Columbia and Nehalem Valley Railway

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Trestle accross McBride Creek just north of Columbia City
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Wood burning Shay

Railroads often had ambitious names, and the Columbia and Nehalem was no exception. It started at Columbia City and its announced destination was Pittsburg in the Nehalem Valley. It went up the hill west of Columbia city accessing the high ground between Milton Creek and Merrill Creek.

The railroad was announced in March of 1902, and was to reach Pittsburg via Oak Ranch Creek. The founders, Giltner and Sewell sold out to Pennsular Lumber Company in 1906 at which time they had about 5 miles of trackage rising from a river front site in front of Columbia City into a 5,000 acre tract of timber west of Columbia City. By 1912 the trackage had grown to 8 miles, but it is doubtful if they got as far as Yankton.

Notable is the fact that both locomotives shown here are burning wood. This was fairly uncommon as most by then burned oil. The top photo is said to be of a 50 ton Climax. The second photo is of a wood burning Shay, but this writer is doubtful if it is the same shay or the same trackage, as the log looks more like a Redwood from California. Shays were commonly used in this region for logging because their gear reduction made them very powerful if slow. Shays were so common and so popular at the time that any geared locomotive was likely to be called a 'Shay' even it wasn't. 'Shay' was actually a brand name of type of geared locomotive. The Climax shown was likely loosely referred to as a 'Shay' based on the fact that it was geared, even though the gearing was different and Climax was manufactured by a different company.

Crib Trestle

You will notice that the trestle is built of a crib style instead of the more common piling design. Both were used in the woods, but these seem to take a lot more wood, but in looking at it, you can see that the logs are all sniped (tapered a bit on the ends). This wasn't done for looks. Rather it implies that the logs were dragged with an animal team (likely oxen) at some point, or perhaps all the way to the construction site. A piling trestle needs a pile driver, and machinery to facilitate construction. This sort of a trestle could have been built with hand labor and ox teams ahead of the arrival of rail to bring in a pile driver.

Photos from the Joe Corsiglia collection.

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