Trestles Along Nehalem Highway

On recent day off I visited Vernonia, Oregon, for no other reason than I’d never been there. Along the way I found some railroad-related things, and while not germane to the Northern Pacific, they are railroady, and so land here.

Vernonia lies on OR 47 aka the Nehalam Highway. Coming from the east, the highway splits off US 26 and heads north. About two miles north of the junction is a trestle:

Vernonia trestle 2

This bridge was built by the Pacific Railroad & Navigation Company in the early part of the 20th century, and after passing through a succession of owners, was last used by the Port of Tillamook railroad. The line crosses US 26 a few miles west. The railroad ceased operation in 2007 after a series of storms washed out the line and buried a tunnel.

The view east:

Vernonia trestle 2 east

And the view west:

Vernonia trestle 2 west

There’s a walkway below the tracks on the eastern side to allow maintenance and access along the trestle:

Vernonia trestle 2 walkway

Could you walk to the end? Sure. Did I? The structure hasn’t been inspected in nearly ten years, so, no.

Further north about six miles south of Vernonia is another trestle:

Vernonia curved trestle

Vernonia curved trestle 2

I couldn’t find out which company built the bridge, but it may well have been the company railroad for the Oregon-American Lumber Company located in Vernonia. The last logging railroad in the area ceased operation some 60 years ago, so the bridge has to be at least that old. In the top photo you can see that the eastern approach on the left has collapsed. A look at Google Earth reveals that the western approach has been converted to a trail that’s accessible from a trail head a few hundred feet north of the bridge. The eastern approach grade has been completely subsumed by the forest.

In Vernonia proper there’s a Shay:

Vernonia Shay

The mill was located just north of this park. The locomotive is reasonably complete, and thankfully not festooned with graffiti. The park also has a steam tractor and a metal cage once used as a jail cell. I assume that’s where the residents keep anti-logging activists.

The Port of Tillamook railroad parallels OR 47 and then US 26 as head you east toward Banks. There’s a sawmill in Banks, now served by the Portland & Western, and the main west of Banks is currently used to store a large number of container well cars.

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