Loads of logs en route to the foothills

January 17, 2003 12:00 am

By ABBY SOUZA

Railroad crossers beware — the Sonora area tracks will be a lot busier over the next six months.

Starting Saturday, Sierra Pacific Industries' Standard mill will begin receiving 40 million board feet of logs delivered by Sierra Railroad Co. trains. The logs are being salvaged from Arizona forest fires.

This will be the first time in decades logs have been brought by rail to Tuolumne County in such high numbers.

No SPI representative was available for comment this morning on the salvage log contract.

"This is the biggest job we've had since I've owned Sierra Railroad," Mike Hart said.

The logs are arriving on rail to Oakdale by Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co.. Sierra Railroad will bring the logs to the mill on four trains every four days. Hart estimated this schedule will continue through late summer.

Each train will carry blocks of 15 cars, each carrying 100 tons of salvaged logs. To pull that weight, a lot of extra horsepower will be needed, Hart said. About 8,000 pounds of horsepower will pull each train.

"It is the most horsepower the Sierra Railway has ever seen," Hart said.

With more trains in the area than usual, Sierra Railroad Co. officials want to caution people who live or walk along the railways.

"You'll be seeing a lot of us in Sonora," General Manager Larry Ingold said. "We'll wave."

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