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Union Pacific Condon Branch


Union Pacific
Condon Branch


A loaded trash train rolling up the Condon Branch towards the Gilliam County landfill. Photo by and courtesy of Robert W. Scott.

The Condon depot, now a historical museum. Photo by and courtesy of Robert W. Scott.

The pumphouse at Mikkalo. John Henderson photo, Jeff Moore collection.

The 44-mile long Condon Branch was completed in 1905 from a junction with the mainline at Arlington south to the agricultural town of Condon. The Columbia River & Oregon Central Railroad built the line with the financial backing of the Union Pacific, who assumed ownership of the line after it was completed. Traffic over the line was primarily agricultural until 1928, when the Condon Kinzua & Southern completed its line from Condon south to Kinzua, OR. Forest products off of the CK&S became the primary source of traffic handled until 1978, when the big sawmill in Kinzua closed and the short line was abandoned. The decline of carloadings received from the CK&S prompted UP to close the Condon depot in 1975.

Agricultural traffic, primarily grain, kept the trains running to Condon through the late 1980ís. By the early 1990ís operations over the line were non-existent, and UP applied to abandon the line. The only remaining shipper on the line, Condon Grain Growers, argued against the abandonment, stating that UPís inability to guarantee a certain number of cars during the past two years prevented it from loading any cars. The ICC rejected this argument with the comment that a problematic car supply did not explain why nothing had been shipped over the railroad in 18 months. UPís last run to Condon took place in late summer 1992, when some light engines made the long run up the branch to retrieve a cut of grain hoppers ordered but never loaded by Condon Grain Growers. The ICC granted permission to abandon the line in September 1992, and the rails were removed in 1993.

A little over eleven miles of the branch remains in place today, from Arlington to the 2,000 acre Gilliam County Landfill. The landfill receives trash by rail from major metropolitan areas up and down the west coast, and that traffic keeps operations over the remnant of the line healthy. All trains on the branch are operated by Watco through their Palouse River & Coulee City Railroad.

A local bound from Condon leaving the mainline connection at Arlington. John Henderson photo, Jeff Moore collection.

A train on the Condon branch. John Henderson photo, Jeff Moore collection.

A Condon Branch train rolling into Mikkalo. John Henderson photo, Jeff Moore collection.

A Condon branch train rolling through Gwendolen. John Henderson photo, Jeff Moore collection.

A Condon branch train rolling through Mikkalo. John Henderson photo, Jeff Moore collection.

Switching the grain elevator in Condon. John Henderson photo, Jeff Moore collection.