|Last Update: November 29, 2005
|Bob Larson, current President of the OP&E says that the OP&E is alive and well. The OP&E car marks and the "Blue Goose Logo" will return.
However, not in Cottage Grove. As for where and when it will take place, I'm not sure at this point. If more information comes to light, I'll
report it here. Mr. Larson purchased the name and logo and it is currently registered as an Oregon corporation owned by
Mr. Larson. We wish him well and hope that the name can be revived into a new Oregon railroad somewhere in the state.
|The text of this site underwent a major update in December, 2004. Special Thanks to Jeff Moore for his extremely helpful historical
information on this railroad and contributing to the content of this site. Jeff also operates a McCloud Rails website.
|John Goldie also has a very interesting and detained web article on this railroad, including many photos and I highly recommend
checking it out here: http://www.bjwrr.com/ontrack/guestfeature-op&e.htm John was also kind enough to allow me to use some of his
photos for this article.
|Surviving for over 90 years, the original Oregon Pacific & Eastern, like so many other short line railroads has faded into
history. The last train ran the line in the mid 1990s.
A sad ending to a historic short line railroad that first laid tracks out of Cottage Grove, Oregon in 1901 and was originally called the Oregon
and Southeastern. The Oregon & Southeastern railroad was originally built with the intention of serving the Bohemia mining district,
southeast of Cottage Grove. But by 1905, much of the mines played out and the line was only built to Disston, about 20 miles east of Cottage
Oregon Securities Company, which owned the line, failed in late 1913, and the railroad was re-organized as the Oregon Pacific & Eastern
Railway in January 1914. Additional financing from JH Chambers plus local stock sales rejuvenated the railroad. J.H. Chamber secured
complete control of the railroad in 1917.
Anderson & Middleton purchased the J.H. Chambers Lumber Company in 1924. They built a new mill south of Cottage Grove and on the east
side of the SP main. Anderson & Middleton ownership lasted until 1930, when both the company and the OP&E went into bankruptcy. A man
named George Gerlinger was named receiver. The railroad operated under the direction of the receiver until 1940, when a re-organization
plan was approved and the railroad emerged as an independent company, a status it maintained up until Booth-Kelley Lumber Company
bought control, and eventually outright ownership of the railroad, in 1950.
Booth-Kelley remained in control until August 1959, when it was acquired by a George Pacific. GP owned the property from then up until April
15, 1970, when it was sold to the Row River Investment Company, which was owned 51% by Willis Kyle and 49% by Bohemia Inc. Bohemia
and Kyle bought the railroad together. See below for further information about the line from 1970 on.
In 1926, the first of several major movies was filmed on the line. “The General” about a Civil War locomotive chase was filmed and even
involved a scene where a temporary bridge was built across the Row River and a locomotive was driven over it as it collapsed into the river.
Apparently the remains were later salvaged and nothing remains there today. I’m still not sure where along the line this took place.
For years, the line served passengers and several lumber mills, including two at Disston, the Wheeler-Osgood Lumber Company and the I.E.
James Lumber Company and a mill at Culp Creek. They interchanged traffic with the Southern Pacific in Cottage Grove. The shops, a depot
and a fairly large yard for a short line it’s size, was located just off of the Southern Pacific line in Cottage Grove.
The line had five major bridges, all of which survive today, except one. All of the bridges were originally wood, but in 1909 the bridge at Currin
fell through under the weight of a passenger train. Three bridges were rebuilt as covered bridges, (note: this area still has a number of
surviving highway covered bridges that are worth visiting as well.) however, they were later replaced with the current steel bridges by the late
1940s and early 1950s. While none of the OP&E covered bridges exist today. Literally, just a few miles away on the west side of Cottage
Grove, the last surviving covered railroad in Oregon, does exist and was probably of similar design to the OP&E covered bridges. Check out
my JH Chamber's Mill & Railroad page for more info and pictures of that bridge.
In 1950, the OP&E built a branch line off of the OP&E mainline near Walden, which was about 3 rail miles east of Cottage Grove. The line
was approximately 9 miles long and headed directly south, along Mosby Creek. It's purpose was to move logs for the Booth-Kelly Timber
Company, which owned the line at the time. Georgia Pacific continued to use the line, after it purchased B-K, up until the timber played out.
G-P brought some of it’s Coos Bay Lumber Company diesel locomotives from Powers over to Cottage Grove to work this branch line. Those
locomotives also saw use on the OP&E mainline as needed. The Mosby Creek branch line was abandoned by 1970, but maps indicate
that the first mile was still in use as of the mid 1980s.
In 1953, the Osgood mill in Disston closed down. A year later, so did the James Lumber Company. While a little bit of ore was still being
shipped from the remaining mines in the Bohemia mine district, it did not justify keeping that section of track open. In 1954, the line from
Culp Creek to Disston, which was only about 4 miles long, was abandoned. The tracks were later torn up, but the steel plate girder bridge,
which had been installed to replace the prior bridge only a few years earlier, was mysteriously left behind. In later years, both approaches to
the bridge were removed, but even today the bridge still exists. The line now ended at the mill in Culp Creek,17.5 rail miles from the Cottage
Grove yard. The railroad was on the north bank of the Row River, while the mill was on the south bank. A bridge was needed to cross the
river and reach the mill. I’m not sure what type of bridge was used, as today, it is the one bridge that was completely torn out after the line
In about 1970, a man named Willis Kyle would purchase part of the railroad and change the line forever. Willis Kyle got into the railroad
business when he purchased the California railroad, Yreka Western Railroad, in 1956, apparently saving it from abandonment. He
purchased a 51% stake in the OP&E, sharing the line with the Bohemia Lumber Company. His intentions were to start another passenger
excursion line like one that was established in Yreka. The Blue Goose logo was originally designed for the Yreka Western, but was carried
over to the OP&E when Kyle purchased his part of the line. Legend has it that the logo was inspired by Goose Nest Mountain, which is visible
from most of the Yreka Western line.
After purchasing the OP&E, Willis Kyle and his partner, Cecil Riley, bought a large number of short line railroads over the next several years.
His empire would be called Kyle Railways. On the OP&E, passenger excursion runs were operated, sometimes 7 days a week, with several
operating steam engines. The most famous, the number 19, pulled trains on the weekends, while one of the freight diesels would pull
passenger trains on the weekdays as well as pull freight trains to and from the mill in Culp Creek. After Kyle purchased the line, a unique
loop was built at the end of the line at Culp Creek. This allowed passenger trains to make a complete loop and return to Cottage Grove,
without disconnecting from the engine. Several short wyes existed within the first mile of the line to service several mills and they were
probably used to turn the locomotives around at the Cottage Grove end. The Freight trains did not use this loop. Instead, they went to Culp
Creek pointing one way and headed back to Cottage Grove, pointing the other way.
In 1972, the next major movie to be made on the line, “The Emperor of the North” was filmed. Even today, this is regarded by rail fans as one
of the better railroad movies made. Two of the OP&E steams engines, including the number 19, were used to film the movie and are shown
in a number of scenes.
In 1986, the last major movie to be made on the line was “Stand by Me”.
Kyle would later pass away and Riley took over the entire Kyle Railways Company. Soon many of the operations were sold off. The OP&E
would be no different. By 1987, the company gave back its remaining portion of the OP&E to the Bohemia Lumber Company. The passenger
excursion line was closed down forever. The number 19 was returned to the Yreka Western where it remains to this day. The other
excursion railroad equipment, including the cars were sold off or scrapped.
In its last few years of operation, freight business was down. The line barely ran three trains a week, using the two diesel locomotives it had
left. An Alco S2 and an EMD SW8.
The Bohemia Lumber mill was at Culp Creek was closed down by September, 1990. At some point afterwards, the line and any remaining
assets were sold to Willamette Industries. The track outside of Cottage Grove was used mainly to store cars. On April 29, 1994, OP&E rail
operations officially ceased. Employee stayed on until August 15, 1994, presumably to dismantle and clean up the remaining equipment
and facilities. On August 24, 1994, the OP&E donated approximately 14 miles of the line to the BLM in lieu of some Willamette Industries,
leaving the first 3.35 miles of the line intact for several more months to service a mill or two in Cottage Grove. On November 20, 1994, the
last section of OP&E track, the locomotive shops and the yard was donated to the City of Cottage Grove. The OP&E was dissolved as a
corporation on December 19, 2004.
At least one mile of track remained to service a mill in Cottage, as late as March, 1995. But by the fall, 1995, the last section of OP&E mainline
track was pulled up.
By 1995, the newly formed Central Oregon and Pacific was beginning to take over Southern Pacific operations on the Siskiyou Branch and the
Coos Bay Branch. Some maintenance and storage of motive power was conducted at the ex-OP&E shops in Cottage Grove.
The railroad shops were auctioned off in the late 1990s and the railroad yard was mostly torn up. Some parts of the yard track and switches
existed as late as mid 2004, but they have since been completely removed. The locomotive shops existed as late as November 2004, but
they are now completely torn down.
Today, the only OP&E building that still exists is the depot which was later moved, extensively renovated and turned into a daycare center.
With the railroad tracks pulled up, the local governments were persuaded to turn the route into a "rails to trails" project. The entire line from
Cottage Grove to Culp Creek remains today, but is paved over as a long bike trail. The three major bridges between Cottage Grove and Culp
Creek also remain and can still be viewed today. They are repainted and include extensive guard railing which kind of detracts from their
original designs, but at least they still remain today.
Of the final two diesel locomotives, the EMD SW8 number 602, survives today. It was sold to the Oregon Pacific railroad and I last saw
parked on a siding in Liberal, Oregon in 2002. (picture below) The Alco S-2, number 21 was sold to Schitzer Steel Products, in Portland,
Oregon in late 1995. I'm not sure if it's still there today.
|An old map of the original OP&E early
in it's history showing trackage from
Cottage Grove, to the Bohemia District
that was never built.
Map courtesy Lane County Museum.
|Map of the area, showing the
places that I photographed.
|The North Extension,
showing the three bridges
that I photographed.
|More North Extension
as it makes it way to
Culp Creek Mill.
|Showing the Culp
Creek Mill and the
|Map showing the RR yard
and Y to the north and
used to run to
Mine district, but
was cut back
|In December, 2003, I first visited the site of the OP&E Yards. I was fortunate enough to see the last remains of the OP&E
shops and yard track. With in one year, all of this would be gone. Below are photos that I took of the last chapter in the
|These pictures were taken on the ex-Southern Pacific mainline, looking south towards the OP&E yards, which were on the left hand side, just
past the red building. The brown building in the background on the left used to be the locomotive shops. Today, the mainline through
Cottage Grove is operated by the Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad. PIctures taken by me in Dec, 2003.
|Pictures showing the remains of the OP&E rail yard. You see the location of this rail yard in the above map. Most of the rail yard has been
removed, leaving a mostly empty gravel lot. Parts of the rail line remain, but it's hardly usable. Note the track signals still in place. PIctures
taken by me in Dec, 2003. In the summer of 2004, all of this was removed and only the gravel lot remains.
|An abandoned Southern Pacific caboose parked on the last few feet of the OP&E line. Where this caboose sits on display is the end of the
last remaining OP&E trackage, located just off of the Union Pacific line. The remainder of the OP&E line was turned into a bike path. PIcture
on the far left, is from near the OP&E yards, looking north down the ex-Southern Pacific mainline.
Pictures taken by me in Dec, 2003.
|This photo shows the OP&E yards
and engine house as it looked in
1977. Courtesy of John Goldie.
|This is the OP&E shops as of Dec, 2003, when I took
these pictures. The tracks into the shop have been
pulled and the building was used for private storage. It
was auctioned off in the mid 1990s and then completely
torn down in November, 2004.
|In August, 2004, I visited the area again. This time, I briefly explored the route. Today the mainline has been completely
paved over and turned into a bike trail called the Row River Trail. Fortunately, most of the bridges of the line survive
and were restored for the trail.
|The first abandoned bridge from Cottage Grove, over Mosby Creek. Note the historical covered road bridge (one of at least four in the
general area) located right next to the railroad bridge. The original railroad bridge here was a wood trestle, later replaced by a covered
bridge, around 1909, which was replaced by this structure in 1950. The bike trail folks did a good job of restoring the bridge for the trail,
although it's sad that it will never again see a train. PIctures taken by me when I visited the area again in August, 2004. Exactly 10 years to
the month after the line was abandoned and pulled up. Photo on the far right is courtesy of John Goldie and was taken in 1983, when the
Kyle Blue Goose excursion Locomotive # 19 was traveling over this bridge.
|The second restored bridge along the line is the Row River bridge, also known as the Currin bridge. The original bridge here was a wood
trestle, but in 1909, a passenger train fell through the structure and it along with other two major bridges were rebuilt as covered bridges. In
1950, this steel structure replaced the covered bridge. Unfortunately, the new bike trail railings sort of detract from the original design of the
bridge, but at least it still exists. Pictures taken by me when I visited the area in August, 2004. Photo on the far right is courtesy of John
Goldie and was taken in 1983, when the Kyle Blue Goose excursion Locomotive # 19 was traveling over this bridge.
|The third surviving bridge is this small one over Rat Harms Creek, just as it dumps into Dorena Lake. The original pilings remain, but the
entire top deck has been rebuilt for the bike trail. Pictures taken by me when I visited the area in August, 2004. Photo on the far right is
courtesy of John Goldie and was taken in 1983, when the Kyle Blue Goose excursion Locomotive # 19 was traveling over this bridge.
|This is probably the most interesting bridge on the line, because it's not part of the bike trail and is truly an abandoned bridge. The OP&E
was cut back to Culp Creek in 1954. This bridge is located past Culp Creek, between Culp Creek and Disston. It was originally a wooden
trestle, which was replaced with a covered bridge around 1909. In 1948, it was the first covered bridge to be replaced with a steel bridge,
which you see here today. But only a few years later, this line and the bridge would be abandoned. The approach to the bridge on both ends
has been removed and is located on private property, so it's not very visible or accessible. Two pics on the left were taken by me, when I
visited the area in August, 2004. The picture on the far right was taken by and is courtesy of John Goldie.
|In January, 2005, I briefly visited the area once again. This time, checking out the railyard that I explored just over a year
earlier. The changes were startling. Absolutely nothing of the rail yard and shops remain. It was all torn out just a few
months earlier. Further down on this page are photos from Don Kirk showing the dismantling of the OP&E Locomotive
|The OP&E railroad yard today. Looking south, used to stand the OP&E shops and an entire railroad yard. All that remains is the gravel
balast a pile of scrap parts. Photo on the far right is looking north as a CORP train passes through Cottage Grove. A red building that used
to exist near the railroad intersection crossing and can be seen in my above photos, was also torn out sometime in 2004. Photos: January,
|Photo on the left shows the spot where the locomotive shops were located only a few months ago. Today, not even a sign of the shops or
it's remains exist. Note the Caboose in the background. Photo on the right, shows a closer view of the caboose. This is the same caboose
that I photographed in December, 2003, parked on the last few feet of the OP&E mainline track. Today, even that track is gone, and on this
day, the caboose was banished on south end of the old OP&E yard property on stand alone section of track. It's fate or future is unknown.
|These photos show the remains of the OP&E neatly piled up. The yard ties are piled up against a brand new fence that was put up to
seperate the old OP&E yard from the CORP mainline that runs through Cottage Grove. The other photos show the rails, rail joiners and track
parts that were removed from the yard. When I visited the area in December, 2003, the yard also still had a number of switches in place.
|In January, 2005, I also briefly visited the trail and remains in the area near the ex-OP&E yard in the Cottage Grove City
limits. Northeast of the yard use to be a wye that lead into the site of a mill. This wye was used by the Blue Goose
excursion train to turn around. Today, the wye is paved over and the mill site is now part of the City of Cottage Grove
Shops. But interestingly, one short section of track remains....
|Photo on the left shows the OP&E mainline (left in picture) which is now a paved bike trail, and the remains of a wye (right in picture) that is
now a driveway into the Cottage Grove City shops. Photo on the right, is taking from the OP&E mainline that is now a paved trail. On the
right is the Cottage Grove City shops, located on the site of what used to be a mill. January, 2005.
|A peak through the fence of the Cottage Grove City shops, reveals this interesting feature.
A set of 4 box cars parked on a stand alone track. This track is the last section of the wye
that was not paved over. Apparently, just before the last OP&E rails were pulled up, these
boxcars were pushed here and parked. The rails on either end were removed and the area
paved over. The box cars are used for some kind of storage related to the City Shops.
Note how they still retain the Oregon Pacific & Eastern lettering! January, 2005.
|This photo shows the OP&E
mainline, now paved over just east
of Cottage Grove. January, 2005.
|Don Kirk of the OSRM noted that an old railcar existed along the paved trail and he sent some photos to me which are
featured on this site. When I visited the area again in January, 2005, I decided to locate and photograph this piece of
|Several miles east of Cottage Grove along the ex-OP&E right of way (now a bike trail) exists this box car. Don Kirk first spotted it in late 2004
and sent me some pictures. I easily located it when I visited the area. It appears to be Northern Pacific box car # 9090. Timothy Corey
pointed out that this was used as a movie prop in the early 1970s during the making of the movie, Emporer of the North. It's a real Northern
Pacific box car and is quite old. If I can get any further history, I'll post it here. Today, it appears to be used as sort of a fence for a local
property owner, next to the right of way. Photos: January, 2005
|These photos show that the condition of the boxcar is poor, to say the least, but other than trucks, is largely intact, complete with the brake
wheel, framing, wood sides and door latches. Photos: January 2005.
|These are the photos that Don Kirk of the Oregon Railroad & Transportation Museum took of the boxcar in late 2004, when he discovered it. I
originally marked them to make it easier to make out the Northern Pacific lettering and logo.
|Other Pictures and Photos From Readers:
If you have any photos you'd like to share of the OP&E please Email me.
|A stock certificate to the
Oregon and Southeastern.
The precurser to the Oregon
Pacific and Eastern. Pic
courtesy of Ron Hedward
|Emperor of the North
This movie was filmed on the OP&E in
1972. This movie was nearly 100%
shot on the OP&E using OP&E steam
engines. It is a movie worth seeing and
still available on VHS, as it shows much
of the line and has numerous excellent
shots of the OP&E #19 steam engine in
operation on the line.
|The other final locomotive to serve on the OP&E was this
EMD SW8, OPE # 602, built in July, 1952. This locomotive
had a slightly better fate and moved onto the Oregon
Pacific RR in Liberal, Oregon where it still serves today as
show on my picture on the right taken in 2002. The picture
on the left taken in 1986 at the OP&E engine shops was
taken by John Bauer, and is used courtesy of Rob Jacox.
See more at Western Rails
|Jeff Moore visited the OP&E yards in March, 1995. What he found was various motive power from the new formed Central Oregon & Pacific
Railroad, being stored on the property. CORP leased and took over the Siskiyou and Coos Bay Branches of the Southern Pacific. Early in it's
operation, it was maintaining some of it's locomotives at the ex-OP&E shops. They current based their operations out of Roseburg, Oregon.
Photos courtesy of Jeff Moore - March, 1995
|OP&E # 21 was an Alco S-2, build in July, 1943. Jeff Moore
spotted at the OP&E shops in March, 1995. Shortly after this
photo was taken it was apparently sold off to Schitzer Steel in
Photos courtesy of Jeff Moore - March, 1995
|Austin & Northwestern # 44 spotted at the
OP&E yards in March, 1995, being used by
CORP. It was later sold to Willamatte &
Pacific as their 1802. This loco was just
scrapped in January, 2005.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Moore - March, 1995
|John Goldie was kind enough to allow me to share these photos that he took in the 1970s and 1980s of the OP&E operations. From left to
right: Steam locomotives stored in the weeds near the shops. (note what appears to be this same loco in the background of the below B&W
pic) - Number 19 pulling an excursion train - The OP&E scrap yard - A depot building in the OP&E yards. The Salem sign was mounted for
the filming of the movie, Emperor of the North. John has his own OP&E article which features many more photos like these. Check it out
|These pictures of the same engine shop taken in November, 2004, sadly showing the locomotive shops being torn down. The grounds
apparently will be used by as a railroad-transportation kids theme park or museum of some type. Why they didn't try to use and preserve the
historical locomotive shops it completely beyond me.
Photos are courtesy of Don Kirk of the Oregon Railroad & Transportation Museum
Note: His museum is not involved in tearing down these shops or use of the property in any way. He simply was in the area and took these
photos and allowed me to share them. Thanks Don!
|Rick Daniels sent in these pictures. The number 10 diesel was the first diesel engine purchased by the OP&E. This is what Rick said:
My Grandfather retired from the OP&E sometime in the mid 1950’s, I think. Before he left, the OP&E had purchased their first diesel. Seems
there was much ado when the diesel was actually put “on line”. The whole town was out to celebrate, and tours, “walk-thru’s” if you will, were
part of the celebration. I’m not sure of the actual date, but I’d guess the year to be 1951 or 1952. I had to get in on the show, and I’m pictured
here occupying the engineer’s seat, I think with a bit of help from the tall dude.
In addition, Rick sent in some interesting OP&E photos. On the left, Rick says the back of the photo says "John Rockwell and gang.
OP&E railroad. Booth Kelly Mill." On the right Rick says the thinks the photo is of the intersection of S. 10th St. and Main street and the
OP&E grade crossing on Main St. Thanks for sharing Rick!
|Links with more information about the Oregon Pacific and Eastern RR
John Goldie's web article on the OP&E. Lots of info and pictures.
Rob Jacox's site with a ton of locomotive photos. Be sure to check it out.
The last roster of the OP&E with a few of the older locomotive listings
The railroad retirement board determination status doc when the line was abandoned.
The home page of the sister company of the OP&E excursion line. This is where the number 19 and other OP&E equipment went to when
Kyle sold his share of the line.
|If anyone has any further information or pictures about the Oregon Pacific & Eastern,
please let me know. You can Email me anytime. Thanks.
|Copyright © 2004, 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
websites. Simply Email me. I may not have authority to grant permission regarding some photos that were only loaned to me by others
specifically for this website. Every effort has been made not to include other's photos without the proper permission and credits, however, if
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
photos immediately or give proper credit, which ever you wish.
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