Boone Morrison's HOn3 Journal

This shot shows the entire layout, with the mill at Cazadero on the left, the main line and the logging area in the center and the outline of the benchwork for the Tomales Bay and Tomales Landing area at the far right. Landscape and the yard at Cazadero have progressed a good deal since this photo was taken.

The saga begins many years ago when I was introduced to California narrow gauge, and the North Pacific Coast in particular, through the wonderful book "Oil Lamps and Iron Ponies". The chapter on the NPC captured my imagination as I saw my home area through the lens of history. I was hooked.

Begun in 1874, the line ran north from Sausalito, a ferry ride across the bay from San Francisco. It crossed through then rural Marin County and skirted the eastern shore of Tomales Bay, turning inland across the verdant farms of Sonoma County. Passing through small communities such as Tomales, Freestone, Fallon, Valley Ford and Occidental, the line entered the redwood country bordering the Russian River.

In its 60 year life the NPC hauled millions of board feet of prime redwood lumber to market, fed San Francisco with farm and dairy products and provided the lifeline for the growing urban population to escape the city for a weekend. The proud narrow gauge lasted through several changes of structure and ownership and carried several names (North Pacific Coast, North Shore, and finally a division of the Northwestern Pacific), but finally gave over to the internal combustion engine in 1930. Those interested in further info can select HISTORY from the menue.

Now, more than forty years later, I am finally able to model a small piece of this wonderful little narrow gauge line and that project is what this Journal, Route to the Redwoods, is all about.

My efforts involve modeling only a small sampling of the whole of the NPC, but I have tried to include some of the key elements as my space permits. The layout is a basic point to point plan, with a lumber mill at one end and a tidewater port at the other. A logging line feeds the mill. Very simple, but hopefully there is enough built in to provide for interesting narrow gauge style operation. The largely hidden loop is to provide additional run time between Tomales Landing and the mill at Cazadero.

One day I want to vastly expand the space and then perhaps I can do real justice to this wonderful little railroad. Until then the North Coast Narrow Gauge will have to do and the Buckhorn Logging Co. is kept quite busy enough.

Since no proper NPC rolling stock is available I am scratch building nearly everything, reworking imported brass to fit the prototype and modeling most of the buildings from actual structures. My network of friends and colleagues are immesurably helpful in research and critiques of my efforts. I am indebted by their kindness and sharing.

The logging operations are admitedly more like those in Mendocino and Humbolt Counties, but I do love logging and can't resist really getting into it. The Buckhorn is working in virgin growth redwood groves and taking only the best in an early program of resource management.

This Journal is a random sampling of the pathways my interests take as I follow the Route, diverging as whimsy dictates and new information excites. Please feel free to chime in or make comments at my e-mail address

The track plan appeared in the first of the series of articles I am writing for the Narrow Gauge and Shortline GAZETTE. The series began in the March/April '97 issue and continues. (Gazette info)

This shot at Giffen Creek shows the depot and the two Carter-built Milk Cars that I recently completed after a lot of research and help from some kind historian friends.

The landing at Buckhorn Creek is a busy spot. Two donkeys are at work with a haystack boom rig to transfer logs delivered on the skid road to the disconnects for their trip out of the canyon. The boom is scratch built with RGM blocks and is correctly rigged from period illustrations and data provided by Phil Schnell of Timber Times.

The pull up the 8 1/2% out of Buckhorn Creek limits trains to two loaded cars and even that is a task for the 20 ton Shay. The Buckhorn is known for the large logs it brings out. In the background you can see the repair shed at Two Tanks Camp, the staging area for the woods spurs.

This donkey is scratch built using an RGM two-drum winch, a home made boiler casting and scratch built tank and sled. The "gallows" frame is used to keep the haulback line from fouling the main haul line.

This 14 foot diameter Redwood is at the beginning of its journey to the lumber yard. It is early in the history of Ridge Camp and the crews are making their way into virgin timber.

Additional Information
Northwestern Pacific Ralroad Historical Society Web Page
Birth of Calif Narrow Gauge (Randy Hee's page)
North Pacific Coast Trek Folowing the Right of Way.
North Pacific Coast Bibliography Tracing the NPC's roots
Work Bench Projects Some of the things I'm working on

E-Mail to: Boone Morrison

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