|The yard as it appeared back in 2002.
|Left photo: No. 801 in pristine new paint and Molalla Western markings in 1993, just after it was purchased and painted by Mr. Samuels.
Photo by John Bauer, Rob Jacox collection, Courtesy of Western Rails
Right photo: Courtesy of Greg Brown showing the 801 crossing the Molalla River bridge during the early years of the Molalla Western
|At left is an SP blueprint of the SP mainline through Canby and the then SP Molalla Branch Interchange track and wye. On the right, picture taken near Canby, Oregon in 1930 shows
Southern Pacific steam engine No 2833 getting ready to hook up to a load in the days when Southern Pacific owned this branch. This particular engine would later have a fatal
encounter with the Baldwin trestle on the Tillamook branch. It would fall a hundred feet or so through the trestle to its demise and the death of the crew. This photo was taking in 1930
facing (south) along Highway 99E, with the locomotive on the northern wye, in approximately the same location as the Oregon Pacific locomotive in the above aerial photos.
|Mr. Samuels purchased this branch line from the Southern Pacific in 1993. The track and equipment are owned by Mr. Samuels, but the land was leased
under extremely long term lease by the Southern Pacific to Mr. Samuels. The lease terms carried over to the Union Pacific when it merged with the Southern
Pacific in 1996. It's important to note that unlike other lease terms with other shortline railroads, the OPR has no restrictions on the use of it's line.
During the 1980s and early 1990s, the Southern Pacific was eager to divest itself of it's branch lines either by selling it or abandoning them. Selling the line
was far less complicated and time consuming and they were more than happy when Mr. Samuels offered to purchase the Molalla Branch. Mr. Samuels had
originally purchased the line for scrap value, with the intention of operating it until it was no longer feasible, then scrapping the track. As it turned out, the
Molalla Branch is the more profitable of the two lines, however, it is far more maintenance intensive.
The Molalla Branch would originally be operated as a separate company under Mr. Samuels ownership under the name, Molalla Western Railroad, reporting
marks MWRL. The primary shippers on the line were RSG Forest Products and Willamette Egg Feedmills, located in Liberal, but early on, there were still
shippers at the line's original terminus in Molalla.
In 1993, Mr. Samuels did not have a locomotive on the Molalla Branch and the Southern Pacific was so happy to have someone take over the line that they
allowed him to use the SP Oregon City switcher locomotive to work the line. SP Oregon City switcher crews would tie up an SW1500 on the interchange track
when they were done using it and Molalla Western crews would run the branch. Soon, Mr. Samuels East Portland Traction Company's No. 100 was brought
out to the Molalla Branch to work the railroad, while a new permanent locomotive was repaired and repainted back at the Milwaukie shop. That locomotive
was an EMD SW8 with Great Northern heritage that last worked for the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad and was owned by Pete Replinger. It was the first OPR
locomotive to be painted in the current red/white scheme and it was renumbered 801. It arrived on the branch in late 1993 and remains the primary Molalla
Branch locomotive to this day, a favorite of the crews due to its air throttle and 6 cylinder high volume air compressor.
In 1997, Mr. Samuels officially combined his East Portland operations with the Molalla operations and dropped both the East Portland Traction Company and
Molalla Western names in favor of the new Oregon Pacific Railroad company name that is in use today.
By the mid 1990s, there were no shippers left in Molalla, so it was decided to embargo the line from Liberal to Molalla. In 1995, Brazier Forest Products
closed down and shipped its last carload from Molalla. From the mid 1990s through the early 2000s, the embargoed section was used mainly for car
storage. In 2003, approximately 3 miles of track were picked up between Liberal and Molalla. Railroad crossing signs were removed and at least one major
railroad crossing was paved over for safety reasons. Today, the embargoed section is heavily overgrown. Official abandonment of this segment of the line
will occur in the future.
The Oregon Pacific Railroad interchanges traffic from the Molalla Branch in Canby, to the Union Pacific Railroad, which merged with the Southern Pacific in
1996. Traffic is set out on a mile long interchange siding, along side the UP mainline. When OPR locomotives need to be switched out from the East
Portland operation, which occasionally happens for maintenance, they are deadlined and attached to UP trains as freight between the two OPR divisions.
The Molalla Branch is rather maintenance intensive. It differs from the East Portland branch in that it has multiple bridges and crossings that need to be
maintained. Three major bridges along the line exist, including over Canby-Mulino Road, Milk Creek and the Molalla River. Also at least 7 separate road
crossings need to be maintained, most of which have crossing guards. The track was left in relatively poor condition by the Southern Pacific as the SP
deferred maintenance for decades. This has left the OPR to have to make regular repairs along the line, which is almost all FRA excepted track with a speed
limit of 10 mph. Revenue passenger traffic is not allowed on this division because of the excepted track status, although private speeders regularly operate
as part of private events held on the railroad. Unlike other shortlines, the UP has no authority to restrict the OPR's use of this railroad.
Recently, the OPR has added a new customer to the line that has increased traffic and service on the branch. American Steel is located approximately 1 mile
south of the Canby and takes in shipments of steel via flatbed and coil cars. A new spur was constructed into the brand new American Steel complex in the
summer of 2008. Today, the OPR crew typically switches out American Steel as often as twice a day, Monday through Friday, in addition to the switching at
RSG and Willamette Egg which can be as often as 3 days per week or more. This actually necessitates the use of two locomotives on the branch line,
sometimes operated at the same time, with one locomotive switching American Steel and the other taking loads to and from the south end of the branch.
The Union Pacific interchanges OPR cars at the Canby Interchange on Friday and Saturday nights, so the crew typically brings in all final loads to the
interchange by Friday night and bring back any empties or loads from the UP on Monday morning and throughout the week. On Friday nights, the UP
Oregon City Switcher picks up all loads or empties that are dropped off by the OPR and then meets with the Roseville-Hinkle UP train who picks up the OPR
traffic and takes to the UP Hinkle Yard. On Saturday nights, the UP MPDPW train sets out any loads/empties on its way to the interchange with the PNWR.
When the OPR crew goes on duty on Monday morning or early in the week, they pull the new train out of the interchange and deliver as needed.
The future of this branch appears very secure with the high level of traffic and the prospect of new customers being added near American Steel as the Canby
Industrial Park concept hopefully moves forward with new customers.
|The interchange at Canby as viewed from the air view maps.live.com.
|History of the Oregon Pacific Molalla Branch under the OPR, 1993 - present
|History of the Southern Pacific Molalla Branch 1913-1993
|Before being purchased by Mr. Samuels, the Molalla Branch was owned by the Southern Pacific. Its history dates as far back as 1912, when the Portland,
Eugene & Eastern Railway began construction of the line. A year later, in September, 1913, the line was finished to Molalla. In 1912 the Southern Pacific
had acquired control of PE&E and all its railroad lines, but it did not become official until July, 1915 when this line officially became the Southern Pacific Molalla
Maximum grade on the branch line was only 1.1 percent and the line only had two curves and two major river crossings, including the Molalla River. That
bridge was originally a open Howe double span truss that was later covered and then replaced with the current steel structure in the 1950s.
The line did cross another railroad at Liberal, later called the Willamette Valley Southern. The WVS was constructed in 1915 as the Clackamas Southern
Railway and operated from Oregon City to Mt. Angel. However, little trace is left of this line because it was abandoned in 1933 and the tracks were pulled up
sometime in the mid 1940s. Some sources indicate that passenger service ceased in 1933 while freight ceased in 1938. The Willamette Valley Southern
would operate as the Willamette Valley Railway in its final years. Because the WVS was built after the Southern Pacific Railroad, it was required to stop and
flag itself across the SP Molalla Branch and a special interlocking plant, protecting the two railroads, was constructed later. An interchange track was
constructed that allowed trains from either railroad to enter the other railroad's track. While the WVS mainline was removed by the mid 1940s, part of the
original interchange remains today as the first 400 feet of the RSG loading spur.
Original plans for the Molalla branch was to make it part of the Southern Pacific Red Electric passenger lines and it was to connect Canby, Liberal and Molalla
to the Red Electric service by adding 1 mile of track north of Canby to a proposed Red Electric branch line that was never built. The Molalla Branch was
subsequently going to be electrified, but it never was.
By the 1920s, the end of the Molalla Branch was very close to the Eastern & Western Logging Company's Timber railroad and plans were underway to extend
the Molalla Branch to connect with the Eastern & Western to receive shipments. However, the Eastern & Western connected with the Willamette Valley
Southern instead and fires wiped out the remaining Eastern & Western holdings before the Southern Pacific could build the extension and compete for the log
shipments. The WVS continued to ship out some logs through the 1930s. During WW2 with the extreme demand for logs and lumber, Ostrander Lumber
Co. considered reopening and using the then abandoned WVS railroad, which was later called the Eastern & Western Railroad after the WVS dissolved, but
was not actively in use. The tracks appeared to remain in place. But instead, they opted to join forces with Weyerhaeuser and build a private log truck road
between Canby and Molalla. The Molalla Forest Road, which paralleled the SP Molalla Branch in some sections, remained in service from 1944 to 1974.
Today abandoned sections of this old logging road can be seen from the Molalla Branch.
Log trains did operate on the Molalla Branch as loggers cut the burnt trees into the late 1930s, after the WVS was abandoned. Logs were loaded at a reload
in Molalla, probably at least until 1944 when the new Weyerhaeuser Road was finished.
The SP Molalla Branch served passengers as well, with some sources indicating that they operated 2 round trips, 6 days per week prior to 1924. After 1924,
this was cut back to 1 round trip per day, mixed passenger and freight. However other sources indicate that the SP was only operating one round trip as early
as 1921. During WW2, multiple extra trains per day ran to service the saw mills in Molalla and pick up scrap from the Eastern & Western logging operations of
Even by the early 1920s, freight trucks using the roads and highways (called auto trucks back then) were offering major competition with the SP Molalla
Branch and a lot of smaller shippers were inclined to ship directly to Canby or Portland via truck.
Speed limits on the line by the 1920s were 30 mph for passenger, 25 mph for freight and 20 mph for engines running backwards. By 1943, speed limits had
been reduced to 20 mph for all trains and by 1945 (after heavy war traffic) speed limits were reduced to 15 mph for all train.
The line had 6 passenger stops. Trains started at Molalla in the morning, then stopped at Liberal, Patrol (not a daily stop), Rames, Kraft and ended at
Canby. They would make the return trip in the afternoon. We aren’t sure when passenger service ceased, but probably by the late 1930s or certainly after
Freight stops included Molalla, several industries at Liberal, Rames Siding, Scott Siding and Kraft Siding. By the 1940s and 50s, most freight was shipped
from Molalla or Liberal. We believe all other sidings on the line were gone by then.
Liberal was a major point of contention among the public and shippers by 1921 as they filed complaints with the Oregon Public Services Commission that the
SP was providing inadequate service to both shippers and the public by no longer providing a station agent at Liberal. The commission ruled in the SP's
favor the agent at Liberal was not reinstated. Waybill boxes were placed at Liberal for shippers instead and shippers in Liberal had to coordinate with the
station agent at Molalla instead.
Molalla had several saw mills that the railroad continued to serve into the early 1990s.
Liberal had one major mill called the Publisher’s Mill by around the 1950s. In 1980, the Publisher's Mill underwent a complete rebuild with all new modern
equipment.. This mill is now owned by RSG Forest Products and still operates today as one of the largest remaining shippers on the line.
In 1978, Willamette Egg built a large feedmill for it’s chicken farms in the general area. This mill would receive dozens of carloads of chicken feed and
continues to do so today. The SP built a new siding and spur track to service this mill that the OPR now uses today.
In the final years of the Southern Pacific ownership from the 1980s through 1993, the line was switched by the SP Oregon City switcher, which operated the
line in the late evenings 5 days per week, servicing the industries in Liberal and Molalla, using one or two SW1500 switcher locomotives.
By the mid 1980s, remaining shippers in Liberal included the Publishers forest products and paper mills. In Molalla, remaining shippers included Avison
Lumber, Molalla Fertilizer, Norton Nickolson Grain and Brazier Forest Products. Brazier Forest Products would be the last Molalla shipper in 1995.
Click here to read an account of the railroad in its early years in Molalla.
|Here we see Mr. Samuel's son operating the 802 and taking a single load from Canby to Liberal after having taking a long load from Liberal to Canby earlier in the day. The three left
photos are looking west towards Canby. The one photo to the right is looking east towards Liberal. B McCamish Photos: 2006
|The photo on the left was taken from the same location by Joyce Peters and shows the west bound 801 with a long load from RSG Forest Products destined for the UP interchange.
Left photo shows the overpass from track level.
Joyce Peters Photo (left) photo on right taken 2007
|Here, the 802 is taking a single load from Canby to Liberal. Right photo shows the old SP sign painted on the bridge as it appeared in 2013.
photos: 2006 - 2013
|OPR 802 crosses this crossing with a train
|The 802 east bound passing near by the historical site of the old Oak Grove School.
|The bridge over Milk Creek as viewed from the air from live.maps.com. This is about 2.3 miles south of Canby.
|The original structure was finished in March of 1913 and was a 209' double span Howe Truss, plus two approaches. It was not originally covered as shown in this first 1913 photo at
the far left. However it appears the original bridge was covered later as seen in the second photo from 1945 (possibly 1948) as crews attempt to shore up the bridge during winter
flooding. The next photo was taken sometime after 1944 as it shows the Molalla log truck bridge on the right. The photo on the right is by Greg Brown taken in the early 1990s when
the line still went by the name Molalla Western, here powered by 801 in Molalla Western markings.
|American Steel - August/September, 2008
101MB - 28 minutes long
Molalla Branch Operations - April, 2006
30Mb - 8 minutes long
|RSG Forest Products in Liberal, Oregon
|This photo was taken by Greg Brown in 1993 at Canby, showing the 801 at the interchange during the 1st year of Mr. Samuel's Molalla operation.
Greg Brown photo: 1993
|(Left photo) This Greg Brown photo appears to show a very rare scene during the first few months of Mr. Sameul's Molalla Western operation in which he borrowed a Southern Pacific
switcher to operate the line until he could get his own locomotives on the branch. Southern Pacific No. 2603 was the SP Oregon City switcher, but was left tied up at Canby so Mr.
Samuels could use it for several months. (Right photo) Within a few months, the EPTC No. 100 was used on the line, but soon Mr. Samuels purchased the 801 and later the 803 to
operate and the No. 100 was returned to Milwaulkie.
|These Greg Brown photos were taken around 1993 and show the No. 100 in action. The 100 is crossing Hwy 213 near the RSG mill.
Greg Brown Photos: 1993
|Last Update: Feb 7, 2014
|These photos were taken from a speeder run and show from left to right: Looking south on the OPR interchange. The UP mainline is on the left. The UP, interchange track and south
leg of the Molalla branch wye. The north and south legs of the Molalla branch wye coming together heading east. And finally, the east switch of the Molalla branch wye.
|These photos were taken from a speeder run and show the crossing, east bound.
|These photos were taken from a speeder run and show the bridge from grade
level, east bound.
|These photos were taken from a speeder run and show the crossings and a short siding, east bound.
|These photos were taken from a speeder run and show the bridge from grade level, east bound.
|These photos were taken from a speeder run and show the bridge from grade level, east bound.
|Several photos along the line showing the very scenic country side. Much of the
line is unaccessible except via the local farm
land that is passes through.
|The OPR Liberal Yard is small yard used to store engines and other equipment. These photos taken in 2007.
|These photos were taken from a speeder run and show the approach to the RSG Forest Products Mill, east bound from Canby.
|Until the mid 1990s, the OPR served several shippers from the end of the line at Molalla. But this changed and OPR was no longer using the last several miles of the branch line. In
2003, it was decided to embargo the line and pull up the rails including taking out a dangerous crossing near Molalla.
Today, the line ends about 1/2 mile east of the RSG mill. The left photo is looking north from near the current end of the line. The right photo is looking south towards the end at S.
|Passing through the RSG mill complex. Note the loading spur inside the mill property.
|Passing through the RSG mill complex.
|Some detailed pictures of the bridge taken from the old abandoned logging road bridge to the south of the railroad bridge.
|In 1995 arsonists set fire to this bridge and burned about 55 feet of it. Mr. Samuels and his crew repaired it in about 9 days. This appears to be some remaining evidence of the
burned structure. The arsonists even laid down nails in the road to prevent fire trucks from reaching the scene. Photo on right from 1995 shows the bridge under repair.
photos: 2008 - 1995
|Date nails on the bridge pilings date to 1937 and 1945. The numbers made up by nails indicate the number of feet the piling goes into the ground before it stopped.
|History of the OPR - East Portland Branch - Molalla Branch - Videos of the OPR in Action
News & Upcoming Events - Photos of Past Events - Roster of the OPR
New page of the construction of
the American Steel spur and the
first revenue move by the 901.
Last Update: 9-25-08
|By the mid 1980s, remaining industries in Molalla included, Avison Lumber, Molalla Fertilizer, Norton Nickolson Grain and Brazier Forest Products.
The last revenue traffic to ship from the Molalla came from Brazier Forest Industries in 1995 when they closed their stud mill plant. Up to that point, only
several cars per year were being shipped and all other industries had either closed or elected to ship via truck only. The OPR closed the track east of Main
street to take the main street crossing out of service. The remaining track remained in service as car storage track into the early 2000s.
In December 2001, the Oregon Pacific Railroad announced that it would close the last three miles of the branch that ended in Molalla. Several factors played
a role in the determining that the section of track would have to be closed. Clackamas County wanted to redo Molalla Ave Highway that crossed the railroad
just east of the Willamette Egg Feedmill. That reconstruction would involve raising the highway above railroad grade level and adding a sweeping curve to
make the road safer for higher speed traffic. This couldn't be done economically with the railroad still in place. With that crossing removed, all track east of
that crossing, approximately 2.75 miles would be disconnected from service.
Additional factors were the cost of property taxes incured by the OPR and the scrap value of the rails still in place in addition to the cost of having to maintain
five public railroad crossings. By 2001, despite several mills still existing in Molalla, nobody was interested in shipping by rail and there was little to no
success in convincing a customer to locate to Molalla to utilize the rail service. With no customers and little hope of any future rail business, the last railroad
service to the City of Molalla was severed.
By approximately 2003, the rails and ties were pulled up from Molalla Ave just east of Willamette Egg into the City of Molalla. All crossings were removed and
taken out of service.
Today, a few small sections of rail can still be seen. But the majority of rail and ties are now gone and the grade is overgrown in most places. The grade
within the city limits has been used as an unofficial trail by locals with the weeds and brush cut back. All crossings have been paved over, except for one. No
crossing guards or gates remain.
The line is not officially abandoned. It is only embargoed and could be restored if service was justified, but it would likely require great expense to rebuild
almost 3 miles of railroad and at least five crossings
The City of Molalla has proposed to build a trail using the railroad grade as of 2007, but it's unclear if that will happen. The recession of 2008 and lack of
funds may have stalled that project indefinitely.
|The Vick Road crossing is the only remaining crossing with rails still in place, or at least, not paved over and even a crossing sign still left.
|Toliver Road is now a neighborhood street and the crossing has since been paved over. Locals have kept the brush clear for use as an
|Main Street Crossing. On the left is the crossing as it appeared in 2008, tracks gone, crossing long since paved over. On the right is one is one of the first runs during the intiital
months of Dick Samuel's Molalla Western in 1993. By 1995, the mill shut down and this crossing was no longer used. The crossing was pulled up about 6 years later. Right photo
courtesy of Greg Brown.
|Heintz Street is also a neighborhood street.
|The old mill site as of 2008. Sometime after 1995, the mill here was demolished and today, very little remains, except a giant empty lot.
|This is the last crossing, before the grade enters the old mill complex in Molalla. Today, the grade crossing at Section Street is paved over. Looking north, you can see that the
scrappers took up the mainline, but left some track of siding still in place. Looking south, the grade going into the abandoned mill complex is now fully overgrown.
|At the Main Street crossing, looking north is a rare section of track that was not pulled up.
|Vaughn Road is where the Molalla Branch now ends and the embargoed remaining section begins. The orange piece of railroad equipment marks the end of the operational Molalla
Branch. The railroad crossing has now been paved over and the road completely rebuilt, leaving no hint of the former grade crossing. Looking south, the grade is very overgrown.
|The Satrum-Dybvad Feedmill. Here chicken feed is made for Willamette Egg Farms who then trucks the feed to its farms throughout the community. This is a major customer of the
Oregon Pacific Railroad and also located at the end of the existing line.
|Photos of the south leg of the wye, the primary leg, as it crosses 99E, looking west.
|Videos Related to the Molalla Branch
|Video Tour of the OPR Molalla Branch
175MB - 32 minutes long
This video was made in the summer of 2008 and is a video tour of the Molalla Branch from the very south end to the north end including the UP/OPR
interchange. Footage was shot by cameras mounted on Kevin Novak's motor car speeder. Take a non-stop video tour of the branch in real time.
|MOLALLA BRANCH DIVISION of the OREGON PACIFIC RAILROAD
|These photos were taken of a rare diesel double header near the Canby wye.
Richard Samuels photos: 2008
|Photo Tour of the Molalla Branch from Canby to Molalla
|Photos of taking a train of loads into the Canby Interchange from the east end of the branch.
|The bridge as viewed from a west bound train (engine 801)
|The new 560 foot long storage spur just south of the Canby wye on the Molalla Branch. This is one of several new spurs and sidings that the OPR has constructed and plans to
construct on the Molalla Branch. The switch for the siding was placed on the mainline about .36 mile east of the Canby wye back in October 2008. The siding is designed to make
switching cars from the three major mills on the branch, easier. Its currently 560 feet long, but plans are to eventually extend it to over 800 feet long or as long as needed.
|The first five pictures are looking east at the newly completely siding. The far right picture is looking west from the new siding switch.
|The siding as viewed from a westbound train (engine 801)
|Views of the bridge taken from a west bound train (engine 801)
|Views of the Molalla River Trestle from a north bound train (engine 801)
|Meadows just north of RSG Forest Products mill as viewed
from a west bound train.
|These Greg Brown photos were taken around 1993 and show the No. 100 in action. 100 is switching cars at the Liberal Siding, near Willamette Egg Feedmill.
Greg Brown Photos: 1993
|Engine 801 and the crew switching cars at the RSG mill.
|Engine 801 and the OPR crew switch out cars at the feed mill.
|History of the OPR - East Portland Branch - Molalla Branch - Videos of the OPR in Action
News & Upcoming Events - Photos of Past Events - Roster of the OPR
|Copyright © 2004-2014 All Rights Reserved
|Kraft Station & Siding (historical) - SP Milepost 749.45 (siding switch) 749.60 (station) - Branch MP 2.07
|Molalla River Bridge - SP MP 751.02 (west end) 751.17 (east end) - Branch MP 3.64
|Milk Creek Bridge - SP Milepost 749.88 (West End of Trestle) - Branch MP 2.35
|Crossing at Canby-Mulino Road - SP Milepost 749.60 - Branch MP 2.07
|Canby-Mulino Road Overpass - SP Milepost 749.0 - Branch MP 1.47
|Township Rd (Canby-Union Hall Rd) Crossing - SP Milepost 748.28 - Branch MP 0.75
|4th Ave (Canby Rd) Underpass - SP Milepost 748.10 - Branch MP 0.57
|American Steel (built 2008) - SP Milepost 748.37 - Branch MP 0.84
|Canby Storage Siding (built 2008-2009) SP Milepost 747.89 - Branch MP 0.36
|Molalla Branch Wye and Beginning of Main Branch Line - SP Milepost 747.53 (at South Leg Wye Switch) Branch MP 0.0
|Macksburg Road Crossing SP Milepost 752.16 - Branch MP 4.63
|Oak Grove School Road Crossing - SP Milepost 752.85 - Branch MP 5.32
|RSG Forest Products - Additional Photos and Information
|Liberal OPR Yard - SP Milepost 754.71 - Branch MP 7.18
|Satrum-Dybvad Willamette Feedmill, Willamette Egg - SP Milepost 755.05 - MP 7.52 (at mill loading spur switch)
|Current Terminus of the Branch SP Milepost 755.22 - Branch MP 7.69
|The "embargoed" last 2.88 branch miles and the City of Molalla
|Vaughn Road Crossing (also known as S. Molalla Ave) (historical) - SP Milepost 755.23 - Branch MP 7.70
|S. Vick Road Crossing (historical) - SP Milepost 756.46 - Branch MP 8.93
|Toliver Road Crossing (historical) - SP Milepost 757.11 - Branch MP 9.58
|Heintz Street Crossing (historical) - SP Milepost 757.24 - Branch MP 9.71
|Main Street Street Crossing (historical) - SP Milepost 757.50 - Branch MP 9.97
|Section Street Street Crossing - SP Milepost 757.84 - Branch MP 10.57
|Abandoned Mill Site
|Maps of the Molalla Branch
|Locomotives Currently in Active Service on the Molalla Branch
|Rames Station, formly Latourette Station - SP Milepost 752.18 (west siding switch) 752.47 (east siding switch) - Branch MP 4.94
|Patrol Station (historical) - SP Milepost 752.87 - Branch MP 5.34
|In 2008, the OPR began to construct a brand new siding east of the wye. This siding when complete to its full length would be approximately 800 feet long.
The siding was required partly due to the American Steel facility at the western end of the branch and not having access to any nearby storage track. The
siding will allow the OPR to store American Steel loads and empties as well as other cars from the eastern end of the branch as needed. The current length
of 560 feet was completed by 2009. Several additional car lengths could be added later if needed.
|Railroad Direction West to East
While the Molalla Branch may appear on maps to be a north-south railroad, it is officially referred to as an east-west direction railroad. Railroad directions on
branchlines are typically based on the prevailing heading of the tracks in relationship to the connecting mainline. Facing towards Canby is considered facing
west, while facing towards Molalla is considered facing east.
|The (4th Ave) Canby Road Underpass is one of two underpasses on the Molalla Branch. It's a good place to watch trains go by and is located approximately
1/2 mile east of the wye.
|The Canby-Union Hall Road Crossing is the first major crossing east of the wye. Like most highway crossings on the Molalla Branch, it is protected by
|The Canby-Mulino Overpass is the only road overpass on the Molalla Branch. The original trestle was from west to east 28 foot pile trestle, 40 foot wood
truss bridge and 57 foot pile trestle. The wood truss bridge was likely replaced with the current steel section in the 1950s, along with the other steel sections
of the Molalla Branch bridges. The narrow path under the trestle has caused it to be a victim of several vehicle accidents over the years.
Old maps indicate that approximately 130 feet west of the trestle a 6 foot tall by 62 foot long concrete tunnel existed under the right of way. This tunnel exists
today as an apparent drainage tunnel for a creek that the railroad bisected when constructed.
|The Milk Creek Bridge is the first major water crossing on the Molalla Branch. Milk Creek is a major tributary to the Molalla River. The Portland, Eugene &
Eastern originally crossed this creek on a bridge that consisted of a 70 foot trestle approach on the west end, connecting to an 82 foot Howe Truss structure
that crossed over the creek and a 15 foot east approach open deck wood pile. In the 1929 Molalla Branch time tables, it lists the impair side clearance of the
bridge as being 5.5 feet from edge of rail.
In 1955, the center span was replaced by the Southern Pacific with the current steel bridge. The center span is a steel girder bridge that may have come
from another location on the SP. In additional the to the original west approach, which was left in place, a new east approach built by wood trestle was built
When the new bridge was built in 1955, piles were driven more than 40 feet into the ground, while the concrete piers were poured over 10 below ground on
top of the piles, due to the soft river soil.
|This is the 2nd Canby-Mulino Road Crossing, also protected by crossing guards. Eastbound OPR trains first cross an unprotected private residential
crossing, before crossing the protected Canby-Mulino Road.
|Kraft was a siding and passenger station that existed just west of the crossing at Canby-Mulino Road. The property was owned by Jacob Kraft and his farm
was located nearby. The general area was also known as Kraft. A 431 foot siding on the south side of the track left the branch line approximately 800 feet
west of Canby-Mulino Rd and continued east until ending as a spur. 1929 SP time tables indicate this siding could hold up to 8 cars at that time.
1929 Southern Pacific Timetables indicate this was a passenger stop for the west bound train at 9:35am and 2:15pm for the return train. And a small, but
nicely constructed station building did exist here at one point in time. We believe the station existed on the northeast side of the crossing. 1922 time tables
do not list this station, so we believe it was built after 1922 and ceased being used sometime after 1929.
Today, several farms are clustered in the general area, but the loading spur and station are long gone.
|Rames Station was at one point, the 3rd largest stop on the Molalla Branch. Today, very little is left to hint of its existence. Located just east of the
Macksburg Crossing, Rames consisted of a 1505 foot passing siding with turnouts at both ends. SP time tables from 1929 indicate that the siding could hold
up to 27 cars. A north turnout spur also existed here, which paralleled the grade behind a station platform and station building and was 745 feet long. (early
maps show this spur only being 271 feet long. We aren't sure what this spur was used for, but several nails that were dug up indicate that perhaps
buildings on flatcars or bunkhouses may have existed here at one time.
The book Oregon Geographic names indicates that this place was originally called Latourette Station (confirmed by very old maps) and was established in
1913, the same year the railroad was completed. It was built on property owned by Charles D. Latourette and his cousin, D.C. Latourette. Apparently the
name was changed to Rames in 1916, but no further information exists. The Latourettes continued to own property in the general area for generations.
The history of Charles D Latourette might give us a clue about Rames and its history. He was a banker who formed what was later become the First National
Bank of Oregon City. He died in 1930 at the age of 79.
1922 time tables do not list this station, but 1929 time tables do, leading us to believe that major sidings at Rames was built sometime between 1923 and
1928. However, 1943 time tables no longer list it. So it may have closed sometime prior to 1943. Another source indicates Rames existed as late as 1939.
Trains stopped here at 9:20am heading west towards Canby and at 2:25pm heading east back to Molalla. Two shelter buildings existed here. One was 12' x
16' and the other was 12' x 14'. One was most likely used by passengers and the other possibly used by train crews. A way bill box was located here for train
Rames was plotted out to have several streets. Perhaps the land owners intended to create a town here, but it never took off. The economic collaspe of
1929 could have played a role in the fate of Rames future.
If anyone can shed any further light on the history of Rames, please send to email@example.com.
|Patrol Station was located approximately 230 feet east of the Oak Grove School Road Crossing. At one point a school for the area was located here, called
Oak Grove. It no longer exists. The Southern Pacific had a station here called Patrol, which possibly served the school and surrounding community. The
school was located right next to the tracks. No siding existed here that we know of but a 13 foot wide by 100 foot long gravel loading platform was located
next to the tracks.
No time SP tables that we can find, list this as a passenger stop, but we've not seen all time table for all years. It is not listed for 1922, 1929 or 1943 time
tables. But is listed on SP blueprint maps as a station stop. A station sign and loading platform were built, so trains did stop here at some point. We just
aren't sure when. The name "Patrol" is also a mystery. It's interesting to note that the original land claim for the area belonged to someone named James
Officer, so its possible Patrol was in reference this name, but we aren't sure.
|S. Elm Street Crossing, OPR Interchange
|Switching being done at the wye as viewed from the logging road bridge
above Hwy 99E and also a loaded OPR train on the interchange track.
Samuels family photos: 2004
|Photos of being shoved through the south leg of the wye onto the OPR/UP interchange track.
photos: 2011, by Scott Lothes
|Overhead view of the
|The Molalla River Bridge is the most significant structure on the Molalla Branch and for the OPR. It's located almost halfway between Canby and Liberal and
the site is fairly remote and hard to reach other than by rail. The bridge has undergone several replacements over the years, all of which were due to fires
that destroyed the old bridges. The original bridge was a double span 209 foot (center spans only) long Howe Truss that was eventually covered (see photo
below). Flanked on either side by a wood trestle approach. The west approach being 167 feet and the east approach originally being 106 feet long followed
by a 148 foot long fill and a separate 45 foot long trestle. At some point in the future, the fill was replaced by a single 309 foot long east approach wood
trestle. Based on date nails on the pilings, this was probably done around 1937 after a flood washed away the fill.
The original structure was completed by the Southern Pacific in March 1913 at a cost of $300,000. (Over 6.5 million in today's dollars) The original structure
was not immediately covered, but at some point, the SP either rebuilt the original structure or more likely, simply covered the original structure to protect it.
Covered Howe truss bridges were extremely common in Oregon at that time. 1929 SP time tables indicate that the bridge had an impaired side clearance of
5.1 feet from edge of rail. The bridge has undergone many challenges since then.
At some point in the late 1930s, a number of bents and pilings were replaced on at least the east approach and possibly the western approach to the main
spans. Sometime prior to 1937, the river shifted, probably due to heavy floods. In 1945, heavy floods required that the SP shore up the center piers over
the Molalla River, which had been damaged. At some point, jettys were built to protect the bridge, using rail piling and ripraft. Most of this jetty is long gone
having been washed away during the 1964 floods, but evidence can still be seen of the jetty remains washed downstream under the abandoned logging road
bridge. Newspaper sources indicate that the Molalla River Bridge was washed out in 1948, but given no details, this may have only been a minor washout.
One additional structure at the bridge site shows up in photos from the 1940s and 1950s. On the south side of the beginning of the west approach is a little
shack like structure. We aren't what this is, but possibilities range from a speeder shack to pump house to MoW storage shed. No remains or hint of it use
On August 31, 1953 at 3:45am, a newspaper courier first noticed the fire that would forever change the Molalla Bridge. The historical covered bridge was
ablaze for reasons that would never be found and eventually collasped into the Molalla River, along with her rail and ties. The east and west approaches to
the covered bridge would somehow survive the fire with some sections still in service to this day. Fire Fighters arrived on scene and fought the fire until
around 7:30am. The nearby Weyerhaeuser Forest Road Molalla River bridge, which was a wood log structure, built in 1943, was also heavily damaged by the
The Southern Pacific immediately began replacing the bridge with a wood multi-bent structure that was likely only temporary. See the photos below. We
believe the current concrete pier, steel center spans were probably constructed within a few months of the fire, most likely in time for the rising waters of the
coming winter. But it could have been built several years later. The Milk Creek bridge was upgraded to a concrete and steel structure in 1955.
In 1995, a couple sections of the east wood approach, around 63 feet long, was burned possibly by arsonists, who were protesting the lumber hauling from
today's RSG mill and possibly the mills in Molalla. These burned wood sections were replaced with new steel by the OPR and the bridge was back in service
in only 9 days. The steel sections were fabricated on the shore of the Molalla River and then hoisted into place by crane.
Today, the OPR has plans for a complete overhaul of the Molalla River Bridge. Phase 1 of this project was completed in early October 2012 and involved the
replacement of all ties and rail on the steel center sections of the bridge. The next phases will take place in 2014 and involve replacing the entire decks of
both approaches, including caps, stringers, ties and rail.
When completed, the Molalla River Bridge will be ready for service for another couple of decades.
|These photos were donated to the OPR by a gentleman who's relative (pictured) was in charge of the September, 1953 rebuild of the Molalla River bridge. These photos show the
Southern Pacific crew replacing the burned out covered bridge with a new fully wood trestle structure that was likely only meant to be temporary. With in a few years or possibly even
only a few months, the current steel center spans structure that exists today, was built. In the two photos on the right, the structure to the right is the new Molalla River bridge. The
structure on the left is the Weyerhauser Forest Road truck bridge, built in 1943, that was also destroyed in the same fire. That structure was replaced by a fully concrete bridge that still
exists today, but was abandoned in 1974 when the private log truck road was closed.
|These are Southern Pacific Track Maps that appear to date from around the middle teens and updated in the 1940s, showing every detail of the line at that time. These maps have
been invaluable in our historical research, showing us stations and sidings along the line that we never realized existed. Special thanks to this website for hosting these maps.
|Southern Pacific blueprint map of this section of the line, including the wye and part of the interchange. This map appears to date to the teens and updated in the 1940s.
|Southern Pacific blueprint map from the 1940s showing the Milk Creek bridge. On right, an old photo of the original covered bridge, possibly dating from the 1940s.
|On left: Southern Pacific blueprint map from the 1940s showing the Molalla Bridge bridge. On right: Aerial view of the Molalla River Bridge.
|This guarded grade crossing is on Macksburg Road
|Southern Pacific track blueprint map from the 1940s showing Rames and the significant siding, roads and facilities there.
|On left, aerial photo plot the exact location of the former Patrol Station. On right, ground photo showing the approximate location of Patrol Station. Red paint on the tie indicates the
approximate station location.
|Scott (historical) - SP Milepost 751.34 (middle of siding) - Branch MP 3.81
|Scott siding was located east of the Molalla River Bridge and included a siding that could hold up to 4 cars, according to the 1929 SP Molalla Branch time
tables. Approximately 1100 feet east of the east end of the Molalla Bridge, a siding left the branch line on the north side and headed west for 300 feet.
An 18 foot wide by 54 foot long gravel platform existed here as well, likely as a loading platform. Scott Spur existed as of at least the 1929 SP timetable, but it
was never listed as a passenger stop that we can find. Its not listed on 1943 timetables. A gravel access road crossed the branch line from the south at
approximately the middle of the siding, to access the loading dock. We aren't sure what was shipped here and today there are no nearby buildings. A
nearby county road crossed the branch and possibly the Molalla River, several hundred feet to the west of the end of the siding. The access road to the
siding came off of this county road and it's possible that the siding served farmers on either side of the Molalla River.
At least 1943 and later time tables no longer list Scott and it was abandoned by then. Sometime prior to 1937, the Molalla River underwent a major channel
shift that brought the river right next to the tracks near Scott. At some point, most of Scott Siding washed into the river.
Whats most baffling about this siding is that it would have been much easier to load the siding if it was built on the south side of the tracks, where there was
more room. This leads us to wonder if Scott was in fact a log dump or something similar.
Today all hint of the siding has washed into the Molalla River and nothing remains.
|Today, Liberal has two remaining rail customers. One is RSG Forest Products and the other is the Willamette Egg Feedmill. The mill at RSG was originally
constructed in 1944 and opened in 1945 as the Kappler Lumber Mill. In 1963, Publishers purchased the property and operated both a lumber and paper mill
on the site with two separate spurs. The paper mill spur can still partly be seen in the pavement. In 1980, the mill underwent a complete reconstruction,
most likely to allow it to mill smaller trees and it has remained successful ever since because of that rebuild and modernization. In 1985 Smurfit purchased
the mill and it then purchased by the current RSG company in 1987.
In the early days, there was a loading platform located about where the RSG guardshack is now, right next to the mainline track. An 832 foot long run around
track was constructed north of this platform that involved a second Hwy 213 crossing north of the mainline crossing. This track allowed trains to bypass any
stopped trains at Liberal. Today this run around track and the second highway crossing is long gone, although evidence of this runaround track still remains
as several lengths of rail remain embedded in the pavement, isolated, near the RSG guardshack. The runaround track was possibly used as late as the mid
1980s as a loading spur for the paper mill part of the Publisher's complex.
|The Liberal Yard, is the OPR's east end facilities of the Molalla Branch. It's located directly across Highway 213 from the RSG mill, near property still owned
by the mill. Several very short sidings and spurs allow the OPR to store equipment and locomotives. At one point, at least three locomotives were actually
stored here. Two of those locomotives were recently sold off and now the only locomotive stored here is the No. 801 several days per week, when the crew
makes a one way run and leaves it at Liberal for the return trip to Canby later in the week.
Other MoW equipment and ties from the end of the Molalla branch salvage also exist here. The mini-yard at Liberal was constructed by OPR crews around
1997 to allow them to store locomotives and other equipment off of the main branch line and near the level RSG gravel parking lot, where access would be
much easier to service locomotives and equipment.
A crossover switch from the branch mainline enters the mini-yard. The main storage siding is approximately 340 feet long, while a second storage siding is
approximately 130 feet long.
|The Satrum-Dybvad Willamette Feedmill is located near the current end of the OPR's Molalla Branch. The mill is known as the Willamette Feedmill and
supplies chicken feed to the vast Willamette Egg Farms in the area. The mill is located south of the double track and has its own spur. The mill gets
numerous hopper carloads per year and is a major receiver of rail traffic for the OPR. A winching system allows the mill crew to move hoppers as needed
during unloading without requiring a locomotive to switch out the cars. OPR crews then pick up empties and deliver loads as needed.
Mill processes raw chicken feed that arrives in the hopper cars. Feed is dumped into an auger/trough system which then loads the feed into the mill where its
processed, stored and eventually shipped out the various Willamette Egg chicken farms in the area.
The feedmill was built around 1978. The SP added the Liberal siding and feedmill track around the same time, to allow for car storage for the feedmill and to
switch out cars at the feedmill. The new siding also allows for cars to be switched out at RSG and its currently the only run around track on the OPR Molalla
Branch. The siding was built by the SP bringing in prefabricated track panels on flatcars and setting them out. The feedmill unloading spur is approximately
500 feet long.
|Molalla Passenger Depot (historical) - SP Milepost 757.64 - Branch MP 10.11
|The Southern Pacific Molalla Station was the ending point for passengers on the Molalla Branch. The track continued east to several mills and industries for
a short distance. The station was located just east of Molalla's main street. A series of tracks surrounded the station to serve both the station and local
industries. A 1225 foot long siding, allowed trains to bypass the station to the south. An additional 952 foot long run around track existed to the north of the
station, which served several industries or mills. By the mid 1980s, remaining industries surrounding what was the Molalla Depot track, included, Avison
Lumber, Molalla Fertilizer, Norton Nickolson Grain and Brazier Forest Products.
Some of this track still existed as of the 1993 Samuels take over of the branch, but the depot was long gone. We don't know when the depot was removed,
nor do we have any photos of it as of yet. By 1996, a year after the last shipper on the line closed, the OPR pulled all track east of Main Street, because the
UP wanted to abandoned this part of the line and sell off the property. The line was then officially cut back to the west side of Main Street, with the Main
Street crossing removed.
Per 1929 SP time tables, all trains on the Molalla Branch originated at Molalla. Trains would depart Molalla Station at 9:00am and arrive in Canby by 9:50am
including 3 stops along the way. The return trip would leave Canby Station at 2:05pm and arrive back in Molalla at 2:55pm.
All trains were mixed freight and passenger cars as needed. Some sources indicate that two passenger mix freight trains ran prior to 1924.
|For a time, Section Street was the end of the SP Molalla Branch. Only a short distance away was a connection to the Eastern and Western Logging line, had
the SP chose to connect with them and compete for the log business. As it would turn out, the SP would not ever connect with the Eastern and Western
Logging Company, but at some point after the Eastern and Western Logging line was abandoned in the mid to late1930s and after the Willamette Valley
Southern line was abandoned, the SP did extend the tracks of its branch line east past Section Street into a mill complex that it would serve.
By the mid 1980s only a short section of tail track existed east of Section Street to allow trains access to westbound spurs, just west of Section St.
Ironically, the SP Molalla Branch would cross over the former Eastern and Western Logging Company right of way, long after it was abandoned.
|This photo was taken during the 1913 celebration of the first train into Molalla on the SP Molalla Branch, near the new Molalla depot.
|Akin Farm Trestle Overpass - SP Milepost 749.66 - Branch MP 2.13
|Just east of Kraft, the Molalla Branch passes over a 100 foot long wood trestle that allows a large farm, owned by the Akin's family, access from one end of
the farm property to the other. Today, the north side of the farm contains the house and shop and the south side contains farm buildings and sheep herds.
In all likelihood, the farm predates the railroad and the trestle was built to allow the farmer to access his then bisected land.
Original SP maps show that this trestle was originally only 16 feet long and it appears it was expanded to the east at some point after the original line was built.
|Photos left to right: Aerial view of the trestle - Looking west - Looking west - Looking east
|Between 1996 and 2003, the OPR Molalla Branch ended here at the west side of Main Street.
All shippers in Molalla were located east of Main Street and Section Street on mill property. The last shipper for the OPR closed in 1995, meaning there was
no more traffic to shipped from the city of Molalla. The Union Pacific, which owned the property under the OPR rails, wanted sell off the mill related railroad
property east of Main Street, so it was abandoned and sold with the tracks removed in 1996. The tracks were removed up to the west side of Main Street with
the Main Street crossing removed. The branch then ended at Main Street. But with no shippers on the line and now no loading facilities it was only a matter
of time before the branch would be cut back to where it ends now.
Between 1996 and 2003, the remaining section was used for car storage, before the tracks were pulled up in 2003.
|Note About Mileposts
Southern Pacific numbered its mileposts for most of its mainlines and branch lines based on San Fransico being milepost 0.0. Since 1911, 0.0 has been
located at Burbank Junction in San Franciso, CA. Once a milepost is assigned, that same milepost number could be used elsewhere on different branch or
mainlines as it all depended on the exact mileage from any given point on a railroad to mile post 0.0 For example, the wye on the Molalla Branch is milepost
747.7 or 747.7 miles from Burbank Junction, CA.
Passenger time tables also expressed actual mileage for just the branch line, although they were often only used as reference in the time tables to gauge
distance between stations and along the branch. On the Molalla Branch, Passenger Timetable mile 0.0 was located at the Southern Pacific Canby Station,
which was roughly in the middle of the mile long interchange siding of the branch.
However, during the SP days, the official beginning of the Molalla Branch was the interchange track switch of the south leg of the wye. In those days, the
entire interchange was considered part of the mainline track, while the branch line began where the south leg of the wye left the interchange at exactly SP
Milepost 747.53. This location was also considered Branch Milepost 0.0
Below we list both the SP Mileposts and the Branch Mileposts with the branch beginning where the south leg of the wye ties into the interchange track.
The OPR also operates the more than 1 mile of interchange track not calculated in the branch mileposts.
|The following copy of an SP time table and information is courtesy of Tony Johnson.
Above is a copy of a page of the SP Portland Division Time Table for the Molalla Branch from January 17, 1929. This time table indicates that a single mixed passenger and freight
train ran on the line both directions by this time, 6 days per week. The train orignated at Molalla Station at 9am. It stopped at several stops (see below) before arriving at Canby
Station on the SP Mainline at 9:50am It then departed Canby Station at 2:05pm and arrived back at Molalla at 2:55pm
Eastbound trains were numbered 56 while westbound trains were numbered 55. The entire trip was scheduled to last only 50 minutes. Average speed over the line was just under
13 mph. Actual speed restrictions on the branch in 1929 were as follows. Passenger trains 30 mph. Freight trains 25 mph and engines running backwards, 20 mph. Other parts of
the 1929 time table indicate that the branch was limited to 4-6-0 and 4-8-0 locomotives. The following engines were authorized to operate over the branchline in 1929.
|HISTORICAL OPERATIONAL PHOTOS OF THE WYE
|N. Grant Street Crossing, OPR Interchange
|N. Ivy Street Crossing, OPR Interchange
|NE 4th Ave (Pine Street) Crossing, OPR Interchange
|Union Pacific South Connection to the Interchange at Canby - SP Milepost 746.52 (Mainline)
|Canby Station (historical) - SP Milepost 746.81 (mainline)
|The Southern Pacific Canby Depot still exists today but has been moved to a different location and is now a museum.
It was built in 1887 near what is now NW 1st and Grant for the Oregon and California Railroad. It's the oldest surviving Depot in the State of Oregon. The
depot was closed by the Southern Pacific in 1976 and offered to the City of Canby provided that it was relocated away from the tracks. Volunteers relocated
the depot in 1983 to NW 4th and Pine Streets. A warehouse that was built in 1907 as part of the depot was not salvageable
and was dismantled during the move. The depot is owned and maintained by the Canby Historical Society.
The depot served the Southern Pacific for most of its life and was the main depot station for the City of Canby. It would also be the Canby Stop for Molalla
Branch trains. According to a 1929 time table, mixed passenger trains traveling from Molalla would stop at the depot at 9:50am and
depart again for Molalla at 2:05pm.
|Canby Historical Society of the Canby Depot as it appears today, as a maintained museum moved several blocks from its original location.
|Willamette Valley Southern Railway Crossing (historical) - SP Milepost 754.47 - Branch MP 6.94
|This is where Willamette Valley Southern crossed the Southern Pacific Molalla Branch and an interchange track existed between the two railroads. Its located
almost in the middle of the current RSG Forest Products Mill Complex. While the two railroads were in serious competition, court imposed trackage right
agreements forced the SP to accept some interchange traffic from the WVS and this was the only connection between the two railroads. Several mills grew up
around this area due to the access of two railroads, a major highway and not being far from Molalla. An interlock plant existed here with the SP having first
rights to cross, while the WVS had to stop and make sure the track was clear prior to crossing. When WVS was abandoned in the late 1930s, the track
remained in place through at least 1945 and was apparently owned by the Eastern & Western Lumber Co, per 1945 SP timetables of the era. The interlock
was removed prior to 1945, probably in the late 1930s. It was thought that the WVS track may be used again to haul lumber for the war effort, but a truck
road was built instead and sometime after the war, the WVS was salvaged and removed. The OPR crew found remains of the diamond and interlock when
they were working on the track in this area several years ago.
A little known fact is that part of the RSG Forest Products mill loading spur that takes off from the Molalla Branch mainline and heads north through the mill
complex, was actually the old Willamette Valley Southern / SP interchange track. See below for more info.
|Liberal Station (historical) - SP Milepost 754.63 - Branch MP 7.10
|Liberal is an unincorporated community west of Molalla and south of Mulino. The first post office for the area was actually established here 1850, long before
Molalla was established. But by 1875, most of the community was located in present day Molalla and the post office was reestablished there. Local legend
has it that Liberal was named so after the liberal credit policies of the owner of a general store that was established there. The area was never incorporated
into a city.
The Southern Pacific established a major stop here and several mills and loading facilities grew up around what was a major road crossing that is now
Highway 213. Today most of what used to be Liberal Station is now located inside the RSG Forest Products Mill Complex.
The station consisted of a 10 foot wide and 200 foot long gravel platform and a 14' x 19' shelter shed for passengers. All of this was located approximately
where the RSG Forest Products guard shack is today. Liberal Station had a siding that could store up to 12 cars per the 1929 SP time tables. 1943
timetables listed the spur capacity at Liberal as 6 cars. In 1945 it increased to 8 cars. In 1929, passenger trains arrived here heading west to Canby at
9:10am. They arrived back heading east to Molalla at 2:40pm.
Prior to June 3, 1922, Liberal Station was maintained as a joint agency by the Southern Pacific and the Willamette Valley Southern Railroad. The same
station agent served both railroads. Sometime prior to 1921, both railroads fired the station agent and required that shippers go through the station agent at
Molalla. Both shippers and passengers filed complaints with the Oregon Public Services Commission that the SP was providing inadequate service to both
shippers and the public by no longer providing a station agent at Liberal. The commission ruled in the SP's favor the agent at Liberal was not reinstated.
Waybill boxes were placed at Liberal for shippers instead and shippers in Liberal had to coordinate with the station agent at Molalla instead.
More information about this incident can be found here.
The above commission report, indicates that as of 1922, no other buildings or mills existed at Liberal, except for the SP Depot and Freight House. Local
shippers and residents complained that the station was rarely used and traffic not shipped, because of the difficulty in arranging cars to be billed and spotted
at Liberal. The first major mill to be built at Liberal, was called the Knappler Mill. In 1945 the Hawley Pulp and Paper Company owned a small steam
operated saw mill about 2 miles north of Molalla, which would place it at the eastern edge of Liberal.
Eventually the property surround Liberal Station would be developed into the Publisher's Forest Products and Paper Mills and then evolve into today's RSG
Forest Products Mill.
|Flander Station (historical) - SP Milepost 747.40 (mainline)
|Flander was a Southern Pacific station located just north of Canby. It was located 682 feet south of where the south leg of the Molalla Branch wye ties into
the main interchange track. A crossover between the main and interchange track existed in this area as well.
We don't believe the Molalla Branch passenger trains interchanged or stopped at Flander Station as it's not mentioned on the time tables, although Molalla
Branch trains would have gone right past it on their way to and from Canby Station. However, freight trains could possibly have stopped here and
interchanged with the mainline without affecting or interrupting traffic at the busier Canby Station. A cross over switch existed here at one that was most
likely intended for Molalla Branch trains to switch to and from the interchange track, to the mainline track, just prior to entering Canby Station.
|Photos from left to right: Aerial view of Kraft Passenger Station - On the ground view of approximate location of Kraft Passenger Station - Aerial view of Kraft Siding site - On the ground
location of Kraft Siding site.
|Aerial photo plot on the left shows the entire length of the Rames Siding in its exact former location. Aerial plot on the right shows the western end of Rames where most track,
switches and buildings existed.
|Aerial photo plot showing the exact location of the former WVS crossing and the WVS/SP Interchange, now used as the RSG Mill Spur.
|On left, photo of the approximate location of Liberal station (closer in view) and the freight house (further away) On right, aerial photo plot showing the exact location of several mill
spurs and tracks that existed here at one time.
|USGS Maps showing the line as of the 1970s and a profile map of the branch.
|Storage Spurs SP Mileposts 746.58 & 746.62
|At the far south end of the interchange track, are two spurs. These spurs date back to the early days of the railroad and connected to industry that is now
long gone. Storage spur No. 1 is located at SP Milepost 746.58 and is approximately 1200 feet long, however only the first few hundred of spur is used by
UP or the OPR as car/MoW storage. Spur No. 2 is located at SP Milepost 746.62 and is approximately 500 feet long. It's called the "propane spur". Tracks
are still in place, but not serviceable.
|Aerial view of the former location of the Canby Station along with the station and warehouse spurs, which no longer exist today.
|Weygandt Farm Crossing - SP Milepost 748.81 - Branch MP 1.28
|East of American Steel is a major farmer's crossing on the Molalla Branch. Today, the OPR has access to a wide area around it's track and stores ties and
other equipment on site. The crossing is used by the Weygandt family to access lands on boths sides of the track. The property has been owned by the
Weygandt family for generations.
|Gourde Farm Crossing - SP Milepost 750.27 - Branch MP 2.75
|Another farmer's crossing to allow a local farmer access to it's bisected lands.
|Oak Grove School Road Crossing - SP Milepost 752.85 - Branch MP 5.32
|Oak Grove School Road Crossing - SP Milepost 752.85 - Branch MP 5.32
|Hein Farm Crossing - SP Milepost 752.65 - Branch MP 5.12
|RSG Mill Western End, West Mill Crossing - SP Milepost 754.34 - Branch MP 6.69
|As the trains approach the RSG Mill Complex from the west, they first pass through the huge RSG log deck storage yard, then enter RSG property as they
cross over the first major RSG Mill crossing, which is a paved road that allows RSG trucks and equipment access to each side of the track and mill complex.
The mill run through track from this crossing to Highway 213, the east end of the mill complex is 1650 feet long. 1050 feet of that track is open tie
construction, while the remaining 600 south end track is in pavement street track.
See below for more information and photos about the RSG Forest Products Mill.
|RSG Mill Spur - SP Milepost 754.53 - Branch MP 7.00
|Located in approximately the middle of the RSG Mill Complex is a north end turn out and 1670 foot long mill loading spur.
A little known fact is that part of the RSG Forest Products mill loading spur was actually the old Willamette Valley Southern / SP interchange switch and track.
Just west of this existing turnout, the Willamette Valley Southern mainline once crossed the Southern Pacific mainline. The original interchange track was
listed as being 760 feet long with the SP only be responsible for the southern 415 feet of track.
After researching and measuring the spur length and alignment compared to old SP maps, we believe the current spur switch the first approximately 400 feet
of track are original and part of the interchange that was left in place when WVS was abandoned and removed. The remaining 1270 feet of the mill spur was
likely added later, perhaps in the 1950s or 60s. The mill spur was extended off of the existing SP/WVS interchange remains and had to curve to the right
and then left to avoid a concrete foundation that was built sometime after the mid 1940s when the WVS was abandoned and pulled up as the foundation and
building are in the middle of both the WVS and interchange alignment.
We believe the SP half of the WVS interchange and switch were left in place, possibly for car or mill storage, while the WVS part of the interchange was
removed along with the WVS mainline, sometime after 1945. This would make the RSG mill spur, the oldest spur/siding still in use on the Molalla Division.
|Highway 213 Crossing - SP Milepost 754.66 - Branch MP 7.13
|The busiest crossing on the Molalla Branch with the exception of the Hwy 99E crossing at the west end wye, is the Hwy 213 crossing at the east end of the
RSG Mill Complex. This is a protected crossing.
|Liberal Siding - SP Milepost 754.75 - Branch MP 7.22 (western switch)
|Just east of the Highway 213 crossing, the Molalla Branch mainline splits into a double track with a run around siding and continues for approximately 1700
feet. This siding was built around 1978 when the Willamette Egg Feedmill was constructed (see next section). It was constructed by SP crews who brought in
prefabricated track panels on flatcars and set them out.
The siding is the only remaining run around siding on the entire Molalla Branch. All trains on the east end of the Molalla Branch are made up using this
siding, including RSG and Willamette Egg trains. RSG empties have to be shoved into or removed from the RSG loading spur with the locomotive at the
wrong end of the train for the return trip to Canby, so the run around track is vital for switching.
|Aerial view showing the location of the former tracks around the former Molalla Station.
|Aerial view of the Liberal yard.
|Aerial view of Willamette Egg Feedmill.
|Aerial photo plot showing the exact location of the existing 1670 foot long RSG Mill Loading Spur.
|Other Time Table Information
|These SP time tables are courtesy of Geoff Barnes
From left to right: Branch Timetable 1943 - Special Instructions 1943 - Branch Timetable 1945 - Special Notes 1945 - Special Instructions 1945 - Special Instructions 1945 -
Special Instructions 1945 - Special Instructions 1945.
|From left to right:
Courtesy of Ted Curphey 1965 Time table and 1979 Track Chart - Courtesy of "TrackOne" from Trainorders.com 1922 Time table - Courtesy of Sheldon Perry 1986 SPINS map
|From left to right: Photo looking east towards the current end of the line - An old tamper serves as a bumpstop - Looking west from the bumpstop towards Liberal Siding. The
crossing panels on either side of the track were removed Vaughn Road crossing, behind the bumpstop when that crossing and the entire line east was removed.
|Detailed photos of the feedmill unloading area. Hopper cars are brought into the spur by the OPR, then winched over unloading grates and unloaded by feedmill crews. An auger and
trough send the feed into the mill and storage tanks where they are processed and later send out to the chicken farms.
|All photos looking west from the south end of the feedmill complex. From left to right: Looking west from east of the east Liberal Siding switch - A closer view of the east Liberal Siding
switch - Looking west on the feedmill spur. - Standing on Liberal Siding, looking west at the mill spur, which leaves the siding just west of the east Liberal Siding switch. - Another
view of the mill and mill spur.
|Milepost 755 Sign - SP Milepost 755.00 - Branch MP 7.47
|This historical SP milepost sign is one of only three milepost signs still left standing on the branch.
|From left to right: Looking east at the west Liberal Siding Switch - Looking west from east of the west Liberal Siding switch. - Looking east down the Liberal Siding, siding on right,
mainline on left - Looking at the western end of the Willamette Egg Feedmill and siding. Mainline on far left, siding in the middle and feedmill spur on the right.
Greg Brown Photos: 2012
|By 2012 when these photos were taken, the yard was fairly empty. Having used to be storage for as many as three locomotives, only the remains of a burrow crane exist today.
However, the OPR 801 is sometimes stored here. From left to right: The Liberal yard switch looking east - Looking west from east of the Liberal yard switch - A view from the east
end of the east tail track of the yard. - Looking west at storage tracks in the yard - A view of the burrow crane. This crane, which was limited to track use only, was later replaced by
high rail equipped cranes that could drive on the street and were more mobile. The burrow crane has been partly scrapped and will be eventually fully scrapped.
|Photo on left shows the crossing, looking west from inside the RSG Mill Crossing. A sign from the SP days requires that train crews stop before proceeding over the crossing. This
was most likely because the track circuit for the crossing gates is very close to the crossing and a moving train would cross over the circuit and into the crossing before the gates had
time to come down. Right photo is an aerial view of the crossing.
|Photos of the remains of the station run around and storage track. This track left the mainline just east of the existing mills spur switch (former WVS Interchange switch) and
proceeded east through the mill, over Highway 213 via and back into the mainline approximately where the OPR Liberal yard is now. Today, much of this spur remains buried in
pavement, abandoned and isolated from the mainline. SP maps from 1986 indicate this spur may have still been in use as late as 1986 to serve what was then the Publisher's
|Photos of the mill spur and showing old and new alignments of the WVS interchange and mill spur.
|The approximate location of the former WVS crossing. Photo on left is looking to the north across the current branch mainline. Photo on the right is looking west down the current
|Milepost 749 Sign - SP Milepost 749.00 - Branch MP 1.47
|This historical SP milepost sign is one of only three milepost signs still left standing on the branch.
|From left to right: Photo of the first major crossing looking east from the west end of the RSG complex. - Photo of the next RSG mill crossing also looking east. - Aerial photo
of the western most mill crossing.
|The Oak Grove Crossing was recently redone by the OPR crew in the summer of 2012. These are more recent photos of the crossing.
From left to right: Viewing west from east of the crossing - Viewing west from just east of the crossing - Viewing east from west of the crossing - Viewing west from west of the
crossing showing some of the recent tie replacement work done by OPR crews.
|From left to right: Looking west across the farmer's crossing. - Looking east over the crossing - Looking north across the tracks - Aerial view of the crossing.
|RAMES NORTH SPUR
The Rames north spur is a bit of a mystery. The spur left the main just east of Macksburg Rd and took off into a now wooded area, travelled approximately 745 feet parallel to the
mainline. It may have been a loading spur, while the main siding was only a storage siding.
Photos from left to right: Looking west as Kevin Novak points out the exact location of the north spur switch - Looking east as Kevin points to the switch and the approximate direction
of the spur in relation to the current mainline - The built up grade remains, now hidden in trees next to the mainline - photos of several old bottles found along the hidden spur grade.
Rames Siding was over 1500 feet long and had a turn out at each end. This photo is looking east and shows the exact location of the switch and approximate location of siding as
it left the mainline. The rail now set out next the tracks is actually not remains of the siding, but in fact rail that the OPR purchased and dumped along side the tracks at this location
with plans to install it and upgrade the track in this area in the future.
Rames Station consisted of at least one building and one platform, or possibly two buildings. One building was likely for passengers while another was for train crews
Photos left to right: Showing the overall area of Rames Station looking west - Kevin standing inside what used to the be the location of 12' x 16' platform and possibly a building. -
Keving standing inside what used to the location of a 12' x 14' station building and waybill box and 10 cubic yard gravel platform.
|Milepost 752 Sign - SP Milepost 752.00 - Branch MP 4.47
|This historical SP milepost sign is one of only three milepost signs still left standing on the branch.
|This guarded grade crossing is on Macksburg Road
|Photos from left to right: Looking west, showing the overall area of Scott Siding, where Kevin is standing - A drawing of the location of Scott Siding looking west. As you can, most of
the siding has since fallen into the river. In 1913, the river channel was located well away from the grade in this location. - A view south of the mainline looking east, showing they
had plenty of room for a siding on the south side of the tracks to load from the south if that was the intention, leading us to believe this siding was meant to load or unload from the
|From left to right: Looking west - Looking west - Looking west - Looking east
|Photos looking east, showing the first half of the American Steel spur as it leaves the mainline. Photo on right, shows the 901 where it's normally stored, inside
the fence, on the American Steel spur.
|Photos from the first revenue delivery to American Steel in 2008.
|Canby-Mulino Road OPR Storage Siding - SP Milepost 749.60 - Branch MP 2.07
|The OPR has a short storage siding 200 feet long, just east of the above crossing. The current OPR siding is only used to store MoW equipment. The site
is also used to store ties and other equipment since it's a wide area along the tracks and easily accessible by vehicle.
|On right: Looking west - On left: Looking east
|All views looking west.
|Canby Industrial Park (future) - SP Milepost 748.60 - Branch MP 1.07
|The Canby Industrial Park is currently in the concept phase. The project was conceived just prior to the 2008 recession and has currently stalled, however,
it's expected to gain traction in the future, as businesses decide to locate to rural Canby, where taxes and utilities are much cheaper. The industrial park
concept would be located in what is now a large farmer's field east of American Steel. The OPR has graded for a future siding in this location, with plans to
add ladder track into the new complex, when the park is eventually built.
Relocating to rural Canby offers many tax, regulation and land use advantages to businesses, who are relocating from larger metropolitan areas, like Portland
and Multnomah County, such as American Steel. The OPR can offer daily and on call service to these industries unlike many other branch lines and has
historically been extremely flexible to its customers.
|Major excavation of land for the new drill track. Most of the dirt was hauled by the dump cars and the 802 to the Canby wye. Work continues
on this project. Tim Samuels photos
|The UP interchange is where it all begins on the Molalla Branch. The interchange was constructed in 1913 by the Portland, Eugene and Eastern to
interchange with the Southern Pacific. A few years later, the Southern Pacific would operate the branch and interchange itself. The interchange includes a
wye connection from the branch mainline to over 1 mile of interchange track. This track runs parallel to the Union Pacific Mainline and shares four major
crossings with the mainline, in which four separate crossing gates protect both the interchange and the UP mainline.
Typical interchange service from the UP is twice per week, with the UP picking up cars on Friday night and delivering cars on Saturday night. While the OPR
crew typically switches cars on the branch for the industries several days per week, the final loads and empties are typically brought out to the interchange on
Friday mornings to be picked up by the UP Friday night. On Monday morning, the crew switches any cars that were brought out by the UP on Saturday
night. Other days of the week, the crew switches cars at the various industries as needed, sometimes bringing out cars to the wye or interchange in
preparation for Friday.
1n 1929, the SP listed this interchange as being 46 cars long. 1943 time tables listed the interchange as 118 car capacity. From the south switch to the
south leg of the wye is approximately 5300 feet long. An additional 1400 feet of track extends north before ending. Until recently, this track tied back into
the UP mainline, but the north switch to the interchange was removed by the UP.
Per track agreements that date to 1993, when the OPR purchased the branch from the Southern Pacific, the SP (now UP) is responsible for maintaining all
track, including interchange track and switches, west of Highway 99E including both wye switches. The OPR is responsible for all track from the west edge of
Highway 99E east to include the in street crossing tracks of both wyes and of course the entire branch line.
|OPR 901 Roster Page
No. 901 is one of the newer
locomotives in the OPR fleet and is
the primary American Steel switcher.
|OPR 801 Roster Page
No. 801 has served on this line since 1993. It
currently shares RSG/Willamette Egg switcher
duties with the 1202.
|OPR 1202 Roster Page
No. 1202 is the 2nd most powerfull locomotive in the
OPR fleet. It now shares RSG/Willamette Egg
switcher duties with the 801.
|The interchange includes a wye connection from the branch mainline to more than 1 mile of interchange track. The wye is near the northern end of the
interchange and involves two major crossings over Hwy 99E. Currently only the south leg of the wye is in regular service. The north wye tracks are in place,
but the north leg switch was removed by the UP in 2012 to avoid replacing switch ties. The wye connects to a siding that is approximately a mile long and
runs nearly the entire length of the City of Canby, along side Union Pacific tracks. In the early days through at least the mid 1940s or later, trains had to stop
and be flagged across the busy highway.
|American Steel finished building its new facility near Canby, Oregon in 2008. This customer has added significant traffic to the Molalla branch and the OPR
purchased a new locomotive, the 901, to serve them. Construction was planned and began prior to the recession, but American Steel is still going strong and
continues to receive significant traffic. Currently American Steel receives loads only, receiving coil steel cars, which are switched inside the huge American
Steel building. This is the only customer on the OPR that has track and switching facilities inside of a building. The building is so large it actually dwarfs the
No. 901 locomotive.
The American Steel Spur is 880 feet long with a maximum grade of 2.34%. 300 feet of the track is located inside the American Steel building.
Main article on the American Steel Spur and Complex including photos, video and information.
|30 foot Trestle (historical) - SP Milepost 749.39 - Branch MP 1.86
|At this location, original SP maps indicate that a 30 foot long open deck three bent pile trestle used to exist at this location. Today it's gone, possibly replaced
by a culvert or just filled in.
|Platt Station (historical) - SP Milepost 750.8 - Branch MP 3.15
|Platt Station is another mystery to us. This is what we know for sure. According to old SP maps, a 761 foot long siding existed here on the south side of the
tracks. Approximately half way down the siding, a 45 foot long, 4 bent, double track, open deck pile trestle used to exist here. At some point the trestle was
converted to single track and was later removed and filled in by OPR crews several years ago. This was an actual stop on the railroad at some early point,
which heavily implies something major was located here...a mill..a road..a connection of some kind.
The remoteness of the station makes its access and use a mystery. There are no nearby current or historical roads and while the Molalla River is near by, its
not next to the tracks in this location. Later SP maps show this station as being erased and it was not located on any time tables that we know of from the
1920s or later. The siding was extensive enough to hold approximately 12-15 cars, making it one of the longer sidings on the branch.
When we scouted the area, we found that the current fill could not have supported a mainline and a siding so if a siding did exist here, the supporting fill was
removed. In 1944, the Molalla logging road was built right next to the SP grade in this location and the construction of it, likely wiped out any evidence of the
spur and whatever purpose it served.
|15 (45) foot trestle (historical) - SP Milepost 751.38 - Branch MP 3.85
|A short 15 foot trestle used to exist here, probably as a culvert. No remains to hint of its existence are there today. Apparently, this trestle was later
expanded to approximately 45 feet long at some point. It was removed and filled in by OPR crews a few years ago.
|30 foot trestle (historical) - SP Milepost 751.70 - Branch MP 4.17
|A short 30 foot trestle used to exist here, probably as a culvert. No remains to hint of its existence are there today.
|8 foot Trestle (historical) - SP Milepost 754.36 - Branch MP 6.88
|Here existed a very short 8 foot long trestle, that was probably a drainage trestle. Today, nothing hints of its former existence.
|Sequoia Parkway Overpass - SP Milepost 748.62 - Branch MP 1.09
|The new Sequoia Parkway bridge over the Molalla Division got its first girders in late Nov, 2013. The City of Canby is building an expansion of Sequoia
Parkway to 13th Avenue. This project, among other things, will allow truck traffic on Mulino Road to avoid passing under the OPR overpass on Mulino road,
near 13th Ave. The primary purpose of the expansion is to provide a main road through the Pioneer Industrial Park that the city hopes to continue to
expand. The project involves a new road bridge over the OPR Molalla Branch Division tracks, near American Steel. The project began as the city expanded
Sequoia Parkway from 99E south to accommodate heavier traffic and trucks anticipated from the future industrial park expansion. The final stage of this
project is a connection between where Sequoia Ave currently terminates, next to American Steel, to 13th Ave.
|Photos taken November 2013 show the first girders for the bridge being installed.
|Rails under the Molalla River bridges seen at low water. In all likelihood, these were part of a ripraft water break built by the Army Corp of Engineers, that was later washed out, most
likely in the floods of 1964.
|Looking east from the point on the current railroad, where the Platt siding switch would have left the mainline on the right side. Today no evidence of the siding or grade exists today.
In the distance, where the hi-railer is stopped was the location of the double track bridge and about the halfway point of the siding. The station was located there as well. But again, no
evidence of remains have been found so far.
|Concrete drainage tunnel built in 1913, the only concrete tunnel on the line. Apparently built to allow a creek to flow through the fill. Last photo is a mystery piling north of the bridge.
We can't figure out it's purpose, but wonder if maybe a county road bridge existed here at one time and this was part of it?
|Photos taken January 2014. Bridge construction continues, but nears completion.