Run-Away Lumber Cars

Loading Shed at the Mendocino Shipping Point, c. 1950. It was dismantled in 1951.

April 11, 1928 – A tremendous crash was heard at 7:30 AM throughout Mendocino as eight train cars loaded with lumber ran through the Shipping Point’s loading shed and fell to the rocks below.

The Beacon reported, “When the crew of the steamer Noyo and the longshoremen were busily engaged in loading the boat with lumber, a train of eight cars coupled together and manned by a crew of three men started down from the yard with a heavy load toward the landing. The track was wet and slippery and as the train went down the slight incline leading to the loading chutes, it gained momentum and rapidly increased in speed. The crew bent all their strength on the brakes, which failed to hold and they saw that a crash was inevitable, but they stuck to the brakes until the train reached the shed over the chutes, when thinking discretion the better part of valor, they jumped together as one man. With a roar the cars shot through the shed, crashed through the bumper at the end and plunged over the end of the wharf and onto the rocks 30 feet below. Cars and lumber were mixed in inextricable confusion. Fortunately nobody was hurt and nobody is to blame as the rails were so slippery it was impossible to hold the train.”

The 33,000 feet of lumber and the train cars were hauled up onto the wharf and salvaged.

How Mendocino Evolved by Chuck Bush – A Kelley House Museum publication covering the history of Mendocino and coastal growth during the logging years. $15.