Modern Logging Industry

Discussion in 'Logging, Mining and Industrial Railroads' started by coachC, Feb 13, 2006.

  1. coachC

    coachC Member

    I am planning a modern day layout and was wondering how the logging industry played into today's railroads. Are there any logging railroads still around? I've searched the net and haven't found anything in particular except for this link on the Simpson Timber Railroad which seems to have lasted till about 1985 with the sawmill still in operation today.
  2. coachC

    coachC Member

    After asking this question at work, I finally had time this evening to do a little more googling and searching this forum and found a good bit of information. Any additional information on any railroad that services the logging industry on today's railroads would be greatly appreciated.
  3. Summit

    Summit Member

    There is only one "true" logging railroad left now...Canadian Forest Products on the north end of Vancouver Island. Pentrex did a good video on this operation a decade or more ago titled "Canfor's Englewood Railway". Buy it if you can. Canfor uses a quartet of EMD SW-1200's, three of them purchased new and the fourth acquired second hand from the Coos Bay/'Georgia Pacific logging railroad that used to run south from Coos Bay, OR when they quit. They had one of their steam locomotives operating until a few years ago, but it is cold now.

    Simpson Timber ran as a true logging railroad until 2000. Significant parts of their line did get taken out of service in the mid-1980's. Simpson still operates a dozen or so miles of track, running from Shelton west to a sawmill/dry sort yard complex, and they do haul logs on that line, but it no longer really qualifies as a true logging railroad to most people.

    Between 1985 and 1990 CTC Board magazine ran a seven part series on the last remaining logging railroads on the North American continent. The seven included Weyerhaeuser's Chehalis Western Railroad in western Washington (which lasted until 1990), the Camas Prairie in Idaho (which handled logs as a common carrier interline movement until just a few years ago), the St. Maries River in northern Idaho (it too is a common carrier that still hauls logs as an interline movement today), Simpson, Canadian Forest Products, Weyerhaeuser's Springfield logging railroad in western Oregon (it quit in 1987), and Weyerhaeuser's Woods Railroad and the associated Oregon California & Eastern Railroad that ran east out of Klamath Falls until 1990. Of this list only the St. Maries River, Canfor, and Simpson survive as major log haulers...all the rest are gone or no longer depend on log movements.

    That being said, there are a number of raw log movements handled on the nation's railroad network today. Roseburg Forest Products ships a lot of logs on the Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad from Weed, CA, north to Dillard, OR. CORP has a fleet of log cars to handle this movement. The Port of Grays Harbor, WA, ships a lot of logs to sawmills all over the west. A few years ago they were shipping 40-60 cars of logs each week to Nubieber, CA, where Big Valley Lumber Company had a reload. BVLC trucked these logs from the reload to their sawmills at Burney and Bieber, CA. At least some of these Grays Harbor logs today end up going to sawmills in western Oregon served by the Portland & Western Railroad. The PNWR runs a special train called the "Termite Train" to handle this traffic plus some other forest products related movements. Not too many years ago a company purchased the old Gilchrist Timber sawmill in Gilchrist, OR, and for a while it was operated primarily with logs brought by ship from New Zealand to Coos Bay, OR, where they were reloaded onto railcars for final delivery to Gilchrist.

    Perhaps the most visible raw log movements in recent history took place in the summer of 2003. 2002 saw those huge fires rage across much of northern Arizona. Much of the burned timber stood on a couple of Indian Reservations. Environmental groups were successful in getting salvage logging blocked on adjacent Forest Service lands, but the Reservations had no such restrictions. As a result they logged a whole lot of timber in a very short period of time. They sold most of this timber to Sierra Pacific Industries, operator of a large number of sawmills across northern California. The rest of the timber went to sawmills in central Oregon. After some deliberation they elected to ship the logs north from Arizona by rail. Sierra Pacific Industries chose to deliver those burned logs to three of their sawmills, one in Susanville, CA, on the Susanville Division of their Quincy Railroad, and the other two at Chinese Camp and Sonora on the Sierra Railroad. These logs were trucked down to Globe, AZ, where they were loaded onto railcars. The Arizona Eastern Railroad handled the logs in 80-car long unit trains down to the connection with the UP. UP would then move those logs to the Quincy Railroad interchange at Wendel, CA, and the Sierra interchange at Oakdale, CA, as unit trains. The logs bound for Central Oregon went north, to a reload established on the Apache Railroad at or near Snowflake, AZ. The Apache hauled these logs north to their connection with BNSF, who took the logs on north. Some went to sawmills in Klamath Falls, while most of them went on north to the interchange with the City of Prineville Railway. COP hauled the logs to Prineville, OR, where they were reloaded onto trucks for final delivery to a small sawmill at Prairie City, OR, 140 or so miles to the east.

    For the most part, sawmills today generally only really deal with railroads to ship outbound products. You will find an occassional sawmill that receives carloads of logs, but they are in the minority today. Generally these log movements are handled in your standard 60-foot bulkhead flats equipped with log bunks.

    I suggest that you find a copy of the June 1999 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman. It contains an article titled "Modern Logging Trains". Very well worth the should be able to find it either directly through Carstens or through a used magazine dealer such as

    If you are more flexible with your definition of "today" don't have to go back too many years to pick up all sorts of logging railroads. Go back to 1990 and you would have been able to see the Oregon California & Eastern snaking long log trains down into Klamath Falls, OR behind GE U-25B's re-built with EMD prime movers and the Chehalis Western moving logs down into Tacoma behind EMD GP38-2's. Go back to 1987 and you could see Weyerhaeuser moving logs down to Springfield, OR, behind GE 70-tonners. The eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 ended the log hauling days of another Weyerhaeuser operation that ran from Longview, WA. A portion of this railroad still operates today, but it does not hauld logs anymore. The Oregon & Northwestern handled logs from Seneca to Burns in Oregon's outback country until 1978.

    To wrap things up, there are some former logging railroads out there that have managed to survive as common carrier shortlines after the log hauling days ended. You can often find these shortlines using equipment from their log hauling days.

    I hope this helps you out.

    Jeff Moore
    Elko, NV
  4. coachC

    coachC Member

    Wow !! Thanks. You really know your stuff. I am impressed. You have helped me out a lot. I am going to get that magazine. Thanks again.
  5. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Jeff, an excellent rundown on modern operations. I would like to add 1 RR but state that you are correct in that it has now shut down but was in operation through the late 90's. McCleod River Railroad was a great modern line with a ton of history and if i recall correctly they had 3 SD-38's and several diesel switchers on its rosterat the end.
    Its a neat little road and a common carrier with some nice interchanges and also some subsidiary rr lines that were operated for the power companies dam projects.
    It sits up around northern California's Shasta Mountain.
    This is a website with its entire history and it would be a Dandy modeling project by itself or tied in with the SP,s local division.
    The gentleman who put this site together did a great job and I understand that Athearn did a SD-38 in McCleod livery in HO recently to boot :) hmmmm that would have been you, right Jeff ;)
  6. Drew Toner

    Drew Toner Member


    Jeff Moore 'IS' the gentleman who put that site together!!:oops: :oops: :oops:

    And yes he has down a wonderfull job. You can see a review of the Athearn SD38's on the site as well.
  7. Summit

    Summit Member

    Yes...McCloud Rails is my site. I did not include them on the list because they quit hauling logs in 1964. They definately qualify as one of the loggers that survived as a shortline Those SD38's missed the log hauling days by 5 years. The railroad does continue to operate today, under the McCloud Railway Company name. They are going through the abandonment process for the eastern end of the railroad, but that process is far from being over.

    In the log hauling days the McCloud had a fleet of Baldwin diesels, and the McCloud River Lumber Company operated a single GE 70-ton switcher.

    Jeff Moore
    Elko, NV

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