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As It Was: Northern California Railroad Trestle Makes Movie History

In the movie, four boys are walking across a railroad bridge, one of them on hands and knees.  The bridge has no railings and drops off about 100 feet to the rocky water below.  The train arrives, and the crawling boy can’t escape in time.  After a hair-raising moment, one of the other boys goes back to get him and they both tumble over the end of the bridge to safety.

That bridge was part of the McCloud River Railroad that began hauling lumber in Shasta County in 1897.  The movie was “Stand by Me,” filmed in 1986 about four boys growing up in the ‘50s in a fictional Oregon town.  It was filmed mostly in northern Oregon, but the bridge scene was the railroad trestle over Lake Britton, near Burney Falls.

The steam engine known as the McCloud River #25 has a long and colorful history, first for logging and later as an excursion train.  Today, it still carries passengers on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad.  The McCloud River Railroad abandoned the line east of McCloud in 2007, and the tracks were removed from the railroad trestle over Lake Britton in 2008.

Sources: "McCloud River Railroad History 01." McCloud River Railroad History, www.mccloudriverrailroad.com/history/history01.htm. Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.   

Miller, William M. History Snoopin': True Tales of Oregon and Northern California. William M. Miller, 2018, pp. 238-40.   

Sharon Bywater of Ashland, Oregon grew up in Southern California. She taught English literature and writing at Syracuse University in New York, where she also wrote and edited adult literacy books and published freelance articles in local media. Later, she lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked as an international telecommunications policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She has Master’s degrees in English and Communications Management.