Sequoia Scenic Railway


The Sequoia Scenic Railroad (SSR) is a class three railroad which runs on the line of the Sequoia Mining Railroad (SMR), which was built to connect the Central Pacific in Sequoia, California (north of Redding) with Logging and later Gold mining operations out of Gold Crecsent. It is nicked named the Volcanic Railroad due to being built through a dormant volcanic field.

A Sequoia Mining Fairbanks Morse P-12-42P departs Sequoia with a passenger train bound for Mount Seacole and has a meet with a trio of SP e60 still wearing their Amtrak paint, dating this photo to the late 70's. the SMR was a very loyal customer to Fairbanks Morse, buying their entire diesel fleet from them when the railroad dieseled in the early 50s. However the railroad faced a problem: it was too expensive for them to maintain both their new fleet of diesel locomotives and their aging fleet of GE electric locomotives, but it would be cheaper to maintain electrification as the cost for electricity was cheaper than the cost of diesel. So the president of the company came up with an idea: A duel mode locomotive, which had the additional benefit of removing the engine change at Mount Seacole. Seeing the P-12-42s that FM had built for the New Haven, the SMR commissioned Fairbanks Morse for several P-12-42P, with the P standing for pantograph. The duel mode locomotives were delivered in 1958. The SMR was extremely happy with their new locomotives, however before they could order more, Fairbanks Morse left the locomotive market. In need of more dual-mode locomotives like the P-12-42P, the SMR turned to EMD and commissioned them to build a pantograph powered version of the FL9, dubbed the FL9P. EMD eagerly agreed, with EMD sales men proposing replacing the FM P-12-42 with FL9Ps due to the FL9P’s greater horsepower. The SMR declined the offer, but were extremely happy with the FL9P. The railroad tended to put the heavier FL9Ps on freight trains and reserve the P-12-42Ps for passenger trains. (A Very Very Very big thanks to PWeiser for making the original P-12-42 and FL9!)

One of the greatest engineering achievement built on the SMR was Bridgeway, a series of closely connected bridges which covered a particularly windy section of the Sequoia River. Here is a 1947 photo of a SMR E-1 pulling a train across Bridgeway taken by an adventurous back packer, with Mount Crimea just peaking out of the tall hill next to it. The Sequoia River is one of two rivers which are near the line, the other being the Crimea Creak, which is commonly refereed to as the Crimea River.

Here is an FL9P pulling a rather short train of gold ore cars with Mt. Crimea in the background. The photo is dated September 19th 1992. The gold mine would close just five days later, and the Sequoia Mining Railroad would immediately declare bankruptcy.

The Sequoia Scenic line would lay abandonded for over ten years, until 2003 when the land was bought by an eccentric billionaire railfan named Chris Lee. His plan was to operate the line as a Tourist train between Sequoia and Mount Seacole. Thus the Sequoia Scenic Railroad was born. Here is Ex-ATSF F7 330C "Spirit of Mount Seacole" and her sister F7b pulling a passanger train out of Freedom Point station, in the shadow of Mount Nightingale, one of 4 extinct stratovolcanos along the line. Note the Ex amtrak baggage car, which has yet to be repainted into SSR paint scheme. In the spring and summer the baggage car would carry passenger luggage to the resorts at Mount Seacole; In the winter they carried skis and snowboards, so that passangers could get off, put on their skis and immediately start down the slopes on the other side of the valley from the volcano.

SSR ex-sp SD40t-2 8310 the "Spirit of Mount Nightingale" delivers freight to the ski resorts at Mount Seacole, which can be seen looming in the background. originally the railroad had only bought one of these tunnel motors from the UP to work on MOW trains, however a contract with hotels and businesses in the area lead to the fledgling railroad buy two more. (a very big thanks to Mchawkman for making the original Sp SD40t-2)

From the Tracks of the SSR you can easily see the campus of UC Sequoia, which was establish in 1993, a year after the SMR closed. SSR Sd40t-2 number 8311 "North Highlander Spirit" was painted in UCS colors to comemorate the 20th aniversasy of the university founding. Here she is seen along side SD 1851 "Spirit of Sequoia" pulling the 2019 Winter Quarter UCS Graduation Special.

8311 has taken Ex-CSX U36B 1785 Spirit of Surilis Dome's spot behind Ex BN SD60 8301 "Spirit of Gold Crescent," still wearing her tiger stripe colors. 8301 would later be sent back to EMD to be rebuilt to SD59MX specification and repainted into Sequoia Scenic colors. The town of Gold Crescent was so named for the Crescent shaped formation of hills which envelope the town, and the for the gold which was discovered there in 1872. The Hills and a cinder cone in the center of the formation are all that's left of an extinct volcano, which in a final crescendo of an eruption several thousands years ago, blew it self apart in an explosion similar to Mount St. Helens. The area and near by Crescent forest is claimed to be haunted by Sasquatches, but the only unusually thing is the large amount of bear attacks which happen there, one of which lead to the end of logging operations is 1930. Gold Crescent is one of two calderas along the line, the second one being the one which Mount Nightingale now sits in.

Ex-Frisco USRA Mikado 4024 pulling an excursion, with Surilis Dome in the background. 4024 is one of four steam locomotives operated by the railroad. She and Ex SP MT-4 4350 are operated less than Fellow USRA Mikado Ex-Up 2497 and EX-sp P-10 2491, due to 4350's large size and 4024's nasty tendency to slip while underway.


On a clear day, from the summit of Mount Nightingale, you can see the entirety of the SSR. In the photo taken by and unknown hiker on date unknown, you can see the valley leading up to Mount Seacole, and the edge of the caldera which Mount Nightingale sits in.