Last Update: January 2, 2006
For anyone interested in the Oregon-American Mill and related railroad history, I highly recommend the book,
The Oregon-American Lumber Company, Ain't No More.  
By Ed Kamholz.  Published by Stanford University Press in 2003.
Also, check out my Gales Creek & Wilson River Railroad page, which interchanged with the UR at Wilkesboro, Oregon
Also, check out my Ring of Fire page about a movie that was filmed on this railroad in 1960 that involved a locomotive that was later wrecked
and abandoned up in Washington state.
The
Vernonia South Park & Sunset Steam Railroad

The last operation on the Banks to Vernonia line was this
steam excursion railroad operated from 1964-1969.  It may
no longer operate, but because of them, several O-A steam
engines and the two largest trestle on the line, north of
Banks, still survive in part today.

Photo was taken by Earl Bossuyt July, 1967
Displayed here courtesy of his son Tom Bossuyt
See below for more photos and information
Overview of the United Railways and Oregon-American Lumber Company

In 1906, the United Railways was incorporated to build an interurban electric railroad from Portland, Oregon to
Hillsboro and down the Willamette Valley, eventually to San Fransico.
But, it’s ultimate fate would be entirely different.

Construction began in 1907 in Portland.  The intention was to hook up with an existing electric line in Hillsboro and Forest Grove.   The
Oregon-Electric was already constructing a line between Portland and Forest Grove, via Garden Home and the Tualatin Valley.  So, to attract
different customers, the United Railways built their line over the Tualatin Hills, via Cornelius Pass.   However, this would necessitate several
very large and expensive trestles as well as 4105-foot long tunnel at the Cornelius Pass summit.

By 1909, the Northern Pacific and Great Northern Railroads purchased the United Railways via the Spokane, Portland and Seattle.  Although
the UR retained it’s name and was operated as a separated corporation, it was essentially owned by the SP&S.

By 1910, the Cornelius Pass tunnel construction was begun and finished about a year later.   Grand dreams were to drive the line all the way
to Tillamook.  Never mind that the PR&N was already building a railroad to Tillamook via the Salmonberry Canyon.   In 1911, the UR had
reached Banks, OR where construction had temporarily ceased.  The UR decided not to extend the line to Forest Grove, since the Oregon-
Electric already served that city.   The parent company had decided that they would wait for major harbor development to be completed,
before they continued on to Tillamook and the Oregon Coast.   In the end, the line would never attempt to built to Tillamook.

In 1919, The Eccles Interests of Utah,  purchased large tracks of timber land near Vernonia, Oregon and incorporated the Portland, Astoria
and Pacific Railroad.  Plans were to continue where the UR ended at Banks, north to the town of Vernonia, where a sawmill was planned to
be built.   The plan was for the PA&P to finish the line to Vernonia, then purchase the UR from the SP&S and operate the entire line.

The period between 1919 and 1921 was one of economic hardship for the Portland, Astoria and Pacific and construction was slow.  Eccles
was unable to finance the line and ended up selling portions of his land.   Eventually, most of the land was sold to Charles S Keith and the
Central Coal and Coke Company of Kansas City, in 1921.  This would begin the birth of the Oregon-American Company and sawmill.   By
1922, the line was completed through Vernonia and to Keasey, but control of the PA&P portion of the railroad reverted back the UR, since
Keith wanted nothing to do with a railroad.   The UR’s parent company only agreed to take over the entire line provided that the Keith would
build the huge saw mill that he promised.

By 1924, the Oregon-American sawmill opened for business.   The Portland Astoria and Pacific name and corporation was dropped and the
United Railway operated the entire line from Portland over Cornelius Pass, through Banks, through Vernonia to the sawmill, to several miles
west of Keasey.

By 1930, the Great Depression began to take its toll on the UR and O-A sawmill.  The mill closed down and the railroad severely cut back
traffic.  A few small timber companies operated and continued to ship logs to the Willamette River.  But many of the bridges on the UR were
in desperate need of repair.    In 1935, the O-A mill reorganized and reopened.  This allowed the UR to invest money into the line and repair
many of the trestles by 1936.

Business really picked up during the late 1930s and World War Two.   The O-A began to extend its lines well into the mountains west of
Keasey and continued to ship logs back to the mill in Vernonia.  The UR would run as far as Keasey as late as the 1940s, to interchange
other Logging roads that branched out of there.  Otherwise it continued to haul finished lumber from the O-A mill in Vernonia to Portland.

By 1944, the United Railway name was dropped and the parent company, Spokane, Portland and Seattle, was officially adopted.   The line
had already been using SP&S equipment, so the changeover was barely noticeable.

The Long Bell Company, a subsidiary of International Paper,  purchased the Oregon-American mill in 1953 and continued to log in an area
based out of Camp Olsen and near Keasey.   But, by 1957, timber had run out and so had time for the mill in Vernonia.  The mill closed in
1957.  The line north of Vernonia to Keasey and beyond was abandoned.  The locomotives used by the O-A and later, Long Bell, were sold off
or scrapped.   Much of the mill was torn down in 1959, and the remains were burnt down in 1960, in the
spectacular making of the Movie,
Ring of Fire.   The same movie in which Georgia Pacific number 9 was filmed crashing off of a bridge in Washington.  The remains still exist
today and I have an entire page on that.

In 1961, locals attempted to start a steam excursion railroad called the Vernonia South Park and Sunset Steam Railroad.   They purchased
several of the old O-A/Long Bell locomotives and started operating in 1964 using SP&S crews.   The SP&S still had occasional shippers on
the line, so they kept it open.  But by 1969, there no shippers left and the SP&S wanted to abandoned the remaining track from Banks to
Vernonia.   The excursion line closed down and the track was abandoned.  See bottom of this page for more info and photos.
By 1973, the rails were pulled up.

Thankfully some bridges were left in place, including two spectacular high wooden trestles.  Today, much of the line between Banks and
Vernonia is a hiking trail.   Little remains of the  line between Vernonia and Keasey.   The logging camps and most of the bridges west of
Keasey were also destroyed, although I found a few interesting remains.     The many logging railroad spurs built by the Oregon-American
and later, Long Bell, were actually converted to logging roads and some can still be driven on today.  Interestingly, it appears that much of the
rail and ties of the last of the logging railroads were not salvaged but in fact were bulldozed to the side where they remain today buried in dirt,
to make room for new logging roads that were built over the grades.

The mill site in Vernonia was completely abandoned, eventually the site was donated to the city, and never redevloped.  The massive mill
foundations and even the walls of some of the buildings can still be seen.   The millpond was never drained and is today part of a local city
park and used as a fishing hole.

Part of the original United Railways is still active.  In 1970, the SP&S was merged into the Burlington Northern system.   The route from
Portland to Banks still existed.  It largely served a few mills and as an alternate interchange for the Southern Pacific Tillamook branch.  By the
1980s, however, The route to Cornelius Pass was abandoned and the tunnel closed.   But not forever.  By the early 1990s, the local Portland
& Western began to lease the old BN line and proposed reopening the tunnel, which it did.   Today, the line between Portland through the
tunnel to Banks is fully operational and still referred to today as the "United Branch".
Map of the entire United Railways and Oregon-American mainline.  Purple indicates the United Railways from Portland to Banks, still in use,
owned by the Portland & Western RR.  
Yellow indicates the abandoned United Railways and O-A line.   Black indicates Vernonia, where the
O-A mill was located.  
Red indicates Camp McGreggor.  Blue indicates the Overhead trestle that used to cross Hwy 26, green indicates
Camp Olson.
The United Railway - United Junction {near Portland} to Banks
Currently,
Portland & Western owned railroad.
After leaving the SP&S, the United begins it's ascent up Cornelius
Pass by first passing under Hwy 30 via this tunnel.   Left photo is
the United Junction end, right photo is other side of the tunnel.  
 
Photo: 3/2005
United Junction.  This is where the United Railroad,
junctioned with the Astoria branch of the Spokane, Portland
& Seattle RR (It's parent company), near Portland.   Today,
the Portland & Western owns and operates the remains of
both lines.
  Photo: 3/2005
The line then makes an impressive climb up Cornelius, over several bridges, some of which have been moderized in
recent years, before reaching the summit and the Cornelius Pass tunnel.
Photo: 3/2005
The Holcomb Creek bridge is just east of
Bower's Junction. It's quite  spectacular and
is one of the most impressive wood trestles
in the Portland Metro Area.
Photo courtesy of Todd Kennedy.  Photo: 2004
The two pictures on the left are of the east portal of the Cornelius Pass tunnel.  The picture on the
right is of the west portal.  Recently reopened and used by the Portland & Western Railroad.   
Pictures are courtesy of Todd Kennedy.  Photo: 2004
Another wood Trestle on the old
United line, just west of Bower's
Junction.
 Photo: 2004
More photos of the Holcomb Creek Trestle.   
Photos: 2004
The Bendemer spur takes off from the ex-United Mainline west of the Holcomb Creek Trestle.   The spur used to connect the United to the Oregon Electric
railroad at Orenco.  The OE line at Orenco was abandoned in the early 1980s, but is used today by MAX, a local commuter railline.  The Bendemer spur was
cut back to Bendemer after that and remained in service until just recently.  Today, the entire spur is undergoing abandonment by the Portland & Western,
which current owns the line.
Photos: 2004
The old siding at Vadis.  Today, Vadis is the site of a small mill and an abandoned siding.   In 1927, the Grove Lumber Company built a spur line from here,
north into the hills.   In 1937, a wreck occurred on the spur line several miles north of here in which a woman was killed.   The Shay locomotive was
destroyed, but today, the water tank still remains at the site of the wreck.  Pictures of that tank can be seen on
this page.   The spurline was abandoned in
1937.  The siding from that spur line remained for many years and was only recently removed.   PIcture on the right is looking towards Vernonia.  PIcture in
middle is looking back towards Portland with the abandoned siding remains on the left.  Picture on right shows a closer view of the siding remains.   
Photos: 2004
This is the end of the line of the old United Railway as of 2004, at the north end of Banks, Oregon.   The three left pictures show where the point where the
old United Railways was abandoned in 1969.    Where my truck is parked and the partly covered rails is a point a few hundred feet north of where the
United Railway now ends.   The railcars in the picture on the right, mark the actual end of the line.   Not far north of here the grade was turned into a rails to
trails.   The line was abandoned from this point north, in 1969 and most of the track removed by 1973.   
Photos: 2004
The United Railway (Banks to Vernonia)
Abandoned 1969
This is the most significant remaining structure on the abandoned section of the United Railways line.   The Buxton trestle was originally built in 1921 and
rebuilt in 1936.  It was little used after the mill closed in 1957, but it was not entirely abandoned until 1969, with the tracks removed in 1973.  Today, of the
two huge abandoned trestles, this is the only fully intact one.    Its not part of the trail, because the trestle is in fairly poor condition and not structually sound
to make it a foot bridge.   
Photos: May, 2005
These are photos of the top deck of the Buxton trestle.   Top row are photos of the south approach, while bottom row are photos of the north approach.   The
trestle is blocked from access, so I was not able to get photos of the middle section.  The two right photos are of the grade approach to the trestle.
Photos: May, 2005
On it's way to Tophill, the former site of the only tunnel on the line and the summit between Banks and Vernonia, the line crossed Highway 47 for the first time
via a short trestle.  This site is about 1/2 mile south of Highway 47 and Nowakowski Road.   The original trestle was removed sometime after the line was
abandoned in the early 1970s.   When the route between Banks and Vernonia was converted to a trail a new bridge was erected for the trail.   The steel
portion is the new pedestrian bridge, but two original fully intact bents still exist on either side of the road.   
Photos: Nov, 2005
This is the second of two large and high wood trestles that still remain on the old United Railways line to Vernonia.
This is one is located over Hwy 47, about 8 highway miles south of Vernonia and is probably the most well known.  It's located about 1.3 miles north on
Highway 47 of the previous trestle site that crossed the road.   It was not utilized for the new trail.   The north section of the trestle was destroyed during a
brush fire that occurred sometime in the 1980s.   But the rest of the trestle survives today.  It was built in 1921, rebuilt again in 1936 and finally abandoned in
1969.  The rails were removed in 1973.
Photos: 2003/2004
As the line approaches Vernonia, it crosses several smaller trestles that actually still exist today as they were utilized for the trail.  This short trestle is over
Beaver Creek.   It's located right next to the highway.
Photos: Nov, 2005
This trestle was also preserved for the trail and is located over an unnamed creek.   A tributary to the Nehalem River.
Photos: Nov, 2005
This trestle is located just south of Vernonia.  It's one of more interesting ones as it uses a combination of a decent size wood piling trestle and a fairly long
steel plate girder structure.   It's been converted for use on the trail, but most of the original trestle still remains.
Photos: Nov, 2005
In Vernonia, the line split.   A spur split from the main United Rails and headed east a short distance to the Oregon-American mill, while the mainline United
Rails continued north and then west on to Keasey.  These photos show the bike path that was paved over the Oregon-American mill spur.  The photo on the
left is spur looking towards the United Railway mainline.    The second photo is the spur looking towards the mill site.
Photos: Nov, 2005
About 1/2 mile east of the mill, the Oregon-American mill spur line crossed Rock Creek via a trestle almost right in the middle of Vernonia.   Unfortunately,
the original trestle is long gone, replaced with a wood pedestrian bridge pictured here.
Photos: Nov, 2005
Oregon-American (later Long-Bell) Saw Mill, Vernonia
Closed by 1957 - Burned down in 1960
This photo is courtesy of Marc Reusser from Steam in the Woods.
This is a view is of the Oregon-American saw mill complex in Vernonia as viewed from the air.  Probably taken sometime during the
1930s.  Today, most of the complex remains in the form of abandoned concrete foundations, never redeveloped.   The log pond is
now a local city fishing lake.
The old Oregon-American mill pond as viewed from
the east end of the mill, looking east.  The pond is
not much different today than it was when the mill
was running, except today the logs are gone.  
Photo: 2003
These are the large floor foundations to the Oregon-American saw mill building.  The large block of concrete probably once held a saw
machine.
 Photos: 2003
This is the fuel bunker building for the power house.  The only mill building still standing.  Most likely because of it's concrete walls.  The roof was
missing, however.     Note the trees that are now growing inside the building.  Picture on far right by John Notis.
  Photos:  2003
A short distance from the mill site is this building, which used to be the mill office.  It was turned into a local historical
museum in the early 1960s, after Long Bell abandoned it.   Several artifacts are on display nearby, including the remains
of this steam donkey.
 Photos: 2003
The Oregon-American/Long Bell number 102 is a Lima Shay, 40 ton-2 truck built in 1912.   It was originally built for the Astoria Southern Railway as their
number 2.   In 1922, it went to the Clark County Timber Company .   It passed through several hands in Oregon, before being purchased by the
Oregon-American in 1928.  It retained the number 2, until 1938, when it was renumbered 102.   In 1953, when Long Bell purchased the mill and railroad, the
locomotive was repainted to reflect the new owners.   In 1958, it was retired, after more than 44 years of hard service.   It was placed here, in a Vernonia
city park.  Recently, it was taken out of the park in hopes that it could be restored and fired back up.  But the restoration was beyond the scope of the folks
who tried and it was put back together and placed back in the park where it remains today.     

This was the smallest locomotive that the O-A employed, but it was a hard worker.  One of only 5 geared locomotives that the O-A used in more than 33
years, it saw a lot of action.    While several of the O-A rod engines still exist today, number 102 is the only geared O-A locomotive to survive.  The rest were
scrapped.   
Top row photos: 2003  Bottom row photos:  Nov. 2005
This photo from the Vernonia Historical Society was posted on a
reader board near the Buxton trestle.  It shows the Vernonia depot
and the United Railroad tracks in the middle of Vernonia in the last
years of operation in the 1950s.
This photo is of the Vernonia depot in 1962.   Within a few years
the line to Vernonia would be abandoned all together.
Ben Maxwell Photo, courtesy of the Salem Public Library.
United Railways (Vernonia to Keasey)
Abandoned 1957
Map of the Keasey Area from the 1970s.   It looks just like this today.
As United Railways ran north through Vernonia, it passed through this small cut.   Today the current Vernonia City Hall is built right on top of the old grade.
Note the old piece of rail that is laying next to the grade.  This rail hasn't been used in almost 50 years, so it's kind of interesting that it's still sitting next to the
road in the middle of town.   This particular portion of the grade is actually a private driveway for several modern homes.    About 1/2 mile north of here, a
wye existed, but it's located on private property today and is not accessible.
Photos: Nov, 2005
About 1 mile east of Keasey is this abandoned trestle.  The top decking was removed years ago, but the rest of it was still intact as of March, 2000, when
Matt Wolford took these pictures.   
Courtesy of Matt Wolford.  Photos: 4/2000
The site of Keasey, looking northeast from
the southwest end of the old railyard.   To
the right used to be the huge camp used by
another logging company..  To the left used
to be a water tower.   I'm standing on what
used to be the mainline UR railroad.  
Photos: 2003
At the southeast end of Keasey, the grade continues a short ways until it reaches the site of a
huge high trestle that spanned Rock Creek, before the line eventually reached Camp
McGreggor.  
Photos: 2003
This is all that remains of the trestle just west of Keasey.   A few pilings and concrete blocks in the creek bed.    Abandoned in 1957,   Judging from the
cables wrapped around the pilings and the fact that they were bunched together, it looked to me like crews came in and pulled the trestle down after the line
was abandoned, probably to prevent people from driving over it.   Photo on far left by John Notis.  
Photos: 2003
This photo from the Vernonia Historical Society was posted on a reader board near the Buxton trestle.  It shows the
Keasey water tower and one of the O-A locomotives taking a load of logs to Vernonia.
Oregon-American RR (Keasey to Camp McGreggor)
USGS map of the area in question from the late 1970s.   Almost nothing has changed since then.  Some of the logging roads shown in this map used to be
Oregon-American logging railroads.  

This area of the old Oregon-American property is now owned by the Stimpson Timber Company.   Unfortunately, it's closed off to vehicle traffic most of the
year, and even hikers aren't allowed in while they are logging or during peak fire season.   However, Stimpson does open the gates and allow access
during the weekends of hunting season.    Much thanks to Stimpson for at least doing that.   The trend today is closing private timber to most access year
round, which makes exploring these abandoned railroads very difficult.
A few miles of the old grade, now logging road, west of the collapsed Keasey Railroad bridge is blocked off by a huge culvert washout.    As a result I was
only able to start exploring about 3 miles west of Keasey.    There are several other potential trestle sites in that area that I didn't have time to hike too.     
This site is located just south of the washout.    It was one of several areas where a trestles crossed Rock Creek.    When the railroad was abandoned and
later converted to a logging road, the new road bypassed these trestles and several thousand feet of grade on the opposite side of the creek.   Today, not
much exists.   The south approach and fill to this trestle is shown the two left pictures.  The two right pictures show the only remains I could find of the
trestle.  
Photos: 2004
Another very short section of track that crews bypassed when
they built the logging road.  This is just east of Camp McGreggor.  
The remains are of a short railroad trestle built over a culvert.  
Photos: 2004
The picture on the left shows a fill created to level off the
grade east of Camp McGreggor.  On the right, one of several
concrete bridges installed to replace the wood railroad
trestles when the grade was converted to a vehicle road.  
Photos: 2004
Oregon-American Camp McGreggor
1922-1957
Camp McGreggor was not the first camp built by Oregon-American crews, but it was the largest and longest used.   First established in the early 1920s it
grew over the years.  But in 1933, the Wolf Creek Fire completely destroyed the camp.  It was said that had it not been for the wood sidewalks that
connected each building, much of the camp might have been saved.   It was during this same period that the Oregon-American mill shut down due to
financial difficulties and the Depression.   But in 1935, the O-A reorganized and began to rebuild the railroad, including expanding west of the Camp Olsen
area through the old Inman-Poulsen property, who had initially built much of the line west of Keasey, but finished logging by 1930.    By 1936, Camp
McGreggor was rebuilt and would exist as a major logging camp for another 20 years.

When logging ran out in the late 1950s, most of the camp was destroyed.   Today, little is visible above ground, except for fields and trees.  But the lumpy
ground and various pieces of debris and rail laying about indicate that the camp was likely razed, bulldozed over and simply buried.  Note the numerous
pieces of railroad track found.
 Photos: 2004
This is the view of the site of Camp McGreggor coming from the area of Keasey.   Locomotives had this exact same view 80 years ago as they steamed
down this very same road from Keasey to deliver supplies and empty disconnect log cars to the logging crews stationed here.   Dozens of buildings used to
exist here, including bunk houses on the left and huge repair facilities on the right.Camp McGreggor was also the site of a major railyard and several spur
lines and sidings were located here.
 Photos: 2004
A large cut, built to keep the
railroad level, east of Camp
McGreggor.
 2004
An old fire truck staged in the area over the summer months by
Stimpson in the event of a fire.   There is little worry of
vandalism since the area is closed off most of the year and
heavily patrolled when it's open during hunting season.
Photos: 2004
Another concrete bridge built to
replace the wooden RR trestle
when the line was converted to
a road.
 2004
In the early 1920s,  Inman-Poulsen built a railroad from Keasey to it's property.   In later years, this would be the line O-A would take over.  During it's
operation, Inman-Poulsen, built a huge log pond by damming up Rock Creek about 2 miles  north of the present day Hwy 26.   They then built a mill and camp
along side the log pond, but the most significant structure was long trestle built across the lake to access more timber stands.    In 1930,  Inman-Poulsen
finished logging it's lands and abandoned the line.   In 1933, the Wolf Creek Fire ravaged the area and destroyed the trestle.    In 1936, O-A took over the line
and rebuilt it to access it's own timber stands.   Rather than rebuild the lake trestle, O-A simply built around it.    The trestle wasn't completely destroyed by
the fire.  A shell of it's former self remained and today a few bents can still be found.  The two pictured here are located  at the north end of the old lake (now
drained) a few feet from the point that the O-A built a new line around the lake.  
Photos: 2004
A major goal was to locate the remains of the huge Twin Bridges.   At first I couldn't find the Twin Bridge site, but I did run across several extremely large
stumps.  These were at least 4 to 5 feet wide about 8 feet tall.  Notice the cuts in the stumps made by the loggers to support planks, which they stood on to
saw the trees down.   This means these trees were cut down by the Inman-Poulsen logging crews who logged this area in the early 1920s.   They survived
the Wolf Creek Fire of 1933 and still exist today.    These were located several miles east of Camp McGreggor near a large cut in the old railroad grade, that
you'll see pictured below.
 2004
The remains of the twin bridges.  Originally built in the early 1920s by the Inman-Poulsen logging crews to reach stands of timber northwest of Military Creek.
   The original trestle burned in the 1933 Wolf Creek Fire, but many of the pilings survived.   Oregon-American rebuilt the trestle in 1936.    It was finally
abandoned sometime before 1950.    Today, most of the trestle has collapsed, but a few bents still exist.    It was called the twin bridges, between it crossed
crossed the confluence of two creeks and required two separate trestles.  I couldn't reach the other side of the creek to see if any remains of the northern
trestle still exist.   What you see here is the remains of the southern trestle.   Sometimes referred too as the left hand trestle.
 2004
The original bridge burned in 1933.   But some of the pilings still remained.  Oregon-American completely rebuilt the trestle in 1936.  But I noticed a few
pilings that were out of place.   I believe the piling indicated by the arrow is one of the original burnt pilings, while the four pile bent behind it, is remains of
the structure that was built in 1936.   Picture on the right shows the first creek crossing.   There is almost nothing to indicate a trestle was here, except for
the collapsed pilings I'm standing on to take this picture.  
2004
Picture on right shows another concrete road bridge built to replace the wooden railroad trestle.  I could find no sign of the original trestle    However, there
was evidence of an old road that led down to the creek and back up the other side, used by vehicles to cross the creek, after the RR was abandoned, but
before this bridge was built.  Picture on the right shows the large cut built for the RR.   It was here in this area that the famous twin bridges was constructed.
 This is where I parked and hiked over the berm on the left to search out the remains.
 Photos: 2004
The Overhead Trestle (built over Hwy 26)
Torn down in 1957
This is what is left of what was known as the "overhead".  A trestle that crossed Hwy 26, then called the Wolf Creek Hwy and allowed the O-A Railroad and
logging crews to reach more stands of timber near Camp Olsen.  It was built between 1937 and 1938.    Today, the bridge is long gone.  These pictures show
the north approach from the Camp McGreggor side of the highway.   The left picture shows my truck facing the highway, away from Camp McGreggor, with
the fill and old RR grade located in the background.   The road that is used to access the property today was only a parking lot back then.   Picture on the
right was taken at the end of the fill where the trestle would have begun.  I facing away from the trestle site and looking back over the fill towards Camp
McGreggor.   The sign greets visitors to the Camp McGreggor side of the Stimpson property, which closed most of the year.  
Photos: 2004
PIcture on the right shows the grade on the south
side of the highway leading away from the highway
towards Camp Olsen.   I've read that another trestle
was located here as well, although I saw no
evidence of that.  
Photo: 2004
These pictures show the south approach across the highway.   Picture on the
left was taken on the Camp McGreggor side of the highway, looking at the
exact spot where the trestle used to cross the road, towards Camp Olsen.  
PIcture on the right was taken from the top of the south approach looking over
the highway towards Camp McGreggor.
 2004
On the south side of Hwy 26.   In the picture on the left, I'm standing on the abandoned grade that led to the "overhead" trestle.   Straight ahead is a short
logging railroad that used to be a railroad grade.   To the right is another currently used logging road that used to be a railroad grade and the mainline that
ran to Camp Olsen and multiple spur lines.   Picture in the middle and right show a few railroad rails that were left behind when this railroad was torn up in
1957.  
Photos: 2002/2004
These very interesting photos were sent in by Randy Nelson and show  the remains of the Overhead trestle as it appeared in 1975 just as crews were
preparing to widen Highway 26 in that area.   When the photos were taken, trees next to the road were removed and the collapsed bent remains could be
seen.   The left photos show the collapsed bents of the north approach, while the two right photos show the collapsed bents of the south approach.  
Today, these bents are completely gone.  Likely removed or cut up when the highway was widened.  Special thanks to Randy for sharing these very rare
photos.   
Photos:  Spring, 1975, courtesy of Randy Nelson
Oregon-American Logging Railroad (Camp Olson area)
Abandoned 1957  
Note:  Sometimes also spelled Camp Olsen on some maps.
USGS map of the area in question from the late 1970s.   Most of the logging roads shown in this map used to be Oregon-American logging railroads.  The Red
dotted road was the only access I was allowed to drive on.  The other roads were gated or closed off. The Yellow dotted road indicates the old
Oregon-American mainline railroad that lead from Keasey to Camp Olson.  Picture on the right is the sign that greeted me before I entered the property, now
owned by Stimpson Lumber.  These gates are only open a few weekends per year, during hunting season.
 Photos: 2004
The road to camp Olson is closed most of the year.  Only open a few weekends during hunting season.   The camp site is located several miles from the
gate.  Upon arrival it was immediately apparent that virtually nothing of the camp exists.   From 1947 to the late 1950s, this was a large logging camp,
complete with numerous buildings, a locomotive shop, blacksmith shop and even a school.  The camp was razed when the logging was completed.    I did
find some remains of the railroad that ran through here in the form of old ties and, pieces of rail and spikes.  It appears as though the rails were pulled up,
piled up along side the grade and the ties just bulldozed off to the side to turn the grade into a road.    Recent logging in the area, appears to have unearthed
a few dumps on the camp site.  I noticed numerous bottles and several dozen pairs of leather boots.   Some of the artifacts did not show the fade and wear
of being out in the sunlight for decades, so I assume they were all buried until just recently.  
Photos: 2004
The view on the right shows the logging road that used to be the mainline O-A Railroad.  I'm standing on the site of Camp Olson taking a picture of where my
truck is parked.  The view in the middle shows the truck parked on the old RR grade.  I'm standing on lumps of dirt that are old rails and ties that were
bulldozed out of the way in the late 1950s to make way for the road.  The 3rd view from the left shows the site of Camp Olson, now a just recently logged
field.  The far right picture shows the cut made just west of Camp Olsen for the RR mainline.
 Photos: 2004
Vernonia South Park and Sunset Steam Railroad
The final years for the line from Banks north
By 1957, logging had ceased and the O-A mill, now owned by Long-Bell, was closed.   With the primary shipper gone, the SP&S was not
interested in maintaining the expensive line for the few small shippers that remained.  Intent on abandoning the line from Banks north, the
SP&S encouraged it's remaining customers to ship by other means if possible.   As early as October 1960, locals tried to organize a public
excursion steam railroad on the United Rails between Banks and Vernonia.  By the early 1960s, only one shipper remained on the line, a
shingle mill, so the SP&S agreed to allow the excursion and even agreed to operate the locomotives, which were ex-Oregon-American
logging engines 104 and 105.

Before serving with the VSP&SSR, the 105 would actually play a little known role as a movie star.  At least part of it would anyway, when it's
tender was loaned to a movie company and attached to the Georgia-Pacific # 9 for the making the movie Ring of Fire.  
The No. 9 had quite the
interesting fate in the making of that movie, but the tender survived.

By 1964, the first runs were begun between Banks and Vernonia, using the 104, a 1923 Baldwin Saddle Tanker 2-6-2.  For most of it's short
run the train would be pulled by the O-A # 105 a 1925 Baldwin 2-6-2.  The caboose would be the old O-A # 367. The ride must have been
spectacular, since it crossed multiple trestles, including two very long and high trestles and was largely in wooded terrain.

The excursion shut down on October 19, 1969.  One could only imagine what  draw such an excursion could have been today.   With in a few
short years, on March 15, 1973, the Banks to Vernonia line was abandoned permanently.  

The Steam Excursion probably played a large role in saving at least two steam engines, two large trestles and several pieces of equipment   
Because in all likelihood, all would have been scrapped if abandoned in the early 1960s.   The entire line from Banks to Vernonia survives
today as a rails to trail, although it will sadly never see a train again.   As you can see from the above photos, most of the trestles, including
the two largest ones between Banks and Vernonia mostly survive today.    The coaches were all sold to private owners.  
At least one still
survives today.  The 104 and 105 were sold to Fred Kepner in 1969 and have languished a bit, but survived intact.  They still exist today,
stored in Merrill, Oregon and will hopefully someday be steamed up again.   Unfortunately,  ex-O-A Caboose 367 was abandoned in Banks
after 1969 and was burned and destroyed by vandals a few years later.
These July 1967 photos were taken of VSP&SSR Earl Bossuty.   They appear to be taken from the north end of the Buxton trestle.   Middle photo is a close up crop
of the photo on the far left.  These two Kodachrome slides  were recently discovered by Earl's son who was kind enough to share them here.
Photo was taken by Earl Bossuyt July, 1967  Displayed here courtesy of his son Tom Bossuyt - used with permission
On April 30, 1962 Ben Maxwell photographed this sign of the new VSP&SSR.  The date of the photo is in question because it conflicts with historical accounts
that say the railroad didn't operate until 1964 because of lack of coaches and riding equipment.  I suspect this might a July 12, 1964 photo as are the rest shown
here of his collection.
  Photo courtesy of the Salem Public Library - used with permission
On July 12, 1964 Ben Maxwell rode one of the first excursion of the VSP&SSR.  In the background
we can see the ex-O-A caboose 367 on the far left.  The other photos show the 105 and one of the two large trestles on the line.
Photos courtesy of the Salem Public Library - used with permission
If anyone has any further information, corrections or pictures about these railroads,  please let me
know.    You can
Email me anytime.  Thanks for viewing.
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Copyright © 2004-2006 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
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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
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Map of the Vernonia
area from the 1970s.
Not that much has
changed as of today
The log slip foundation.  Logs
used to be pulled out of the
mill pond up this slip and
processed.
Photo: 2003
The refuse burner foundation.  
 The burner was a cone shape
building, familiar at most
older saw mills.  
Photos: 2003