Gardiner Junction to Gardiner

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  • States: Oregon   
  • Railroads: LP&N   
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Note: Some of the information on this page is excerpted from and is based on Brian McCamish's web page on this line.

The Longview, Portland and Northern Railroad was actually composed of several separate railroad lines in completely separate locations, all owned by the International Paper Company. Each railroad served various International Paper Mills by transporting goods to and from the mills via the nearest mainline. The first line was between Vader and Ryderwood, which closed in 1959. Later, the company operated a line between Rye and Chelatchie, Washington. In 1955, the Willamina/Grand Ronde line in Oregon was acquired from Spaulding-Miami Lumber Co. That line was sold in 1980. In 1960 the Rye Junction/Chelatchie line in Washington was acquired from Northern Pacific. That line was sold in 1981.

The last line to be operated by the LP&N was the very short Gardiner Branch. It was built in 1952 to connect the paper mill at Gardiner to the former Southern Pacific Railroad (now Central Oregon and Pacific) at a location named Gardiner Junction. From end to end the line was 3.7 miles long. The line was not just a simple laying of 4 miles of track over flat ground, however. Two bridges had to be built over the Umpqua River onto and then back off of Bolon Island. It's not clear why the railroad had to run onto Bolon Island when it could have easily been built around it and no bridges would have been required. Perhaps it serviced a mill or some other operation on the island at one time. The line also served a saw mill that was located just south of the International Paper Mill. That mill closed down sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s and was completely torn down. Today only an empty concrete lot and fence remain, and the area is guarded 24 hours a day from vandalism and fire.

The Gardiner Branch closed in 1999. But rather than being totally abandoned and permanently shut down, the line is actually railbanked. Although overgrown and empty, the mill and railroad structures and most of the equipment remain on the slim chance that International Paper Company might someday reopen the mill. Today, the railroad is quickly becoming overgrown, but the track, engine house, and two bridges that the cross the Umpqua River are completely intact and remain usable.

The locomotives of the LP&N and railcars are long gone. The last two to serve, #111 and #130 are gone now. #111 was retired and probably scraped, although its disposition is unknown. #130 is now serving for Dow Chemicals in Taft, LA. If the line ever did reopen, it is probable that new locomotives would be acquired.

Thanks to Brian Edwards for contributing information about this route.

The three Alco S-2 locomotives of the Longview, Portland & Northern all survive:

#110, which was sold to the Willamina & Grande Ronde Railroad and used on the Grande Ronde division, was stored in Albany for many years where its cab was vandalized by an arson-caused fire. The damaged locomotive is now in safe storage in Amboy, Washington.

#111, used on the Gardiner Division, is owned by the Oregon Coast Historical Railway and is on display in Coos Bay:

http://www.orcorail.org/locomotive_111.htm

#112, used in one of the Washington operations, was sold and used by the Lewis & Clark Railroad for years. It too is stored in Amboy with the #110, currently inoperable. However the Chalatchie Prairie Railroad which operates the line, does have several other Alco switchers - one of which is used to power the excursion trains that run monthly during the summer and fall months.

Erik H.
Portland, OR
2/27/2011

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Former LP&N "Gardiner Spur" leased by CBRL to serve potential industrial development perwinter 2015 "Coupler" newsletter.

Steve Donaldson
OC, CA until now: SF Bay, CA
3/15/2016

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