99-year-old locomotive arrives in Auburn for bridge's 100th birthday party

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - The last of a line of locomotives that labored in the American River Canyon as part of the mine bringing limestone out of the Cool quarry, Engine No. 22 arrived in Auburn on Friday to help celebrate the 100th birthday of the Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge. A little worse for wear after a recent run-in with copper thieves at the Clarksburg farm it has been stored at for several years, Engine No. 22 pulled off Interstate 80 on the back of a Robinson Sand & Gravel flatbed trailer. The dusty, charcoal-colored locomotive turned heads as it proceeded down High Street and into the American River Canyon along Highway 49. It will be temporarily housed at the Auburn State Recreation Area office as it gets spruced up for its first public appearance June 10 at the American River Confluence Festival in Auburn. Superintendent Mike Lynch of the Auburn State Recreation Area said that the 30,000-pound, oil-fired steam engine, will be the center of attention Sept. 29 when it is trucked to the 100-year-old Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge and positioned in the middle of the span. Guarded by local Boy Scouts camping out nearby, it will stay there for a week. Among the activities being planned is a picture day or two ? when vehicles will be allowed on for once-ina-lifetime photo opportunities. Ron Ludford, of the Auburn Model A Club, said his organization has already voted to support the photo day and could put 50 cars on the bridge. On Friday, the engine was placed on temporary tracks after the journey from Clarksburg, where Silver Bend Farms had allowed it to be temporarily borrowed for events surrounding the bridge anniversary. The locomotive was constructed in 1913 and has seen service on the Virginia & Truckee line as well as at the Mountain Quarries operation. ?This is the last of the Mountain Quarries locomotives in existence,? Lynch said. ?We?re lucky it wasn?t scrapped out like the other ones.? Lynch said that Robinson provided the expertise and a specially equipped flatbed at cost. The El Dorado Rail organization plans to help fix it up for display, he said. Auburn?s Wayne Lyndon, who once served as manager of the Sierra Railroad in Jamestown, said the locomotive is a link to Auburn and American River Canyon. ?The Mountain Quarries were a viable business for a number of years and this was a unique railroad, hauling limestone to Auburn and the Southern Pacific line to be used mostly in the sugar-beet sugar-refining process,? Lyndon said.