of a Three Part Series
|The End of a Era
As of the early 1980s, the Simpson Timber Railroad extended west all the way to Camp Grisdale, which is near
Wynoochee Lake. A line also branched north, via the Vance Creek bridge to Camp Govey. In 1985,
Simpson decided to close both Camp Grisdale, which was essentially a logging community, complete with a
houses and a school and Camp Govey and abandoned the railroad lines to those camps. Logging for those
areas had panned out and Simpson decided to concentrate on logging areas closer to the mill that had now
reach maturity again. The line was cut back to several miles west of the Dayton Dry Sort Yard. The Dayton
Sort Yard was approximately 11 rail miles west of the Shelton Mill. Today, the line effectively ends at the
Dayton Sort Yard. Although tracks extend a few thousand feet beyond the gates of the yard, they are not
used. All track west and north of the Sort Yard was removed, except for a few sections discussed in this
article. The rails were either sold off for scrap and stored at the mill to be used on other parts of the
remaining line. The ties were given away to locals.
|Falls Creek Bridge and the Hidden Rails
We decided to attempt to access the Vance Creek Bridge from the other end. Having no idea what we would find, we were very
surprised. We followed our maps and found our way to the grade on the other side. The reason the Vance Creek Bridge was never
turned into a truck bridge, is because a decent road was built down into the valley and back up the other side. We followed this logging
road to the south end and hoped to drive right up to the bridge landing. Not to be. Several miles from the south bridge landing we were
stopped by a land slide that covered the old railroad grade. We parked the truck and hiked a little ways into the woods. We soon
discovered rails and ties that were left behind and intact, but partly or mostly buried under dirt, gravel and debris. In addition, trees and
vegetation had all but consumed the old grade. We followed the remains for approximately 3/4 of a mile. Along the way, we
discovered another washout, where rails were hanging mid air. We also unexpectantly found the Falls Creek Bridge. The Falls Creek
Bridge spans a beautiful scenic waterfall. Today, the bridge appears completely untouched. If not for the rails on either side of the
bridge having trees growing in between them, one might think a train could pass by at any moment. I could only surmise that perhaps
the land slide is what spelled the final doom for this portion of the line. While all rails south of the slide were removed, the several miles
from the slide north to the Vance Creek Bridge were left behind, with no easy way to remove them. This probably also explains while
the rails on the Vance Creek bridge were left behind. The rails between the Vance Creek Bridge and Camp Govey were most likely
taken out by truck. When searching out abandoned railroads, discovered complete rails and ties intact is very rare, making this an
especially interesting section to explore.
|These pictures show the remaining rails and falls creek bridge as of today. Abandoned in 1985, a land slide blocks vehicle
access to this area. But it's an easy hike to the bridge. We didn't hike all the way to the other end of the Vance Creek Bridge as
we planned as it was getting late. More rails and interesting sites probably exist along the way, including another possible
bridge and we hope to return later.
|This picture shows the falls creek bridge in
1956 with a Steam Engine passing
through. Note that the bridge at that time
was totally built out of wood. Sometime
after, it was replaced with current metal
structure that exists today..
From: Logging to the Salt Chuck.
|This picture from the 1970s, show # 900
(the same diesel we saw at the mill)
crossing the Falls Creek Bridge pulling a
load of logs. Note the absence of
vegetation at that time.
From: Logging to the Salt Chuck.
|Dayton Dry Sort Yard
One goal of the trip was to establish exactly where Simpson line ended. Last I had heard, it was somewhere west of the Dry Sort yard.
I also had no idea if the Dry Sort Yard was still in use. We discovered the line ended at the Sort Yard, although some track did extent
slightly further west, it was not in use. The Dry Sort Yard was very much in use and heavily guarded and fenced off. We were not
allowed access and thus cannot provide any pictures, but needless to say, it's a fairly huge operation. Log trucks bridge most of the
logs here. They are then sorted out and placed on rail cars and transported to either the Simpson Mill 11 miles to the east in Shelton or
to other mills via the mainline and runs through Shelton.
|This is the very end of the Simpson Timber
Railroad as it stands today. This would be
mile 11.5 from the Simpson Mill in Shelton.
Just beyond the picture is the Dry Sort Yard
and beyond that is Shelton.
|This sign made it very clear we were not
welcome at the Dry Sort Yard, so we turned
around and headed out. We could just
barely see inside the yard and could tell
the operations were significant.
|Middle Fork Satsop River Railroad Bridge (upper bridge)
Although sunset was fast approaching, we decided to attempt to locate at least two more railroad bridge sites. Both were on the
Middle Fork of the Satsop River. The first bridge was on the upper middle fork and was part of the Simpson mainline that was
abandoned in the middle 1980s. Because of the relatively recent abandonment, we had hoped the trestle would still remain. We did
have to park and hike about ½ mile past a gate. We walked along a road that parallel the old railroad grade. We noticed that the grade
was in pretty poor condition. The railroad ties and track were long gone and we began to wonder if perhaps the bridge met the same
fate. But thankfully it did not. To our surprise the bridge was in great condition and was actually larger than expected. It was a rather
large steel truss structure with a wooden deck and rails that remained on the deck. Wood beams were laid down on either side of the
track to allow truck traffic to pass over the bridge if needed, but I highly doubt it is used very often. No railings exist and this would be a
bit intimidating to drive across.
|This bridge is rather interesting in that it was designed to carry both rail and vehicle traffic. Today, the rails remain on the
bridge decking, but were cut off and removed at either end. This is a decent sized bridge of what appears to be modern
truss design, but it's hard to say how old it is. I don't know if a wooden structure preceeded it, but I would imagine so, based
on the other original bridges along the line..
|Dennis Myers took this picture on the same bridge, when it was open to public vehicle traffic in the November, 1995.
This is Dennis's 1976 Chevy Blazer. Today a locked gate requires a short hike to the trestle. This data plate clearly shows
that the bridge was built in 1920 and was probably an original structure when the line was first built.
PIctures courtesy of Dennis Myers.
|Middle Fork Satsop River Railroad Bridge (lower bridge)
We finished out the day, by searching for a campsite near our next potential bridge site. This time along the Simpson main line near a
bridge that crossed the Middle Fork of the Satsop River. We ended up camping right on the old railroad grade. The grade leading up
the bridge was dug out so vehicles couldn’t drive on it, and end up driving onto the bridge. So we made camp here and planned to hike
to the bridge, which was only a short distance away, in the morning.
The next morning we embarked on our next find. I immediately noticed that the old grade in the area had been regraded flat to allow
vehicle traffic, but the section leading up to the bridge was dug up in numerous locations. Likely to prevent people from driving over the
bridge. I also noticed numerous railroad spikes and spike plates on the ground, but no sign of any rails or ties.
Soon after hiking down the old grade, we came upon the next railroad bridge. This one was also in excellent condition. But Simpson
had apparently saw fit to remove the rails from this bridge. Perhaps it was used for truck traffic for a short period. Today, there is no
way for vehicles to access the bridge, until a bulldozer clears the road. This was yet another large steel bridge.
|We camped right on the railroad grade. Pictures on the right show the grade (left) that is open to vehicle traffic and the grade
(right) which is not, leading up to the bridge site.
|This bridge was very similar construction to the last one. Note that the rails have been removed. This was probably to facilitate
vehicle traffic, should it ever need to cross the bridge. Although the bridge decking is definitely not suited to regular vehicle
traffic. Because of the similar design and close proximity to the above bridge, I assume it was also built in 1920.
|If anyone has any further information or pictures about the Simpson (or related) Timber
Railroad please let me know. You can Email me anytime. Thanks.
|Copyright © 2004 Brian McCamish, All Rights Reserved
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