We are pleased to report the Nevada-California-Oregon Railway has successfully transported Combine No. 12 back home to our car barn in Alturas. What started as a site visit back in July with owner, Ken Yeo Jr., has turned into a four month project preparing the combine for the big move north. Before arriving in Auburn after a 5 hour drive south, many of our Directors had never seen the combine in person and were going off an old photo taken by John Barnhill (2005). When we arrived, we saw a big, tarped box on old US Navy trucks.
As we began looking under the tarp, a feeling came upon some of us as though we were unwrapping a white elephant gift. Is this going to be good or bad? Are we suckers for taking this on? Well, as you can see in the above left photo, the combine did not look like it did in Barnhill’s photo. Since that time, the car had sustained some major fire damage on the roof. After Ken Yeo’s passing, the car had been exposed to the elements and quickly the car began coming apart. Thankfully, many of the important pieces of wood and fixtures were present that will help tell of how the car was built. Below are examples of some of the window hardware that survives.
After a few hours of documenting the car in it’s current condition, the Directors for the N-C-O gathered and agreed to take on the challenge of moving the car north. This was a unique car, and the only surviving combine of the original railway. A plan was prepared to accomplish the work, and members of the N-C-O moved quickly to begin gathering materials and cleaning the car of loose debris. A skeleton frame was created inside and outside of the car to keep the walls and roof stable during transportation. The car was blocked to remove the Navy trucks that would go to the Oroville Museum of Transportation, and the grounds prepared to bring in a trailer for loading.
With four months of work by our members complete, it was finally time to bring in the trailer and get this car to Alturas. Toby Van Altvorst and crew with the Goose Lake Railway were kind enough to take on the challenge of navigating a steep and narrow road into the property. Anyone there can attest it was no small feat! After a day of loading, strapping, and several moments of questioning our decisions, we were ready to head out. Back down the driveway we went, and by that evening, we were ready to head to Reno for the night.
Smooth travels were had along the way, and no issues sustained by the combine. During the trip north, Toby and crew stopped off along the road to check straps and condition of the car. the spot so happened to be the old Highway 395 crossing north of Wendel that the N-C-O once traveled long ago. By mid afternoon, the combine pulled into Alturas and was safely parked in the car barn with the other rolling stock.
It is a great feeling to have completed the move successfully. It could not have been done without the hours of work by members and donations from so many of you to help get this accomplished. A special thanks is owed to Ken Yeo Jr. for donating the combine to the N-C-O, to Casey Wilmunder for saving so many pieces of the car from deterioration, to Nathan Medler for the tractor work, and to Toby and gang at the Goose Lake Railroad for getting the car home safe.
There is much work to be done over the winter to get the framing stripped and body stabilized. Continued documentation of the car, photographs, and a plan for preservation will be completed next year. Like all the cars we are saving, we will eventually take on the task of full restoration of Combine 12. For now, it’s nice to take a pause and appreciate this accomplishment as winter approaches.
Again, a big THANK YOU to all those who helped make this possible. We have a growing list of other rolling stock to move over the coming year. if you would like to help out and support our work, please head on over to www.ncory.org and become a member or make a donation. All contributions are appreciated!