From early on in its history, the North Coast of California depended on the existence of
railroads. They were the backbone of the logging industry; at one time, nearly 24
individual separate railroads criss-crossed the County of Humboldt. They provided
transportation and commerce from the logging camps to the sea. For years there was
a link to the outside world through the Northwestern Pacific Railroad ("NWP"). During
this time, the railroad provided passenger service to the San Francisco Bay Area and
freight traffic was profitable. Due to severe weather and natural disasters, this line has
temporarily been all but shut down.
However, there are still resources that are part of this railroad which remain untouched
by landslides and washouts. This is where the undeveloped resources for revenue
and tourism presently exist. The ultimate accomplishment will be a three- to five-car
steam-driven passenger tourist train running over the north portion of NWP tracks from
Old Town Eureka up through Arcata and out to the Samoa Cookhouse. In addition, we
envision a steam and logging museum at the old roundhouse located on Simpson
property, which is in the process of being donated to an intact nonprofit organization
(Logging Interpretive Museum) for this purpose.
A rail line exists on the main route of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad from Scotia to
the southern edge of Arcata and out to the community of Samoa. (See map.)
There also is a branch line that runs east up into the mountains towards Carlotta.
The initial phase of this proposal begins just north of the existing Northwestern Pacific
rail yards located at the south end of First Street in Eureka, not far from the old
Pullman coach that the City of Eureka wants removed.  The track then proceeds
north up First Street past numerous businesses in Old Town. This was the main line 
for freight trains of "yesteryear." It was also the link to the wharf and shipping 
docks of Eureka, once bustling with commerce.
As we continue north, we work our way past the Carson Mansion on our right and the
Adorni Center on our left. We go under the Samoa Bridge ramp, past Eureka Boiler
Works and the Blue Ox Learning Center, then up and over the Eureka Slough Bridge.
The track then proceeds to the east side of Humboldt Bay (Arcata) past the thriving
oyster farm beds, and several miles farther we come to the world-famous Arcata Marsh
and bird sanctuary on the outskirts of Arcata, the home of Humboldt State University.
From there the tracks turn west toward the community of Manila and the Simpson 
Arcata Sawmill, then across the "new" bridge over Mad River Slough and the north end
of Humboldt Bay. While making this turn, we can see Eureka and Arcata resting
across the bay, with the green forests and mountains behind.
After awhile we go through a grade crossing toward the straightaway where we find
Manila and China Flats. By now we are headed south toward the famous Samoa
Cookhouse of the old sawmill - once the Hammond Mill--then Louisiana Pacific--now
Simpson Timber - where a big family-style lunch is waiting for us. Upon arrival at the
Cookhouse, we can tour the Museum of Logging and Steam Railroading, complete
with a roundhouse full of steam engines and logging equipment from the old days.
This will be a fascinating display of interest to people wanting to know more about
Humboldt County's past, and hopefully its future.
Just as Humboldt County depended on the railroads for many years, the steam train
has put us back in touch with a time before the turn of the 20th Century. As far as
Northwestern Pacific is concerned, that line is now "temporarily" separated from the
"outside world" beyond the north end of its tracks.
However, we will have our own rail system to show the world how we became a
seaport for the logging industry as it was then, and is now. We still ship large
quantities of wood products on oceangoing vessels from our docks, which would be
visible from the steam train as it works its way around Humboldt Bay. The railroads
have played an integral part in Humboldt County's history, and can even today have a
major role in its continued revitalization.
We have the rights-of-way, via Northwestern Pacific, and the tracks to do what is
described above. We have not one, but five steam engines available for rebuilding.
The easiest to rebuild would be the Pacific Lumber #29. This engine is large enough
to pull a decent-sized train up to five cars long, and comfortably could go about 30
mph. It was built in 1910 by Baldwin Locomotive Works, but can still be made
operational and dependable.  The others include the Pacific Lumber #15 and two
"shay"-type geared (logging) engines, plus a Hystler (also logging type). All of these
n~a. chines are stored in Glendale on a remote piece of track which has been
inaccessible to the public.
We also have one old Pullman coach in Old Town that could be put back on the rails
and made serviceable. If it is within the power of the City, this car should be given to
my organization or to the existing foundation in Glendale. Our group would arrange to
have it moved back onto NWP track, and then to a suitable staging area for
In addition to the railroad equipment, we have in Humboldt County several large
steam-powered sawmills and numerous small steam "donkeys" of various sizes, plus
mounds of old logging equipment stored away where no one can see or appreciate it.
By putting the Steam and Logging Museum at the old roundhouse behind the Samoa
Cookhouse, we will give people the incentive to ride the train or drive to the area and
just enjoy spending the day with their families. The Peninsula is ripe with things for the
public to enjoy, including all the beaches and dunes bordering the bay and the ocean.
Access to this area is also readily available via an airport for private planes and a bed
& breakfast facility nearby for visitors.
Research done by the presenter of this proposal has taken place over the past few
months. The idea has been presented to several segments of the community,
including commercial, residential and governmental individuals, groups and/or entities.
Only one detrimental remark was date; one person did not think we had a
"pretty enough" area to draw people for scenic train rides. This feeling was NOT
expressed by anyone else, and the overall concept has been enthusiastically
Contact with NWP people has been made, and they thought it was an outstanding idea
"whose time has come."  Upon requesting information about the condition of the rail
line to Samoa, an offer was made to upgrade the rail bed and replace 1,500+ railroad
ties at a cost of $75/tie, installed.  One NWP employee informed me that he would
work weekends at no pay to replace the ties, and felt he could get other people to
donate their labor as well.
The locomotives and rail equipment at Glendale will have to be relocated to a safer,
more accessible place so that the local public can observe and BECOME A PART of
this restoration project. The nonprofit organization which presently has control over
the equipment has promised to seek both local manpower and machinery to move the
massive engines and equipment to a new home. The formation of a central office for
the new Humboldt Bay Scenic Railroad, complete with director and staff, could be
supported by local donations and/or federal and state funds. Further research will be
done towards that end.
With the help and support of NWP employees, the local rail groups and local
residents, it will be possible to develop and operate this existing resource and to make
it a desirable tourist attraction for all of the North Coast. The "technical" work on the
boilers and machinery can be done by local businesses or by a few trained individuals
familiar with mobile steam locomotive rebuilding.
Thought needs to be given to where a period-type rail station should be located;
perhaps near Old Town or as an extension of the "wharf experience."  Parking, of
course, is always an issue.  The actual operation of a tourist railroad will need to be
addressed once the project is well underway. Excursions in addition to those
described above could also be considered, such as travelling south to the Pacific
Lumber mill; taking cruise ship passengers from the Samoa docks to cooperative
motels, etc. This is a project meant to grow and expand as needs and desires express
themselves, and as money becomes available to accomplish such growth and
This proposed project is designed to provide a local revenue base and tourist
attraction. By utilizing the existing resources available in Humboldt County, it will
provide jobs and a venue whereby we can show the world that this area is more than
Redwood trees and ocean views. We would not be just a stop between points of
attraction, but an exciting destination in itself while, at the same time, we would be
improving the perception of Humboldt County throughout the Western United States.
The center of this attraction would be the Humboldt Bay Scenic Railroad, and all other
reasons to visit Humboldt County would naturally eminate from that.
Thank you for considering this proposal. As more information about site acquisition
and equipment relocations becomes a reality, this proposal will be updated.
Owner, Redwood Business Systems
Co-creator, American Freedom Train 1975-76
Arcata, California
(707) 826-2657