Kevin’s Komments 09/10/2021

Yosemite Valley Railroad

It’s been a couple weeks since my last set of pics – I was on vacation last week at Yosemite…Which introduces the subject of today!

Yosemite Valley RR Co. was a short-line that operated from 1907 to 1945.  The RR followed the Merced River for about 30 miles up to the edge of the Yosemite National Park (construction of railroads were prohibited inside national parks).  The railroad transported both passengers and freight along the Merced River. 

This is a 1907 pic of the RR and a mining spur.

This is the original 66’ armstrong turntable at the El Portal facilities. El Portal was the last town before entering the national park at the Arch Rock entrance.

Here is a pic of the turntable with the Bagby station in the background. Bagby was the town prior to arriving at El Portal. The Bagby station was moved and restored in El Portal next to the turntable. There was a similar turntable in Bagby which was too far deteriorate for restoration. So parts from the Bagby turntable were used to restore the El Portal turntable.

The abandoned turntable from Merced Falls ended up being used as a bridge over Mariposa Creek on White Rock Road south of Old Highway Road. The turntable is upside down on concrete abutments.  Some of these pics have been taken from a great website about the restoration of some of the YV equipment:  – check it out.  There’s some info on a model RR version of the YV.

This is a pic of caboose YV #15 at El Portal. You can see the same turntable beyond the caboose.

This pic of caboose #15 looks like this photo was taken after some nice restoration.

El Portal was the end point of the RR where passengers proceeded into the park. El Portal’s current gas station sits where the station was.

Passengers would disembark from the YVRR coaches, and proceed into the park via auto stages on a road the railroad built.

Getting to my favorite area of any railroad – the locomotive roster, the YV listed 10 locomotives over its 38 year span. YV #1, later renumbered to #20 was a former Baldwin built (1880) Northern Pacific American, 4-4-0.

YV #21 was a former Wabash, built in 1881 at the Wabash locomotive shops. It’s sitting on the Merced Falls turntable – which we saw above, flipped and being used as a bridge!

This is YV #22, another American – I believe it’s on the same turntable at Merced Falls. #22 was built by Alco in 1907 and I believe bought new by the YV.

23 is at Merced yard with the water tank behind. #23 was also bought new from Alco in 1907.

Here’s #25 blocking our view of #29 at El Portal. Both #25 and #29 are 2-6-0’s built by Baldwin in 1925 and 1922 respectively. #29 is the only surviving member of the YV roster.

YV #11, later renumbered #26 (the first #26), was the only Consolidation, 2-8-0, the RR owned.  #11 was bult by the PRR at Altoona in 1879, and then sold to the YV.

The later #26 is another 2-6-0 built by Alco in 1924. In this pic, it sits in El Portal.

Here’s the builder’s photo of YV #27 before leaving the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Eddystone, PA, 1913.

Finally, there’s #28, a Baldwin built 2-6-0, built in 1917, sitting in El Portal. The tender has some major dings in the side!

I think that’s all 10 locomotives!  The only one we didn’t get a good look at was #29.  It was sold to the Ferrocarriles Unidos de Yucatán and is now on static display in Veracruz Mexico.

One other footnote on the trip to Yosemite – We drove past Tehachapi, CA on our route from LA to Yosemite. But, no – I did not get a chance to visit the Tehachapi loop.



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