Chemult to Eugene

The northern part of the Shasta Route is divided into the following subdivisions:

·        Cascade subdivision from Klamath Falls to Oakridge

·        Brooklyn subdivision from Oakridge to Portland

In Southern Pacific days, this line running geographically north-south for most of its route was nonetheless described as (railroad) east going away from San Francisco and (railroad) west heading towards San Francisco. UP has changed at least some of this usage to north/south, reflecting the actual geography, where appropriate. The entirety of this line is single track with sidings spaced every ten miles or so, long enough for today’s mile-and-a-half long freight trains to pass one another. All of the line is operated by CTC, in 2005.

From Chemult (MP 504.1, el. 4,759 ft.), the line heads north-northwest through Paunina (el. 4,710 ft., and then swings first northeast, on a shelf above the forest below to the east, and then definitively northwest through Gilchrist Junction (MP 513.2, el. 4,752 ft.), where a Crown Pacific Lumber line to Gilchrist heads northeast, and a 6,462 ft. siding at Mowich (MP 514.3-515.6, el. 4,752 ft.), with a signal bridge across the line at the north end. There are several fairly deep cuts along this segment of the line. After an s-bend to the north and back to the northwest, there is a detector at MP 519.7, the line passes through Umli (MP 524.0, el. 4,773 ft.), where it turns due north, and a 9,575 ft. siding at Crescent Lake (MP 527.1-529.0, el. 4,779 ft.), with a signal bridge across the line at the south end, a third track and then a wye on the north side, and a grade crossing at the north end of the siding..

After turning northwest, northeast, and northwest again, the line passes a detector at MP 533.7, comes alongside Odell Lake to the northeast of the line, and passes through a 7,687 ft. siding (on the north/east side) at the line’s summit, Cascade Summit (MP 535.3-536.8, el. 4,885 ft.), where there is a signal bridge across the track, and there was once a wye for turning steam helpers that had its apex in a short stub tunnel. At the end of the lake, there is a road on the north side of the line. The first tunnel on the pass is 3,655 ft. tunnel 3 (MP 537.8), at the real topographical summit of the line. North(west) of the summit, the line starts the 1.8% ruling grade descent on the west side of the Cascades, passing through many tunnels and/or snowsheds, and snaking its way down the mountainside, now heading west, now heading east, into the Salt Creek valley. The speed limit varies between 33 and 27 mph for passenger trains and between 30 and 25 mph for freights. There is an 8,590 ft. siding at Abernathy (MP 539.4-541.2, el. 4,566 ft.), and a detector at MP 541.8, after which the line turns due west, passing intermediate signals at MP 543.0, and then due north through 698 ft. tunnel 4 (MP 544.3).

Turning northwest again through an avalanche shelter the line passes directly into 964 ft. tunnel 5 (MP 545.2). After curving through a side canyon, the line runs on a ledge above the Salt Creek valley far below on the north side. There is a 4,820 ft. siding at Cruzatte (MP 545.4-546.4, el. 4,104 ft.), starting in that side canyon and ending on the ledge, with an old water tank still standing in the trees and a signal bridge across the track at the north end of the siding, followed by eight tunnels as the line curves back and forth along the north slope of the mountainside: 566 ft. tunnel 6 (MP 546.5), with a beautiful waterfall at its north end on the west side of the track, an avalanche shelter, 3,154 ft. tunnel 7 (MP547.1), a short avalanche shelter a trestle along the mountainside, 671 ft. tunnel 8 (MP 547.7), an avalanche shelter preceding 1,144 ft. tunnel 9 (MP 548.3), and another one following it, all the way to 467 ft. tunnel 10 (MP 548.6), with an avalanche shelter following it, 779 ft. tunnel 11 (MP 548.8), 360 ft. tunnel 12 (MP 549.3), with an avalanche shelter following it, and 875 ft. tunnel 13 (MP 550.0). The switches up here have switch heaters like those used in northern climes to keep switches unfrozen.

In a gap between tunnels, the line passes through South Frazier (MP 550.5, el. 3,654 ft.) and North Frazier (MP 551.6), which once had a 6,000 ft. siding between them, followed by 2,121 ft. tunnel 14 (MP 551.8), with an avalanche shelter following it, and 150 ft. tunnel 15 (MP 553.9). The 8,590 ft. siding at Fields (el. 3,348 ft.), on the east side of the track, begins immediately north of the latter tunnel and extends to MP 555.6. At one point, there is a view into a valley on the west side of the line, just east of a wye on the west side of the track (into the woods), used to turn snow-fighting equipment. As the line enters 2,213 ft. tunnel 16 (MP 556.0), it begins a clockwise semi-circle extending beyond the north end of the tunnel, after which it is running southeast along the same mountainside, a bit lower down, with mountain and valley now being on the opposite sides of the train from previously. Between tunnels 16 and 17 is a location known as “the slide”, because of a rockslide that once occurred here, leaving a path that is still visible. After 257 ft. tunnel 17 (MP 557.1), there is a detector at MP 557.3, and a dirt road grade crossing, followed by 639 ft. tunnel 18 (MP 557.8), 363 ft. tunnel 19 (MP 558.5), a 5,401 ft. siding at Wicopee (MP 559.6-560.7, el. 2,877 ft.)) and 436 ft. tunnel 20 (MP 560.9).

Finally, reaching the Salt Creek trestle at about MP 563, with the eponymous creek and highway 58 below, the line turns west again (on the curved trestle itself), deep in the evergreen forest, and continues its steady descent through a 5,852 ft. siding at Heather (MP 563.5-564.7, el. 2,536 ft.), an 8,520 ft. siding at McCredie Springs (MP 568.6-570.3, el. 2,076 ft.), with a bracket signal at the north end, a dirt road grade crossing, intermediate signals at MP 571.5, a detector at MP 571.9, 460 ft. tunnel 21 (MP 572.1), a 5,757 ft. siding at Pryor (MP 574.3-575.7, el. 1,555 ft.), an s-curve first clockwise and then counter-clockwise, and a hold signal at MP 579.1 on the way to the foot of the grade at Oakridge, the division point, which has a road alongside to the north/east, a grade crossing, and a 6,808 ft. siding (MP 580.5-581.6, el. 1,206 ft.). Here there is a small yard with MoW and snowfighting equipment to the south of the track, and a railroad building on the north side. Oakridge is the helper station for the Cascade grade, although the locomotives are now based out of Eugene.

West of Oakridge, the line runs through the Willamette River valley (all the way to and beyond Portland), The speed limit increases to 50/45 mph. Still heading generally northwest, there is a grade crossing, an old tunnel on the northeast side of the track, another grade crossing, 1,999 ft. tunnel 22 at MP 581.8, el. 1,108 ft., the river off to the south side beyond a wooded area, a grade crossing, a detector at MP 583.5, a 5,758 ft. siding at Lookout (MP 584.9-586.1, el. 1,014 ft.), a through girder bridge over a river, 394 ft. tunnel 24 (MP 587.2), a through truss bridge over the river, and a 5,245 ft. siding at Hampton (MP 590.3-591.4, el. 944 ft.), which has a spur on the northeast side at the southeast end of the siding, at the point where the line comes along the south side of Lookout Point Reservoir, a man made lake (within which the original trackbed lies flooded). All along the lake, a highway runs along the other side of the rail line, away from the lake, below pine-forested cliffs. There is a 5,226 ft. siding at Crale (MP 594.8-595.9, el. 940 ft.), a detector at MP 598.1), a 5,330 ft. siding at Minnow (MP 600.3-601.4, el. 946 ft.), and a dam for the upper reservoir and then the lower lake, before the line turns due west to leave the lakeside at Dexter (ca. MP 603, el. 827 ft.).

Turning north-northwest, a road bridge crosses overhead and the highway is then alongside on the north side, the line passes through the 8,430 ft. siding at Dougren (MP 609.0-610.7, el. 603 ft.), crosses the Willamette River on a through girder bridge that also crosses over the highway. The river is now alongside on the south side. The line passes Fall Creek Junction (MP 612.0, el. 555 ft.), where a short segment of the old main line goes off to the east. There is a lumber mill alongside to the north, a grade crossing, and then sheer cliffs alongside to the north, Jasper (MP 612.9, el. 541 ft.), a 5,280 ft. siding at Natron (MP 614.7-615.8, el. 522 ft.), with a spur to the north within the siding, and a detector at MP 616.0. There is a grade crossing and the line turns due west through Mohawk Junction, el. 472 ft., where erstwhile logging railroads went off to the northeast.

There is a dirt road alongside to the north, South Springfield (MP 618.4), poor rundown housing alongside to the north, a grade crossing, and Springfield (MP 620.8, el. 457 ft.), where a former SP branch once ran up the east side of the Willamette valley. There is a grade crossing, rail-served packinghouses on the north side, with three extra tracks on the north side serving the industry, a grade crossing, and a spur in from the northwest just east of the river. The line crosses the Willamette River again, on a through truss bridge, a road passes underneath, and the line passes Springfield Junction (MP 621.9/644.4, el. 446 ft.), where the ex-SP, now Central Oregon & Pacific, Siskiyou Line from Black Butte via Medford and Roseburg trails in from the south at a wye. There is a grade crossing, a road bridge overhead, I-5 passes overhead, and another road bridge overhead that passes under I-5 to the northeast of the line. There are many grade crossings in Eugene.

The line continues west-northwest through the 5,231 ft. siding at Judkins (MP 645.7), there is a grade crossing, I-5 passes underneath, another grade crossing, a road passes underneath, there is another grade crossing, a power station on the east side and a road bridge overhead, with the river alongside to the northeast, and the line turns north-northwest into Eugene, at an elevation of 428 ft.. The latter is home to Oregon’s State Capital and the University of Oregon, and has a depot on the west side of the line, on a 1,986 ft. siding (MP 647.1-647.6). The former SP, now CORP, line to Coos Bay heads due west at a wye named Eugene Yard (MP 649.7, el. 414 ft.) beyond the west end of the Eugene station area (and before the south end of the actual Eugene Yard).

Eugene to Portland

·        Ex-SP Brooklyn subdivision from Oakridge to East Portland

·        UP Portland Subdivision, Kenton Line, from East Portland to Portland Union Station

North of Eugene station, there are two grade crossings, a footbridge overhead, a road bridge overhead, three more grade crossings, a street alongside to the east, a highway bridge overhead, two more grade crossings, a road that flows alongside to the east as far as MP 658 or 659, and a road bridge overhead. Beyond the Eugene Yard (MP 649.7) wye connection with the former SP, now CORP, line to Coos Bay that heads due west, the main line turns northwest and there is a once-large yard (the actual Eugene Yard) on the west side of the now northerly-heading track. Through the Eugene Yard area, the line is controlled by Absolute Block, reverting to CTC at Irving Lead. There are two grade crossings, with open fields now on both sides of the line. The line turns north-northwest through Irving Lead (MP 653.4), where there is another wye at the north end of the yard. There are market gardens alongside to the east, another grade crossing, and the line turns north near the detector at MP 657.1. There is a road still along the east side of the line, and then a grade crossing at an acute angle at which the road moves to the west side to continue northward.

West of the main track, the southernmost extremity of the BNSF’s ex-Oregon Electric track can be seen. There is a 7,342 ft. siding at Swain (MP 659.1-660.6), with two grade crossings within the siding, and a bracket signal at the north end, a grade crossing, and the line turns northeast at Junction City. There is a bridge over a road, and the line crosses the Willamette River on a through truss bridge with the OE line on another bridge just to the west, with both lines turning north again once across the river. The speed limit now becomes 70 mph (passenger) and 60 mph (freight), with occasional short stretches of lower speeds, for the next 85 miles northward. There is a grain silo on the east side, and three grade crossings. At Harrisburg (MP 665.1), the ex-SP line turns northeast to move away from the OE line, passes through the 7,301 ft. siding at Alford (MP 666.1-667.6), which has a grade crossing just within the north end of the siding, passes another grade crossing, bridges over a stream, passes another grade crossing, and turns north again, bridging another stream near the detector at MP 670.2. There are three more grade crossings. At Halsey, ca. MP 672, there is a spur to the west that connects with the OE line.

Further down the valley, whose floor is given over to agriculture and hillsides to forestry, there is a road alongside to the east, and five grade crossings, the third and fifth of which are over dirt roads, the line passes through a 7,326 ft. siding at Shedd (MP 677.7-679.2), and there is a dirt road alongside to the east with a farm at its southern end. There is a detector at MP 681.1, a through truss bridge over a stream, two grade crossings, Tangent (MP 684.6) and the 7,430 ft. siding at Hallawell (MP 687.2-688.8), followed by a processing plant on the east side and a grade crossing. At Page (MP 689.9), where a Willamette Valley Railway branch that was once joint SP/OE property comes in from the east, line control becomes ABS until Albany. There is a food freezing plant on the east side, extra tracks on the east side, south of the south end of the yard, and a grade crossing.

At Albany (MP 690.9), the line heads northeast, the depot is on the west side of the line and the yard is on the east side. Albany lies across the river from Corvallis (on the OE), home of Oregon State University, to which a Willamette & Pacific line heads west from a wye north of Albany depot. A road bridge crosses overhead at an acute angle. The OE comes alongside on the west again, and there is a small yard on the east side in Albany north of that WPRR wye, with the lines separating as they turn north across a grade crossing at the end of that yard. There is an acute angle grade crossing (NE to SW), a grade crossing, another NE to SW acute angle grade crossing, a hold signal at MP 692.3, a road alongside to the east, a rail-served lumber yard with a south-facing spur on the east side, and a road passes underneath.

The 7,278 ft. Millersburg siding (MP 694.5-696.0) has I-5 running alongside the siding to the east until it crosses overhead (at a SE-NW angle), leaving a wooded rise to the east. This is followed by a detector at MP 697.8, where the line turns northeast and crosses a tributary on a through truss bridge, two grade crossings, a spur on the east side at Jefferson (MP 699.5), a grade crossing, another road alongside to the east (continuing northward), a turn back to the north, a gated grade crossing, MP 701, a bridge over a stream, another grade crossing, the 7,708 ft. siding at Marion (MP 704.2-705.8), with two bridges over streams at that road alongside to the east within the siding, a grade crossing, a detector at Turner (MP 710.0), where the line turns north-northwest, a lumber facility on the east side, a grade crossing, a 7.373 ft. siding at Renard (MP 713.9-715.5), a bridge over a river, a grade crossing, a lumber facility on the east side, and two junk-car yards on the east side.

A dual road bridge passes overhead. At Salem (MP 718.9), where the depot is also on the west side of the line and the yard on the east side, control is again ABS through the town. The Oregon State Capitol is visible to the west of the line, with the Willamette University “Bearcats” baseball field on the east side, a footbridge passes over both the line and an adjacent street at a grade crossing, and there is another grade crossing. There is a wye on the east side connecting to a stub of the erstwhile SP line to Geer on the east-side line now run by the Willamette Valley, four more grade crossings, and a closed ex-SP spur west to the OE line at its Salem station. The main line turns north-northeast. There is a high school or university on the east side, a grade crossing, housing alongside at the northern reach of Salem, and a grade crossing at the south end of the 7,352 ft. siding (MP 720.4-721.8) at Labish (MP 721.3), where there is an extant connection westward to the OE line.

There is a grade crossing, a rail-served corn sweetener plant on the east side, a spur to the northeast, a grade crossing, a road passes underneath at an angle, there is a rail-served petrochemical plant on the east side, a rail-served factory on the east side, I-5 passes overhead, and a grade crossing. There is a detector at MP 725.2, rail-served box manufacturers on the east side, and a grade crossing as the line turns northeast, Brooks (MP 726.9), a 7,280 ft. siding at Gervais (MP 732.3-733.8), three grade crossings, the middle one in the town of Gervais, extra tracks on the east side, a grade crossing, former SP steam locomotive 1785 in a park on the east side, a road passes underneath, there is a rail-served manufactured housing factory on the east side, and a junction with the WV, formerly SP East Valley, line southeast at Woodburn (MP 735.2), where a closed ex-SP line once headed northwest to Dundee.

There is a detector at MP 737.8, agricultural fields to the east, a grade crossing at the south end of the 8,011 ft. siding at Hito (MP 740.9-742.6), market gardens on the east side, the old SP Aurora depot on the east side, a grade crossing, extra tracks alongside to the east, a bridge across the Molalla River, a small cement plant on the east side, two grade crossings and aroad bridge overhead and a junction at Canby (MP746.8) with the ex-SP line to Molalla, now operated by the Oregon Pacific’s Molalla Western Division. North of Canby, the speed limit drops for most of the rest of the way into Portland. There are two more grade crossings. At New Era, the line turns north alongside the Willamette River to the west, two more grade crossings, and a road alongside to the east, past the 7,316 ft. siding at Coalca (MP 750.4-751.9), Pulp (MP 752.9), where line and river turn northeast, and a hold signal at MP 753.6. The road continues alongside to the east, and then climbs away, followed by a cliff face alongside to the east and then the road appears alongside to the east again, with the river on the west side the whole way..

At Oregon City (MP 755.5), there is a large weir on the river immediately adjacent to a large mill, on the west side of the line. There is an Amtrak platform just north of the weir area, on the east side of the track. This effectively marks the southern boundary of the Portland built-up area. As the line leaves the bank of the river, there are two roads passing overhead on bridges, a grade crossing, a bridge over a west-flowing river, a road alongside to the east, a grade crossing, a detector at MP 757.5 followed by the 7,335 ft. siding at Clackamas (MP 759.3-760.8), a turn north and then northwest, a spur on the east side at East Milwaukie (MP 764.1), and a turn north. There is an angled road bridge overhead, another road bridge overhead, and a grade crossing. At Willsburg Junction, the line expands to two Main Tracks, CTC, for the rest of the way into Portland, there is an extra track on the east side, an Interstate Highway bridge overhead, another road bridge overhead, and woodland to the east. There is a junction with the Portland & Western’s former SP line to Milwaukie and the Willamette River bridge at Menefee, a grade crossing, and a road alongside to the east..

After Johnson Creek (MP 765.6), the Portland Traction Company once had a line crossing overhead near East 17th Street. There are crossovers at Reed (MP 768.6), a road bridge overhead, a park on the east side, a road bridge overhead, and a signal cantilever bridge. The former SP Brooklyn Yard, home of ex-SP 4-8-4 4449 and ex-SP&S 4-8-4 700 for the last quarter century, as well as forming the northern limits of most SP freights, lies along the west side of the line at MP 768.1, and there are crossovers at Haig (MP 768.3) as the line turns northwest, with a road bridge overhead, a lumber storage facility on the east side, and a rail-served cement facility on the east side. At Clay Street (MP 769.2), the Oregon Pacific – East Portland Division line along the east bank of the Willamette trails in from the south, there is a footbridge overhead, , two grade crossing, two elevated roadways passing overhead, the main line turns north along the riverbank, past East Morrison Street, a grade crossing, two more elevated roadways passing overhead, two grade crossings, another elevated roadway, two more grade crossings, and another elevated roadway. The elevated roadways run down the center of streets that once crossed the tracks at grade, with light industrial facilities (not rail-connected) along the east side of the line.

At East Portland Junction (MP 770.0), the end of the erstwhile SP, there is a junction with the UP former OR&N line from Hinkle and the east at its MP 0.6, with a rail yard on the east side of the line, the freight line to Albina Yard heading north, and the main line curving west directly to the Steel Bridge (MP 0.4) across the river, and turning north past a grade crossing and the erstwhile VC Tower (MP 0.2) into Portland Union Station (MP 0.0). Here, there are two island platforms, with a track on the east side, two tracks between them, and a track on the west side, and a major depot on the west side of the station, west of all the tracks. Access to the island platforms is by means of a paved area that crosses the tracks on the level. There is a pedestrian bridge over the platforms and tracks to the south of the depot and a major road bridge (Philadelphia Avenue) over the platforms and tracks just north of the depot.

[Continuing north on the UP line on the east side of the river, from MP 0.6/0.4, there is a major grain elevator between the tracks and the river, the Philadelphia Avenue bridge overhead, a major grain elevator on the west side of the line and the east bank of the river, the south end of Albina Yard, including the locomotive facilities, the I-405 bridge overhead, and the main set of sidings at Albina Yard.]