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The Pacific Locomotive Association (PLA) is proud to announce that we have purchased and are returning a native Bay Area steam locomotive, the Southern Pacific #1744, to be rebuilt for operation on the Niles Canyon Railway. The 2-6-0 Mogul built by Baldwin in 1901 operated for many years out of Oakland on the SP Western Division and in California’s Central Valley where the Moguls were fondly called “Valley Mallets” (pronounced “Malleys”) by their crews. In later years the now famous locomotive operated on several of the last steam railfan excursions on the Southern Pacific. After retirement from service on the SP in 1958, the locomotive operated at the Heber Valley Railroad, moved to Texas and was restored for a brief period of operation in New Orleans. Iowa Pacific bought the locomotive and ran it on the San Luis & Rio Grande over Colorado’s La Veta Pass in tourist service during 2007 until it was sidelined with boiler issues. The locomotive was disassembled, boiler work started and then stopped. The locomotive has sat disassembled since 2008 with the boiler moving from Alabama to Texas and then back to Colorado during this time.

The PLA’s commitment and plan to return the #1744 to service will not be a quick or inexpensive proposition but we are looking forward to the future when she will once again steam on the Niles Canyon Railway. After many years of operating around the United States, the #1744 is returning home to once again operate through Niles Canyon on the last leg of the Transcontinental Railroad.  Preliminary cost estimates are $500,000.

In early March, PLA moved the many parts of the disassembled locomotive including the tender and they are now safely stored at Brightside.  However, the locomotive frame and boiler still need to be moved.  Due to the unfortunate events surrounding the Coronavirus in the Bay Area, the operating revenue budgeted to finance the move will not be sufficient.  The PLA therefore requests donations to help offset the $30,000 cost of moving the two final pieces of the locomotive in preparation for restoration.  This fundraiser will likely not be the last request for donations as the restoration proceeds to return this historic locomotive to service, but please support move of the SP #1744.

The non-profit all volunteer heritage railway encourages tax deductible donations to help return this classic Southern Pacific steam locomotive to service. For more information about online donating and future updates please visit our Facebook page and the Pacific Locomotive Association Steam website and click on the image Southern Pacific #1744.  Your financial support is greatly appreciated as we work to welcome home this iconic historic treasure for the world to see.

We gladly accept donations by mail.  Please make checks payable to Pacific Locomotive Association (PLA)

Mail to: Pacific Locomotive Association, SP#1744 Restoration,  PO Box 515, Sunol,CA 94586-0515



The “Hidden Lake” is one of six famous Ranch Cars built by ACF in 1951 for Great Northern Railroad’s Empire Builder.

These unique cars were configured as a Coffee Shop/Lounge with the interior decorated to represent a western ranch house. Original decorations included peeled cedar logs, random width oak paneling, seats upholstered in Pinto Pony patterns and red leather, branding irons and a large mural behind the bar depicting a Montana Roundup. Blackfoot Indian motifs were used for the floor and some of the decor.

Much of the interior of the Hidden Lake is intact and has seating for 34 at the tables. 14 additional stool seats were at the bar, currently not installed. A full kitchen provided food service. 

Sometime after Amtrak was created in 1971 the Hidden Lake was sold to Sierra Western Corp. and was renovated for use in the “North Coast Daylight”, a joint venture with the Eureka Southern Railroad. The train was an overnight excursion between Willits and Eureka on the Northwestern Pacific Railroad.  The consist of retired SP Daylight equipment and cars from various other railroads were painted in the Southern Pacific Daylight Colors. Severe storms in the 1990’s washed out the right of way in the Eel River Canyon, which resulted in the closure of the railroad.