A small crowd with mixed emotions gathered today, some to say a final farewell to Locomotive No. 9 on display next to the Scotia Museum, and others to fulfill a longtime dream of bringing the railroad artifact back to Marin County, where it originally operated. The locomotive has been on display in Scotia since 1953.
Many reminisced about climbing on the locomotive during early childhood years, while others said the outdoor display of the locomotive and other logging artifacts were years ago, woven into the fabric of the community when Scotia was a company-owned town.
For many, it was a bittersweet goodbye.
“It’s sad to see it go, but I am glad it is going somewhere where it be restored and cared for,” one woman said.
For Fred Runner and the Friends of No. 9 organization, it is something that has been in the works for decades and was finally made possible when his group submitted the high bid for the locomotive and other logging equipment on display which were put up for auction in March by the Scotia Community Services District.
“We won the bid,” Runner said, “(and) it was a dream moment 65 years in the making.”
The locomotive was purchased in 1921 and for three years was operated on the Mt. Tam and Muir Woods Railway. It was the ninth of nine locomotives to operate on what was nicknamed “the crookedest railroad in the world.”
The locomotive was then operated by Siskiyou Lumber Co. and later Dolbeer and Carson Lumber Company. When the Pacific Lumber Co. acquired Dolbeer and Carson Lumber Co. in 1950, Locomotive No. 9 was included. No. 9 was never operated by Pacific Lumber Co., which put the locomotive on display when the possibility of it being scrapped was suggested.
“We are extremely grateful to the people of Scotia, that this is here today,” Runner said, referring to the locomotive. “It is the only surviving full piece of the Mt. Tam railroad. Period.”
He and others were excited to be regaining a piece of their history.
Others were sorry to see the removal of the locomotive.
“It’s too bad,” said Nathan Johns, “it’s been here a long time. I climbed on it many times as a kid.”
He also shared a story from a friend of his who said students attending Scotia Elementary School were allowed to leave school grounds at lunch to go and play on the locomotive.
“It is what it is,” Johns said. “I do think it’s neat the some of the other logging items will be staying here.”
A temporary banner had been affixed to the locomotive bearing the old name of Mt. Tam and Muir Woods Railway, in the same gold leaf color and font on the original engine.
And over the last two days, the locomotive had been prepped for moving.
When it was time, two cranes from North Coast Fabricators, a 90-ton crane and a 50-ton crane, picked up the 64,000-pound locomotive, and gently set it on the trailer of a Humboldt Heavy Haul low-bed truck.
After a methodical period of securing the locomotive to the low-bed trailer, at approximately 4 p.m., the locomotive began its journey home, returning to a location where it has last operated more than 90 years ago.
“We have secured a parking place on private property in Sonoma County, at no cost,” Runner said.
The locomotive will remain at this location as it is being restored, and once that is complete Runner said it will be displayed at a historically relevant place, although no specific site has been determined at this point.