Tuesday, May 19, 2015


The Espee in Oregon Meet was held in Toledo, Oregon, May 15 & 16.  The major draw of this meet was the Georgia Pacific paper mill that serves as the motivation for the continuation of the railroad Toledo Branch.  This is the same branch that runs through the lower campus of Oregon State University in Corvallis—my home town.

The meet began on Friday with a tour through the Georgia Pacific paper mill.  Sadly, GP policy forbade cameras, so the only photos I have are from the public area outside the security gate.  The tour briefing was informative, filling in a couple of gaps in my knowledge base.  The paper mill was built in 1956-57 as an adjunct to the former C.D. Johnson sawmill purchased by GP.  The sawmill is no more, but paper production continues.

Georgia Pacific paper mill in Toledo, Oregon.

The GP paper mill in Toledo produces corrugated box paper—both the outer faces and the interior liner that is corrugated.  That is a business that continues with the changing marketplace for paper products.  GP uses 50 percent recycled material (mostly cardboard) in their current process.  The remainder of the fiber for the paper comes from the Kraft process (chemicals and heat) applied to wood chip fiber.  This contrasts to the thermal-mechanical process used by SP Fiber Technology (newsprint is the product) seen during last year’s tour at Newberg, OR.  http://espeecascades.blogspot.com/2014/05/espee-in-oregon-2014.html

The rest of the paper process looked familiar.  Indeed, last year’s tour was good background for this year’s tour.  The tour completed with a demonstration of rol-dumping RR chip gondolas.  GP’s chip dump is across the Yaquina River in the former loading shed of the CD Johnson sawmill.  A conveyor system transports the chips over to the paper mill site.  The old industrial switcher, used at the mill since 1951, was present but is no longer used. 

Friday afternoon provided time for layout tours and a tour of the Toledo Railroad Museum.  My first stop was with the museum.  I have visited here before, getting a copy of one of the few photos of the SP “Beanery” at Cascade Summit.  The museum’s highlight is their restored baggage-RPO car.  It is a great example of a working Railway Post Office. 

SP Baggage-RPO at the Toledo Railroad Museum.

My second stop also was in Toledo at the home and layout of a former charter member of my former model railroad club in California.  Both of us escaped to Oregon.  Jim uses mostly DC-analog for control using his PFM Sound unit.  I also toured a club layout in Newport.  The evening’s activities centered around an “open” slide projector.

Jim W.’s layout.

Saturday’s agenda had a number of presentations.  The important “local interest” presentation was by Lloyd Palmer and Mike Y. on the bridges on the Toledo Branch.  The SP upgraded the line in 1958 to handle the heavier traffic for the then-new paper mill.  The SP used a number of former turntable bridges, repurposed as railroad bridges, for the many crossings of the Mary’s and Yaquina Rivers. 

The evening’s presentations included a video shot on the Cascade Line featuring snow removal service.  The concluding presentation was by Bob Morris (aka “Photo Bob”) with a lot of his photography around Dunsmuir, CA, at the south end of the Cascade-Shasta Line (and the original main line).  Bob claimed this was the first time he had done a projected photo show (he works with photo prints).  He had us in stitches with laughter.

The Espee in Oregon Meets give me an opportunity to catch up with friends with a common interest and to add to my knowledge of railroading—particularly the SP—in Oregon.

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