With its rocky cliffs, constantly twisting curves, plentiful tunnels, and lengthy trestles, the Feather River Canyon has long been a popular destination for railfans. Traveling through the Feather River Canyon today is as challenging as it was when the Western Pacific opened it in 1909. The threat of rock and mudslides and the difficulty of access still test a railroad’s mettle with every train it sends through the canyon.
Pentrex visited the Feather River Canyon in 1991 to produce “Union Pacific’s Feather River Route.” We returned to the Feather River Canyon in 2009 and again in 2011 to record modern operations over this scenic yet difficult territory. Starting in Oroville, we worked our way into the town of Portola, 113 track miles to the east. On the way, we captured great action, from ore and grain trains to mixed manifests and even doublestack service just prior to its permanent rerouting over Donner. You’ll see an abundance of the newest SD70 ACe and GEVO locomotives as well as older power in the form of SD70Ms, Dash 9s, Dash 8s, plus a few surviving units from the SP era. Some of the most impressive trestles in the West are featured, including Pulga, Tobin, and the mighty Keddie Wye. You’ll even visit the Quincy Railroad and the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola. The variety of freight you’ll witness is as impressive as the canyon these trains pass through.