The Yaquina branch once connected to the ex-Southern Pacific Toledo branch, which is still
operational, used by the
 Portland & Western Railroad
Last Update: July 20, 2005
The line from Albany, Oregon to Yaquina, on the Oregon coast was finished in 1884, making it one of the older railroad lines in Oregon.  
The line was built under the direction of Colonel T. E. Hogg, and was originally supposed to be connected to the Union Pacific
transcontinental line east of the Oregon Cascades and construction was begun in the late 1870s.  The railroad was originally named
the Corvallis and Yaquina Railroad, but later changed to the Oregon Pacific.  Not to be confused with the current Oregon Pacific that
runs from Portland to Liberal, Oregon.   Some sources indicate that the line was originally called the Willamette Valley and Coast.  Not
to be confused with the Willamette Valley and Coast Railroad to Cherry City, built several decades later.    In 1897, C. P. Huntington and
others purchased the line that operated from Yaquina to Detroit and Idanha.   They originally did so on their own, rather than on behalf
of the Southern Pacific. But the Southern Pacific gained official control in July of 1915.

The idea was that Yaquina would be the next San Francisco, a huge west coast shipping hub and that Corvallis, would beat Portland,
as Oregon's railroad hub.   Huge investment was made into the line and the railroad was built over the Oregon coast range at
enormous cost.   Numerous trestles and several tunnels had to be constructed, but in the end, neither Yaquina, nor Corvallis, nor the
railroad itself ever materialized to the degree it was believed it would.  

The bar of the Yaquina River was far more hazardous than expected, mostly due to poorly constructed jetties and numerous
shipwrecks eventually scared passenger ships away.    Yaquina City, which is further upriver than the current day Newport, Oregon,
had a shallower harbor than Newport and never materialized as a major shipping point either.    The line originally ended at the newly
constructed railroad town of Yaquina, instead of at the more logical city of Newport on the Ocean because of a dispute between the
railroad owners and the town fathers of Newport.    In later years, during World War One, the U.S. Army built a line from Yaquina to
Newport and as far north as South Beach to log spruce for use in military airplanes.  Those lines were later used for private logging
but faded away long before the Second World War.

At its peak, the town of Yaquina would have over 2000 residents.  But in 1901, a fire burned down the entire business district.  The
railroad would live on, however, by serving passenger traffic to Yaquina and serving numerous saw mills along the line.   In 1915,
Southern Pacific would take over the line and today most of the line is still active, but only to Toledo, several miles west of Yaquina.    
The line between Toledo and Yaquina was abandoned in the 1937 and the remains of the town of Yaquina quickly dried up.   That
abandoned section is the primary focus of this article.   After 1937, the rails were pulled up and planks were laid down on the
numberous low level trestles to allow automobiles to drive between Yaquina and Toledo.   The Yaquina post office closed in 1961, and
today, there is almost no trace of the town site, except for some modern Tug boat businesses.    Not even a highway sign marks
where Yaquina used to be.    Ironic, since it was a town that was once thought to be the next San Francisco.

The giant Georgia-Pacific Toledo paper mill is essentially the only rail traffic that justifies the expensive line between the Corvallis and
Toledo today, but it has sufficient traffic to keep the line profitable, with many dozens of cars going to and from Toledo almost daily.   
The Toledo mill was built by the U.S. Army in 1918 to mill spruce for constructing aircraft.   After passing through several hands over
the decades, the mill was purchased by Georgia-Pacific Corp in 1951.  Today it's operated as one of the largest remaining paper mills
in the Northwest.  Today the line is run by the
Portland and Western Railroad, since Southern Pacific leased the line out to them in the
early 1990s.    The age of the line and its numerous wooden trestles make it very interesting and one of the most  historical remaining
active railroads in the Northwest.   Although three tunnels used to exist, only 1 remains today.  The other two were "daylighted" over
the years.  

The abandoned Toledo to Yaquina line is particularly interesting, because although abandoned for many decades,  there still exist
some remains.  Mostly in the form of low level trestles that ran along the Yaquina River on the way to the Yaquina city.      This section
of railroad was about 8 miles long.   There was no road between Toledo and Newport along the river, as there is today.  In fact, even
after the railroad was abandoned in 1937, cars used the railroad grade long trestles.   The rails were removed and wood decking was
placed on the trestles to allow for the cars.    By 1945, a new highway was completed between Toledo and Newport, which was built
over the grade and bypassed most of the trestles.  Some trestles were filled in for the highway.  Eventually, the remaining trestles had
to be dismantled for safety reasons.    Many of the trestles, although mostly only  in the form of pilings and cross beams, do remain
and can be viewed today.  The 1945 state highway built over the grade was downgraded to a county road in 1971, when a larger,
straighter by pass was built to the north, between Toledo and Newport.

I explored the line in March, 2004 and also took pictures of parts of the Toledo branch as I followed a Portland and Western train that
was headed to the Toledo Paper mill.  I returned in July, 2005 and added a few more detailed photos of the abandoned trestles.
Map showing the abandoned Toledo to Yaquina
branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad.    At the east
end of the line, is the town of Toledo, where the
current line ends at the very large Toledo saw mill.
This decking is virtually the only remains left at what used to be the town of Yaquina.  In the background in the Yaquina river.  What makes this decking
significant, is that I believe this is where the trains used to stop, based on pictures I've seen of the area from the 1920s.    Two tracks used to run on the
decking.  I believe this is the remains.  Note the extremely heavy construction of the decking, which could be explained if in fact this is where the trains
used to stop.    Pictures on the left were taken March, 2004.   On the right, taken July, 2005 at slightly lower tide.
This is the first trestle site encountered when driving from Newport towards Toledo.   Photo on the left was taken in March, 2004.  Two photos on the right
were taken in July, 2005 at slightly lower tide.
The  next trestle remains we encountered.  Photos taken March, 2004.
More pictures of the same trestle, taken in July, 2005 at lower tide.  These photos give a close up look at the trestle and reveal some
interesting things.   At low tide, we can see that the current surviving pilings are not the original.   Several stumps of the original pilings can be seen cut
short next to the main pilings.  It was not uncommon in the old days for new pilings to be pounded into the ground right next to the old pilings and the old
pilings cut down.   Even thought the trestles are in poor shape, it's amazing that they survive at all in the harsh conditions of the Oregon coast, over 68
years after they were abandoned.
Photos from around Toledo.  This is the town that keeps the remaining section of the Toledo branch alive.   Photos include a few views of a very small
fraction of the otherwise huge Toledo mill and railroad complex, as well as the Portland & Western Toledo offices and Yaquina HIstorical Society's
Georgia-Pacific number 1 steam engine display.   A 1922 Baldwin 2-8-2 which served its entire working life on logging RRs in the area. Photos July, 2005.
Photos of the Portland & Western "Toledo Hauler" taking a load of wood ships from Albany to Toledo.  This is an almost daily run to and from the mill and is
over one of the most historical railroads in Oregon.  The steep grade and sometimes long consists require the use powerful locomotives and extra traction
providing slugs.  Photos: March, 2004
Historical Photos
The Yaquina Bridge Accident of 1895.
In 1895 this tunnel and bridge was the site of a fatal train accident.   A Toledo bound train had just passed through the tunnel and crossed over this bridge.
 But just as the locomotive crossed the center span the bridge gave way under the weight of the rest of the train.   Killed were two brakemen riding on top
of the cars.  The bridge was built in 1886 and was only 9 years old, but like most structures of the day, was relatively weak and not treated, or maintained.  
  After the accident, a new structure was built and that's the one that you can still see being used today (far right picture).
Courtesy Salem (Oregon) Public Library Historical Photo Collection, Ben Maxwell photo.
One of the lessons of the 1895 accident was to build better and more protected bridges along the line.  Before steel center spans were used, the wood
center spans would be covered to protect them from the elements.  This is a bridge between Elk City and Toledo on the Yaquina branch, taken in the 1943.  
 Sometime after WW2, the center part of this span would be converted to a steel plate girder truss and the wood structure removed.   Right photo is the
cover of a 1903 Southern Pacific brochure on Yaquina Bay.
Courtesy Salem (Oregon) Public Library Historical Photo Collection, Ben Maxwell photo.
The depot at Summit, which was a stop on the line east of Toledo.   Photo taken in 1960.
Courtesy Salem (Oregon) Public Library Historical Photo Collection, Ben Maxwell photo.
These photos are of the city of Yaquina.  Today, the city is entirely gone.   From left to right: Under construction 1891 - Sometime in the 1890s -  Taken in
1937 -   Also 1937, shortly before the line was abandoned.
Courtesy Salem (Oregon) Public Library Historical Photo Collection, Ben Maxwell photo.
If anyone has any further information or pictures about the Yaquina branch of the Southern Pacific, especially pictures,
please let me know.   You can
Email me anytime.  Thanks.
Copyright © 2003-2005 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
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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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The last trestle remains that I could find on the way to Toledo is approximately 3 miles from Toledo.   This is probably the longest surviving trestle.  As you
can see in the middle photo, the highway, which is built on top of most of the original railroad grade, simply bypassed trestle site when it was built.  Cars
utilized this trestle for several years after 1937.   Planks replaced the rails to allow the few remaining residents of Yaquina to access Toledo before a real
road was built.   But eventually the top deck of the trestle was removed, but the pilings and some of the cross beams remain.