|Part 8 of 8, Abandoned Log Car Discovery
|Please note that logging and railroad items found in the woods are rare historical artifacts. We believe that they should not be scavenged for
personal use. It is our policy to discover, record and photograph artifacts, but leave behind what we find, unless the artifact will be put in a
museum or on public display. We ask that you respect this as well in an effort to preserve our history.
|Last Update: August 1, 2006
|On a remote, long abandoned logging spur, is a site of a nearly complete, but wrecked, skeleton log car.
Abandoned and hidden for some 7 decades, it was only recently discovered by loggers and reported to the
Oregon State Forestry Dept. But its exact location was not known. After more than 6 months of searching, we
finally found the site and were able to document it for the ODF so that the remains can be recorded and
protected from future logging activity. So far, this has turned out to be one of the most significant discoveries
of remains of the entire Kerry Timber Railroad operation. But of course, the search and exploration goes on....
|The Long Search for those "Kerry Railroad Trucks"
|Matt Wolford, Frank Calia and myself began looking for this wreck site not long after I first heard about it from Charles Lunki in December,
2005. Charles reported that a logger friend had run across what he described as a set of railroad trucks on an abandoned spur in early
December. In approximately the same time frame, Jeff Johnston reported hearing of a some railroad axles or trucks being found on an
abandoned railroad spur by loggers during a recent logging operation. The two sites were determined to be the same and we set off to try to
find it. It was also said that a donkey “torpedo” fuel tank was found nearby. That was later determined to have been recovered by the
loggers and is now on display at the Tillamook Forestry Interpretive Center. After inqiuring with the ODF, they reported that they heard of the
find, but did not know exactly where it was.
Not knowing what we were looking for made the search that much more intriquing. We had few clues other than they were possibly a set of
railroad trucks. Were we dealing with just an axle? A single wheel from a car, a disconnect truck, or perhaps the remains of an abandoned
locomotive? Whatever it was, we had to find it!
Once the area was narrowed down, old maps were used to determine the general location of the logging railroad grades in the area. The
area in question is south of the town of Westport and north of Birkenfeld in the Oregon Coast Range in a general area that is bordered by
logging roads, Kerry Rd to the north, Porter Ridge Rd and Horseshoe Camp Rd to the west, and Fishhawk Creek to the south. The area in
question is located in Oregon State Forest Land, with some of the spurs located on private timber land.
The grades in question are part of a network of spurs that left the Columbia & Nehalem River (Kerry Railroad) mainline at Horseshoe Camp
to log a large area west and northwest of Horseshoe Camp. Exactly when these spurs were built is not clear, but I suspect they were logged
in the early to late 1930s by the K-P Timber Company or the Blodgett Company. The reason being that operations south of Horseshoe
Camp were abandoned shortly after fires in the early 1930s destroyed most the trestles at the south end of the line. Logging was said to
have concentrated in the areas around Horseshoe Camp in the final years and I suspect that included this area.
Frank Calia and I made the first attempt to find the railroad trucks in Feburary, 2006, by following a railroad grade off of Porter Ridge Road.
The grade and surrounding area was logged in recent years and the resulting slash made it a very rough hike. This was something we
would contend with throughout our attempts to find the wreck site as most of this area was part of recent logging activity. We would find
some rail joiners and collapsed trestle remains, but no axle trucks.
Matt Wolford made the next attempt, covering more grade and although he discovered some interesting artifacts including a small broken rail
and some piping, still no axle trucks.
Jeff Johnston, Frank Calia and myself made the next attempt, covering yet more grade, but unfortunately finding very little.
Matt, Frank and myself made several more attempts, covering another few miles of logging grade. We did find several collapsed trestle
sites, some small artifacts, such as buckets, shovel heads, spikes and rail joiners, but again no trucks, axles or wheels.
On Sunday, July 30, 2006, we made what was probably going to be our last attempt for a long while to find the axle/trucks. Matt, Frank and
myself returned to a section of grade, then descended down the hill to the creek and scoured the area there, believing that maybe the wreck
had gone off the grade or through a trestle down into the shallow creek. We made our way to the other side and hiked more railroad grade
that was well outside the logging area and not likely to be a candidate for the location, but was interesting nonetheless. But after searching,
we found nothing.
Defeated, I all but gave up and prepared to hike back to our vehicles and call it a day. I had figured we had covered every inch of grade that
could possibly contain the wreck site. Either it didn't really exist or was buried under the slash and brush and we'd never find it now.
|About half way back, Matt noticed what he thought was yet another spur. I saw what he was talking about, but assumed it was little more
than a short siding. Matt then noticed where it appeared the siding ended, a bridge existed, as evidenced by bridge spikes in the ground.
The bridge timbers were completely decayed and indiscernible from the surrounding logging slash, but the bridge spikes were critical
evidence that in fact another previously unknown spur did leave the spur we were on. We decided to at least see where this grade, that was
not indicated on any maps we’d seen, went.
Once again, recent logging slash made it hard going, but soon, a huge cut clearly indicated we were on an abandoned railroad spur of some
kind. At the end of the cut we discovered the remains of a steam donkey sled. While the sled was in extremely poor shape, the huge bolts,
rods and giant L brackets clearly evidenced its original purpose. Two donut shaped pieces of metal, stamped with “Mallory Chain Flare” that
I’ve never seen before, were also present, along with cable and pieces of sheet metal that no doubt shielded the donkey operators from the
weather so many years ago. The rest of the donkey was long gone.
As we continued forward, Matt came upon a few mysterious pieces of metal. Brackets and piping. Stuff that may have come from a railroad
car perhaps? Then he came upon two bent pieces of rail. Before I had time to wonder if perhaps we really were close to the site we'd been
looking for all these months, I heard Matt yelling off in the distance that he found the railroad trucks!
I couldn’t believe my eyes. We had spent months not knowing what we would we would find, but expecting little more than a axle or set of
wheels. What we found was the mostly intact remains of an entire skeleton log car. The log car was clearly involved in a major wreck and
heavily damaged, hence why it was left behind. But virtually none of it was scrapped out and that’s what makes it an extremely significant
and historically valuable find.
Both sets of trucks, all the axles, couplers, virtually all of the metal parts of the car exist at the site. The two trucks were likely attached via a
wood center beam that was probably broken during the wreck and has since rotted away in the 70 years the car has laid to rest here.
Unfortunately, the pictures don't do the wreck site justice. Some of it is hidden under logs and brush, and is easier to see and explore in
person than these photos, but this gives you an idea of what it looked like.
|Maps and Diagrams
|A map of the area will be forthcoming. But for now this is a quick diagram of the immediate area where the trucks were located and basic layout of the nearby
railroad spurs. This diagram is not to scale and may not be entirely accurate, since I'm going off my memory. We will definitely be returning to the site and
exact locations and a much more accurate map will be recorded at that time and reported here.
The site is currently behind a locked "temporary" logging gate. Once logging operations cease in this area, and the road reopened, access to the site will be
easier than it is now.
|These photos show the first parts that Matt and I came across as we approached the wreck site. At least one part appears to be from the brake rigging. The other
is a hand held of some type, likely from the wreck that occured, but we aren't positive if it came from this particular car.
Photos: July, 2006
|Two, apparently full length pieces of very bent rail littered the ground just prior to the wreck site. These rail were very likely bent during the same accident that
destroyed the log car, then tossed aside by the railroad before new rail was laid to replace it. The bent rail was worthless and left behind.
Photos: July, 2006
|Wide views of the wreck site, showing the two trucks. One truck (foreground) was right side up, while the truck in the back ground was upside down.
Photos: July, 2006
|These are detailed pics of the wreck. From left to right: Each truck has the name "Armour" stamped onto the side. Both trucks had couplers still intact. Mystery
hooks. More detail of one of the trucks. Springs of one of the trucks (upsidedown). John Boykin indicated that Armour probably built these trucks as early as 1910
for use on refrigerator cars. Pacific Coast and Foundary likely obtained them as used equipment and then used them to construct this skeleton log car. The
hooks were possibly part of the brake rigging.
Photos: July, 2006
|These are detailed pics of the wreck. From left to right: One of the friction bearing doors. Surprisingly, the door opened up easily, despite being closed for more
than 70 years and very rusted. Of course, the bearing had dirt instead of grease inside. Another view of the coupler. And interesting view of the brake
mechanism that was ripped away from one of the trucks during the wreck, an overall view of the rightsideup truck.
Photos: July, 2006
|The car had an interesting mix match of wheels. The upsidedown truck both had Pacific Car and Foundary (Seattle, WA) wheels that were dated 1928 on the
outside. However, one axle had ribbed (inside) style wheels while the other axle had solid smooth wheels. Also, although dated 1928 on the outside, the inside
had the numbers 3 15 33. It's possible that the 1928 date is the Master Car Builders design date, while the 3 15 33 is the actual manufacture date, according to
John Boykin. If correct, that would date this wreck well after 1933.
Photos: July, 2006
|The rightsideup trucks had two completely different sets of axles. The first axle was date stamped 1920 and said Griffin on it. But this could have just been the
"design date" and not the actual manufacture date.
Photos: July, 2006
|The final axle was the oldest. It was date stamped 1909 and said Marshall, and under that 675 LBS. It's possible that 1909 was just the design date and that the
wheel was manufactured later.
Photos: July, 2006
|Refer to these pictures when reading the information below
Photos: July, 2006
|Trying to Answer the Mysteries of the Wreck Site
|The site presented a few mysteries, although plenty of evidence as well. First of all, what happened? Second, why was the entire car
abandoned and then ever recovered, when very little else remains on any of the surrounding spurs?
Located at the end of a short uphill, a runaway car seems unlikely. Coming from the north, the car could have only traveled a hundred yards
before derailing, hardly enough distance to gain any speed. From the south, the car would have traveled a significant distance uphill before
reaching this spot. Perhaps if it got away a few miles up the spur it possibly could have gained enough speed to carry it up the hill and then
wreck here at this spot.
The wreck is located next to what is was a short fill. Was the fill washed out and did the car fall through?
That explaination would make more sense if the wreck was on the downhill side of the fill, but instead it's on the uphill side. It could have
possibly been moved to its current location out of the way if it fell straight down.
Two bent pieces of rail likely caused by the accident were left behind. One interesting clue was some brake rigging that should be straight
but was completely wrapped around the remains of a snag log. This is brake rigging that should be under the trucks, but is now completely
pulled away from the trucks in a jumbled mess. It’s possible that a high speed car that jumped the rails could have caught this snag and
wrapped around it during the wreck or it caught a log while falling through this shallow fill.
However, I tend to think the car was possibly by itself or possibly in the lead of several log cars, was being pushed up hill to the end of this
spur where it was to be loaded with logs. The condition and position of the car indicates that it was probably unloaded, which means that it
was likely headed north to the reload at the end of this spur. I think that maybe a snag had probably fallen on the tracks, caught the brake
rigging, lifting the car completely off the tracks, and flipping it over into the ditch. The momentum of the locomotive and possibly additional
log cars, drove the car into the ground and snapped the wood center beam in two leaving the twisted wreck we see here and the two bowed
out sections of rail. The car and locomotive were probably only traveling 5-7 mph at the time of the wreck, but going up hill under power.
Having been forced off the track, the car was likely left where it lay, the broken rail replaced with new rail and completely forgotten. Being a
very short spur, its lifespan was limited and it probably only lasted a few months to a year before it was logged out. After the rails were
picked up, logging may have continued in the area, but that spur and the wreck were long forgotten. When the main spur was scrapped out,
any remains were likely carted away, but that spur was already removed and forgotten by then. During WW2, there were no easy access to
that area for the scrap drives. However scrappers did return to this general area with cats in the 1950s and later and removed lots of metal
from the Big Creek grades and probably some of these grades, but being hidden from the main railroad spur and far away from any roads
until very recently, the site was probably visited by very few humans, if any, until loggers came upon it in late 2005.
|Can you shed any light on this wreck? Such as what type of skeleton log car this is? Why the different sets of
wheels? Any diagrams or photos of similar skeleton log cars? Any additional information, thoughts or insights
would be greatly appreciated and will be added here with proper credit. Please email me.
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