|This is a personal railfan site and is not affiliated with the Albany & Eastern Railroad.
|Also check out my related Willamette Valley Railway Page. former sister company
|Also check out my related Abandoned Sweet Home Depot & Oregon-Electric Holley Branch Page.
|And my related Willamina & Grand Ronde Railroad Page, which this company used to operate.
|Last Update: July 21, 2006
|Latest News! (updated 7-21-06)
In April, 2006, Mike Root and the Albany & Eastern Railroad Company was granted the contract to operate the now called
Utah Southern Railroad Company (USRC) which interchanges with Union Pacific at Iron Springs, Utah. Apparently the line
runs to a Palladon's Iron Springs Facility. If anyone has any further details, please email me. Additional information can be
found on new Utah Southern Railroad Company's webpage or the Albany & Eastern's Homepage.
Meanwhile, check out the latest article about a new reload facility that will be built on the AERC.
|The beginning of the Albany & Eastern can be traced back to 1980, when the Dave and Mike Root purchased
the ex-Longview Portland & Northern Grand Ronde Division. In 1985, they purchased the remains of the
Valley & Siletz Railroad and combined the two railroads under the name, Willamette Valley Railroad (WVRD) In
1988, the two railroads were unmerged and operated as separate companies. In 1991, the Roots Brothers
formed a company called Rails West and began to operate the Port of Tillamook Railroad under contract.
However, that operation ended in 1993 and today, the POTB operates its railroad. In 1992, the V&S Railroad
was closed down and abandoned. By the mid 1990s, the Grand Ronde Division was sold.
The current Willamette Valley Railway (WVR) was born in February, 1993, when the Roots brothers leased the
Mill City, West Stayton and Geer branches from the Southern Pacific and moved operations to those lines. In
1995, the line between Geer and Salem was abandoned by the Southern Pacific. In 1996, the West Stayton line
was purchased from the SP by the Roots brothers. In 1998, the Root Brothers separated the operations in to
two separate and independent companies. Dave Root took over operations of the West Stayton Branch and
retained the Willamette Valley Railroad company. You can learn more by visiting my Willamette Valley Railway
Page. Mike Root took over operations on the ex-SP Mill City Branch. He called his new railroad company the
Albany & Eastern Railroad.
In 1998, Mike Root also purchased the remains of old OE Holley Branch, from the Burlington Northern, which
ran from Lebanon to Foster. Today, the line from Albany to Foster is called the AERC "Albany District" and is
31.9 miles long.
The AERC Mill City District, runs from Lebanon to Mill City and is 36.7 miles long.
The Albany & Eastern operates 4 engines, but I saw a 5th parked in Lebanon in July, 2004. You can see
pictures of it below. The railroad is based out of Lebanon, Oregon, but interchanges with the Union Pacific
and BNSF in Albany, Oregon.
The Albany and Eastern is unique. In the age of big international corporations, the Albany and Eastern is a
true family owned Oregon based community oriented railroad. Just by looking at the engines, you can tell
they care about their company and their image. If not for this railroad, many miles of track would have been
long ago abandoned and many customers would not have the option to ship by rail.
Check out the Albany and Eastern's Official Homepage for more information.
|Albany & Eastern Railroad Company
Albany, Mill City Branch, OE Holley Branch
|Basic map of the current AERC
|My father in law and I visited Lebanon, Oregon, in July, 2004, where he knew the Albany and Eastern to leave it's locomotives. We were
mainly there to check out the very interesting ex-Great Northern caboose. But I was extremely happy to find most of the AERC locomotive
fleet sitting there as well all primed up for my camera. We took lots of pictures.
|Albany and Eastern number 2501, is an EMD GP35, built in 1963. It makes 2500 h.p. It was originally a Southern Pacific locomotive. This
locomotive appeared to be very well cared for. It was recently painted, sometime after 2000. Photos: July, 2004
|Albany and Eastern number 2002 is one of two nearly identical GP38-3 that AERC owns and is an ex-Union Pacific locomotive (ex-1792).
It makes 2000 h.p. and was built in February, 1970. Acquired by the ARC, from Union Pacific in 2002. This locomotive appeared me as if
it has just undergone a total rebuild and had all new fresh paint. Both of the AERC GP38-2 locomotives were originally built for the Illinois
Central and passed through the hands of a number of railroads, before coming to the caring hands of the AERC. Photos: July, 2004
|This locomotive, number 4203 is a bit of a mystery. The markings indicate that it belonges to the RFRX. (RICK FRANKLIN CORPORATION)
It is apparently a GE B23-7 (Dash 7-23B) that was built in April, 1978 and makes 2,250 h.p. The Rick Franklin Corp. is a local Oregon
company that, among other things, contracts out railroad maintenance services. It's possible that AERC was leasing the RFRX
locomotive, when I took these photos in Lebanon. Photos: July, 2004
|This rare ex-Great Northern Caboose, is one of the more interesting Cabooses I've seen. I also have some video of it being
pulled behind the SP&S 700 Steam Engine in May, 2005 and before that in December, 2004. More photos of it can also be seen on my
SP&S 700 Page. After featuring it on the website for a while now, one of the owners spotted my photos and video and sent me this email:
Good photos...to correct some of the info on your page about the former GNRY X40 caboose:
It is privately owned and has been since being retired by BN in the mid 1980's (long story on how it escaped the torch). Since that time, it has boomed
around the Northwest following one of its owners (me). Spent a long stint on the W&P/P&W while I worked there. G&W has since sent me to Australia
and it was a little hard to bring it with me so Bruce Trask of the A&E has graciously allowed it to be stored on the A&E in exchange for occasional use.
It was built by International Car in 1960 (first ever order of cabooses from somewhere other than St. Cloud). And it looks as good as it does because of
a lot of hard work by my partners and others (including my father who worked for a time as a GN carman). Believe me it did not look as good as it does
now when we first got it after a couple of years of storage at the Hoyt Street yard with bums living in it.
Hope that fills in some of the blanks. Again thanks for the video
|So far these are the only trackage / structure photos I have of the A&E. On the left is the line just about to enter the limits of Foster, near
Willey Creek. The line was extended here in from Sweet Home, in 1943 to reach the Wright Blodgett Log Pond. Just after World War
Two, in 1946, the Willamette National Mill was built and the line had to be extended a few thousand feet over Hwy 20 (picture on right) to
the new mill site. The mill is still operational today and served by the A&E. This as far east and south as the A&E travels.
|From left to right: A photo of an abandoned wood trestle into a mill in Lebanon on the Mill City Branch, right before it crosses over the
Santiam River. The mill had two spurs (the one still in existence is visible on the left), but just has one now. Next one is the restored
Lebanon Depot. I don’t think it belongs to the railroad anymore, but to some civic group. Next one is the Rick Franklin Corporation
headquarters in Lebanon. They’re located at an old mill off of a ½ mile spur that runs down the middle of a Lebanon street. You can see a
little of their equipment (Rick Franklin, “RFCR”, is a general contractor and also the company the railroads call when their trains hit the
ground). Next one is a photo at the Sno-Temp frozen goods warehouse in Albany, near Page junction. AERC ties up their power on this
siding at night. The last one is the where they are storing 15+ old SP autorack cars in two locations in Sweet Home, near the old depot.
They’ve been sitting there for over a year now. I suspect it’s Rick Franklin, as he has some ballast dump cars stored there, too. Anyway,
Photos and above description are courtesy of Jon Holladay, late 2005
|This write up on the Roots Brother’s Oregon Railroad History is courtesy of Jeff Moore. Jeff operates the
following two websites: McCloud Rails and High Desert Rails.
Root Brothers (David and Mike) came to Oregon in 1980. They had been working for the Union Pacific in California and, while basically
happy, decided they wanted to own their own railroad. Their initial efforts centered around the Quincy Railroad, which connects the
small town of Quincy, CA with the Union Pacific (ex-Western Pacific) mainline at Quincy Junction. Total mileage operated is around 2.5
miles. Their attempted acquisition of the Quincy fell through, and so they started looking elsewhere. They found the Grand Ronde
division of the LP&N, while on vacation in Oregon.
The final papers giving them the line were signed in 1980 and the Roots renamed the line the Willamina & Grand Ronde. That event
happened to coincide with a track inspector from the Oregon Public Utilities Commission (PUC) condemning the entire line due to terrible
track conditions. The rail was 56- to 60- pound, with most of it over a century old. The ties were nearly all shot, surfacing was bad, and
drainage was non-existent. The PUC estimated that rehabilitation of the line up to acceptable standards was going to cost $167,000 per
mile, which was far more money than an operation like the W&GR could justify.
Congress had passed a couple grant programs designed to help light density rail lines survive. The "Railroad Revitalization and
Regulatory Reform Act of 1976" provided Federal grants to state to preserve railroad service on lines already approved for abandonment
by the ICC, and the "Local Rail Service Assistance Act of 1978" expanded the grant program to include light density lines that were in
danger of being abandoned. The Root brothers applied for grants under these acts shortly after they bought the railroad, but they ran into
a snag. The grant programs were administered by the states, meaning that it was up to each state to decide how the grant money was
to be used. The State of Oregon decided that any use of said grant money must be done in such a way that the perceived public benefit
of spending the money must exceed the public investment in the private property, and a complicated formula was drawn up to measure
the cost/benefit ratio. The initial grant application for the entire W&GR ended up showing that the costs exceeded the benefits, with the
result that in 1980 the Oregon State Department of Transportation recommended against any public investment in the WGR. This caused
the Roots to go back and review their railroad. The first thing they noticed was that the three miles between Fort Hill and Grande Ronde
moved almost no freight at all. They re-applied for the grant only for the 5.2 miles between Fort Hill and Willamina, and the result was a
favorable cost/benefit ratio. The Roots got their first grant money in 1981, and they set out to completely rehabilitate the 5.2 miles
between Willamina and Fort Hill. In the end a total of $450,000 was spent on this stretch, which re-laid the line with heavier and newer 90-
lb rail, replaced hundreds of ties, dumped a lot of crushed rock ballast, improved drainage, and did some alignment and re-surfacing of
the track structure. The 3 miles of the line beyond Fort Hill could not be saved with money available outside of the grant program, and as
a result it was abandoned in 1985.
The Root Brothers expanded their presence on 2 January 1985 when they bought the two-mile long remnant of the Valley & Siletz in
Independence. They formed the Willamette Valley Railroad to run this operation. The only shipper on the Willamette Valley was the
Mountain Fir Lumber Company sawmill in Independence.
The Root brothers inherited the #110 with their purchase of the WGR, and they continued to use it on that line into the mid-1980's. Around
the time of the creation of the WVR they purchased three locomotives from the SP, SW-1200's #2273 and #2274 and GP-9 #2890. The
#2890 was initially sent to Willamina to work on the WGR, but by the late 1980's that unit was stored out of service next to the ex-Valley &
Siletz shop building in Independence and the #2274 was handling all operation on the WGR. The #110 was used very infrequently after
1989 or 1990. While the #2273 was repainted a bright orange and red scheme (very similar to the paint worn by the #4449) and re-
numbered 201, the #2274 and #2890 remained in SP gray and red, but with the SP lettering blanked out. The Roots did rotate motive
power regularly between the two operations...the #2274 did operate in Independence, while the #2273/#201 did make it up to Willamina
The WGR was merged into the Willamette Valley Railroad on 10 March 1986, and the WGR became known as the Fort Hill Branch (or WGR
Branch) of the Willamette Valley Railroad at that point (the other line became the Mountain Fir or V&S Branch of the WVR). This
arrangement lasted until 1988 when the WGR was "unmerged" from the WVR and re-established as a separate company.
The Mountain Fir sawmill closed in May 1992, ending operations on the Willamette Valley Railroad for the moment. The Roots started
talking about selling the WGR to the Fort Hill company about this time. After several years of speculation this finally happened, with the
WGR sold to the newly formed Hampton Railroad Company. Hampton immediately contracted operations of the WGR out to the
Willamette & Pacific/Portland & Western.
The Roots formed a venture known as Rail West that took over operations of the Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad on contract in May 1991.
This kept them busy through 1993, when the brothers concluded they had overextended themselves, and they gave up on the contract to
operate the POTB. The POTB now operates its own railroad fairly successfully.
On 22 February 1993 the Roots leased the Mill City, West Stayton and Geer branches from the SP. This date is a significant one in Oregon’
s Willamette Valley Railroads...the Roots expanding on the east side, Dick Samuels taking over the Molalla Branch, and the startup of the
Willamette & Pacific on the West Side branches all happened on this very day. The Mill City line went from Albany to Lebanon, then north
to the Santiam River, then east up the Santiam to Mill City; the West Stayton line ran from a connection with the SP main at Woodburn
south through Silverton and Geer to West Stayton, and the Geer branch ran from Salem almost due east to a connection with the West
Stayton-Woodburn line at Geer. The Roots ran these lines as the Willamette Valley Railroad. Initially most WVR-SP traffic interchanged
on the northern line was handled over the Geer branch into Salem, but a variety of factors caused the SP to abandon the Geer branch in
1995, and since then all SP(UP)/WVR traffic has gone through Woodburn.
This arrangement lasted up until 1998, when the Root brothers had another business split. Mike Root took over the Mill City line, making
it the Albany & Eastern, while David Root took the West Stayton line, continuing to operate it as the Willamette Valley. There appears to
be no further business relationship between the two brothers or their railroads.
Jeff credits the following sources for some of the above information:
Backwoods Railroads, Branchlines and Shortlines of Western Oregon by D.C. Jesse Burkhardt, Washington State University Press, 1994.
North Willamette Shortlines by D.C. Jesse Burkhardt, August 1991 Pacific RailNews.
Rebirth of the Virgina & Truckee R.R. by Ted Wurm, May-Murdock Publications, 1992.
|Per the updated Albany & Eastern Official website:
Maximum Speed on certain parts of the lines is 40 mph.
Rail weight is between 76-136lbs CWR.
The Albany & Eastern employs the following equipment. I assume this does not include the new
Albany & Eastern owned, Utah Southern Railroad.
GP38AC Locomotive (2)
230 73' Centerbeam Flat Cars
175 50' Single Door Box Cars
25 52' Double Door Box Cars
Jackson 6500 Tamper
Kershaw 46 Regulator
Little Giant Model 32 Track Crane
Side Dump Car
Bay Window Caboose
Fairmont Tie Remover / Inserter
|Relevant Links to this Railroad
Albany & Eastern's Official Homepage
Utah Southern Railroad Company's Homepage
Western Shortline's Albany & Eastern Locomotive Roster
Western Shortline's Willamette Valley Railroad (current) Roster
Union Pacific customer page for the Albany & Eastern
|If anyone has any further information or photos on any of the above railroads that you'd like to
share, you can Email me anytime. Thanks.
|Return to the Railroad History Page
Return to the Historical Expeditions Page
Return to my main Toyota Page
|Copyright © 2004-2006 Brian McCamish, All Rights Reserved
Note about the photos on this site:
Most photos were taken by me, except for those that are otherwise indicated. I usually allow people to use my photos for personal use or websites. Simply
Email me. I may not have authority to grant permission regarding some photos that were only loaned to me by others specifically for this website. Every
effort has been made not to include other's photos without the proper permission and credits, however, if you see any photos which belong to you and that I
don't have permission to use, I apologize. If you send me an Email, I will remove the photos immediately or give proper credit, which ever you wish.