By Ron Brown
HILT, Calif. — Tuesday’s announcement that almost eight million dollars in federal transportation grant money is being targeted for the Siskiyou Rail Line, is being hailed as good news on both sides of the Oregon-California border. After almost four years of inactivity, the line could soon be up and running again after repairs are made to rails and ties, and tunnels are opened wider to accommodate larger freight cars.
The shutdown of the line over the Siskiyous has also meant near-death for the Yreka Western Railroad, and timber companies have had to turn to trucks to ship raw materials. In addition, a new fleet of more fuel-efficient locomotives that are also more powerful are now in the area that Central Oregon & Pacific officials think will allow them to be more flexible on shipping rates.
Yreka Western Manager Court Hammond told us by phone that he sees this as a positive move that will also help his line survive and while he recently tore out most of the line’s little used spur and siding rails, he says they are ready to provide freight connection service once the Siskiyou line is up and running.
At the same time, the popular “Blue Goose” steam locomotive is under repair, and is to be shipped to northeast Oregon to run on another excursion rail line there.