Clampers converge for joint doin's on railroad

Alicia Knadler
Indian Valley Editor
The men of E Clampus Vitas honored history Saturday, June 26, in a joint doin's near the site of the old Engels Depot and the Indian Valley Railroad.
Grand Noble Humbug Mike Milton of Las Plumas del Oro Chapter 8 of Quincy and Noble Grand Humbug Mark Worthington of Vigilantes Outpost 1911 of Lake Almanor hosted the joint doin's.

Local historian Norman Lamb gave a very brief talk about the history of the railroad during the plaque dedication, which included a comment that made the men think out loud.

He spoke about how the standard-gauge railroad was mostly a subsidiary of Engels, about 85 percent of it, and the rest was a subsidiary of Western Pacific.

Two Baldwin locomotives pulled the trains full of copper ore, lumber and passengers.

The mine closed in 1930, and in the next eight years the railroad was only profitable for one year.

The tracks were worn out anyway when it shut down in 1938, and the tracks and both locomotives were scrapped and sold to Japan.

"Of course it all came back at us at Pearl Harbor," Lamb said.

It took a moment for the men to react, and the ensuing uproar was hard to decipher.

For those interested, Lamb helped create an entry about the Indian Valley Railroad on Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia.

The IVR was a standard-gauge, short-line railroad constructed in 1916 and 1917 to serve the Engels Copper Mine as a connection with the Western Pacific Railroad at Paxton.

The Engels mine, at the north end of the Plumas Copper Belt, was named after Henry A. Engels, who settled in the area in 1880 and began to mine copper.

Before the railroad, and after an aborted attempt to operate a smelter at China Gulch, copper ore was taken by road to Keddie, where Western Pacific cars carried it to a smelter at Garfield, Utah.

Within three years of railroad completion, the town site of Engelmine was established and grew to a population of 1,200 people.

Both the railroad and the town were dismantled at the same time.

Homes were moved to Greenville, Quincy and Portola, the last of which was moved in the 1960s.

For more railroad history, visit the Plumas County Museum in Quincy, where artifacts and several historical books are available.

One such book, recently published, is "Railroads of Nevada and Eastern California: More on the Northern Roads."

It is the third volume in a trilogy written by David F, Myrick, renowned for his books on historic railroads. Deemed an essential reference work for historians and train buffs of railway companies, his works are also entertaining with vignettes and stories that bring history to life for his readers.

Much of his research was done in person and via calls to the Plumas County Museum, recorder's office and Greenville historian Norman Lamb, who is president of California-Engels Mining Company, owner of the Indian Valley Railroad.

Other locals who helped his research included Chester residents, many formerly on the Red River Lumber Company payroll. He lists Murph Kerns, Gordon Purdy, John and Berti Sanders, Keith Dodge and a Mrs. Richard Lydden.

Gene Aldrich guided him along the abandoned grades of the Fruit Growers Supply Company, and Jims Bryant and Cooper did likewise along the old Lassen Lumber and Harvey Mountain areas.

They and many others who helped him in other areas of Plumas, Lassen and Sierra counties and on other railroads that passed, and still do pass, through are listed in his acknowledgements.

Some of the people he acknowledges are long gone to their maker, such as the late Bob Cooke of Taylorsville.

Myrick himself is in his 90s, and still writing from his home in Santa Barbara.
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