Liberal to Molalla

  • Quick Info:
  • States: Oregon   
  • Railroads: OPRR, SP   

Note: Some of the information on this page is excerpted from and is based on Brian McCamish's web page on this line.

The Oregon Pacific operates the shortline branch from Molalla, Oregon to the Southern Pacific mainline in Canby, Oregon. This line serves several mills and used to be owned by Southern Pacific. The line is only about 10 miles long. The line was originally built in 1912 as part of an electric interurban line. Basically extending the once vast trolley system of the Portland area into the city of Molalla for passenger and freight service.

In 1993, Southern Pacific wanted to be rid of the line. They sold it to Dick Samuels, the owner of what was left of the EPTC (Portland Traction Company). He started a company called Molalla Western Railroad and began to run the branch. There was talk of abandoning the line between Liberal and Molalla. In 1997, the Oregon Pacific railroad was incorporated by Dick Samuels and the Molalla Western name was dropped. Then in August 2003, the branch between Liberal and Molalla was closed and abandoned due to high property taxes. This is only a 3 mile section of track. The line between the Liberal mill and the Southern Pacific (now Union Pacific) mainline in Canby remains open and in service today.

Today, the line's main product traffic is outbound finished lumber and inbound poultry feed. They run about 900 cars per year. The line is officially owned by the Hillvista Investment Company, but is affiliated with Samuels Pacific Industries which operates the line. The line now serves theAvison Lumber, Braizer Company, RSG Forest Products, Satrum Milling and Team Track companies.

The railyard is little more than a small parking lot with junk strewn about and several trackage. Not too surprising as this railroad is about as small as a railroad can be. It only manages a few miles of trackage, formerly hauling freight from the mills of Molalla and now only Liberal to the Union Pacific mainline where it's transferred to the larger trains.

Here is an eyewitness account of this abandonment from Brian Edwards:

I have a favorite Swimming Hole on the Molalla River that is about a half mile from the tracks. The road there parallels it. I have seen this line many times. There was always just empty cars parked on it, but I loved it. Then last August (2003), I was going swimin' and noticed that the cars that had been there for almost 4 months were gone and the road crossing signs were also gone. Upon further exploration, I witnessed the track crew ripping it up. My heart sank and I dropped my friends off and flew back to the site and watched and took pictures. I know that there was no reason for this line to be there, but only me and you and a few select others know the feeling you get when you witness your favorite backyard railroad leaving town....forever.

Thanks to Brian Edwards for contributing information about this route.

Where is this swimming hole and how would I get there?

Jason larsen
Molalla , OR
6/20/2014

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Is this the same as the Molalla Lumber Company Railroad? - http://pnwphotoblog.com/swift-oregon-clackamas-and-eastern-railroad-stop/

Rick
Portland, OR
4/1/2016

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