Oregon Pacific Railroad (1997)

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Oregon Pacific Railroad
Reporting markOPR
LocaleOregon, United States
Dates of operation1991–
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
HeadquartersPortland, Oregon

Oregon Pacific Railroad (reporting mark OPR) is a short-line railroad operating two disconnected routes: one in southeast Portland, Oregon, and another incorporating portions of 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. The Portland Terminal Railroad was once an interurban railroad but had been 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 were TriMet's first light rail cars, delivered to its Ruby Junction shops, which were located on a former Portland Traction Company branch line that had been abandoned years before.

Despite the loss of most business, there was still a handful of shippers that continued to reliably ship by train from an industrial park located in the northern part of Milwaukie along the Portland city boundary. 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 those customers. The customers included Americold, Darigold, and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

In 1993, the East Portland Traction Company began running an excursion train known as Samtrak (named after the owner as well as a play on Amtrak, the national passenger railroad company) from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (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. Although the excursion trains stopped running in 2001, 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.

Also in 1993, the Oregon Pacific leased 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, several miles of track from Liberal into Molalla were abandoned after the loss of all shippers in the town. This operation was originally known as the Molalla Western Railway.

In 1996, both railroads were officially merged into the Oregon Pacific Railroad with the East Portland Traction Company becoming the East Portland Division and the Molalla Western Railway becoming the Molalla Branch Division.

As of 2012, 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 East Portland Division.
101 GE 80-ton 1956 Pacific Lumber Company Scrapped in 2014.
187 EMD NW5 1946 Great Northern/Burlington Northern Scrapped in 2014.
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 East Portland Division. 2nd locomotive officially named Eileen Williams Samuels.
5100 GE 70-ton 1949 Southern Pacific Purchased in 1989. As of 2001, the unit is out of service. Painted in "as-delivered" Southern Pacific paint scheme. As of 2013, the unit was on display outside the main front doors of the Oregon Rail Heritage Center.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]