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Rare Mileage Trips Sponsored Excurision for 2006 by the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum in Oregon and Washington

Mountains to Tillamook Beaches Special on the Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad

Tuesday, June 6, 2006 - Banks to Tillamook, Oregon

by Chris Guenzler

This year's Southern Appalachia Railway Museum Rare Mileage Trips would be in June, 2006 in the northwest. Bart Jennings tried his best to arranged a really great rare mileage trip, but local problems wiped that idea out. He settled for three one-day trips. The first would on the Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad, the second would be on the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad and the third on Tacoma Rail lines. That would return me to all three lines that I partially rode in the summer of 2005. While on the POTB, where my camera died, on the Chehalis-Centralia, I rode only as far as Milburn; and on Tacoma Rail, I had ridden from Elbe to Morton on the Mount Rainier Scenic. Jim Nowell had wanted to take a trip with me so I told him about it and he decided to come. Chris Parker also wanted to come along and later Bob Riskie decided he would join us. I made the hotel reservations for Jim and I, then Chris did the same thing for he and Bob. Jim took care of the rental car, then we all got our own airline reservations with Jim and I on the same flight, Chris flying solo and Bob using his pass on Amtrak to Portland. As I planned this trip, SP 4449 announced that it would be going to Sherwood and then SP&S 700 would be going to Oaks Park to give rides on June 10th. That would work since we would be in the Portland area that weekend. There would be a few other surprises that I would spring on our group on the trip.

Alaska Airlines 491 6/5/2006

This was the first time I had been to John Wayne Airport {Orange County} twice in one day. After working at McFadden, I drove to the airport to pick up my mother who was returning from an Alaskan cruise. I arrived home and did not find an absentee ballot in the mail. Since I was leaving that evening and tomorrow being election day, I wondered what had happened. I called Claudia Alvarez's office in Santa Ana and was told that I had already voted, which I had not. Could this be a case of vote fraud? I was then given the Orange County Voter Registration Office phone number. I told them my story and they told me to be at their office by 5:00 PM in order to vote. I hung up the phone at 4:30 PM and was in their office parking lot by 4:41 PM. I finished voting by 4:58 PM and was out the door at 4:59 PM. By doing that, I kept my streak of voting in every election since I turned 18.

My mother and I then went to the Steer Inn for dinner where she told me about her cruise and a few of the things she did off the boat. I checked my e-mail and finished packing before my mother drove me back to the airport. I was there by 7:20 PM, walked through security and arrived at Gate 13 and listened to "Honkin' on Bobo" by Aerosmith. I found Jim Nowell and we talked until boarding. We boarded a 737-700 plane at 8:30 PM and settled in for the flight to Portland. We lifted off early at 8:49 PM and had a peaceful flight. I read the new Railfan and Railroad magazine and Jim read my new Trains magazine. We cruised north at 40,000 feet before we slowly descended into Portland touching down 10:43 PM. Jim and I walked through the airport to Hertz, where Jim rented a Chevy Impala. Chris and Bob joined us. Chris had a good flight and Bob's trip on the Coast Starlight was over five hours late. Other than a traffic jam due to night-time construction on I-205, our Mapquest directions guided us to the Dunes Motel in Hillsboro for our two-night stay. We checked in and called it a night since it was now after midnight and the day of our first rare mileage trip.


The Dunes Motel in Hillsboro. I arose and decided to take a walk. I found the light rail tracks two blocks away.

I found the light rail tracks two blocks away with a Tri Met train in the Hillsboro station waiting to head east. Back at the motel, our "Fabulous Four" met in the parking lot before we went to McDonalds for a breakfast of sausage and hot cakes. We then drove out to Banks. There, two things were the same from last July. The Portland and Western was switching and my 35 mm camera had major problems again. Thank goodness I had the digital camera.

The Maersk SDP40F was being used as part of the Portland and Western train set.

Later, our train pulled into the Banks Station. We had SD9s 4432 and 4405, observation car James Gillipse NRHS 2955, Willamette and Pacific coach PNW 6200, RDC POTB 552, ex New Jersey Transit, Willamette and Pacific baggage car 262 and W&P open car 5601.

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 from the depression with the salvaging 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 6/06/2006

Our train pulled out of Banks at 8:50 AM, with me in the open car, and ran a few miles alongside West Dairy Creek.

Members of our group were out in the open car with Bart Jennings in the orange trip shirt. 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 the first curved wooden trestle over Williams Creek.

A few minutes later, after the old station location of Scofield, we crossed another wooden trestle, this time over the Sunset Highway and the West Fork of 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 cut timber with nature reclaiming itself.

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. We 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 fall 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.

Our train crossed a very impressive steel trestle over Heidel Creek.

A few minutes later we arrived at Cochrane.

West of Cochrane there is a view of Cochrane Pond to the north. Having reached the summit of the Coast Range at 1,833 feet, we started our descent of over 1,000 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 from Tunnel 27 onto the tightly curved wooden Wolf Creek Trestle. The SP certainly knew how to build wooden trestles. The passengers were served their box lunches as we passed through Tunnels 28 and 29 while crossing small creeks in between.

We continued on passing through Tunnel 30 as we ran along the beautiful Salmonberry River.

Running along the Salmonberry River.

Our train crossed Belding Creek and North Fork as well as passing through Tunnels 32, 34, 35 and 36. Exiting from Tunnel 36, our special had reached Enright.

Now my new mileage would start. The train went below the water tower at Enright then crossed the Salmonberry River.

Crossing the Salmonberry River.

Later we crossed the Nehalem River at the junction with the Salmonberry River. Our route would now be following the Nehalem River.

We were able to see logging by helicopter which kept everyone in the open car entertained.

The Nehalem River.

The view looking back.

At Batterson, we met the eastbound freight with the POTB GP9 101 in a Holstein-inspired paint scheme.

Here we set out the POTB 4402 which would be added to the eastbound freight.

Back on the move, the valley opened up and dairy farming took over.

The train crossed the Nehalem River on a 707 foot long structure.

Then the train passed through Wheeler where the Nehalem Bay Winery and the POTB excursion train is kept.

Nehalem Bay.

Nehalem Bay with Wheeler behind it.

The Nehalem River meets the Pacific Ocean.

Later we passed through Rockaway Beach.

Driftwood on Rockaway Beach.

The train rolled south next to US Highway 101 then passed through Twin Rocks where the unique rocks could not be photographed from the train.

The train went by Ocean Lake on the way to Garibaldi.

Rocks at the mouth of Tillamook Bay.

Tillamook Bay before we made a Photo Stop at Garibaldi.

At Garibaldi, there is Polson Logging Company 2-8-2 90 on display and the Garibaldi station.

Our special at Garibaldi during the photo stop.

We all reboarded and then our train circled Garibaldi Bay.

We went under US Highway 101 and by an inland bay.

Bart and Sarah Jennings, our trip organizers.

After we passed under 101 again, we ran along Tillamook Bay.

Passing between the trees.

The Kilchis River crossing.

The Tillamook Cheese Plant.

We arrived at Tillamook with everyone detraining to board the bus back to Banks. As always, a special thank you to Bart and Sarah Jennings, our trip organizers.

We said our goodbyes before we drove back to Hillsboro where we had dinner at Elmer's. I had a King Prime Rib dinner. After dinner, we went to Radio Shack for more floppy discs for my camera. Once that was done, we returned to the Dunes Motel for the night.


The next morning we all met in the Dunes parking lot then headed to Elmer's for breakfast. I ordered French Toast and sausage. Bob went outside to make a cell phone call and came running back inside saying a train was coming. We all went out to the car for the camera and a picture.

The Portland and Western train came down the middle of the street in Hillsboro with the same two locomotives that we saw yesterday at Banks. After finishing breakfast, we drove over Cornelius Pass to US Highway 30, turning west to St. Helens.

At St. Helens where we found the Portland and Western Astoria Line train switching. We then drove to Rainier and crossed over the Columbia River to Longview, Washington. We passed through town, then took the Westside Highway and stopped at the bridge over the BNSF mainline.

Amtrak Cascade Train 500 sped by our location.

A few minutes later, a UP freight came by headed north towards Seattle, on this joint BNSF/UP mainline. We went to a Chevron gas station which had a Subway where we purchased sandwiches to take with us on our next train ride. We drove I-5 north to Exit 77 in Chehalis and pulled into the parking lot at the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad.

Part 2 Charter Steam Train Chehalis-Centralia Railroad