The Port of Tillamook Bay (POTB) commissioners have voted to sign an agreement that gives total control of our railroad to a coalition that favors trails over railroads. This group is dominated by people outside of Tillamook County. In effect the POTB is giving control of our multi-million dollar asset to outsiders.
In 2017 Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad (OCSR) carried 30,000 paying passengers, generating some $500,000 in revenue. Spin-off revenue at local businesses was well over $1 million. Ridership is growing by double digits every year.
Recently, out of numerous choices, a fully restored 1912 locomotive chose to relocate here from Wisconsin. Tillamook won out because of our scenic beauty and ongoing restoration of the rail line by OCSR.
OCSR and its volunteers have rebuilt miles of rail, rebuilt bridges and culverts, cut 46 miles of brush, built three excursion cars, hauled hundreds of tons of rock for new water lines, cleared numerous slides, and even rebuilt the “hanging” track left by the 2007 flood.
In addition, OCSR is involved in rebuilding steam equipment. At its shop in Garibaldi, a famous Skookum locomotive is nearing the end of a 12-year restoration. That alone will generate more than $1 million in revenue. Its inauguration later this year will generate attendance by hundreds of rail fans from throughout the country. A planned celebration featuring three fully restored steam locomotives in late summer will do the same.
Future plans include excursion connections in Tillamook and Bay City, museums in both Tillamook and Garibaldi, excursions up the Nehalem River Valley, expanded dinner trains, and a repair shop that will generate substantial employment by rebuilding equipment from around the country. There is no limit to the future economic support that Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad and its volunteers can create.
Don’t be fooled by false information that the Port will have veto powers over the trail group. There are no such powers in the proposed agreement. Once it is signed, it cannot be reversed. More than 100 years of railroad in Tillamook County will be on its way to extinction!
From the very beginning of a trial proposal, OCSR has supported joint-use of the rail line, welcoming trails. There is no justification in the POTB giving away control. Trails are welcome to co-exist with the railroad.
After very little public notice or input, the Port plans to sign this devastating document on Feb. 2. Only a vote to reverse its decision prior to signing will save the railroad. We urge you to contact POTB commissioners directly and voice your disagreement to handing control of our railroad to a group of outsiders.
As a disclaimer, Andrea and I own some of the rail equipment, including the McCloud 25, the main steam engine. The minute this agreement is signed we will be looking for a different home for what is one of the most famous steam locomotives in the country.
Call your Port of Tillamook Bay commissioner if you favor keeping a working railroad in Tillamook County.