SUNOL, Calif. — The Pacific Locomotive Association and the Niles Canyon Railway will host a railfan photographers’ special on Saturday, May 1, featuring Columbia River Belt Line No. 7, the 2-4-4-2 known as the Skookum.
The event, to benefit the restoration of recently acquired Southern Pacific M-6 locomotive No. 1744, will feature the Skookum pulling a historically accurate period freight train, with photographers riding in a separate chase train by SP SW900 No. 1195. Departing from Sunol at 9 a.m., the event will feature several photo runbys in the canyon east of Sunol, with opportunities to work with the conductor to stage other shots, as time permits. The day will also include a box lunch, with return to Sunol about 4:30 p.m.
The trip will also include a stop at the Brightside Steam Shop for a tour of SP No. 1744 and an overview of the restoration by the project managers.
Tickets are $175 per person. The railway will limit tickets to well below 50% of capacity for safety reasons, with an added open-air car, photo lines that are spread out to ensure social distancing, and masks required. For photo authentitiy, crews on the freight train will not be masks, and will maintain separation from ticketholders and the chase train crew.
Tickets are available here at the Niles Canyon Railway website. This is a serious railfan photographers’ trip with the train being out the entire day, passengers debarking and reboarding multiple times in remote areas with uncertain footing, exposed to weather and natural hazards in Niles Canyon. This trip is not recommended for young children.
More information on the SP No. 1744 restoration is available here at the Pacific Locomotive Association website.