Humboldt County, California by Amtrak

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

ParanoidAndroid

OBS Chief
Joined
Feb 20, 2015
Messages
664
Location
Varies
Enjoyed the visit. In June 1968 a college friend and I rode the deadhead NWP train, the only RDC owned by the SP, from the yard to the Eureka station. We had all his college stuff crunched into his T-bird, so couldn't ride the revenue trip. The tri-weekly service between Eureka, Fortuna and Willits lasted until the May 1, 1971 dawn of Amtrak.

At Willits, there was a Greyhound Lines connection to San Francisco. This was left over from Pacific Greyhound Lines, the SP subsidiary used to replace rail service. A look at the October 1944 Official Guide shows that the NWP line had daily overnight service between San Rafael and Eureka, with a sleeping car. It made all stops, including Fortuna. It had a PGL bus link to San Francisco with a note stipulating that the bus southbound would hold for late trains.

In 1944 there also was a promotion for PGL buses in daylight from Eureka through the redwood country of Oregon and California, linking up with the Rogue River in Grants Pass. Through ticketing was available for the two-night trip between San Francisco and Portland.
Willbridge, I thoroughly enjoy all your stories recounting train travel "back then" - thanks for giving us so many!

This prolific uploader of train photos dating back to the late 50s-60s has some of NWP's "Redwood" near the bottom of this page (Puta's UP and pre-Union Pacific Photos). Consider checking out the rest of the photos too, and not just the UP/pre-UP photos. Really a treasure trove.
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
2,571
Location
Denver
I am kind of wondering about the economics of that! Depending on the route, it would be 120 miles between Willits and Fortuna...with no intermediate stops, and at the time, Eureka, Fortuna and Willits must have been smaller than they are now. So given the distance, roughness of terrain, and small size of the communities...I wonder how a train trip was feasible economically.
...which might explain why it is a former trip.
I don't know how correct I am on this, but I have heard that in the late 1800s/early 1900s, that the Humboldt Bay area was expected to be as big and important as the San Francisco Bay area, so a lot of infrastructure was built in anticipation of that, but the area settled down to be more of an outpost than an urban center.
If I recall correctly, the SP fought with the California PUC repeatedly over the NWP passenger service, and of course, further south, the Del Monte, and furthest south, the infamous Imperial. These routes were intrastate, so CPUC had the last word on it unless the federal Transportation Act of 1958 (?) could be invoked. They chipped away at the Redwood and got it down to the Willits<>Eureka segment tri-weekly. The rationale for ordering retention of the service was that other than Scotia, the rail stops were completely different than the Greyhound Lines stops on that segment.

The remaining service did have tourism value and served those isolated communities. On the other hand, Greyhound had four buses a day on the segment of US101 between Willits and Eureka in 1971, so any through customers between San Francisco and Eureka would have gone by bus or air. The US DOT in its planning for Amtrak included no north-south lines west of Texas, so the Redwood service had no chance in 1971. (San Diego to Seattle was a political route forced on the DOT by Congress.)
 
Top