AS ILLUSTRATED BY THE INFORMATION ON TRACING THE YV, much of the YV is gone but there are places along the old route where you can still imagine what it was like during the years that the railroad was in operation. Here are some "then and now" photos of places along the route.
About 12 miles from Merced, the railroad swung through a curve to head over a relatively tall trestle. The engine has just started over this trestle in this photo taken from the caboose by YV-brakeman Bob Lunoe in 1942.
The embankment used by the railroad is still very evident in this photo taken from the same spot about 25 years ago. Since then, the piers for the trestle and some of the embankment in the original photo has been removed but otherwise the view remains generally unchanged.
A mile or so beyond the views above, the railroad crossed the Merced River on Bridge 13A. This view showing the two through-truss bridges and the trestle beyond was taken from near the highway bridge over the river.
The same general view from a few years ago. At that time, you could still see the piers which supported one of the two 150-foot-long bridges. The piers have now also been removed.
Beyond Merced Falls, the railroad crossed McClure Reservoir on 1600-foot-long Bridge No. 3, also known as the Barrett Bridge. This view shows a fan trip stopped on the bridge.
The new, taller Exchequer Dam built in the 1960s to replace the original dam raised the level of McClure Reservoir far above the old lake high-water-mark as revealed on the far hillside. As a condition of the construction of the new dam, the Merced Irrigation District was required to remove the old Barrett Bridge which remained in place after abandonment of the railroad. While portions of the old bridge were scrapped by floating them to the shore, the westerly section sank before it could be floated out and now lies below the waters of the reservoir. While it is normally far below the surface of the reservoir, the California drought in the 1990s lowered the water sufficiently to make the old bridge visible again. Barrett Cove Recreation Area is just to the left of this photo.
Bridge No. 4 was also built as part of the relocation required by the construction of the first Exchequer Dam in the 1920s. This is also a fan trip photo.
Today, the abutments for Bridge No. 4 are normally far below the surface of McClure Reservoir; this photo was also taken at the end of the 1990s California drought.
A mixed train with a long line of empty "rock" cars (YV slang for the short hopper cars used in limestone service) headed eastbound above Bagby.
The same general area as indicated by the concrete retaining wall visible in both photos. If you can get across the river from the south side east of Bagby (we had a boat bring us across the river), you can hike the old right-of-way from just upstream of Bagby to North Fork and on to Briceburg if desired.
A passenger train, with Observation Car 331 on the end, stops at Incline in the 1920s. The long line of empty log cars are on the empties track, waiting to be hauled up the logging incline to the woods.
The same view today. The old roadbed has been paved and an orchard covers the location of the station at Incline.
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