Scenic USA - California

Slim Princess

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Slim Princess - Bishop, California

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

   Today, U.S. 395 conveniently follows Owens Valley found just to the east of California's imposing Sierra-Nevada Mountains. Running parallel to the California and Nevada border, this wide open corridor enticed a few railroading entrepreneurs during the 1880s. Connecting the Virginia and Truckee Railroad in Nevada, the new narrow gauge Carson and Colorado Line headed south toward Owens Valley. Dubbed the Slim Princess by the locals, the railroad offered passenger service as well as an avenue to ship out Owens Valley livestock.
   Built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1909, Engine No. 9 was rebuilt and put into service on the Carson and Colorado Line, operated by the Southern Pacific Railroad Company. The steam locomotive polished the narrow gauge rails for over 25 years.
   Overtime, the Slim Princess name was not only used for the railroad, but was also transferred to the locomotive itself. Donated by the city of Bishop, the 4-6-0 Baldwin is now the centerpiece of the Laws Railroad Museum. A lineup of historic cars, some weighing over nine tons, offers an authentic view of the Slim Princess Line. As with most Southern Pacific engines No. 9 ran on oil, because wood and coal in this area would have been a rare fuel at the time. The Laws Museum not only features railroad equipment, but a string of period railroading homes and their furnishing.

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