Commonly known as the "Modoc Line", this route ran through remote ranch land and high deserts in northeastern California, far from any population centers. The line was originally constructed as the narrow-gauge Nevada-California-Oregon (N-C-O), and SP converted the line to standard gauge when they acquired it. It was intended as a shortcut from SP's line in Oregon between California and the northwest to the SP Overland Route (Transcontinental RR) in Nevada; when the route was active the line continued southwest from Wendel to a connection with the SP Overland route at Flanigan, NV.
Shortly after the Union Pacific merger in 1995, due to both the lack of freight volume and the line's routing through remote territory, the segment between Alturas and Wendel was abandoned in 1996. As of June, 2003, the tracks are still in place as far south as Bayley siding in California. Between Alturas and Bayley, the tracks are used for freight car storage, with reporting marks from many of the companies UP has acquired over the years. Near the grade crossing with US Route 395 at Likely (see photo), a switch broom was still attached to a relay cabinet, but the switch itself had been removed. Also in the area, a field is being used by A-K Railroad Materials to stockpile recovered ties for sale. Further south, at Sage Hen Hill, stacks of ties line the right-of-way. From Madeline south, the ties, tieplates and most of the spikes remain, while the rails appear to have been removed just days earlier.
The northern segment from Alturas to the line's northern terminus at Klamath Falls, OR, remains in service by a shortline operator.
Thanks to Mike Palmer and Craig Bass for contributing information about this route.