|This page is a spur line of my Abandoned & Historical Railroads Page.
|Last Update: October 14, 2004
|Map of the Pope & Talbot Mill and Railroad Spur
as of the late 1980s.
|Overview of the Pope & Talbot Mill and Railroad Spur
The town of Oakridge, Oregon is located southeast of Eugene, Oregon. It and the adjacent Westfir used to
be major stops on the famous Southern Pacific Willamette Pass line. Before the line was completed, in 1926,
neither town existed to any extent. But by the 1940s, a few hundred lived there, mostly to serve the railroad
and local forest industries. Several thousand live there today.
In 1948, the Pope and Talbot Timber company opened a mill in Oakridge, sawing trees from it’s own timber
holdings as well as nearby National Forest. Although the mill was located only a few feet from the Southern
Pacific mainline, the mainline was about 100 feet higher in elevation. This required a spur line to be built
further down the line prior to the elevation gain and required a significant bridge over Salmon Creek. The
spur line would be a little more than ½ mile long and employ a twin 150' span steel through truss bridge. The
bridge was not new however. One of the two spans were originally built in 1906, the other in 1907 and used
elsewhere before being disassembled and installed over Salmon Creek in 1948.
Within a few years, the mill grew to 500 employees. By the late 1970s, the mill began to modernize and thus
laid off several hundred employees. In 1985, Pope and Talbot announced plans to close the mill
permanently. But in 1986, the employees reached a union agreement that allowed the mill to continue to
operated with only about 100 employees.
In 1989, Pope and Talbot sold the mill and all 270 acres of mill property to the Bald Knob Land and Timber
Company. But only a year later, the company filed for bankruptcy and the mill was closed down forever.
Most of the equipment was sold shortly thereafter and a fire in 1991 consumed much of the remains of the
By the mid 1990s, the mill site was purchased by the City of Oakridge and remains under their ownership.
The bridge and the railroad remain completely intact, although worse for the wear, with no maintenance for
more than 15 years. It’s assumed the city intends to keep the site available for possible, although probably
unlikely, industrial redevelopment.
|All photos taken by Brian McCamish
|The Salmon Creek Railroad bridge is located over Salmon Creek and is the only major structure on the 1/2 mile Pope &
Talbot Spur line. The twin 150' steel through truss bridges were built in 1906 and 1907, by the American Bridge Company,
but was not originally located here. I'm not sure where it was originally located. In 1948, it was moved here to allow
Southern Pacific to serve the mill. Today, the spur line, bridge and mill are all abandoned. The bridge does not appear to be
in good condition. The wooden walkways are all but rotted away, hence why it closed to pedestrian traffic. The surveyor on
the bridge just happens to be using the bridge as a platform to survey Salmon Creek.
|Looking towards the mill site
from the bridge. The track is all
still in place, but completely
overgrown and almost
impossible to explore.
|The water tower still
exists in relatively good
|The mill was built in 1948, but closed in 1990
and mostly burned down in 1991.
|If anyone has any further information or pictures about this mill and railroad spur, please let me
know. You can Email me anytime. Thanks.
|Return to the Railroad History Page
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|Copyright © 2004 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.
|This excellent Website about the Southern Pacific Willamette Pass, has a few more
photos of this bridge, taken in the late 1990s on it's Oakridge Page.