|Please be sure to visit my main page on
Abandoned and Historical Railroads in the Northwest
|Check out my Central Oregon & Pacific RR Page, CORP now operates the ex-Southern Pacific Coos
Branch, that this railroad used to interchange with.
|Last Update: March 9, 2005
|Thanks to Jeff Moore for providing information and some of the text for this article. Jeff operates the following two
websites: McCloud Rails and High Desert Rails
|Thanks to William Kaminsky for adding some additional notes and corrections in a separate historical text that is
contained at the bottom of this page.
|For more information about the beginning of this railroad, see the additional information sent in by Mr. Kaminsky at the
bottom of this page.
This line extended some 18 miles from Coos Bay (then called Marshfield) all the way to Powers and beyond.
The heart of this operation was the Smith-Powers Logging Company and the affiliated C.A. Smith Lumber and Manufacturing Company.
These two organizations were ran by two Minnesota lumber men named Al J. Powers and C. A. Smith. The pair both migrated westward
to Marshfield at the time. These two organizations were founded in 1907. Smith ran the milling and sales end of the operation while
Powers ran the woods end of the operation (logging, railroad, getting logs to the mill, etc.).
Southern Pacific and Smith-Powers had an agreement. Smith-Powers could run it’s train over the SP line between Myrtle Point and
Coos Bay, in exchange for SP having the right to operate trains all the way into Powers. However, before this agreement was reached,
SP had dramatically raised the rates to Smith-Powers, to haul logs on its line from Myrtle Point to Coos Bay. In response, Smith-Powers
began construction of another railroad that would extend into Coos Bay, basically bypassing the Southern Pacific route. SP relented
after Smith-Powers began construction, and an agreement was reached.
Multiple logging railroads extended off of this mainline that may have had a combined mileage of 200 miles. In addition to the tunnel on
the mainline, which is located just a few miles northwest of Powers, two other tunnels existed on the logging branches. A tunnel
existed on the Salmon Creek Logging branch, south of Powers, but it was dynamited closed by 1950. The other tunnel was located
further south and was going to be dug under the Sixes River Pass. However, work was never started.
A depot was built in Powers around in 1916. The main log yard was located at the north end of town, while the engine shops were
located at the south end of town.
Coos Bay Lumber Company took over the Smith-Powers operation in 1922. This did not have much impact on the railroad. As in all
other logging railroads, the use of temporary spur lines was gradually discontinued, with truck to rail car transfers taking their place.
The last trackage beyond Powers was finally pulled up in 1960, making Powers the “end of the line” for the remainder of operations.
Steam power used on the line was an eclectic mix of tank-type rod locomotives and geared locomotives, with a quartet of standard
Baldwin logging mikados thrown in. Of the steam engines, the most notable to me, were to the four 2-8-2T Tank engines. These were
generally used on the steep grades of the spur lines, but could also be found pulling long loads of logs over the mainline. They arrived
between 1929-1935 and numbered 9-12. Number 10, which was built in 1930 would be retired in the 1950s and sent to Cottage Grove to
be put on display, where it remained until the late 1970s or early 1980s, before moving on to Florida and then Kansas (Or vise versa).
Number 11, built in 1929, was the last steam engine to remain on the Powers line, serving on stand by until it was sent off to the San
Diego Railroad museum in 1968, where it still operates as their stand by switcher to this day. Number 104, a 1922 Baldwin Mikado, 2-8-
2, was used from 1922-1953, then sold to the Georgia-Pacific Toledo operation and used until 1960. It was donated to the city of North
Bend, Oregon and remains on display today, in Coos Bay, Oregon.
Steam was put aside in 1954 with the arrival of three specially equipped SW-1200 diesels from EMD. The three developed 1200
horsepower a piece and were numbered 1201-1203. They were initially meant to be operated together, but two of the diesels operating
together put much more weight on the old covered bridges than was safe, so they operated predominately as single units. The diesels
were all equipped with dynamic brakes. The three also had larger "mainline" fuel tanks and additional water tanks that fed sprinklers
fitted to each diesel that were used to wash accumulated sand off of the rails as well as spray down the roadbed to keep the risk of the
train starting a fire down. This left no room for the air reservoirs, which were traditionally located outside of the fuel tank on this model
of diesel. As a result, the air reservoirs were mounted on top of the hood of these diesels.
Rob Jacox has two photos of these Coos Bay units posted on his website- see the following pages:
Georgia Pacific purchased the Coos Bay Lumber Company in 1956. Operations through the final years saw large off-highway trucks
bringing logs down into reloads located at Powers, where the logs would be reloaded from trucks onto rail cars. The railroad ran two
jobs per day, with a Powers switcher working the reloads and assembling loaded log trains and a road job that took the loads up to the
dump at McCormac, returning with empties.
The State of Oregon passed a law outlawing the use of the oversize log trucks on all public roads effective 1 June 1972. Georgia Pacific
depended on some short stretches of public roads to get those oversize trucks to Powers, and as a result of the new law those trucks
could not get to the reloads any more. G-P immediately went to an all-truck show, using the smaller log trucks that were still legal on
Oregon highways. The last log train to McCormac ran on 8 June 1972 behind the #1202, while the #1201 did the last clean up work at
Powers. By 3:15 p.m. on that day it was all over.
The railroad from Myrtle Creek to Powers was removed in 1974. At some point, probably around 1950, it was decided to reopen the
Salmon Creek branch as a truck road. The Salmon-Creek logging railroad branch operated from 1915-1938. However, to reopen the
line, the tunnel that collapsed in 1949, had to be by passed and this meant using bridges to move the road to the other side of the creek
to get around the tunnel. Ex-railroad steel plate girder railroad bridges were used for this job and remain in service there today.
Although it's not clear which railroad these bridges came off of, it does not appear they served anywhere on the Coos Bay Lumber
Of the one tunnel that is located on the mainline, it still exists today. It's on private property about 4 rail miles northwest of the Powers
depot. I have not yet been able to visit the tunnel, but I did speak to the land owner of the land adjacent to the tunnel and he assures me
that it was still open as of a few years ago, along with almost intact wood trestle near by. Permission is definitely needed to access the
area, however, but he said that he will take to the tunnel the next time I can get back to the area.
An interesting side note. A Smith-Powers Shay was abandoned in the woods sometime in the 1920s or 1930s. It was stripped of some
parts, but then left. Because it was basically inaccessible, it escaped the scrap drives of World War Two. In the mid 1960s, Georgia-
Pacific reopened the area with a truck road and the Shay was salvaged in 1967. It later went to McKinelyville, California and was
under restoration by 1973, but I’m not sure what happened to it after that. It was Smith-Powers number 2, a 28 ton Shay, serial number
169, built in 1887.
|Photos taken by Brian McCamish, except where noted.
|Map of the area. Blue is the Southern Pacific mainline between Coos Bay and Myrtle Point. Red is
the Coos Bay Lumber Railroad (later Georgia-Pacific) and yellow is the Salmon Creek Logging spur
which is discussed at length here. There were many other spurs as well.
|In November, 2004, my brother in law and myself, drove to the area and spent a few hours exploring the
remains of the grade. This is what we found.
|This bridge was one of several
over the South Fork of the Coquille
River and did belong to
Georgia-Pacific. I believe it was
these bridges that were covered
and later converted to steel plate
girder bridges, which are now
located on the Salmon Creek
Logging truck road. Nov, 2004
|This bridge pillar is located on the North Fork of the
Coquille River, just north of Myrtle Point. From photos
that I've seen, this was a through truss span owned by
Southern Pacific, but torn out when the line to Myrtle
Point was abandoned. Nov. 2004
|The railroad grade just
west of Myrtle Point. I'm
not sure if the grade is
the road I'm driving on or
the overgrown rise to the
left. Nov. 2004
|This section of grade was not turned into a road, as a county road exists right next to the grade. In the left photo you can see
the overgrown grade following the road. In the middle photos, Brise is walking on the grade, further south. In the right photo, I
dug up this metal near the grade. Anyone know what it might be? Email me. Just a mile or so beyond where the middle photos
are, the grade crossed a creek over an existing trestle and then passed through a tunnel. Unfortunately, we were not able to
access that at the time, because it's private land. I later spoke to the land owner by phone and he agreed to take me to the
tunnel at a later date, when I visit the area again, hopefully sometime this spring or summer. November, 2004
|These pilings in the
Coquille River are a bit of a
mystery. A local says that
they have something to do
with the Chinese logging in
the area. Nov. 2004
|The main railroad yard in Powers. This yard was located at
the north end of town. Today it's a city park, complete with
park benches and stoves. I'm parked on what used to the
mainline into town. This is where log trains were built,
before being hauled off to the dump near Coos Bay.
|This concrete pier is located in the middle of the South Fork of the Coquille River, in the city of Powers. Here, the river splits
the city in two. The concrete road bridge, where these photo were taken from, obviously still exists, but the railroad bridge is
long gone. These photos do not do justice to the size of this pier. It's quite impressive. It was built in 1957, by Georgia Pacific
to replace the original timber trestle. Note the rollers still left on the wood blocks. The feet of each span would rest on these
rollers and allow the bridge to move ever so slightly, when the sun heated up the bridge and caused it to expand. If anyone has
a photo of this bridge when it existed, I would love to see it. Please email me.
|At the south end of Powers, out in an empty gravel lot, we noticed these two abandoned steel plate girder spans. I don't know
for sure, but it's a good bet, these were the two railroad spans that crossed the Coquille River in the middle of Powers.
|On the right, an old railroad car that appears to have been converted to a road bridges. Probably one of two railroad cars that
were welded together side by side. When the Salmon Creek branch was reopened as a truck road, a railroad car was used
as the initial bridge over the Coquille River. I assume this was part of it. Today, a newer concrete structure is used, but older
railroad plate girder bridges are still used further up the road. The middle photo: shows several sections of ties, which match
the ties and planks we would later see on the steel plate girder log truck bridges and were probably worn out and replaced at
some point. The right photo appears to be the remains of a railroad flat car. November, 2004
|Just south of what used to be the large railroad bridge in Powers is the depot. It still exists today and is used as a museum,
although nobody was around today. I was disspointed as it appears to have a number of interesting photos and artifacts
inside. These photos were taken through the windows as the doors were locked and no one was around. November, 2004
|An interesting crew car on display outside the museum. Note the axle and driveshaft still inside, but the motor appears to be
missing. November, 2004
|A few other artifacts lying about outside the Powers depot/museum. The tracks that used to exist along side the depot were
completely gone. November, 2004
|The first bridge over Salmon Creek, on the Salmon Creek truck road. This road was originally a logging railroad from
1915-1938. In the area of this bridge a tunnel existed, but it collapsed in 1949. We think we found the location, but it would be
indistinguishable from the hillside in a photograph. This steel plate girder bridge was place here sometime after 1950, when
this line was converted into a truck road. This bridge allows the logs trucks to bypass the tunnel by driving on the south bank
of Salmon Creek for a short ways. This is obviously a former railroad steel plate girder bridge, but where it served prior to
1950 is not clear. November, 2004
|The second steel plate girder railroad bridge over Salmon creek, is about 1/2 mile south of the first bridge. This takes the
logging road back to the north side of Salmon Creek. There also was not a bridge here when the railroad existed. Instead,
these bridges were placed here to by pass the tunnel. This bridge, just like the first one pictured above, came from the
another railroad somewhere, but was installed here around 1950. November, 2004
|As time was running short, we were only able to drive a short distance further on the Salmon Creek logging road. There may
be other steel plate girder bridges further up the road. November, 2004
|This concluded our exploration of the Georgia-Pacific, Coos Bay Branch. There is still much more to explore,
in terms of other logging spurs, possible abandoned trestle remains and the such. I hope to return again
and explore the abandoned tunnel at the very least and be able to post pictures of that on here.
|Historical and Reader's Photos
|Number 104 was built by Baldwin in 1922 for the Coos Bay Lumber Company. It worked the mainline between Powers and
Coos Bay from 1923 until 1953. It was apparently purchased by Georgia-Pacific in 1954, for it’s Toledo operations.
Ironicly, Georgia-Pacific would purchased the entire Coos Bay Lumber operation only a few years later. Number 104
worked out of Toledo unti 1960. It, along with a number of it’s sister locomotives were then donated to various cities
around Oregon and Washington. One was even used for a movie and made to fell off a tall bridge. See my Ring of Fire
website about it’s surviving ruins. Number 104 went to the city of North Bend, near Coos Bay, where it sat on display for
many years. It was recently cosmetically restored by the Oregon Coast Historical Railroad in Coos Bay. More info about
the 104 can be found on this page. I took these photos in May, 2004.
|Coos Bay Lumber Number 11 was the last steam locomotive to serve the Coos Bay Branch. It was also the first of four of
this type, an ALCO 2-8-2T, that was purchased by the Coos Bay Lumber Company in 1929. It served both the mainline and
spur lines, but was particularly adept to climbing the steep grades of the temporary logging railroads. In 1968 it was given
to the San Diego Railroad Museum, where it still resides today. You can read more about it, on their page about this loco.
Both of these photos are courtesy of the San Diego Railroad museum and are used here by permission.
|Coos Bay Lumber number 10 was also preserved. Another of the 4 ALCO 2-8-2Ts purchased by the Coos Bay Lumber
Company, this one in 1930. At some point in the 1950s or possibly, early 1960s, it was donated to Cottage Grove, where it
was put on display, near the Oregon Pacific & Eastern Railroad Yard. It remained there as a static display until sometime
in the late 1970s or early 1980s when it was sold off to Florida. It apparently later when to Midland City, Kansas where it
can be seen in this pic. The Midland Railway, doesn't show this loco on it's roster, so I'm not sure where it is today.
Both photos are of the number # 10 in the OP&E Yards. Left photo is courtesy of John Goldie, taken in the late 1970s.
Right photo is from Salem Public Library, June, 1963.
|These photos are courtesy of Marc Reusser and his website, Steam in the Woods. They are used here by Marc's
permission. They show the Coos Bay Lumber Company operation in the early years, including the mill in Marshfield (Coos
Bay) and several of the locomotives.
|William Kaminsky, who has extensively researched and studied the Coos Bay Lumber Company and related
lines, was kind enough to provide the following additional notes and corrections.
The present CORP line is actually one of Oregon's earliest railroads. The Ithmus Transit railroad was a narrow gauge "Indian" powered
line began in 1872 which ran from about present day Chrome over the hill to about where the Green Acres bridge is at. It did not get into
operation until about 1874, and steam powered until about 1876. (See Logging Railroads of the West by Kramer Adams, page 18). In
about 1890 the standard gauge Coos Bay, Roseburg and Eastern bought up the route and expanded from Marshfield to Coquille. The
extension to Myrtle Point did not occur until about 1904 (I think). There was a stage connection in use for a few years transporting
passengers from M.P. to Coquille until track was laid. John Labbe wrote up the story on this in an edition of Narrow Gauge Gazette
about fifteen years ago and Al Armitage did so too in an article about the coal lines. Although there had been many other companies
interested into constructing a railroad line to the coast, or along the coast, it was the eSPee funded Willamette and Pacific which made
The C.B. R. & E. was to have run on towards Roseburg, but I have an eSPee plan of the line beginning in Myrtle Point and then going to
Wagner Ranch. Not mentioned if this is mainline or branchline. The C.A. Smith Timber Company funded the construction of the 18
1/2 mile railroad from Myrtle Point to Wagner Ranch, which began construction in 1914, and completed in 1916. Originally, this was to
be a common carrier line called the Coos Bay and Coquille Valley Railroad, but later after the reorganization of 1915 this fault was
discovered and the public operation was given to the Southern Pacific. The new town of Powers was to be simply a point on line as the
railroad was extended southerly along the Coquille River to where it met the Forest service boundary. By 1918, and hopes of
extension were gone, and the facilities at Powers became the terminus of the mainline. One of the interesting things about the
Willamette and Pacific railroad line to Coos Bay was a lack of interest into any company wanting to fund such an operation for there was
no guarantee that freight traffic would be automatic, even in an area of such heavy lumber production. Most all lumber companies in the
area were already shipping via water, and at a rate quite a bit lower than any railroad could promise. There was also ship builders at the
bay, and the only thing to ruin this would be a world war.
The C.A. Smith Lumber and Manufacturing Company was wholey owned and controlled by Charles Axel Smith and was incorporated
(again) in 1898. Several of the others were quickly incorporated in Minnesota just before the move to Oregon. Under the company
umbrella, were the C.A. Smith Timber Co, the C.A. Smith Land Co, Inter Ocean Transportation Co, and the Smith-Powers Logging
Company. There were several other companies under the C.A.S. banner here too. Albert Powers was a paid employee and Vice
President, not as many think of him being part owner in the S-P L. Co. For Vice-President or not, the company FIRED him in the 1920's.
The S-P L. Co. was mainly an employer, as the railroad, the equipment, the land and the timber was owned by one of the Smith
companies. Probably which is not well known, is that the S-P L. Co. was the largest single logging company in the U.S. for a couple of
years. The C.A.S. Co had an average 2500 people on the payroll in four states, and was the State of Oregon's largest employer.
Depending upon the time of year, the S-P L. Co. had up to 1600 employees, but 600-800 was more common. The main mill was running
two shifts and employing 400-800 men.
Mr. Smith constructed the world's largest sawmill first in Minneapolis and then again in Marshfield. He also was in charge of (I think) the
fourth largest timber Co. in the U.S. Only the Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Land Management and Weyerhauser Corp had
more timber on the stump. None of which were owned and managed by a single person. The Coos Bay Lumber Company was not
formed until 1915, during the great re-organization, but then again, it was just another company under the C.A.S. organization. In 1919,
at bankruptcy hearings, the C.B.L.Co. became the dominant name, and via the court it then held sway over all of the above named
companies. In 1922, the C.A.S. companies emerged from receivership and with a gold bond issue, the Pacific States Lumber Company
was formed. Again in 1929, after some bad decisions of the part of the Board of Directors, the company was taken over by the
stockholders and renamed back to the Coos Bay Lumber Company. Odd in that 1929 was the most profitable for next 10 years, and one
in which they sawed the largest quantity, and they were no longer in First place nationally or within Oregon as to output. The name
survived until sale to the Georgia-Pacific Corporation.
The C.B.L. railroad mainly used bridges and trestles of timber construction. The steel bridges on Salmon Creek was installed by G-P
after the rails were pulled in 1949 after the tunnel collapsed. For reference this line was carried on the books as the Salmon Creek
Railroad, and after 1929 it was leased to the Port Orford Cedar Company. The concrete pillar which is in the middle of the Coquille River
crossing at Powers was installed by G-P about in 1957 to replace the timber trestle which had been there so many years.
The tunnel just west of Powers, was constructed to the standards of the Great Northern Railroad company, to which Mr. Smith (of
Minnesota) had an interest. A second tunnel was on the Salmon Creek Railroad adjacent to what is now called Tunnel Creek in 1920.
This lasted until 1949 when it collapsed. A truck road was built around it in 1950. A third tunnel was proposed in 1920 for the extension
of the Salmon Creek Railroad into the Sixes River area. Nothing was actually built, but a 6000 foot incline (decline) was constructed and
terminating within feet of the Curry County line instead.
Before the 1919 bankruptcy, S-P had 11 company camps, operating 65 steam donkeys, plus contracted work out to another four. The
company had been the first experiment with electric logging and became one of the largest purchasers of early diesel donkeys. They
still however, were buying new steam donkeys as they had more pull for handling the large logs on Eden Ridge. During the early days,
the fleets of lokies were transporting about 1.5-2 million feet of logs to the mill on two shifts during each work day. In 1929 the
first of the new style of saddle tankers was ordered, and one or two of these then handled 100-120 car log trains to McCormac spur
using the newer 56-64 foot cars. During the late 1930's the tide of mechanization and labor was changing. An experiment as to
converting over to truck haul in 1938 proved more expensive, and sub-contracting labor failed also. In 1940 the company bucked the
trend, and bought their own trucks, and hired hundreds of persons for woods work.
Not to loose sight of benefit of truck hauling, reloads were established. Two ponds were operated at Powers, another was built at
Johnson (east of Coquille) and the one at Coquille was expanded over time to become the world's largest during the 1950's. The two
ponds at Powers handled logs from Eden Ridge, Yellow Creek and Salmon Creek. The Johnson pond was built to handle over sized
trucks operating on company maintained dirt roads which paralleled Highway 42. The Coquille pond came in the purchase of the Smith
Wood Products firm in 1944 and handled the logs from Fairview and other areas of the Cunningham district. This pond is still in
operation today. It was envisioned in the 1920's to extend the Cunningham railroad over the Coos Bay Military Wagon Road to a place on
the upper Coos River where logs could be floated to the mill. Although promises had been made by the eSPee to extend track beyond
Myrtle Point to Roseburg, equally ambitious was the efforts by the C.B.L. Co to extend their logging track eastward into Douglas County
for a connection of with the Southern Pacific in Cow Creek. For in 1958 the trains up the 5 1/3% grade to Eden Ridge were only run the 12
miles as far as Coal Creek Camp.
The often noted steel bridges as coming from Utah, were only placed in one location, that being the substitute for bridge #14 on the
mainline within Powers. The remainder of the smaller bridges were obtained from "The Government", most likely the B.L.M. or U.S.F.S.
The locomotive #104 was purchased new for the Pacific States Lumber Company, along with the initial Willamette locomotive. A
builder's photo of the #104 painted up for COOS BAY LUMBER COMPANY name on the tender sides. (In 1955 it went to Toledo after a fire
injured the two tank locomotives from the C.D. Johnson company. It was returned nearly two years later, after the arrival of the #5 from
Bend Oregon.) In same note, most of the steam locomotives purchased second-hand, and locally used wood for fuel. The mainline
Baldwin locomotives were built to run on coal, but could run on wood also. As the coal mines closed down, all locomotives were then
converted to run on oil. I have not located a picture of any wooding up station, but there was a coaling up station as a part of the
trestle and bridge at the southwest corner of the Powers yard leading across the Coquille River and up Salmon Creek. The oil for
locomotives and donkeys came from Richmond California. As the Adeline Smith, the Nann Smith and other company owned vessels
traveled the coast, they would haul lumber south to San Francisco Bay and oil back North to Coos Bay.
A couple of the 60 foot long log cars went to the Oregon, California and Eastern Ry. in the 1970's. I found one about ten miles east of K.
Falls on their mainline in 1991. A caboose was also saved and stored at Coquille, but burned by vandals in the 1980's. The long tangent
track you show pictures of at Gaylord was on the ridge, to the southwest of the present dirt road. A spur ran off up into the hills in
1915-1916 and then several were built down towards the river were a quarry was at.
Courtesy of William Kaminsky
The San Diego Railroad Museum, which has the Coos Bay Lumber number 10 in active service
The Oregon Coast Historical Railroad, which owns the Coos Bay Lumber 104 for static display
My Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad page, which is the railroad that now operates the ex-SP Coos Branch,
that this railroad used to interchange with.
|If anyone has any further information, corrections or pictures about this railroad, please let
me know. You can Email me anytime. Thanks.
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|Copyright © 2005 Brian McCamish, All Rights Reserved
Note about the photos on this site:
Most photos were taken by me, except for those that are otherwise indicated. I usually allow people to use my photos for personal use or
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you see any photos which belong to you and that I don't have permission to use, I apologize. If you send me an Email, I will remove the
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