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Fascination takes flight: The Western Pacific 0-6-0 Steam Switching Locomotive returns September 3-4 after thundering debut across the tracks

On May 15, witnessed by attendees of the recent historical convention hosted by the Feather River Rail Society, the only operating steam locomotive from the Western Pacific Railroad (WP) emerged from the towering pines, her belly glowing with red flame and jet-black smoke clouds trailing with every exhalation as she thundered by. It’s been sixty years since she had been able to move under her own steam power.

This modern-day mechanical dragon is the accomplished feat of the dedicated WP 165 Steam Department, a team of volunteers who patiently and diligently put her back together and made her operational for the public to enjoy. The engine is owned by the Feather River Rail Society (FRRS) and will operate at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola, California.

“It was always our dream to restore the Western Pacific 165. This switching locomotive is a significant piece of transportation history, marking the return of WP steam power to Plumas County,” said Roger Stabler, head of the FRRS Steam Department.

Western Pacific 165 is an 0-6-0 switching locomotive built by the Schenectady Works of the American Locomotive Company. This engine was used at many of the WP’s rail yards, including Stockton, Sacramento and Portola. It was built in November, 1919, for the United Verde Copper Company of Jerome, Arizona, as their number 87. On September 17, 1927, the 165 and three sister UVCC engines were sold to the WP and become the road’s S-34 class, numbered 163-166.


The enduring fascination with steam trains has captivated people for hundreds of years. And now, the public can catch a glimpse of this historic steam locomotive on September 3-4, 2022. The museum will be open those days from 10 AM to 5 PM with train rides from 11:30 AM to 3 PM.

Photo submitted by Big Fish Creations

For more information about the Western Pacific Railroad Museum visit wplives.org or call 530-832-4131.

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