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Steam & Excursion > What Railfans Loved About Hetch-Hetchy Junction!

Date: 06/09/13 04:18
What Railfans Loved About Hetch-Hetchy Junction!
Author: LoggerHogger

My post yesterday was just a warm up to a discussion about the little photographed Hetch-Hetchy Railroad that stretched 68 miles from Hetch-Hetchy Junction on the Sierra Railway to Damsite, CA. This line was built for the sole purpose of building the O'Shaughnessy Dam to supply water for San Francisco, CA. In the process the beautiful Hetch-Hetchy Valley (a twin to Yosemite Valley) was flooded.

The line was built in 1917 and the dam completed in 1923. Traffic dropped off sharply when the dam was done and by 1925 when the Moccasin Power Plant was finished there was no more reason for the use of steam power on the line. While some San Francisco City photographers got out to photograph the line during the dam construction, these years were before railfans existed.

Fortunately, railfans did get a chance to see and photograph the line when the Hetch-Hetchy RR came back to life in the mid-1930's when the O'Shaughnessy Dam was raised. The line was rehabilitate for the use of steam engines and the Sierra Ry landed the contract to operate the line. With Hetch-Hetchy Jct only 15 miles from Jamestown, the Sierra had a bidding advantage over other operators.

Thus from about 1934 until early 1938 Railfans could visit the Sierra Ry and take the road into Hetch-Hetchy Junction to see the Hetch-Hetchy RR come back to life with Sierra Ry steam engines.

A group of fans including Ted Wurm, Larry Harrison, Doug Richter, Bert Ward and Guy Dunscomb did just that in May 1937 and they caught Sierra Hostlers firing up Sierra Ry 2-8-0 #20 and 2-6-6 #32 as seen in these photos.


Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 06/09/13 06:25 by LoggerHogger.

Date: 06/09/13 04:32
Re: What Railfans Loved About Hetch-Hetchy Junction!
Author: LoggerHogger

The first photo here was taken on that same May 1937 visit of Railfans. Bert Ward caught the Sierra crews building a fire in #32 to get her ready for the next days run to Mather with Sierra #20 acting as helper.

While Bert was shooting #32, Ted Wurm went to photograph HHRR Railbus #20 in her faded yellow paint at the turntable built especially for the railbus fleet that the Hetch-Hetchy once used.

Even though the Sierra ceased it's operation of the Hetch-Hetchy in 1938 when the dam raising was complete, the HHRR continued on in limited service until 1948 when the line scrapping was started. The railroad used both Plymouth engines and railbusses to haul what little freight was still needed in the last decade.

Al Rose purchased Hetch-Hetchy railbus/ambulance #19 in November 1949 for $30.90 (including tax). The sale was "as is where is" with #19 being located at Moccasin at the time of sale. Al immediately arranged a trip with his #19 along what was left of the line from Moccasin to Hetch-Hetchy Jct. In the last photo we see #19 pulled up to the old Hetch-Hetchy Junction Station on November 20, 1949 just before the scrapping of the line was finished. Guy Dunscomb took this photo of his friend Al Rose's railbus while still on it's home rails of the Hetch-Hetchy. In just a few minutes #19 would depart Hetch-Hetchy Junction for the last time as Al and his group ran her on the Sierra RR to Oakdale so Al could load her for shipment to a farm where she would first be stored. She later was put on display at El Portal as part of a rail transportation exhibit.

Today Al's railbus is on loan to the Sierra Ry and is housed in the Jamestown Roundhouse.

The railfans have fished out the fallen station sign and have propped it up on the station platform to pay tribute one last time to this California Shortline that Railfans got a second chance to photograph.


Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 06/09/13 05:28 by LoggerHogger.

Date: 06/09/13 06:21
Re: What Railfans Loved About Hetch-Hetchy Junction!
Author: LoggerHogger

The Sierra Railway even issued a sperate timetable for the "Hetch-Hetchy Division" during the years they operated the line.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/09/13 06:23 by LoggerHogger.

Date: 06/09/13 07:18
Re: What Railfans Loved About Hetch-Hetchy Junction!
Author: Frisco1522

Thinking about it, my wife's grandfather's way to end every argument was "I know a Damnsite better" makes me wonder if this was what he meant.

Date: 06/09/13 16:03
Re: What Railfans Loved About Hetch-Hetchy Junction!
Author: SierraRail

Great find, Martin. First I'd ever known of this Timetable. Really neat piece of history!

Date: 06/11/13 16:26
Re: What Railfans Loved About Hetch-Hetchy Junction!
Author: KeyRouteKen

Hey Martin--Who are all those old coots in the photo with engine # 20 ? I know you've run that photo before because I remember the big guy on the left with the glasses.


Date: 06/12/13 04:06
Re: What Railfans Loved About Hetch-Hetchy Junction!
Author: LoggerHogger


Left to right - Doug Richter, Larry Harrison, Ted Wurm, Hostler, Bert Ward, Guy L. Dunscomb.


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