Nevada Northern & Railroads of White Pine County

 

Northern Nevada Railroad Corporation

A brief history: 1991-1996

 

The ICC officially authorized abandonment of the Nevada Northern Railway on July 6, 1987. It was acquired by the cities of Ely, NV and Los Angeles, CA and was operated for the City of Ely by the White Pine Historical Railroad Foundation (WPHRR).

In 1991, the Northern Nevada Railroad Corporation was formed to lease and operate the railroad properties. In 1993 they obtained long-term freight operating rights from the cities and were recognized by the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board as a class III rail common carrier beginning January 1, 1995, the date of first compensation of their nine employees.

Magma Copper Co. had purchased the mining rights in the Robinson district and were building a new mill and concentrator on the former site of Riepetown with the principal intent of resuming copper mining in the district. The Northern Nevada Railroad Corp. planned to re-establish the former interchange with the Southern Pacific at Cobre by late 1995. They estimated shipping 3,200 carloads per year of copper concentrate to the Magma Copper Co. smelter at San Manuel, AZ. In addition, they expected to handle crude oil, propane, electric cable, lumber and plywood, and copper slag. They projected over 3,000 carloads per year of non-Magma business within two years. Additionally, they received approval from the Interstate Commerce Commission to construct and operate 3.14 miles of track between Keystone and Riepetown.

Pursuant to these plans, two former Santa Maria Valley Railroad GE 70-ton locomotives were purchased and delivered by flatcar to the Northern Nevada during the third week of January 1995. Initial operations were projected to move about one train per week over the line in each direction between McGill Junction, NV, (milepost 128.0) and Keystone, NV, (milepost 146.152), a total distance of 18.152 miles.

On June 17, 1995, a bulkhead flat car loaded with ties broke away from a Northern Nevada Railroad crew attempting to move it by gravity on the Keystone siding. It rolled over an earthen berm built across the siding track and onto the main line. It continued ~4 miles downgrade reaching an estimated 60 mph before entering tunnel No. 1 where it was slowed by ties flying off on the 8 curve, damaging the tunnel structural supports. It subsequently crashed at an estimated 30 mph into Alco 2-8-0 No. 93 pulling the museums afternoon excursion train. Approximately 55-60 passengers were injured, 3 of whom were airlifted to Salt Lake City for treatment.

The crew managed to drop the locomotive fire, preventing a possible boiler explosion. Locomotive No. 93 was heavily damaged and did not return to service until late 1996. Coaches No. 2 and 5 were severely damaged and remain out of service. Repairs on coach No. 5 began in summer, 2000 and may be completed in late 2001. Reportedly, the damage to coach No. 2 is beyond repair. Open-bench flat car No. 23, at the end of the excursion consist, suffered the least damage and returned to service within a few months.

Two additional secondhand locomotives were on order for delivery in late 1995. This pair of ex-U.S. Army / U.S. Navy MRS1s were being prepared and repainted (in an EMD-like livery) at the Portola Railroad Museum which sold them to the Northern Nevada Railroad. Repainting of No. 544 had been completed by March 8, 1995; No. 541 was still in its USN livery on November 6, 1998. These locomotives also have friction bearings and would require shipment on flatcar to the Northern Nevada RR. Subsequently, BHP (see below) declined to complete the purchase and they remained at the Portola facility. As of February, 2001 the two units had been sold to the Yreka Western Railroad.

In January 1996, BHP Minerals acquired Magma Copper Company. BHP Copper was established as a business group within BHP on June 1, 1996. The Robinson project was managed by a subsidiary firm, BHP Nevada Mining Company, based in Ruth, Nevada.

On June 4, 1996 BHP Nevada Railroad Company obtained all of Northern Nevada Railroad Corp. assets and the Northern Nevada Railroad Corporation ceased being recognized as a rail common carrier and employer. The diamond at Shafter was never rebuilt and the line north to Cobre remains isolated to this day.

Nevada Northern track at Shafter, Nevada

Shafter, Nevada -- Nov 2000
Looking north along the abandoned Nevada Northern Railway.
Copyright © 2003 Alicia Moore;
used with permission

 

References:
Anderson, Andy. July/August 2000. "Emergency Board Meeting." The Train Sheet, issue 102, 3. [Internet, WWW], ADDRESS: http://www.wplives.com/frrs/pdfs/ts102.pdf [Accessed 15 September 2000].
Anderson, Thom. 16 February 2001. RE: MRS1s at Portola. [Internet, e-mail to Keith Albrandt].
Bianchi, Curt. September / October 1995. "Rails to the Last Bonanza." Locomotive & Railway Preservation Issue 55, 26-39.
Brehm, Frank. 27 March 2000. "Feather River Rail Society: FRRS Rosters." [Internet, WWW], ADDRESS: http://www.wplives.com/frrs/equipment/locomotive/index.htm [Accessed 19 September 2000].
Campbell, John. 25 December 1999. "Alco RS/S Units" [Internet, WWW], ADDRESS: http://www.logantele.com/~jcampbel/srs.htm [Accessed 21 June 2000].
Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration. 05 May 1995. "Petition for Exemption or Waiver of Compliance." Federal Register Vol. 60 (87), 22426-22427. [Internet, WWW], ADDRESS: http://frwebgate1.acess.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate.cgi?WAISdocID=0454131013+4+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve [Accessed 20 September 2000].
Department of Transportation, Surface Transportation Board. 12 June 1996. "BHP Copper, Inc.--Continuance in Control Exemption--BHP Nevada Railroad Company." Federal Register Vol. 61 (114), 29794. [Internet, WWW], ADDRESS: http://frwebgate1.acess.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate.cgi?WAISdocID=052503569+1+0+0&WAISaction
=retrieve
[Accessed 20 September 2000].
Department of Transportation, Surface Transportation Board. 12 June 1996. "BHP Nevada Railroad Company--Acquisition and Operation Exemption--Northern Nevada Railroad Corporation." Federal Register Vol. 61 (114), 29794-29795. [Internet, WWW], ADDRESS: http://frwebgate1.acess.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate.cgi?WAISdocID=052503569+0+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve [Accessed 20 September 2000].
Interstate Commerce Commission. 24 February 1995. "Northern Nevada Railroad Corporation--Construction and Operation Exemption--White Pine County, NV." Federal Register Vol. 60 (37), 10407. [Internet, WWW], ADDRESS: http://frwebgate1.acess.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate.cgi?WAISdocID=0454131013+3+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve [Accessed 20 September 2000].
Interstate Commerce Commission. 06 March 1995. "Northern Nevada Railroad Corporation--Construction and Operation Exemption--White Pine County, NV; Northern Nevada Railroad Corporation--Modified Rail Certificate--Between McGill Junction and Keystone, NV, and Northern Nevada Railroad Corporation--Modified Rail Certificate--Between Cobre and McGill Junction, NV." Federal Register Vol. 60 (43), 12251. [Internet, WWW], ADDRESS: http://frwebgate1.acess.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate.cgi?WAISdocID=0415426715+0+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve [Accessed 20 September 2000].
Interstate Commerce Commission. 09 March 1995. "Northern Nevada Railroad Corporation--Modified Rail Certificate--Between Cobre and McGill Junction, NV." Federal Register Vol. 60 (46), 12975. [Internet, WWW], ADDRESS: http://frwebgate1.acess.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate.cgi?WAISdocID=0454131013+2+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve [Accessed 20 September 2000].
Interstate Commerce Commission. 09 March 1995. "Northern Nevada Railroad Corporation--Modified Rail Certificate--Between Cobre and McGill Junction, NV." Federal Register Vol. 60 (46), 12975-12976. [Internet, WWW], ADDRESS: http://frwebgate1.acess.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate.cgi?WAISdocID=0454131013+1+0+0&WAISaction
=retrieve
[Accessed 20 September 2000].
Jensen, Joel. April 1997. "You Can't Keep a Good Horse Down." Trains 57 (4), 98.
Lustig, David. September 1995. "Railroad News - Boiler Explosion, Collisions Shake Up Tourist Rail Industry: Meanwhile, in Nevada." Trains 55 (9), 14-15, 17.
"Railnews: Northern Nevada Railroad." June 1995. Railfan & Railroad 14 (6), 34-35, 60.
U.S. Railroad Retirement Board. 1995. "Employer Status Determination, Northern Nevada Railroad Corporation." [Internet, WWW], ADDRESS: http://www.rrb.gov/bcd/bcd95-88.pdf [Accessed 22 September 2000].
U.S. Railroad Retirement Board. 1996. "Employer Status Determination, BHP Nevada Railroad Company." [Internet, WWW], ADDRESS: http://www.rrb.gov/bcd/bcd96-100.pdf [Accessed 22 September 2000].
U.S. Railroad Retirement Board. 1997. "Employer Status Determination, Northern Nevada Railroad Corporation." [Internet, WWW], ADDRESS: http://www.rrb.gov/bcd/bcd97-08.pdf [Accessed 22 September 2000].

 

 

Last modified 11 Feb, 2003 by Keith Albrandt