Skip to main content

Minarets & Western Railroad

This previous month I spent some time around the North Fork area in Madera County, California tracking the remaining evidence of the Minarets & Western Railroad.


The Minarets & Western Railroad was a 53 mile standard gauge line between Pinedale (modern River Park in Fresno) of Fresno County north to Wishon at Crane Valley Dam in Madera County. The Minarets & Western Railroad was owned by the Sugar Pine Lumber Company and operated from 1921 to 1933 when it was shuttered for not being profitable. From Pinedale the Minarets & Western Railroad had sidings northward in; Friant, Bellview, Shuteye and a terminus in Wishon. The switching yard in Wishon was located next to Crane Valley Dam which was first built in 1901.  From the Wishon switching yard the Minarets & Western Railroad connected to another 11 mile line that crossed Crane Valley Dam and terminated near a lumber community that was known as Minarets.  Crane Valley Dam was expanded in 1910 which facilitated trains crossing the structure to the lumber camps on it's eastern flank.  

The entire line of the Minarets & Western Railroad can be seen on the 1935 Division of Highways Maps of Fresno County and Madera County.  Below the Minarets & Western Railroad can be seen starting in Pinedale and terminating at Crane Valley Dam.  The 1935 Division of Highways Maps does not show the connecting line over Crane Valley Dam east to Minarets.











The Minarets & Western Railroad from Pinedale approached the Madera County Line via Old Friant Road towards the community of Friant. In Friant the Minarets & Western Railroad crossed the San Joaquin River in front of Millerton Dam.  Millerton Dam was completed in 1942 and partially covers the line of the Minarets & Western Railroad.



The Minarets & Western Railroad within Madera County crossed over North Fork Road/Road 200 west of the 1947 Fine Gold Creek Bridge.  In the first photo below the grade of the Minarets & Western Railroad can be partially seen on the right. 





The Minarets & Western Railroad split from North Fork Road/Road 200 and followed Road 221 towards Wishon on Bass Lake.  The Minarets & Western Railroad crossed Road 222 and the grade was recycled into Railroad Grade Road. 




The Minarets & Western Railroad would have followed Road 222 northward towards Wishon and would have crossed the Bass Lake Flume.  The Bass Lake Flume is also known as the is also known as the Brown's Creek Ditch Flume and was constructed shortly after Crane Valley Dam was expanded in 1910.  Brown's Creek Ditch Flume was rebuilt circa 1920/1921 and includes several metal portions that funnel water from Crane Valley Dam.   The Brown's Creek Ditch Flume has a nearby popular hiking trail which is why there are so many Pacific Gas & Electricity warning signs. 









As Road 222 approaches Crane Valley Dam it enters a clearing in the forest which was the location of Wishon.  




Road 222 ascends to the top of Crane Valley Dam where the Minarets & Western Railroad would have connected to the logging spur on the opposite side of Bass Lake.  Crane Valley Dam was constructed by the San Joaquin Electric Company as earthen reservoir impounding Willow Creeks in 1901.  Crane Valley Dam was first expanded in 1905 and again in 1910.  The 1910 level of Crane Valley Dam is what the Minarets & Western Railroad crossed to the opposite side of Bass Lake.






 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Niagara Falls

  Arguably the world's most famous waterfall, or rather a set of waterfalls, Niagara Falls may not need much of an introduction, as it is a very popular tourist attraction in both New York State and the Province of Ontario, a destination of plenty of honeymooning couples, vacationing families and college students out for a good time for a weekend. Niagara Falls is also the site of many daredevil activities over the years, such as tightrope walking and going over the falls in a barrel. It is always nice to have a bit of a refresher, of course. Niagara Falls is made up of two main waterfalls, American Falls (also known as Rainbow Falls), which is on the American side of the border and Horseshoe Falls (also known as Canadian Falls), where the border between the United States and Canada crosses. There is also a smaller waterfall on the New York side of the border, which is Bridal Veil Falls. The height of the waterfalls are impressive, with Horseshoe Falls measuring at

The Smithtown Bull in Smithtown, New York

  Before I moved to Upstate New York as a young man, I grew up in the Long Island town of Smithtown during the 1980s and 1990s. The recognizable symbol of Smithtown is a bronze statue of a bull named Whisper, located at the junction of NY Route 25 and NY Route 25A near the bridge over the Nissequogue River. Why a bull, you may ask. The bull is a symbol of a legend related to the town's founding in 1665 by Richard "Bull" Smythe, with a modernized name of Richard Smith. It also so happens that there is a story behind the legend, one that involves ancient land right transfers and some modern day roads as well. So the story goes that Smythe made an agreement with a local Indian tribe where Smythe could keep whatever land he circled around in a day's time riding atop his trusty bull. Choosing the longest day of the year for his ride, he set out with his bull Whisper and went about riding around the borders of the Town of Smithtown. As legend has it, Smythe t

Route 75 Tunnel - Ironton, Ohio

In the Ohio River community of Ironton, Ohio, there is a former road tunnel that has a haunted legend to it. This tunnel was formerly numbered OH 75 (hence the name Route 75 Tunnel), which was renumbered as OH 93 due to I-75 being built in the state. Built in 1866, it is 165 feet long and once served as the northern entrance into Ironton, originally for horses and buggies and later for cars. As the tunnel predated the motor vehicle era, it was too narrow for cars to be traveling in both directions. But once US 52 was built in the area, OH 93 was realigned to go around the tunnel instead of through the tunnel, so the tunnel was closed to traffic in 1960. The legend of the haunted tunnel states that since there were so many accidents that took place inside the tunnel's narrow walls, the tunnel was cursed. The haunted legend states that there was an accident between a tanker truck and a school bus coming home after a high school football game on a cold, foggy Halloween night in 1