The Slim Princess “Engine 9” was built in 1909 and first saw service on the 36 inch narrow gauge rails (standard gauge is 4 feet 8 ½ inches) of the Nevada, California and Oregon Railroad. It came to the Mina Branch of the Southern Pacific in 1929 and ran from Mina to Keeler until 1938.
In it’s early years, the Slim Princess (no one knows the origin of the name) carried passengers as well as mining and agricultural outputs. However, with the advent of highways and standard track, the decline in mining, the lines were abandoned and in 1945 the rails were taken up for the Second World War.
In 1954 S.P. purchases a diesel engine so the remaining 3 steam engines (which could burn up to 800 gallons of oil per round trip from Laws to Keeler) were retired. No. 9 ran under her own power for the last time in 1959 and was then kept as a standby. It was seen in several movies shot in the area including John Wayne’s “The Three Godfathers”.
The Slim Princess was donated to Inyo County and along with the depot, water tower, turntable, etc., it formed the nucleus of the Laws Museum and Historical Site. Its located 5 miles north of Bishop on Highway 6.