class B (two truck) Shay, Lima const. #2284, 4-1910; acquired 11-1916 from Nelson Logging Co.
  • #3, 2nd Class B (two truck) Shay lettered C&O Lumber Co.
  • #4, Class C (three truck) Shay, Lima const. #2889, 11-1916; acquired new, sold to Hobbs, Wal & Co., #4, possibly through a Portland dealer.


All of these locos (except the very speculative #2) were originally used by California & Oregon Lumber Company (formerly Brookings Lumber Co.) on its other lines out of Brookings, and some of them ran to Smith River from 1922 until the company ceased operations altogether in 1925. This roster comes in its entirety from Robertson's Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History.

      "Train from Smith River"

      Northbound California & Oregon Lumber Co. #5 on Smith River & Northern, between 1922 and 1925 - note the train indicator boards below stack. John T. Labbe Collection, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives