Last Update:  June 30, 2006
Note to Readers:
This article is no way meant to condone anyone finding and entering the abandoned tunnel.  The tunnel site is extremely dangerous and one
purpose of this article is give readers not only the history of the tunnel and railroad, but to show its current state and condition in
detail so that you don't have to risk your life to see it in person.
The Portland & Southwestern Railroad was of the major logging railroads in Northwest Oregon.  But what makes it most significant it that it
had one feature that few logging railroads had.  A tunnel.  And significant tunnel in size.   Most logging railroads were temporary in nature and
few undertook the expense of tunneling under mountains.   Unlike the nearby Kerry Tunnel, the P&SW Nehalem Divide tunnel has not yet
completely collapsed and is still partly open despite being abandoned for well over half a century.

The Portland & Southwestern began in about 1901, when brothers Simcoe and Fred Chapman, incorporated the Chapman Timber
Company.   By 1905 they established a logging camp called Chapman at the present day site of the same name.   By 1905, they began to
build their own railroad.  It would be called the Portland & Southwestern.   Because it initially served the local community as much as acted as
a logging railroad, it was considered a common carrier.

Construction began at the Willamette Slough, approximately 1.5 miles east of present day Scappoose, Oregon on March 19, 1906.   The first
train ran on August 25, 1906.   The brothers had major plans to extend the railroad across northwest Oregon to the coast at Nehalem.   Much
of the area that the railroad cut through was actually settled upon and private land.   Deals had to be constructed to gain access to this land
and promises were made that the P&SW would  eventually connect these residents and future residents to the nearest major city, Vernonia,

The railroad was not all built at once.   Instead it built as a “log as you go” railroad which caused it to take a number of years just to complete
the first 8 miles to Chapman.   By 1910, costs to extend the line further west exceeded the Chapmans' finances and they sold out to a Henry
Turrish.   The decision to cross the Coast Range divide was made, however how to do it was a source of controversy.   Switchbacks and
other alternatives were considered over the costly proposed tunnel, and in fact, Matt Wolford has found evidence that a spur railroad was
actually built up the east slope of the Nehalem divide.  Possibly to log along the ridge line.   But in the end, it was decided a tunnel would be
the way to cross the divide.

Construction on the tunnel was begun as early as 1910.  The narrowest point on the Coast Range divide was selected.  However as the
demand for timber declined, all work was stopped on the tunnel.  

In approximately 1913, a group of Wisconsin Lumberman purchased the Turrish holdings and renamed the logging operation, the Nehalem
Timber & Logging Company and continued construction on the tunnel. (The railroad would still be known as the Portland & Southwestern)   5
years later, the 3 mile rail connection between Chapman and the tunnel’s eastern portal was completed as tunnel construction continued.  
This would be known as milepost 13.5 on the P&SW railroad.

Plans were drawn up for the internal workings of the tunnel in 1918 and were finished by 1919.  The tunnel was not bored through solid rock
so it would need extensive wood workings inside to shore it up.  It would be 1712 feet long, 16 feet wide and 22.5 feet tall.  12” by 12” beams
would be constructed in numerous arches to support the tunnel.  Lagging made of 4” by 6” boards connected the arches and scrap wood fill
the void above the lagging.   The sandstone and fossil material that the tunnel was dug through made it extremely dangerous and collapsible
and the tunnel had to be fully lined from end to end.

In 1919, the Porter Brothers construction firm used 1 million board feet of timber to finish lining the tunnel.   By August 1920, the tunnel was
complete.  A year later, the mainline tracks were extended beyond the west portal of the tunnel reaching a site called Pittsburg.   An extensive
100 foot tall trestle that needed to built about 2.3 miles west of the tunnel, which slowed construction of the line.   

Prior to 1928, a spur line was built that connected the PS&W the Goble & Nehalem Railroad, a Clark & Wilson railroad.   Sometime after
1928, the line was extended from Pittsburg another several miles to near Oak Ranch Creek.   A number of spurs were constructed into the
woods over the years off of the mainline.

The P&SW used a very old 1860s vintage 4-4-0 in its early years, apparently as late as 1918.    Also, between 1910 and 1918, the P&SW used
a 2-6-6-2 Mallet steam engine of significant size during it's logging operations.  However it was sold before the tunnel was completed.   
Between 1906 and 1943, at least 9 separate Shays were used over the years.  It's not clear what other engines were used on the line.

The Clark & Wilson Lumber Company, which operated other extensive logging railroads in this part of the state purchased the operation in
1926.  The railroad ceased operating in approximately 1944.  At that time,  Clark & Wilson sold the operation to the Crown Zellerbach
Corporation who would resume logging, but this time using trucks instead of the railroad.   Plans were underway to convert most of the old
railroad mainline into a truck road.   However a decision had to be made how to cross the divide with the new truck road.   If the tunnel were to
be used it would need extensive renovation and work.  The decision was made to build the truck road up and over the mountain almost
directly over the tunnel.   Although costly, the new road was easier to maintain than the tunnel and tunnel.  The railroad was officially
abandoned on December 31, 1945.   When the new truck road was built, much of the grade and even some of the original railroad bridges
were used, but many sections of railroad grade were by passed to avoid some unnecessary bridge construction.   As a consequence, there
are a few sections of railroad grade that were never converted into a road.

After Matt Wolford's exploration of the grade as well as a few visits of mine, it's pretty clear that the only part of the old railroad grade was used
for the new truck road.  In fact, many large sections were bypassed, to avoid old trestles, but the general route and direction was still followed.

Crown Zellerbach continued to use the truck road for a number of years.  Logs were still hauled to the huge log dump near the Columbia
River.   At some point the logging operation and property was sold to Hancock Timber, a subsidiary of Cavaham Forest Industries., the truck
road was retained as a fire road, but ceased being used as a logging road.   The log dump burned, although whether it was purposely or
accidental is not clear.   

By the mid 1970s, BLM owned a square mile of land that the tunnel happen to reside on.  A study was conducted concerning listing the tunnel
site on the National Register of Historic places.   At that point, the tunnel was in extremely poor condition, but restoration efforts were being
considered.  By 1981, the tunnel was placed on the NRHP list as site # 81000481.  Extensive photos of the tunnel were taken and recorded
shortly thereafter.  However, since then, the tunnel has been all but forgotten.   The BLM has specifically hidden the location of the tunnel,
restricting any details of its location on the NRHP list.   Today, most who know of the tunnel, simply assume it’s since collapsed.  But that’s
not the case. While it is in extremely poor condition and many sections have partly collapsed, the tunnel is open from end to end.

Starting in approximately 1995, Columbia County began to negotiate with Hancock Timber to purchase the old logging road and use it as a
county trail.   In approximately December 2004, the county purchased 17 miles of the logging road from the Timber company for
approximately $310,000, using state grants.    It's not clear where the tunnel falls into the plans for the trail, but since a road exists by passing
the tunnel, its likely the tunnel won't be utilized at all.   However, it would certainly be nice if it could be restored and become part of the trail.

Note:  Some information in this article is sourced from a BLM report written by Susan Worthington in 1976
Maps of the Portland & Southwestern Railroad
These maps show the general area of the railroad grade from the Willamette Slough near Scappoose (far right) to the end of the line (far left).
Note that in making these maps I generally followed the logging truck road as indicated on the map that was built over most of the grade.  However, there are a
number of sections where the truck road was not built directly over the grade.  They are not indicated as I don't yet know where all  those sections are.
Chapman Log Dump - Scappoose, Oregon
Much of the original P&SW grade was converted to a truck road in 1944 and has been used as such for many decades.    These photos are of the grade/truck road
taken just east of Scappoose.  Public roads bisect the grade/truck road in a number of places, but the grade/truck road is gated off from public travel at all
intersections.   This private logging road was abandoned at some point and today is no longer used at all.    Brian McCamish Photos: March, 2005
The Chapman log dump.   Originally constructed around 1905, at one point it was quite an extensive facility with a wood dump trestle extending more than 1/3
mile long.   When railroad logging ceased in 1943 and the line was converted over to truck hauling the dump continued to be utilized.   Apparently, sometime in
the 1990s, the trestle and dump burned.  It's not clear if that occurred before or after the truck road was abandoned.   Brian McCamish Photos: March, 2005
Searching for the Tunnel
I have been searching for the tunnel, ever since I had read about it while trying to research the Kerry Railroad tunnel.   However, USGS maps don't indicate the
tunnel at all, and all sources seem to either ignore it or make a concerted effort to hide its location.   I narrowed the search to this likely point, where the truck road,
which I knew was built over much of the railroad grade, made a steep climb up and over the Coast Range divide.  But the tunnel's exact location was still elusive.   
I made one trip to the area in 2002.   Photo on the left was taken on the truck road at the summit of the Coast  Range Divide.  The bridge is the
Scappoose-Vernonia highway that was built on the ridge line of the divide.    The middle photo is looking down west slope of the truck road.   This is not the
railroad grade.  This section was built to bypass the tunnel in 1944.    It was getting dark so my exploring was cut short.    Sign on the right seems to indicate that
today the land in the area is owned by Cavaham Forest Industries.   Brian McCamish Photos: 2002
Discovery of the Tunnel by Matt Wolford
Matt and I discussed the possible location of the tunnel for several months in late 2004.   He made several trips to the area, without success.  Although a number of
trestle remains were found from what appears to a logging spur used to crest the divide and access upper timber stands.    But then, on January 8, 2005, he found
the west portal.   It was hidden well and its not hard to understand why the place is rarely visited today.   Fortunately, the tunnel is still open.   Drainage and silt
have buried about half the tunnel at the west end, and several sections have collasped, making the trip through the tunnel very difficult, but still possible.
Left photo shows the same bridge that I photographed above, taken on one of Matt's earlier trips to the area searching for the tunnel.  Then on January 8, 2005, the
elusive tunnel was discovered as Matt found the west portal.   It was significantly collapsed and buried, but still accessible.   
Matt Wolford Photos: January, 2005
All of these photos wee taken by Matt Wolford as he and a friend explored the inside of the tunnel.  They show the wood workings of the tunnel structure in great
detail.   You can see the 12" x 12" beams used to construct the many arches and the connecting 4"x6" lagging that made up the roof as well as the filler wood
above the lagging.   The entire length of the tunnel had to be lined in this way.  Today, several arches have collapsed into dangerous piles of debris that have to
be climbed over to get through the tunnel.  This as well as the age of the tunnel make it extremely dangerous.   Much of the original tunnel floor has since been
buried as much as 8 feet deep in some sections, but in the bottom left photo you can still see the ties and tie plates that were left behind.  Matt reports that it took
him and his friend nearly an hour to get through the 1700 foot long tunnel, mainly due to taking their time and the debris piles.   It was extremely dark inside and
good lighting beyond a typical flashlight was needed.   When they emerged from the east portal the sky was too dark for an east portal photo.
Matt Wolford Photos: January, 2005
On February 5, 2005, almost a month after he first discovered the tunnel, Matt Wolford returned and explored it again.  He also took those photos which show the
inside in more detail.   As you can see, several sections are either collasped or on the verge of collaspe, making this a very dangerous tunnel.    Note the ties still in
place, just as they were left over 60 years when the tunnel was abandoned.
Matt Wolford Photos: February, 2005
BLM Tunnel research, 1976-1982
In approximately 1975-1976, the Federal Bureau of Land Management was considering what to do with the tunnel that was located on its 1 square mile of isolated
property.   One proposal involved putting the historic tunnel on the National Register of Historic Places and possibly restoring the tunnel for public use.
A report on the tunnel history was commissioned and completed in 1976 by Susan Worthington.  The conclusion was that the tunnel was in extremely poor
condition and that restoration would be very costly.  By 1980, the tunnel was placed on the National Register of Historic places, but unlike other landmarks, its
location was specificly omitted and hidden.   In August 1982, Tom Liebertz took a number of black & white photos of the tunnel, which were included in the BLM
report.  But its not clear what happened after that.  It appears the project never got started and the tunnel was all but forgotten.  The BLM report and photos were
sent to the Library of Congress where they can found today.
The east portal of the tunnel as it appeared in 1982.
Tom Liebertz Photos: August, 1982  Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
The eastern end of the tunnel.  The contrasting b/w photos do a good job of showing the tunnel construction and also how that end of the tunnel was largely buried
from creek silt.  Estimated to be about 8 feet deep in some locations.   
Tom Liebertz Photos: August, 1982  Courtesy of the Library of Congress
The west portal of the tunnel as it appeared in 1982.
Tom Liebertz Photos: August, 1982  Courtesy of the Library of Congress
The eastern end of the tunnel in 1982 was less filled in and easier to explore.
Tom Liebertz Photos: August, 1982  Courtesy of the Library of Congress
High Trestle
Roughly two and half miles up the old grade from the west portal of the tunnel existed one of the largest trestles on the line.   The trestle crossed an unnamed
tributary to the East Fork Nehalem River and was somewhere around 100 feet high.   An official of the local Timber company that once operated the logging road,
said that the trestle survived relatively intact through the 1970s.  But because it was located near the Scaponia County park, and was an attractive nuisance,
county officials made the timber company tear down the trestle.   Apparently, no remains exist today, although a shorter low trestle nearby might still exist.   I plan
to revist the area again for a closer look.  Anyone have any pictures or information on this trestle?  
Email me.
These photos show the railroad grade, later converted to the logging road, just west of the ex-high trestle site.  Today, the logging road is abandoned.
Brian McCamish Photo:  Nov, 2005  
Camp 8
Maggie Peyton was kind enough to send these photos of Camp 8 taken around 1929.   The right photo is of the school that was built out of a railroad car.
These photos clearly illustrate the camp as it relates to the area today.  The bridge shown in the photo appears to be in the location of the now abandoned truck
bridge that was built to replace it years later (see below).
Was was known as "Camp 8" on early maps of the area, must have a been major encampment for both the logging operations and railroad and apppears to have
lasted into the truck logging days.  Camp 8 is located in an open area, approximately 5 miles west of the west portal of the tunnel.    The two pictures above are of
an abandoned access road and bridge that was built to allow access to the camp from the county road.   This little access could have been in place during the
railroad days and this might have been the only vehicle road to the camp, but today the bridge is abandoned and the road closed and dug out.
Brian McCamish Photo:  Nov, 2005  
Camp 8 was likely a major camp site because it existed in a nice wide open flat area and appears to be the near a major fork in the railroad.  Nearby, the Portland
& Southwestern used to join up with the Clark & Wilson line that headed west to another major logging camp called Wilark, and eventually it's own log dump on the
Columbia River.  The photos on the left show the ex-railroad grade/logging road as it passes through Camp 8.  The road is abandoned today.  A local hunter that
met up with when exploring the area said that railroad spikes used to litter the side the of the road.   The two right photos show the open field where numerous
buildings of Camp 8 used to stand.    Brian McCamish Photo:  Nov, 2005  
It's not clear what facilities Camp 8 had or how long they lasted.   But a few foundations and remains can be found.    The hunter I met up with mentioned that
buildings still stood here until a few decades ago.   This indicates to me that the camp was probably used well into the truck logging days.
Brian McCamish Photo:  Nov, 2005  
East Fork Nehalem River Bridge
About two miles southeast of Pittsburg is this concrete decked bridge.   It looks like a typical truck logging bridge, until you note the extensive trestling undernieth.
(see below photos).   This bridge is located where a railroad bridge would have been for the Portland & Southwestern.  Chances are the pilings are from the
origional railroad bridge and the concrete deck was added when this portion of the line was converted to a truck road in approximately 1944.  Also note the old
rails used as gate post.
Brian McCamish Photo:  Nov, 2005  
These are photos of the underside of the same bridge.   It's possible that the original railroad bridge was torn down and new pilings were driving for the truck road,
but not likely if the original bridge was in decent condition.
Brian McCamish Photo:  Nov, 2005  
Pittsburg & the Nehalem River Bridge
Pitsburg is an extremely small town, but is still home to Hancock Timber, which appears to have it's headquarters (left) and a reload station (middle)  still located
there.  Although it's not clear how often either are used.   A Forest Service station (right) is also located there, but it looks to be abandoned.
Brian McCamish Photo:  Nov, 2005  
When the Portland & Southwestern entered Pittsburg it then crossed the Nehalem River and headed straight north to its ultimate destination several miles away.  It's
not clear what type of bridge was originally used to cross the river, but it was likely converted over to a road bridge for logging trucks after 1944.   However, by 1960
that bridge was no long safe and it was torned and replaced with this very long steel deck girder bridge.   This is clearly an ex-railroad bridge, although where it
came from is not clear.   This road is closed most of the year, but is open on weekends during hunting season.
Brian McCamish Photo:  Nov, 2005  
Clark & Wilson Caboose.
In August, 2002 I spotted this old caboose painted in Clark & Wilson markings display at the Camp 18 Museum, near Else, Oregon.    Clark & Wilson operated a
number of logging railroads in Northwest Oregon from the 1920s through the 1940s, but the P&SW was the most significant.  I talked with the owner of caboose who
said that he purchased it from a woman in Southern Oregon.   Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be an original Clark & Wilson caboose, but instead was possibly
used on the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railroad.   Brian McCamish Photo:  August, 2002  
Historical & other photos
These three photos are Clark & Wilson locomotives, which very likely operated on the Portland & Southwestern.  
Photos are courtesy of Martin E Hanson
More coming soon

If you have any historical or modern photos of this line, the Clark & Wilson Railroads or the tunnel and would like to share
them on this website, please
Email me anytime.
Locomotive Roster
Not all locomotives are included, including those that may have operated with private logging companies that used this mainline.

Source:  Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History Volume III &
Chapman Timber Co. and/or Portland Southwestern Locomotives
No. 1 - 1906 Baldwin 2-6-2 s/n 28465
44" drivers, transferred to the Clark & Wilson Co. when they took over the line and renumbered No. 15.  Disposition unknown.
No. 2 - 1906 2 truck Lima Shay s/n 1665
Class 37-2 B.  Originally built for the Chapman Lumber Co.  (P&SW) 74000lbs, 16900lbs TE,  Sold to the Seaside Lumber & Mfg on 10/1908.  Passed through
several owners on the Kerry Line, last used by the Robert Dollar Co. in 1944, scrapped unknown date.
No. 2- 1910 Baldwin 2-6-6-2 Mallet s/n 35785
51" drivers.  232000lbs, 50000lbs TE, Originallyi built for the Chapman Lumber Co for use on the P&SW in 1910 when it was expected the railroad would reach the
coast.   Was sold to the Alton & Southern Railroad in East St. Louis, Illinois in 1918, before the tunnel was completed.  Scrapped unknown date.   Lots of info,
specs and drawings on
this page.
No. 3 - 1907 2 truck Lima Shay s/n 1818
90000lbs, 20300lbs TE.  Originally built for the Hofius Steel & Equip. Co., then sold to the Chapman Lumber Co for use on the P&SW.  Transfered to the Clark &
Wilson Co.  Disposition unknown, but possibly used until the end of railroad operations in 1944.
No. 4 - 1906 2 truck Lima Shay s/n 1943
90000lbs, 20300lbs TE.  Originally built for the Hofius Steel & Equip. Co., then sold to the Chapman Lumber Co for use on the P&SW.  Transfered to the Clark &
Wilson Co.  Disposition unknown, but possibly used until the end of railroad operations in 1944.
No. 5 - 1910 3 truck Lima Shay s/n 2367
Originally built for the Hofius Steel & Equip. Co., then sold to the Chapman Lumber Co for use on the P&SW.  Transfered to the Clark & Wilson Co.  Disposition
unknown, but possibly used until the end of railroad operations in 1944.  Photo below is possibly this locomotive.  Courtesy of Martin E Hansen
No. 11 - 1907 2 truck Lima Shay s/n 1953
Originally built for the Hofius Steel & Equip. Co. then sold to Benson Logging & Lumbering Co. in Clatskanie, OR.  Leased to the Chapman Lumber Co. for one
year in 1910 (P&SW) then eventually sold to Canada, scrapped unknown date.
No. 16 - 1923 Brooks 2-8-2T s/n 64148
44" drivers, 190000lbs, 35200lbs TE, purchased from Sugar Pine Lumber in California, unknown date, disposition unknown
No. 17 - 1923 Baldwin 2-8-2 s/n 57201
48" drivers, 179000lbs, 34400lbs TE.  No further info.
No. 18 - 1925 Baldwin 2-8-2T s/n 58825
42" drivers, purchased by Clark & Wilson for use on their original logging operation before being transferred to the P&SW.  Formerly No. 6  No further info.
No. 20 - 1925 Baldwin 2-8-2T s/n 58419
42" drivers, formerly owned by the Bear Creek Logging Co as their No. 4.  Formerly No. 6.  No further info.  Below photo courtesy of Martin E Hansen
Known Clark & Wilson Locomotive (ones not already listed above) that likely operated off of the
P&SW lines after 1927
No. 1 - 1905 2 truck Lima Shay s/n 1830
Originally built for the Hofius Steel & Equip. Co., then sold to the Columbia Timber Co., Goble, Nehalem & Pacific Ry, transferred to the Clark & Wilson Co.,
scrapped unknown date.   
No. 2 - 1907 2 truck Lima Shay s/n 991
Originally built for the Hofius Steel & Equip. Co., then sold to the Columbia Timber Co., Goble, Nehalem & Pacific Ry, transferred to the Clark & Wilson Co.,
scrapped unknown date.  Apparently new trucks were ordered for this locomotive in 1929 for unknown reasons but they were placed under No. 1 (above) instead.
Scrapped possibly around 1929, possibly involved in a wreck.
No. 2 - 1923 3 truck Willamette s/n 6
Originally built for the Multnomah Lumber Co. as their No. 4.  Sold to Clark & Wilson, possibly sometime after 1929 to replace Shay s/n 991 above.
Likely sold or scrapped before 1937.
No. 2 - 1925 2 truck Lima Shay s/n 3271
Originally built for the Hofius Steel & Equipment Company.   Then sold to Independence Logging Co. Independence, WA.   Sold to the Clark & Wilson Co. in 1937
Scrapped unknown date, likely sometime after 1944.
No. 3 - 1909 Davenport 2-6-2 s/n 893
Possibly sold or scrapped around 1917, not likely used on the P&SW.  No further info
No. 4 - 1918 2 truck Lima Shay s/n 2983
Originally built for the Hofius Steel & Equip. Co., then sold to the Columbia Timber Co., Goble, Nehalem & Pacific Ry, transferred to the Clark & Wilson Co.,
scrapped unknown date.  
No. 5 - 1922 Porter 2-8-2 s/n 6728
No further info
No. 6 - 1912 2 truck Lima Shay s/n 2601
Originally built for the Norman B. Livermore & Co. (D) #103, San Francisco, CA.  Eventually sold to Willamette Iron & Steel Co in 1926, possibly rebuilt then sold to
Clark & Wilson.  Scrappped in 1943.
No. 7 -  3 truck Willamette s/n 19
No further info
Related Links

The National Register of Historic Places listing of the P&SW Tunnel

A site listing info on one of the P&SW Mallet steam engines including an interesting drawing

News article about the PSW line being turned into a trail.

Bottom photo on page has a P&SW locomotive photo

Columbia County, which now owns much of the old right of way
If anyone has any further information or pictures about this railroad, please let me know.    
You can
Email me anytime.  Thanks.
Copyright ©  2005, 2006 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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