Ride the #7 for the #1744 – Photographers Special

The Pacific Locomotive Association and the Niles Canyon Railway invite you to take part in a railfan photographers special on Saturday May 1st to benefit the restoration of recently acquired Southern Pacific M-6 Steam Locomotive  #1744.  Tickets are $175 per person, and additional donations are most welcome.  ALL proceeds of this event will go directly to the restoration of the 1744.

The day will feature a historically accurate period freight train, pulled by 2-4-4-2 Columbia River Belt Line #7, known as the “Skookum” while ticketholders ride in a separate chase train pulled by SP #1195, a vintage SW900.  Starting in Sunol at 9am, there will be multiple rare photo-runby’s throughout the canyon and new for this day, several photo locations east of Sunol.   The engine is planned to face west for the entire trip. Our steam engines normally face east. Time permitting, there will also be opportunities to work with the conductor to stage other shots as the group desires.  Halfway through the day a box lunch will be served.  Return to Sunol and tie up to be around 4:30pm.

The trip will also include a stop at the Brightside Steam Shop for a tour of the SP 1744, and an overview of the restoration effort by the project managers.  They will detail the recent restoration progress and how funds will be used to return this artifact to operating service.

Safety is every railroad’s first priority!  The NCRy is no exception, and tickets will be limited to ensure the chase train capacity is well below 50% capacity with an added open-air car, hand sanitizer, and restrooms onboard.  Photo lines will be spread out to ensure social distancing, and masks will be required.  To ensure authenticity, however, the train and engine crews on the photo freight train will not be masked during runby’s and will maintain separation from ticketholders and the chase train crew.

Please bring camera equipment, close toed shoes, a mask, water bottle, dress for inclement weather, a positive attitude, and anything else needed to help you enjoy a full day of exciting period railroad action.  Please note:  This is a serious railfan photographer’s 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. 


Sample images from our previous photo freight specials with the Columbia River Belt Line ‘Skookum’ #7

Photos by: Chris Hauf – Used with permission