Tillamook Branch—Banks to Tillamook

The route is divided into the following subdivisions:

·        Port of Tillamook Bay from Banks to Industrial Park (Tillamook)

West of Banks, the Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad (POTB) now operates the former SP Tillamook branch. East of Banks, POTB has trackage rights on the Portland and Western line between Hillsboro and Banks, which is controlled as Yard Limits as it approaches Banks. Through Banks, the line is headed northwest, and the POTB-owned line is Track Warrant Controlled with a speed limit of 25 mph. At Banks (MP 774.7), there is a lumber yard on the northeast side of the line, starting southeast of the depot on the PNWR trackage, there are depot buildings on the southwest side of the line, and a grade crossing northwest of the depot which still has an operating wig-wag in 2005. There are then trees and bushes on both sides of the line, with a road running parallel on the southwest side.

From Banks to Hare’s, the line is paralleled on the northeast side by the route of the former SP&S branch line to Keasey. There is another grade crossing, a concrete road bridge angles overhead, and a trail runs parallel on the right on the old SP&S right-of-way. The POTB line passes through Davies and Carstens (where it angles slightly more to the west), the road on the southwest side moves further away, there is a grade crossing, a bridge over a stream, another grade crossing, another bridge over a stream, and Manning, followed by another grade crossing, Buxton (MP 781.2), which has a 710 ft. (!) siding, and where the speed limit drops to 20 mph and the line turns due north, and another grade crossing. From a relatively straight line over smooth if sloping ground, the line now enters a mountainous region with steep grades and many curves, through and across the coastal mountains. Initially, the line climbs up a slope on the east side of the valley. The line curves left before a road bridge passing over track some way below, then right again afterwards.

The single track winds up through heavily wooded valleys containing cascading streams, crossed by spindly bridges, some well above ground level below, giving views of waterfalls. There are occasional open vistas down valleys dropping away from the line. As the line climbs, the trees get taller. A road passes well below a 225 ft. high rail bridge, there is a grade crossing on a short road to a farm on the east side, another grade crossing, and a grade crossing over a gravel road. After passing Hare’s, the line runs through a counter-clockwise semi-circle to the south, with a grade crossing over the main road and then a bridge over that same road on the far side of the curve, a clockwise semi-circle back north, past a clear-cut (in 2005) logging area on the north side of the line, and then another one on the south side, with a “temporary” grade crossing between them. There is a second counter-clockwise semi-circle to the south at Scofield, followed by another pair to the north and to the south again to reach a westward stretch of line through Strassel (MP 788.7).

The line passes through 1,417 ft. tunnel 25 (MP 789.6), whose wooden lining has just been replaced (in 2005) by a concrete lining, with the wood lying alongside the track awaiting removal. The line curves northwest through Castor Creek, takes a counter-clockwise horseshoe back to the south and a clockwise one to the north, across a dirt road grade crossing through Hubert and another counter-clockwise horseshoe across dirt road grade crossings among cabins and a grade crossing on a road, to Timber (MP 793.1), where the speed limit falls to 15 mph and the line is headed southwest with logging on the south side of the line. At Westimber, where there is an extra track, the line turns west, the “town” is below and to the north, and there is a dirt road grade crossing. The line passes through Wadesburg, then angles northwest through a series of curves and across a dirt road grade crossing, before turning southwest again, across a high trestle just east of MP 799 and another not much further west, after which the line is on a north-facing hillside with a valley below to the north. Another logged area (in 2005) is off to the south, and then one off to the north at the east end of the line’s summit and the 2,055 ft. siding at Cochran (MP 800.0).

There is a dirt road crossing the siding, and a pond on the north side of the line at the west end of the siding. There is a logged area (in 2005) on the north side of the line, west of Cochran. West of MP 801, there is a spur on the north side of the line. Another turn to the northwest brings the line to 421 ft. tunnel 26 (MP 801.8), where the line turns further west as it enters the tunnel, and emerges heading south on a ledge above a deep valley below, on a high trestle and then a high long trestle above a side valley (of a side valley of the main stream passing under the curved trestle ahead), and turns west again, then through almost a complete circle south through 412 ft. tunnel 27 (MP 803.6), and is again on a ledge above a deep valley below (the same valley as on the other side of the curved trestle at the south end of the circle) as the line starts its descent in earnest, turning west and passing over a high curved trestle near MP 804, over a stream that is flowing north at this point, and then back north along the west side of the deep valley, curving back east of north, before starting to curve the other way past MP 805, continuing to curve west again along the valley’s west/south side to Mayo, descending almost to the level of the stream before 248 ft. tunnel 28 (MP 805.7), then crossing the stream three times on wooden bridges, being variously south, north, south and north of the river again  as it does so, all east of MP 806 and 292 ft. tunnel 29 (MP 806.2).

The line passes through Belding, 275 ft. tunnel 30 (MP 806.9), crosses a side stream to its south side and passes under a bridge at MP 807, then crosses back to the north side of the side stream on a wooden bridge, and then after the side stream joins a larger stream to its southeast, crosses the main, much wider, stream to its south side on another wooden bridge before passing through 500 ft. tunnel 32 (MP 807.9), and 303 ft. tunnel 34 (MP 808.5). Turning northwest, the line passes through 258 ft. tunnel 35 (MP 809.9) and 181 ft. tunnel 36 (MP 810.7), to Enright (MP 811.0), where there is a short siding (long enough to permit locomotives to run around an excursion train while also holding work equipment, but only just), with a water tank on the south side of the line.

Now on the gentler coastal west slope following the Nehalem River through lush vegetation resembling the coastal rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula to the north, the line curves west-northwest through Belfort and Salmonberry (MP 815.7), and then west through Wakefield, Owens and Nehalem Falls, south through tunnel 37, and west again to the 5,400 ft. siding at Batterson (MP 825.1), where the speed limit raises to 25 mph again.

At Adair, the line turns north to Foley, and then a wiggly west to the 1,020 ft. siding at Mohler (MP 831.2), followed by southwest alongside the estuary (to the northwest) to the 540 ft. (!) siding at Wheeler (MP 833.6), west along the south side of the estuary and then south with the estuary separated from the ocean by a sandbar through Brighton, and Jetty (where the river exits to the ocean and the line comes alongside the ocean). The line passes through fascinating rock formations carved by eons of ocean wave action, dotted with scenic fishing villages, passing through Haddon, Manhattan Beach, and Lake Lytle to Rockaway (MP 840.9). Next, the line passes through Saltair, Twin Rocks, and Watesco, turns southeast away from the ocean to Barview at the entrance to Tillamook Bay and curves east along the north shore of the bay to the 1,250 ft. siding at Garibaldi (MP 845.7).

The line then makes a clockwise semi-circle around an arm of the bay to head southwest through Miami (MP 846.5), passes through tunnel 39 and turns south-southeast alongside the bay to Bay City, where a logging railroad once headed east, Idaville, where it leaves the bay shore, and Juno, where it turns south. At Tillamook (MP 855.8), yard limits are reached and there is a depot on the west side of the line. The line continues, with a 15 mph speed limit, southeast and then south to Tillamook Industrial Park (MP 858.3), the end of the line.