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Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad NRHS Special 7/7/2005

by Chris Guenzler
Guest pictures by bnsfbob and Drew Jacksich

Bob Riskie, Chris Parker and I all were at Elmers at 6:00 AM when they opened for a fantastic French Toast and Sausage breakfast. We returned to the Days Inn to get our materials for the day before we took "Max" from 82nd Street to Lloyd Center. We met our NRHS group outside the Doubletree going to Port of Tillamook Trip and waited for the loading of the buses. Bob and I got the last two seats on the first bus while Chris got on another bus. It took us about forty-five minutes to get to Banks and after a few minutes we were let out.

The Banks Station.

The Willamette and Pacific freight was here switching the interchange with the Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad. {POTB from now on.} Here is W&P 3604 switching.

Next the POTB was switching cars and motive power. Here is POTB SD-9 4406.

Here is POTB 6164 still in Cascade Green. With that picture my Olympus 15-20 camera officially died. For the next hour I tried to fix it but with no luck. I would not have any more photos of the trip unless I can find someone who would let me use theirs.

A new camera would have to be bought on my return to Portland this evening so I could record the rest of my trips until I get home in over a week.

A Brief History

The Tillamook Branch of the Southern Pacific was originally going to be an Astoria to Willamette Valley Line. The line was surveyed and graded west of Hillsboro in 1902-1904. On October 13th, 1905 the Pacific Railway & Navigation Company took over the line and changed the line's final destination to Tillamook. In 1906 the line reached Buxton and in 1909 reached Wedeburg. Tillamook to the west end of Mohler was constructed during 1910. Between Wedeburg and Mohler it took between 1909 and 1911 to construct the line which included eleven tunnels and several high trestles in the deep Coast Range canyons. The entire line was opened on November 1st, 1911. On that same date the Southern Pacific Railroad took over full control of the Pacific Railway & Navigation Company. Logging became and remained the main staple of the line until the 1930's when the depression hit. Between 1931 and 1933 three disastrous forest fires burned throughout the Coast Range. The third of these fires was known as the Tillamook Burn which consumed over twelve million board feet of prime timber. The logging industry rebounded out of the depression with the savaging of the burnt timber generating thousands of loads. Passenger service was well used until all weather highways entered the area. In 1932 the passenger train became a mixed train which ran until 1953. In the 1950's the emphasis switched from hauling logs to finished lumber and wood chips. The Port began operating from Tillamook to Batterson, the midway point on the line, in 1983 from the Southern Pacific. When the SP decided to abandon the line, the Port was able to purchase the entire line to Schefflin with help from the state lottery in 1990. Traffic includes lumber, forest products, aggregates and grains. Excursion trains also are operated by the railroad.

The Trip

At 9:02 AM I boarded the Red River on what was the longest passenger train ever handled on the POTB. We had SD-9s 6116, 6164 and 4406, POTB open car, Tolani, Echo Canyon, Arizona, St Paul Pass, Willamette and Pacific Coach, Red River, Baggage Car for viewing, Running Crane Lake, Plum Creek, Mount Hood and James Gillmore observation. The Tolani, Echo Canyon, Arizona, St Paul Pass coaches were brought over from Portland to Banks on a special train after they finished their service on the Western Star Steam Special to Wishram the day before by the Willamette Pacific Railroad. A special thank you to them for getting the cars to Banks in time for our trip. Also a special thank you to the Friends of the Milwaukee Road 261 for the Arizona and St Paul Pass and to the Mid America Railcar Leasing for the use of the Tolani and Echo Canyon. Without these cars this excursion would not have been the great success it was.

As we left Banks we passed this wigwag at Banks that bnsfbob had photographed before we arrived.

Drew Jacksich caught our train passing the wig wag outside of Banks.

Our train pulled out of Banks with me in the baggage car at 9:25 AM and ran a few miles following West Dairy Creek. As we neared Manning the train started climbing steadily away from the valley floor along the side of a hill. We left the ranching areas for the dense forest. Our train crossed over the first curved wooden trestle over Thomas Creek. A few minutes later after the old station location of Scofield we crossed another wooden trestle this time over the Sunset Highway and Dairy Creek. Our train continued to climb curving to gain elevation. We curved over another wooden trestle at Capehorn Creek before running through an area of clear cutting timber with nature reclaiming itself.

Drew Jacksich caught our train coming and going at MP 784.

Back in the forest we ran above Castor Creek making a series of horseshoe curves to continue to gain elevation. A few minutes later we passed an area of clear cutting timber in progress.

Our westbound train was caught on film by bnsfbob at the wigwag at Timber.

The train passed through Timber then entered Tunnel 24 with a gunited west entrance. Before we entered Tunnel 24, all the passengers in the open car had to return inside for safety reasons as sometimes pieces of the roof falls down during passage of the POTB trains. Our train continued to climb above Castor Creek making more horseshoe curves before we crossed Castor Creek. Near Hulbert we passed through more clear cutting areas. We followed high above the Nehalem River as we curved along the ridge. The view off to the north was very impressive. Our train crossed over the Steel Trestle over Heidel Creek, a most impressive structure.

Drew Jacksich caught the train at the Summit at Cochran.

The train pulled into Cochran with a view of Cochran Pond off to the north. Having reached the Summit of the Coast Range at 1,833 feet, we would now start our descent of over a 1000 feet to Enright as our route followed the Denover River to the Salmonberry River. Running below the ridge we went through Tunnel 25 before we crossed over the Big Baldwin Steel Trestle with water tanks at both ends. This trestle is 500 feet long and 185 feet above the creek. That was even more of an impressive trestle. A few minutes later we emerged out of Tunnel 27 straight out onto the tightly curved wooden Wolf Creek Trestle. The SP sure knew how to build wooden trestles. The passengers were served their box lunches as we passed through Tunnels 28 and 29 crossing the small creeks in between. We traveled onward passing into Tunnel 30 as we ran along the beautiful Salmonberry River. Our train crossed Belding Creek and North Fork as well as passing through Tunnels 32, 34, 35 and 36. Exiting out of Tunnel 36 our special had arrived at Enright, our turn around point.

At Enright a Photo Runby was held and since I did not have a camera, I decided I would stay aboard allowing for a little more mileage when we passed the group heading west. I was glad I did that or else I would not have gotten to see the steam era water tank still standing at Enright. Since I wrote all of the above on the way here now I get to relax and enjoy the scenery. I rode the open car back to Cochran enjoying the sheer beauty of the Salmonberry Canyon with all the tunnels and trestles. I talked with Jim Long, a Portland Chapter NRHS volunteer and a friend, with us getting caught up on things in the Running Crane Lake the ex Great Northern Ranch Lunch Counter Car.

The great photographer known as bnsfbob caught our special train at Timber on the return trip. A special thank you to bnsfbob and Drew Jacksich for the use of their photos.

I returned to the open car from Timber back to past the Thomas Creek Curved Trestle before returning to my coach seat for the final few miles back to Banks. What a wonderful trip the Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad provided for our NRHS 2005 Convention. We boarded the buses for the trip back to Portland.

Back in Portland while Chris was trying to get on more trips and Bob was trying to cash one of his Travelers Check, I went to Lloyd Center. I found a Kits Camera Shop where I bought a new Nikon One Touch Zoom 90s Camera for the rest of my trip. I enjoyed another Arbys dinner before Bob and I returned to the hotel for the night. Chris came back later with his good news that he got a shop tour and also on the Mt Rainier scenic Trip. Remember Chris also got on the Western Star Steam and Port of Tillamook Bay trips. Not bad for someone who came to Portland without a single ticket for any of the NRHS Convention Events. Tomorrow is a day off me for me but I have some new things planned to do. I called it a night after a very unique day of train riding in my life.