You’ve likely heard of Yosemite National Park, or at least Yosemite Sam, well the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad is less widely known. The railroad, which takes passengers through the Sierra National Forest near the southern entrance of the Yosemite National Park, offers a marvelous glimpse of what a truly old forest, and old logging railroads, were like.
The Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad at Fish Camp, California (North of Modesto) aims to replicate the famous Westside Lumber Company in its heyday. Chugging on this 4-mile scenic railroad are two giants of the steam era: YMSPR Shay #10 and YMSPR Shay #15. The Shay locomotive was a standard of logging railroads across the country.
A Brief History of these Locomotives
The first steam locomotive at the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad (YMSPRR) is Shay #10. This is a 3-truck Shay steam locomotive that was built by the Lima Locomotive Works in 1928. It was built for Pickering Lumber but was later sold to the Westside Lumber Company in 1934.
It’s said to be the largest narrow-gauge Shay steam locomotive ever built and has graced the YMSPR since the railroad bought it from Westside Lumber Company in 1967. This oil-burning steam locomotive has been a reliable runner on the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad and has been operating perfectly and smoothly for decades.
The other main steam locomotive on the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad is Shay #15. This is another three-truck Shay steam loco that was constructed in 1913 for Livermore & Company in San Francisco by the Lima Locomotive Works. Originally, it was known as #9 and served that company for a few years before it was sold to the Sierra Nevada Wood & Lumber Company.
In 1939, this oil-burning steam locomotive was bought by the Hyman-Michaels Company and renamed No. 15, a number that stuck. It was also sold to the Westside Lumber Company and remained on their roster until the company ended operations in the 1960s. The Shay was acquired by the West Side & Cherry Valley to haul tourist trains. It remained there until 1988 when it was purchased by the YMSPRR.
Today, Shay #10 and #15 are the stars of the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad. And whatever train you board, you’ll be on a memorable one-hour ride through the scenic Sierra National Forest. Visit the YMSPRR website and book to ride on one of the two most historical steam locomotives in the country.
A longtime railfan, Bob enjoys the research that goes into his articles. He is knowledgeable on many railroad topics and enjoys learning about new topics. You can get a hold of Bob at his email link below.