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Holcomb Creek Trestle. Helvetia, Oregon
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    HOLCOMB CREEK TRESTLE

    Dick Road,   Helvetia, Oregon

    It's not the highest or the longest, but it could be:

    THE HIGHEST-LONGEST STILL USED WOOD TRAIN TRESTLE

    IN THE UNITED STATES !

     


    I decided today that since I didn't know much about the train trestle that crosses Dick Road and I live next to, I would see if I could change that.  So far I know it was built (not confirmed yet) in 1905. started with Oregon Electric, then became Portland-Seattle-Spokane Railroad, then sold to Burlington Northern Railroad and then to Portland-Western Railroad which operates it now.  


     

    Photo information:  Bridge 16.7 with Nickel Plate DLMX 324 Alco RSD-5 taking PNWR 1201 south and delivering PNWC #36 Alco S-2 to Hopmere August 5, 2007.  Photo by Keith Fleschner. 
     

    From Bob Melbo:

         The rail line is the United Railways District of the Portland & Western Railroad (P&W), which purchased the so-called CorneliusPass line (and connecting lines) from the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway in November 1997.  At the time of purchase the line had been out of service since September 1994 due to loss by fire of a major trestle on the east side of Cornelius Pass.  After P&W acquired the line it replaced the burned out bridge with a new steel box girder structure, reopening CorneliusPass to traffic on July 1, 1998.  CorneliusPass was a critical link in the growing network of P&W, since it had acquired the Astoria line on July 12, 1997 and needed to connect that line with other P&W-operated lies in the northwestern WillametteValley.  P&W is now the state’s second largest railroad in terms of mileage with a system of about 537 miles.

         BNSF referred to the trestle as simply Bridge 16.7, a timber pile-driven trestle 1,168 feet in length.  I don’t have information as to the height but at its highest point I believe it is around 90 feet.  Besides crossing Dick Road the trestle also spans Holcomb Creek.  Presumably, the little valley that the structure crosses was created by Holcomb Creek.  Portland & Western train crews sometimes refer to the crossing as the “Valley of Wood,” a reference to the trestle itself.

         The designation “United Railways District” by P&W of the line from United Jct. to Banks pays respect to the original name of this railroad, which was United Railways (UR).  The line was built as an overhead electrified interurban railway and the intent was to build through the CoastRange to Tillamook.  However, UR never got beyond Banks and electric interurban service between Portland and Banks began on April 16, 1911.  The next year, service was cut back to Wilkesboro, which is on the eastern outskirts of Banks.  Although UR started as an independent company in January of 1906, it was acquired in early 1910 by the Great Northern Railway.  Later that same year, half of the stock was sold to the Northern Pacific Railway and then both GN and NP turned their stock over to their jointly owned Spokane Portland & Seattle Railway.  I believe United continued to exist as a separate company owned by SP&S until it was merged into SP&S in 1944.  SP&S, GN, NP and some other lines were merged in 1970 to form Burlington Northern.  BN merged with the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railway in 1995 to form the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company, now renamed BNSF Railway Company.

         The overhead electrification was dismantled early in 1923 when steam locomotives took over operation of this road.  There were extensive logging rail lines constructed under different names that penetrated the CoastRange from Wilkesboro and Banks, so the United carried a lot of timber to a log dump named Rafton on the Multnomah Channel of the WillametteRiver near present-day Burlington.  Two logging lines were operated as common carriers.  The GalesCreek & WilsonRiver Railroad went as far as GalesCreek from Wilkesboro and the Portland Astoria & Pacific built from Banks to Vernonia where a network of logging company lines fanned out into the mountains.  In 1941, the portion of the line between United Jct. and Bowers Jct. (located just beyond the west end of the Dick Road trestle) became an integral part of the Oregon Electric’s (OE) main line between Portland and Eugene when the OE was forced off its historic first route that utilized the downtown streets of Portland and an alignment via Multnomah and Garden Home.  The OE, of course, was another subsidiary of the SP&S.  The portion of the OE line between Bowers Jct. and Orenco has been abandoned also.  If you live in the vicinity of Dick Road you probably are aware of the bridge abutments on Phillips Road where the OE crossed above on its southward alignment toward Eugene.  Bowers Jct. is just north of this former railroad overpass.

        I, too, have heard that the Dick Road trestle may be the largest or second largest wooden trestle in the U.S., but have been unable to confirm that.  I know there is a wooden trestle that is taller on the San Diego & Arizona Eastern line in Carrizo Gorge, San Diego County, California but it certainly is not longer.  The volume of wood necessary for the Dick Road structure probably exceeds that of Carrizo but I don’t know that for an absolute fact.

     

    Arlen Sheldrake

    Pacific Northwest Chapter, NRHS

     

     

     


    Holcomb Creek Trestle

    Washington County, Oregon 

    If anyone has any :

    information/photos/history/rumors

    info@traintrestle.com

     


     

     

     Photo by Butch Casper

     


     

    Photographer Bob Woolhiser

     


    Holcomb Creek Trestle

    A timber pile-driven trestle in eastern Washington County, Oregon, spanning 1,168 feet. Height is estimated to be around 90 feet. 

     

     


    Video's on the web:

    Video 1- This is a good one

    Video=2 Train crossing

     


     

    Log cabin on Dick Rd.


     

    Trestle Fire !

    Neighbors,
       Our iconic Holcomb Creek Trestle caught fire this afternoon.  An alert young man riding his bike up Dick Road saw the flames and called it in the fire department.  One of the horizontal timbers near the top and one of the main vertical timbers over the road opening were engulfed in flames.  The TVFD had to bring their ladder truck out to get high enough to extinguish the flames.  I'm not sure how extensive the damage was but I'm sure that they will have to repair and re-inspect it before rail traffic resumes.  The fire presumably started from a spark from the train which had passed a few hours earlier.

    This was an e-mail sent out 8/10/2011. If anyone has any photos or information
    on this please let me know. The trains are running again today 8/12/11 so the damage must not be too extensive...

     


     

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