A Western Regional Railroad - 1930's - 1940's
Yosemite Valley Railroad


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The Yosemite Valley Railroad (YV) was a short line railroad operating in the state of California. It operated from Merced, where it connected with the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific Railroads, to El Portal, entrance town for Yosemite National Park and Valley, 78 miles. While the original intent of the railroad had been to provide passenger service to the Park, the railroad was quick to encourage the growth of freight traffic. Over the years, the railroad developed a significant freight business in logging, lumber, limestone, and barium lead. The YV ran passenger trains between Merced and El Portal with connections on the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific at Merced for destinations in the LA and San Francisco areas. In the thirties the YV had a parlor observation car on their run. Discontinued logging, lumber, limestone and cement freight in the early 40's could not be made up by declining passenger traffic and the YV closed in 1945. The track was removed shortly thereafter.
Short history of the Yosemite Valley Railroad (YV)
1849 - The area which became the Yosemite National Park was discovery in 1849. However, access to the area was very limited.
1855-70's - Tourists begin to come to Yosemite Valley.
1869-1880 - Logging roads and stage train built to the area.
1890 - On October 1 the Yosemite National Park is established, but California maintains control of the Yosemite Valley and grove..
1906 - President Theodore Roosevelt, at John Muir's urging, signed a bill to give control of the Yosemite Valley and grove to the Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite Valley - September 1, 1931
1907 - The Yosemite Valley Railroad was completed between Merced, in California's San Joaquin Valley, and El Portal on the western boundary of the Yosemite National Park.
1920's - A significant change occurred to the railroad in the early twenties by the construction of a large dam on the Merced River at Exchequer east of Merced Falls. That project required the relocation of 17 miles of track and the construction of 5 large bridges and 4 concrete-lined tunnels. One of these bridges was the 1,600' long steel Barrett Bridge over the reservoir itself. The bridge was 236' above low water and was the longest steel railroad bridge in the West at the time.
c1925-6 - Passenger business on the YV peaked in the mid-twenties, dropping thereafter due to the increase in private automobile use, accelerated by the completion of the new All-Year Highway (now State Route 140) in 1926.
1931 - The YV was now operating one train a day, from Merced in the morning to El Portal, with a return run in the afternoon. The train featured an observation parlor car and made connections with the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific at Merced for tourists from the LA or San Francisco areas.
1942 - The logging/lumber freight business is ended.
1944 - The limestone/cement business phases out.
1945 - YV files request for abandonment.
1945 - The last scheduled run came on August 24, 1945; scrapping operations commenced shortly thereafter.
YVmap
Yosemite Valley - 1931

Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guides- Various editions

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Copyright Richard Parks, May 2, 2009