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|Last Update: August 8, 2005
|Visit the Official Sumpter Valley Railroad Website
The Sumpter Valley Railroad is located near Sumpter, Oregon in relatively remote eastern Oregon. Baker City is the nearest sizable city in
the area. The railroad dates back to 1890, where it was built to haul timber and gold ore from the area. The mainline was over 80 miles
long, but hundreds of miles of spurs were built off it over the years, mostly to access timber. The line was closed down by 1947 and
shortly thereafter much of the rails s were pulled up. Today, little remains of the original railroad, although being remote, it's not unheard to
find an occasional abandoned trestle, collapsed water tower or other structures along the line. Most of what still survived along the
mainline was later salvages, some even by the current Sumpter Valley Ry, but with so many miles of abandoned logging grades out there,
its possible that more remains exist. There's even rumor of an abandoned locomotive, but how true it is, is anyone's guess.
More on the history of the original Sumpter Valley Ry will be forthcoming.
The new Sumpter Valley Ry dates to the early 1970s, when it was incorporated as a non-profit in hopes of reviving the old railroad as tourist
line and building a new railroad on top of the old grade. The Edward Hines Lumber Company still owned much of the grade was willing to
least a portion of it between McEwen and Sumpter to the new organization. It was this time that much of the old equipment that was rotting
away in fields or along the old grade was collected for future restoration or display.
Eventually, the new Sumpter Valley Railway was lucky enough to not only obtain a rare narrow gauge steam locomotive, but one that had
actually operation on the original Sumpter Valley line decades earlier. The locomotive was a 1915 Hiesler that was originally purchased by
W.H. Eccles Lumber Company and operated on one of the logging lines that connected to the Sumpter Valley mainline.
It was last used as a back up boiler in an Idaho at a Boise Cascades sawmill. After being restored in Baker City, the locomotive was brought
to McEwen where it would begin its long career as a tourist locomotive.
The first new track was laid at McEwen in 1976. It was around this period that the SVRy would acquire two more important pieces of
Sumpter Valley history. Two 2-8-2 narrow gauge sister locomotives, the number 19 and 20 that originally served on the Sumpter Valley Ry
were brought back home from the White Pass and Yukon Railroad in Alaska. The pair had served on the SVRy until they were sold to the
WP&Y in 1940 and operated there until 1960.
In 1977, Union Pacific donated the track, ties, spikes and equipment from it's recently abandoned Vale to Brogan line and the Sumpter
Valley had all the track it would need. During the 1980s, the organization was able to obtain an original SVRy tank car and two cabooses,
the number 3 and 5. Making this railroad very unique in that much of the major equipment that it now operates is original to this line.
In 1991, the railroad had completed its first goal by completing the line to Sumpter. At just over 5 miles long the line now runs from McEwen
to Sumpter over mostly the original grade. Future plans include further development of the end of the line in Sumpter, including and end
loop which will feature several bridges. Plans also include extending the line from McEwen to the Union Creek Campground about 5 miles
to the east. Some of this line will be built over the over grade, but because Phillips Lake has flooded a large section of grade in this area, an
entirely new road bed will have to be built.
In 1992, the number 19, 2-8-2 steam engine reacquired from the WP&K was sent to Portland to be restored. In 1996, the operating steam
engine fleet of the SVRy doubled as the number 19 joined the number 3 in operation. Number 20 remained on display for many years, but it
has since been moved inside one of the shops near McEwen and is undergoing restoration.
Despite visiting this historical railroad twice now. Once during the week several years, when it was not in operation and most recently in
late July, 2005 where most of these pictures were taken, I still have not ridden the train. I hope to return in the near future. If not the end of
the 2005 season, certainly next season. Maybe I'll get lucky enough to get a cab ride and be able to share those exciting pictures and video
here on this page. In the meantime, I would encourage anyone interesting in trains to make the trip out to Sumpter to visit the railroad. Its a
long drive, but there is much to see out there and well worth it for any history buff.
More history and information can be read on the official Sumpter Valley Railway Homepage.
|The McEwen Depot and Water Tower
|The picture on the left shows the end if track just east of the depot. The next photo shows the remains of the dredge which gave the site its original name. This
dredge was one of three major dredges that dredged the entire Powder River in this area and who's markings are left behind with the huge piles of rock for miles around.
Today, one of the three dredges still survives and is currently being restored in Sumpter. The next photo shows several cars and a snow plow parked next to the depot
and final three photos shows a neat narrow gauge speeder parked next to the water. One of several speeders used by the Sumpter Valley for track maintenance and the
all important fire watch. Photos: July 2005
|The McEwen Yard and Engine, Car, and Restoration Shops
|The yard is full of historical narrow gauge equipment and cars. Some from the original Sumpter Valley Railway and some from other abandoned narrow gauge lines
around the country. I was also fascinated by the row of engine boilers since I first saw them about 4 years ago at the site. But the extremely old wood cattle and box
cars are very interesting too. Photos: July 2005
|The three photos on the right, show the original twin stall engine. I believe built in the 1970s or 1980s, when the Sumpter Valley tourist railway first started up. Today,
one stall is used for car repair and note the Ford Ranger that is owned by the Sumpter Valley and specially equipped with a draw bar that allows it to move cars around.
The other stall currently houses the # 20 steam engine, I believe, that is currently under restoration. The number 20 is the sister engine to the operational # 19 that
you can see running in pictures below. The next photo is shot behind the original shops and shows more equipment in storage. This narrow gauge car was sourced
from the Rio Grande, I believe. The next photo shows the almost brand new single stall car restoration shop and finally a caboose is parked nearby which currently
serves as a back up bunk house. The SVRy has the trucks and it may be returned to service someday. Photos: July 2005
|The new crown jewel of the Sumpter Valley Ry, in terms of shops, is the nearly brand new four stall engine shop. It and the trackage to the building was built largely
thanks to Federal funding procured by Senator Gorden Smith, as I understand it. The shop is still new and plans are underway to add pits and eventually an overhead
crane. Today, the shop houses the number 19, in the far left stall, a narrow gauge diesel that is undergoing restoration and the famous and very rare wood burning
Hiesler, the number 3 are located in the next stall. Eventually, number 20 will be moved to this shop as well. Today, the number 3 is temporarily out of service as the
local fire marshal deems it unsafe to operate during peak fire season due to the nature of sparks from the wood burning fire box. But it is often still run early in the
season. See below for more pics and history on this very unique steam locomotive.
Photos: July 2005
|These photos of the yard area were taken by my Dad in the summer, 2004. Photos: Michael McCamish, Summer 2004.
|Chasing the Number 19 Steam Engine
|On July 31, 2005, I visited the Sumpter Valley Ry for only the second time as I happen to be in the area for other reasons. And the first time visiting while it was
operational. Unfortunately, time was short and I was unable to ride the train, but I did get lots of pictures and video of number 19 leaving the McEwen station and later,
chased it from Sumpter back to McEwen. The Sumpter Valley makes several trips per day on the weekends and holidays. The number 19 is the primary steam engine
used today, with the number 3 also used early in the season when the fire danger is not a major issue. The number 20, the sister to number 19 is currently being
restored and several years down the road, will join number 19 as an active steam locomotive. Photos: July 2005
|Here we see the number 19 pulling out the McEwen station. The number 20 coach is an origional SVRy equipment built in 1890. It was purchased in the late 1980s
from the last owner in western Oregon using grant money given by the only surviving family member of the original railroad founder David Eccles. The car was named
in honor of Em Eccles Jones to made the donation. The number 3 caboose is also an original SVRy equipment. One of two original SVRy cabooses that is now
owned by the current SVRy. This one was fully restored in the restored in the early 1980s and has a cupola that passengers can ride in. Her sister caboose, the number
5 is currently being restored and will eventually return to service. Photos: July 2005
|A while later, we met the train as it was parked in Sumpter. The train lays over near the historical restored Dredge in Sumpter and is close enough to town for
passengers to walk to nearby restaurants and shops and visit the Dredge. The middle photo shows the engineer for today's run getting ready for the return trip to
McEwen. A very friendly person, who's name I unfortunately did not get. The engine had to make a run around and will now pull the train back to McEwen in reverse.
Eventual plans include building a loop here so the train doesn't have to do a runaround. Photos: July 2005
|Not long after departing Sumpter, the number 19 approaches the Sawmill Gulch Rd crossing. Photos: July 2005
|The highway 7 crossing is a largest crossing and is the only one with crossing guards, as I understand it. Photos: July 2005
|Number 19 crosses a major unguarded crossing on its way home to McEwen. Photos: July 2005
|This is the view from the McEwen depot platform as the number 19 returns home from Sumpter. This stretch of track is long and straight and the light from the
approaching train can be seen long before it arrives. Photos: July 2005
|After stopping and while passengers depart the train, the number 19, makes another runaround to get back into the lead of the train. The run round requires that
number 19 cross an unguarded crossing and approach the end of track. A conductor-flagger watches closely so the operation is done safely. Another conductor opens
the front passenger car coupler in preparation for the mating of number 19 back to the front of the train. Photos: July 2005
|Before backing into the passenger train, number 19 needs to take on more water from this historic water tower. Photos: July 2005
|The Locomotives of the Sumpter Valley Railway
|1915 42 ton wood burning Hiesler - WH Eccles # 3 - C/N 1306
|The 1915 Hiesler has quite the history, but its claim to fame is it rarity. It is only one of two operating wood burning Hieslers in the US and the only narrow gauge
wood burning Hiesler in existence. Over the years, many Hieslers and other locomotives, including the Sumpter Valley number 19 and 20 were converted over to oil,
which was easier to fire and safer in the heavily wooded Pacific Northwest. However, not the number 3. Photos: Two left taken by Michael McCamish Summer,
2004. Two right were taken by me in Summer, 2002.
|Original purchased by Eccles Lumber Company in 1915, the number 3 served on some of the logging lines that branched off of the Sumpter Valley Ry until that line
closed in 1926. It was eventually sold off to the Halleck & Howard Lumber in Cascade, Idaho and used as a locomotive there until 1950. From 1950 until sometime in
the 1960s it was used as a back up boiler for the mill there. By the time it was rescued in 1971, it was being stored in old shed on the mill property. It was hauled to
Oregon via the Union Pacific and restored in a donated shop in Baker City, Oregon. Restoration took 4 years. It would be the first steam locomotive to operate on the
new Sumpter Valley Railway on July 4, 1976 and still operates today. However, the current fire marshal of the Sumpter area now deems the locomotive to be unsafe
during the peak fire season. As a result, number 3 now spends much of the peak season in the new 4 stall engine house. It does make an appearance early in the
season when fire danger is not as great. The number 3 does need some repair and eventually will receive a good going over. Photos: July 2005
|1920 Alco 2-8-2 - Sumpter Valley Ry # 19 & 20
|These photos taken by the Dad show both the number 19 (in operation) and the number 20 (on display) Both were built by the Alco Locomotive Works in August, 1920
for the Oregon Lumber Company. Today, the number 19 serves as the primary steam locomotive for the SVRy while the number 20 has finally been moved indoors
and is beginning the long restoration process that will return her to service. Photos: Taken by Michael McCamish Summer, 2004.
|Both the number 19 and 20 served on the Sumpter Valley Ry from 1920 until 1940. They were originally numberd 101 and 102 to fit with the Oregon Lumber
Company numbering. Originally intended to operate on the Oregon Lumber Co. portion of the line out of Austin, Oregon, they were instead operated mostly on the
Sumpter Valley mainline and then renumbered 19 and 20. They were originally wood burners, but later converted to oil burning. During their years on the Sumpter
Valley they received numerous improvements, including Rushton smokestacks, Franklin automatic fire doors, and an additional 11 inch air pump. Then in 1940 # 19
and 20 were purchased by the White Pass & Yukon Railroad in Alaska. They were shipped to Seattle and headed north. Both engines served long after the war, finally
being retired in 1957. In 1977 the Sumpter Valley was informed that the White Pass & Yukon would scrap the engines unless a home could be found. The Sumpter
Valley paid one dollar each, and $35,000 to ship them home. They were heavily stripped when they arrived. Their original tenders had stayed behind for the
articulateds, #250-251, and later went to Guatemala. While the articulateds couldn't be saved, the tenders could. They were returned to the Sumpter Valley and were
reunited with their engines. The USA 190 class tenders that came with the mikados were traded back to the White Pass & Yukon for two steel flatcars and tank car #61.
The locomotives were evaluated, and in 1992, #19 was sent to Portland. Under the expertise of Doyle McCormick she was restored to fully operable condition.
Thousands of volunteer hours and a quarter million dollars paid off when she steamed into Sumpter for the first time in 56 years, in 1996. Since then she has been the
backbone of the Sumpter Valley. Recently #20 has been moved inside and is now undergoing restoration. Photos: July 2005
|A note about this logo:
Fans of the Sumpter Valley RR may not immediately recognize this logo. It is the newest
and oldest logo of the line. During the restoration of the SVR's Baker City Depot a few
years back, several brass Conductor buttons were discovered. This was the logo on these
buttons, which apparently was the original logo of the Sumpter Valley RR. Because the
original SVRy was owned by Oregon Lumber Co., the center portion of the logo represents
a circular saw blade. Because of the discovery, it was decided to make this the new logo of
the current Sumpter Valley RR operations. The prior used "arrow" style logo is now
disappearing from the cars and line as time passes, but currently both logos are now used.
Thanks much to Dan Denham of the SVRy for the logo and info.
|Any corrections, suggestion, additional information or photos are more than welcome.
You can Email me anytime.
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|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.
|The main depot and water tower of the Sumpter Valley Ry are located at McEwen. The water tower is an original Sumpter Valley piece of history, although the wood
water tank inside the building was replaced with a steel water tank. It was originaly located along the SVRy in Bates, before being moved here to McEwen in 1976.
The depot was built around the same time and houses the ticket booth and small gift store. Currently, the tracks end just east of the depot, but future plans include
extending the line east another 5 miles to the Union Creek Campground at Phillips Lake.
Photos: July 2005