At one time considered to be the most expensive to operate in the world, the Northwestern Pacific Railroad traversed the seismically active unstable slopes of the wild and scenic Eel River on its route paralleling the San Andreas fault to the heart of redwood country in far northwestern California.
The NWP opened in 1914 when the Southern Pacific Railroad and Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway combined 42 railroads upon realising there would be only one route through the Eel River canyon. SP took full ownership in 1929 and moved freight and passengers along the 271-mile line. But steep slopes constantly eroded trackbase and slid debris onto the tracks. Maintenance and operating costs skyrocketed. At times men would have to walk the track in front of the locomotives to insure it was safe to pass.
By 1969 passenger service ended. Before the end of the century nature prevailed and landslides doomed the friable northern 200 miles of the line, leaving abandoned equipment and failing infrastructure, some 20 years after its demise.
Today these ageing relics are trapped, unwanted, and succumbing to entropy, yet exuding character as they mark the passage of time.
Words & pics Doug Wallance aka instagrammer la-vida_rhombi
Do check out his page to see some great street art around his native area - San Francisco/California area.
Off the Tracks