Welcome to the history section! What you will find here are text and maps describing the Cascade Line. I did not major in media or any of that fancy writers stuff so you won't find a grammer perfect description here! What can I say!
In 1926 the Southern Pacific completed their last rail route through Oregon. Probably one of the most impressive if you ask me. Horseshoe curves, 19 tunnels(between Oakridge and Cascade Summit), snowsheds, and high steel trestles are just some of the engineering marvels on the line. For those of you who have never witnessed a train pulling hard upgrade east of Oakridge, it's quite impressive. There are many different photo angles all along the line. The average speed of trains ascending the grade is 20 miles per hour. Beware of the Poison Oak! Especially between Oakridge and McCredie Springs.
On September 28, 1891, The SP completed a branch Line to Natron. 14 years later the Oregon Eastern Railway Company was incorporated to extend the line over the Cascades and connect with The Union Pacific at Ontario, Oregon. At this time, Both UP and SP were under control of Edward Harriman. At the same time, the California and Northeastern railroad was also working north from Weed, California to Klamath Falls, completed in 1909. That same year, the route went under construction to join with the intended Eugene to Ontario route.
Construction began to Oakridge from Natron during 1910 and was completed May 1, 1912. The route was also graded to Pryor, approximately 5 miles east of Oakridge. At the same time, the California and Northeastern laid rails to Chiloquin, completing the line in 1911. Five months later the California and Northeastern sold out to Oregon Eastern Railway, and then to the Central Pacific. The CP completed the line to Kirk in 1912. The tracks in this area have very little curvature, since the terrain is fairly level. The tracks for the most part parrellel Highway 97 from Klamath Falls to Chemult.
On February 1, 1908, the US Government filed an anti-trust suit against the Harriman lines that ended up separating the Southern Pacific from the Union Pacific. With that, plans were thrown out to complete the line to Ontario. a gap between Kirk and Oakridge and became known as the "Natron Cutoff."
In 1924, work progressed again. Crews worked north from Kirk, while another crew worked east out of Oakridge on the previoulsy graded route to Pryor. By 1925, a gap between Pryor and Cascade Summit remained. Elevation between both points is roughly 3000 feet and about 26 miles as the crow flies.
On August 7, 1926, the Cascades line was officially completed. SP's general manager, J. Dyer, drove a golden spike to signify the event. A ceremony took place just a few miles east of Oakridge. September 1, 1926 saw the first frieght traffic.Passenger traffic was halted until the spring of 1927 to allow proper settling of the new roadbed.
This route became the primary route for trains to and from California. The new Cascade line was 25 miles shorter than the Siskiyou Line and encountered much easier grades. The Cascade Line reached a maximum grade of 2.2 heading northbound, and 1.8 heading South. The Siskiyou Line became a secondary route with less traffic, but remained a critical route for industries between Eugene and Weed, California.
The Line passes through Springfield, and then follows the Willamette River to Oakridge. Springfield still has a few large lumber mills remaining even after environmental impacts during the late 80's. The largest being Weyerhaeuser, located at the north east part of the city. The SP served Weyerhaeuser via the Mohawk Branch. Weyerhauser once had their own logging train, but was discontinued in the mid-80's.
Leaving Springfield the SP passes Natron. Natron was the end of the line before the completetion of the Cascade line. Here the SP served lumber mills, which are now gone. The Murphy Lumber mill was the largest of the mills, but much of it was destroyed by fire. Now Natron is just a place to meet or pass trains to and from Eugene.
Continuing on the SP passes through Jasper and then to Fall Creek Junction. In 1952 the Cascade Line was relocated due to the construction of Lookout Point Reservoir. This required relocating 25 miles of SP mainline to the south. The new line travels south from Fall Creek Jct. and crosses the Willamette River.
Dougren siding was a popular location to add helpers to westbound trains since diesels showedup on
the SP. The SP also served the small Kimble lumber mill, which is now gone. Now the mill site is
used for log scaling. Continuing west the line passes over the Lost Creek fill and arrives at
Minnow. Minnow is the first siding on the Lookout Point Reservoir. Section houses once were
located here. The tracks follow the reservoir to Hampton, and rejoin the original railroad grade.
During the winter months, one can see the old railroad grade of the SP which is covered by water
during the summer. The old route passed the sidings of Hills, Fall Creek, Pengra, Lowell, Carter,
Burgess, Landax, Signal, Reserve, Armet, and Lawler. Most of the cement culverts are still visible
when the reservoir is low.
Out of Hampton the SP passes through tunnel 24, the first of 21 tunnels between Eugene and Cascade Summit. Lookout is the next siding up the line. Tunnel 23, located a mile west of Lookout, was closed in the late 80's due to the fact that it was caving-in! Through day and night crews worked to dig a large cut next to the tunnel for the new railroad grade. The tunnel still remains but is fenced off for Safety.
Westfir was once a booming lumber town. The Western Lumber Company built a logging railroad out of here that followed the North Fork of the Willamette river into the woods. The mill was later sold to Westfir Lumber Company, and then to the Edward hines Lumber Company. The mill suffered three major fires that closed the mill in 1984. Passing the mill site the tracks cross the North Fork of the Willamette River and enter 2200 foot long tunnel 22 and arrive at Oakridge.
Exiting tunnel 22 the tracks immediately diverge into Oakridge yard. This location was once home to a train order office known as Tunnel, since it was built at the west portal of tunnel 22. Tunnel handled the increased traffic brought on by World War 2 and was closed in 1949.
Oakridge was a key point on the Cascade Line since it was at the bottom of the grade. Oakridge was a very busy helper terminal during the steam days. There was a shop for minor repair work, a dining area, train order office, bunkhouses, and a Depot. A wye was used for turning the large steam locomotives used in helper service on the hill.
The Pope and Talbot Lumber Company was located just east of town. Ground breaking for the mill began April 22, 1947 and within a year, the mill was open. The SP constructed a spur line from Oakridge yard approximately one mile long to the mill. Two 150' Warren Truss bridges were built over Salmon Creek prior to arriving at the mill. The east end of the bridge has a long timber trestle approach. The bridge and track to the mill site are still in tact; however, the mill complex is quickly be torn down.
Leaving Oakridge the tracks begin the heavy climb to Cascade Summit. The SP crosses Salmon Creek on a horseshoe curve, and winds it's way toward the Dunning Road grade crossing. The tracks make another horseshoe curve and enter the Salt Creek Canyon and approach Pryor. Near this location was where the last spike was driven, closing the gap between Kirk and Natron. Pryor was a base camp during construction. Kelly and Sullivan's work camp was built here along with Henery and McFee's warehouse for supplies.
At this point the tracks skirt along the lower Salt Creek Canyon passing Baby Rock, located directly above the tracks up the hillside, and then enter tunnel 21. It is at this point you will find Rooster Rock, a sharp outcropping hanging over the mainline
The mainline makes a long Tangent at this point and crosses Squaw Butte Road. HWY 58 parrells the tracks for a short distance, crossing over a very bad slide area. McCredie Springs is the next siding up the mountain. McCredie Springs is the name of the hot springs located near here, named after Judge William McCredie. John Hardin of Portland built a resort Hotel near the springs and in 1926, McCredie bought interests in the resort for a baseball camp. In 1958 a fire destroyed the lodge, and a flood in 1964 took out all other facilites.
Leaving McCredie Springs the grade cuts through dense forest. The tracks wind up the canyon and arrive at Heather. Heather is the last siding on the lower level of the Cascade Loops. Just around the curve from the west switch at Heather, the tracks make a horseshoe curve crossing the Salt Creek Bridge. This bridge carries the mainline over HWY 58 and Salt Creek on a 1.7% grade. Now the tracks head geographically west again.
Crossing the South Fork of Salt Creek, the upper level is located directly overhead. Tunnel 20 comes into view and Wicopee, the next siding up the hill. A train order office was located here before CTC came to "The Hill" in 1955. The operator controlled the east switch at Wicopee and the east switch at Frazier via a cable buried 40 inches deep. Frazier is located 1000 feet up the side of Beach Mountain from Wicopee on the upper level. Water columns were located near the west switch of Wicopee and another located near the east switch to serve the helpers.
Tunnel 19 is the next tunnel the SP passes through. Directly above this location,the tracks also pass through tunnel 15. This is a great
photo spot since one can view trains in two different locations. The tracks then pass through
tunnels 18 and 17 and cross "The Slide." The area around the slide is slipping down the mountain.
The railroad has a 20 MPH slow order here and the tracks have been moved several times because of
it. The SP uses cinder for fill here since it is light and packs extremely well.
The SP makes the last of the horseshoe curves just east of the slide while passing through tunnel 16. At the west portal of tunnel 16 is the east switch of Fields. Fields was named after Rueben and Joseph Fields, members of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Fields has long been an important location for the snowfighting equipment. A wye is located here and curves back onto the south side of Kitson Ridge. The wye is used to turn the snow-fighting equipment and the work train if needed. Fields once had train order offices, section houses and a beanery located near the wye, but have been removed.
Leaving Fields the tracks pass through tunnel 15, shortest on the line at 150 feet, and travel some distance before arriving tunnel 14. At this location, the tracks cross over Steep Canyon Bridge and a shorter ballasted deck plate girder bridge before entering the tunnel.
Upon exiting the west portal of tunnel 14, the control point of East Frazier comes into view. Frazier was once the location of a siding which was removed by the SP to cut maintenance costs. The only indication that a siding existed are where the dual-control switches were located. The dual lighted signals and the signal brides remain, along with the small silver relay sheds.
Moving upgrade passed Frazier, the tracks approach tunnel 13. Between tunnel 13 is a conrete rockshed. This rockshed can be view from Highway 58 just west of the Salt Creek Bridge. A access road parrells the tracks from tunnel 13 to the rockshed, but a gate is being installed to limit traffic to UP employees.
Tunnel 12, another short tunnel, is just around the corner from the rockshed. From here on, a good pair of hiking boots is necessary. The next accessible point is between tunnels 7 and 6. Passing through tunnel 12 the tracks cling to the side of the mountain. The terrain is extremely rugged and it's a long way down! Because of this, the tracks are buttressed from underneath and a 90' deck plate girder bridge, Side Canyon Bridge, was built to cross this area.
The east portal of tunnel 11 is protected by a rockshed on top and a buttress underneath. Passing through tunnel 11 the tracks enter another rockshed and immediately into tunnel 10 and through another rockshed. Basically, when entering the east portal of tunnel 11, a train is not yet out in the open until exiting the rockshed protecting the west portal of tunnel 10! Noisy Creek bridge joins the rockshed and tunnel 9 at this point.
Exiting tunnel 9 is another short rockshed. Winding around the side of the mountain the tracks enter tunnel 8 and cross Shady Creek Bridge. In the canyon below the bridge, there is an old boxcar that did not make it! Tunnel 7 is just over 3100 feet in length, one of the longer tunnels on the hill.
Cruzatte is the next siding, sandwiched between tunnels 6 and 5. Cruzatte was another location for steam engines to take water. An old water tower still remains at the west switch. A train order office served here until CTC arrived in 1955. The operator controlled the east switch and the semaphore signals while the west switch was "rubber." A train did not have to slow down to pick up the ground man who would have had to line the switch back after leaving the siding. The train was able to "run-through" the switch without causing any damage to the mechanism, which also saved time.
Tunnel 5 turns into a very long rockshed that can be viewed from Highway 58. At this point the
tracks travel through thick stands of Douglas Fir and pass through tunnel 4. Abernethy is the
last siding before Cascade Summit. After passing through tunnel 3, the line quickly arrives at
Cascade Cummit. Cascade Summit was once the main helper removal point during the steam era and
still is today. During the steam era, helpers would be turned on the wye, which was unique. The
tail track was located in a single ended tunnel. The wye only allowed for one AC Mallet to be
turned at one time but some crews would often try two, resulting in shortened locomotives! After
being turned the helpers would return to Oakridge.
Welcome to Joel's Southern Pacific in The Cascades! If you were directed to this portion of the webpage from an outside source, such as a different webpage, then please click the photo below to go the SP in The Cascades home page.