Oregon Pacific Railroad (1997)

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For the much earlier railroad of the same name, see Oregon Pacific Railroad (1880–1894).
Oregon Pacific Railroad
Reporting mark OPR
Locale Oregon, United States
Dates of operation 1991–
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Headquarters Portland, Oregon

Oregon Pacific Railroad (reporting mark OPR) is a short-line railroad operating two disconnected routes: one in southeast Portland, Oregon, and the former Southern Pacific Molalla Branch between Canby and Liberal, Oregon.

Oregon Pacific 901, an EMD SW8 parked in the American Steel siding in Canby, Oregon

History[edit]

Dick Samuels, a local businessman owning a scrap steel business, purchased the rights to salvage the remnants of the Portland Traction Company's remaining freight railroad between Portland and Boring, Oregon. The Portland Terminal Railroad was once an interurban railroad but was owned 50/50 by the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific railroads since the mid-1950s to handle the remaining freight business along the road. By the mid-1980s the remaining freight business east of Milwaukie was virtually gone as local land uses shifted from farming and industrial to housing. Some of the last shipments along the railroad was TriMet's first light rail cars, delivered to its Ruby Junction shops which was located on a former Portland Traction Company branch line that had been abandoned years before.

Despite the loss of most business, there were still a handful of shippers in an industrial park located in the northern part of Milwaukie, along the Portland city boundary that continued to reliably ship by train. Mr. Samuels purchased the approximately five miles of track from Portland to Milwaukie and formed the East Portland Traction Company to continue rail service to these customers. Some of the customers include the Americold, Darigold, and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

In the mid-1990s the East Portland Traction Company ran an excursion train known as Samtrak (named after the owner as well as a play on Amtrak, the national passenger railroad company) and ran trains from OMSI to Portland's Sellwood neighborhood. The train itself was modest with a small General Electric 45-ton locomotive, an open-air coach made from an old flatcar and a converted former logging railroad caboose. While the excursion trains eventually stopped running, the Oregon Pacific Railroad continues to host special excursions featuring the popular Holiday Express trains using Southern Pacific 4449 and Spokane, Portland & Seattle 700 restored steam locomotives, as well as several speeder (motorcar) runs every year.

In 1993, the Oregon Pacific expanded its operations by leasing the Southern Pacific's Molalla Branch connecting Canby with Molalla. This approximately 10-mile (16 km) route serves several shippers within Canby as well as in the small community of Liberal. However a couple of miles of track into Molalla were abandoned after the loss of all shippers in the town. This operation was originally known as the Molalla Western Railroad, but after a few years both railroads were combined under the Oregon Pacific Railroad banner.

Today,[when?] the Oregon Pacific continues to operate its two railroads to provide freight service to its shippers. It also allows organizations or private individuals to charter a train, has operated trains featured in at least one movie and several television shows, and operates the popular Christmas time Holiday Express trains.

Roster[edit]

Number Builder Model Built Former Notes
45 GE 45-ton unknown Unknown scrap yard Stored out of service. One engine was removed and replaced with a hydraulic boom for lifting rails and ties from the right-of-way
100 EMD SW1 1952 Portland Traction Company 100 One of two locomotives purchased by the Portland Traction Company specifically for this route. Assigned to the Portland-Milwaukie Line
101 GE 80-ton 1956 Pacific Lumber Company Scrapped
187 EMD NW5 1946 Great Northern/Burlington Northern Scrapped
500 GE 80-ton 1950s U.S. Army Scrapped
501 GE 80-ton 1950s U.S. Army Sold to CDL Pacific Grain (Portland, OR) in 2014
801 EMD SW8 1951 Great Northern/Burlington Northern Assigned to the Canby-Liberal line
802 EMD SW8 1953 Southern Pacific Currently being restored
901 EMD SW9 1950s Cedar Rapids & Iowa City Railway Rebuilt from an SW8. Assigned to the Canby-Liberal Line
1202 GMD SW1200RS 1953 Canadian Pacific Rebuilt from an SW-9. Assigned to the Canby-Liberal Line
1413 GMD GMD1 1959 Canadian National Purchased in 2010, assigned to the Portland-Milwaukie Line
5100 GE 70-ton 1949 Southern Pacific Stored out of service. Currently[when?] painted in Southern Pacific "as-delivered" paint scheme

See also[edit]

  • Springwater Corridor: a rails to trails conversion of the majority of Portland Traction Company's track to Boring

External links[edit]