Traveling in the 1890s was a trip, no pun intended. Like the local Greyhound Bus, the train stopped at every settlement and major road intersection; a rail journey between Fortuna and Eureka would take one and one half hours. But in 1890, the Eureka & Eel River Railroad ran south only to Alton, just past the junction of Highway 101 and Route 36. If you needed to go further, it required a transfer to the Pacific Lumber Company's train which would deliver you to Scotia. Further travel south required a horse. Railroad tracks gradually followed the Eel River to the south but it would be many years before a connection was made to the rest of the world. Not until December 1914 did the first train from San Francisco penetrate the redwood curtain.
From Alton you would also be able to travel the branch line to Carlotta on a homemade steam dummy. Carlotta, named after the mill owner's daughter, was also the location of the Carlotta Hotel, a popular summer resort. Further travel would require the stage, following the Van Duzen River to Bridgeville where it would then follow the ridge lines south.
There was no need for signaling in the railroad corridor between Eureka and Alton. Monday through Saturday, from 9:30 am until 3:30 pm the freight train owned the track. The passenger train ran early in the morning and in the late afternoon.
E&ERR passenger train, northbound in the morning:
E&ERR freight train, southbound in the morning:
E&ERR freight train returned northbound in the afternoon:
E&ERR passenger train returned southbound in the afternoon:
We have a few pictures of these depots and stations .
Northern California railroad pictures are from past calendars by the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Historical Society. Become a member!
The Alton & Pacific Railroad was a privately owned tourist attraction located on Highway 36 in nearby Alton. It no longer exists.
Heralded the "City of Fortuna", this steam locomotive, originally the Hammond Lumber Company Number 16, was once located near the entrance in Rohner Park. It is now being operated as an excursion train in Washington.
More information about this ALCO 2-8-2T.
Three trainmen were killed in January 1953 at the Scotia Bluff, the same location as the picture to the left, when a landslide took their locomotive, the NWP184, into the icy Eel River. (Bill Bish pictures)
Pictures and information on local railroad depots.