Chapman, Oregon

Chapman is named for Simcoe Chapman. Simcoe Chapman was born in Ontario, Canada in 1840 and came to Oregon in 1901 after operating logging companies in Michigan and Minnesota. He founded both the Chapman Timber Company and the Chapman Lumber Company which operated in eastern Columbia County. He passed away in 1923. Chapman which is located in a broad valley in southern interior of Columbia County was first accessible only by logging railroad. Most of the communities residents live on a road branching south from the Scappoose-Pittsburg road. The Portland and Southwestern Railway which was the official name of the logging railroad connecting Scappoose bay to the logging country passed through Chapman on its way to Pittsburg and a number of points west. The exact period of operation of the Portland and Southwestern Ry is not known to this writer, but old deeds reflect that right of way near Scappoose was acquired for its construction in 1906 and the then abandoned right-of-way was converted to a truck load by Crown Zellerbach in the early 1960's and has now once again been abandoned as changing conditions compel logs to be hauled by truck directly to market rather than 'to the water'. The terminus of this logging route was always a log dump on Scappoose Bay, where the logs were rafted for shipment to a final destination which was usually a sawmill along the lower Colulmbia River.

Almost unique to logging railroads, the Portland and Southwestern tunneled under the summit west of Chapman on its way into the Nehalem River drainage. While tunnels are not unique to railroads generally, they were most uncommon to logging railroads which were never intended to be more than temporary constructions designed to last just long enough to 'get the timber out'. This tunnel and a more famous one in the Kerry line which extended south out of Westport, Oregon under Nicoli Mountain to Neverstill near Birkenfeld were the only logging railroad tunnels in northwest Oregon.

One of the unique things about these logging railroads is their style of construction. Excavation at the time was difficult and expensive. It was often accomplished with Chinese labor crews by hand or sometimes with the aid of a dragline. by comparison, trestle building was apparently less expensive. As a consequence you will find lots of trestles and few cuts and even fewer fills on old logging rights of way. Fills more than 4 feet high are uncommon. They almost always used bridge work instead. Also the logging railroads were not uniformly ballasted. Some used river rock ballast, Others used just pit rock for ballast and still others specially on branch lines used no ballast at all. They just layed out the ties on the dirt, and used spots of ballast on what were apparently the soft spots and fills.

See also the local Columbia County Logging History page at this site.

- - Updated 12/08/2012
- - Updated 05/22/2008
- - Updated 2/6/01
- - Updated
- - Updated 03/23/2008