Rail Disruptions from Wildfires

video preview image

GLENDALE, Ore. — One of the major impacts of the fires burning near Glendale is the shutdown of Southern Oregon’s only north-south rail line west of the Cascades. Fire has apparently burned part of at least one bridge or trestle in the Cow Creek Canyon, and repairs are delayed until the fire danger passes.

More than a dozen loaded railcars are sitting on sidings in Glendale, trapped here when fire burned a bridge and other wood structures in the Cow Creek Canyon last weekend. With the Siskiyou Line still closed to the south, and the line to the north damaged and shut down, superior lumber company officials are turning to trucks to shuttle rail shipments to their stud mill in Roseburg for loading.

“We’ve had to add six people to the payroll, in order to the trucking done, and the rail loading in Roseburg, and it’s going to be this way for probably several weeks, we’re anticipating at least, a couple weeks,” said Steve Swanson, with Superior Lumber Company.

Central Oregon and Pacific spokesman Matthew Fullerton issued a statement that says materials to make repairs are being staged, just waiting for the all clear to send in crews to get the line opened again. Most estimates are it would take about three days. Swanson says if the Siskiyou Line to the south was open, this would not be such a problem.

“This is precisely why we need to have two exits from this valley, because when the Cow Creek Canyon’s down, that stops everybody from Ashland to here,” explained Swanson.

Having these cars all loaded up and ready to go to customers, mostly back east, might be kind of like being all dressed up for a party with no place to go! On down the line several miles, there’s damage to the tracks, the ties and some of the trestles that needs to be repaired before these cars can ship out, and that could be a week or more.

Boise Cascade spokesman John Stahlberg says that company has had about 10% of its rail shipments from Southern Oregon delayed by the shutdown of the Central Oregon and Pacific Line near Glendale.