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Author Topic: New Blog Post: Orphaned HCRH Segment near Shellrock Mountain  (Read 1554 times)

JasonOfORoads

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New Blog Post: Orphaned HCRH Segment near Shellrock Mountain
« on: November 30, 2019, 02:07:13 AM »

I know it's been awhile, but I just put up a new Beaver State Blog post about a small 1/3-mile segment of the HCRH that was cut off by I-84's construction back in the early 1950s. I included a brief history of the segment complete with old photos, plus a couple dozen photos of my own reconnaissance trip earlier in the month. Here's a sneak peek of my photo roll (links to full-size versions for bandwidth concerns):







Let me know what you think! The URL is http://blog.beaverstateroads.net/2019/11/29/orphaned-hcrh-segment-near-shellrock-mountain/.
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Andrew T.

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Re: New Blog Post: Orphaned HCRH Segment near Shellrock Mountain
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2019, 10:06:29 AM »

Wow, that's well done! And a double wow about the road itself.  The intact grading through the trees is impressive enough, and I'm amazed that original infrastructure such as guardrail posts are still in place after more than 60 years.

I've done my fair share of researching old highway alignments, and I sometimes overlook very short deviations and straightenings like these because a) they don't show up on low-resolution topo maps, b) I assume they're too short to yield any interesting visible traces, or c) they get completely obliterated by grading for the newer road.  But treasure can lurk anywhere.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: New Blog Post: Orphaned HCRH Segment near Shellrock Mountain
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2019, 02:15:10 PM »

Thatís pretty cool, I wasnít too far on the Historic Columbia River Highway myself in October.  Out of curiosity what was the access point used to reach this alignment?  Was there a turnout somewhere on the shoulder of I-84 that was accessible or did you have to enter from the Columbia River?
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JasonOfORoads

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Re: New Blog Post: Orphaned HCRH Segment near Shellrock Mountain
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2019, 02:23:43 AM »

Wow, that's well done! And a double wow about the road itself.  The intact grading through the trees is impressive enough, and I'm amazed that original infrastructure such as guardrail posts are still in place after more than 60 years.

Thanks! I too was impressed with how much was intact. I was careful not to disturb any of it so that future generations could also enjoy them. The old railroad alignment yielded a couple of awesome relics themselves. I'm debating making another post just to cover that.

I've done my fair share of researching old highway alignments, and I sometimes overlook very short deviations and straightenings like these because a) they don't show up on low-resolution topo maps, b) I assume they're too short to yield any interesting visible traces, or c) they get completely obliterated by grading for the newer road.  But treasure can lurk anywhere.

Yeah, it's always hard to make that judgment call. I'm a bit of a completionist myself, so I enjoy even the tiniest rerouting and straightening, but I am definitely more likely to visit these longer reroutings first. That said, I'm working on an entry about the equally-tiny Ruthton Point HCRH segment which yielded similar treasure.

On a completely unrelated note, I also need to drop you a line about helping you update your Oregon license plate pages.
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JasonOfORoads

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Re: New Blog Post: Orphaned HCRH Segment near Shellrock Mountain
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2019, 02:40:57 AM »

Thatís pretty cool, I wasnít too far on the Historic Columbia River Highway myself in October.  Out of curiosity what was the access point used to reach this alignment?  Was there a turnout somewhere on the shoulder of I-84 that was accessible or did you have to enter from the Columbia River?

I was a little vague on the details of both when I went and how I entered it because I have no idea about the legality of being there, let alone getting there. However, I can say that this segment wasn't really that easy to get to, and I had to do some research to try and figure out the best way for me personally to access this site. Here were the options I discovered:
  • Park at the Wyeth Treaty Fishing Access Site and take a boat, kayak, etc.
  • Alternatively, park there and walk along shoreline (may be impassable at places due to BNSF UP tracks)
  • Park here and walk along the BNSF UP ROW or I-84 (neither recommended)
  • Park along I-84 Westbound here or here, crossing the BNSF UP tracks (shoulder may be smaller than it looks from Google Earth)
« Last Edit: December 08, 2019, 10:56:05 AM by JasonOfORoads »
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nexus73

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Re: New Blog Post: Orphaned HCRH Segment near Shellrock Mountain
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2019, 09:58:41 AM »

There is an old section of US 101 which looks like this one from US 30.  It can be found at Humbug Mountain State Park, south of Port Orford.  Go to the big park area on the west side of the highway, park in the lot and then use your eyes as the good Lord intended to find the old routing.

Want more old discarded road?  Turn off US 101 at the Langlois Cheese Factory which no longer makes cheese and go to the end of the road.  Get out of your rig.  Walk south.  For bonus points, see if you are smart enough to figure out how to get to the other side of the small river and discover how US 101 came through the south end.

Rick
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US 101 is THE backbone of the Pacific coast from Bandon OR to Willets CA.  Industry, tourism and local traffic would be gone or severely crippled without it being in functioning condition in BOTH states.

JasonOfORoads

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Re: New Blog Post: Orphaned HCRH Segment near Shellrock Mountain
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2019, 08:51:38 PM »

There is an old section of US 101 which looks like this one from US 30.  It can be found at Humbug Mountain State Park, south of Port Orford.  Go to the big park area on the west side of the highway, park in the lot and then use your eyes as the good Lord intended to find the old routing.

Want more old discarded road?  Turn off US 101 at the Langlois Cheese Factory which no longer makes cheese and go to the end of the road.  Get out of your rig.  Walk south.  For bonus points, see if you are smart enough to figure out how to get to the other side of the small river and discover how US 101 came through the south end.

I have both of those alignments down on my to-visit list already, though it won't be for some time. The first segment can be seen easily from Google Maps by turning on Terrain View. It was bypassed sometime in the 1950s. The second one near Langlois was bypassed around 1967 if the National Bridge Inventory is to be believed.

I do have photos similar to these of several small abandonned segments of US-26 between Sandy and Rhododendron that I took in October 2017. Those were planned to be other blog entries but fell by the wayside for various reasons. I'm gonna have to pick those back up.
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sparker

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Re: New Blog Post: Orphaned HCRH Segment near Shellrock Mountain
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2019, 04:26:04 AM »

Thatís pretty cool, I wasnít too far on the Historic Columbia River Highway myself in October.  Out of curiosity what was the access point used to reach this alignment?  Was there a turnout somewhere on the shoulder of I-84 that was accessible or did you have to enter from the Columbia River?

I was a little vague on the details of both when I went and how I entered it because I have no idea about the legality of being there, let alone getting there. However, I can say that this segment wasn't really that easy to get to, and I had to do some research to try and figure out the best way for me personally to access this site. Here were the options I discovered:
  • Park at the Wyeth Treaty Fishing Access Site and take a boat, kayak, etc.
  • Alternatively, park there and walk along shoreline (may be impassable at places due to BNSF tracks)
  • Park here and walk along the BNSF ROW or I-84 (neither recommended)
  • Park along I-84 Westbound here or here, crossing the BNSF tracks (shoulder may be smaller than it looks from Google Earth)

Actually, the tracks on the south bank of the Columbia in OR belong to UP (their line from Granger, WY to Portland); BNSF is on the north bank of the river in WA paralleling WA 14; that line, originally the Spokane, Portland & Seattle, currently ends up in Pasco, WA. 
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JasonOfORoads

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Re: New Blog Post: Orphaned HCRH Segment near Shellrock Mountain
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2019, 10:57:36 AM »

Actually, the tracks on the south bank of the Columbia in OR belong to UP (their line from Granger, WY to Portland); BNSF is on the north bank of the river in WA paralleling WA 14; that line, originally the Spokane, Portland & Seattle, currently ends up in Pasco, WA.

Ah, gotcha. I fixed my comment. Can you tell I'm not as big a railfan as I am a roadgeek?  :-P
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sparker

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Re: New Blog Post: Orphaned HCRH Segment near Shellrock Mountain
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2019, 05:07:01 PM »

Actually, the tracks on the south bank of the Columbia in OR belong to UP (their line from Granger, WY to Portland); BNSF is on the north bank of the river in WA paralleling WA 14; that line, originally the Spokane, Portland & Seattle, currently ends up in Pasco, WA.

Ah, gotcha. I fixed my comment. Can you tell I'm not as big a railfan as I am a roadgeek?  :-P

If it rolls across the face of the earth it's of interest to me.  Was equally a roadgeek and "railhead" in my youth; the former always stayed with me, while the latter was largely confined to model RR's and, later, rail photography.   In my middle years I started taking Amtrak whenever it fit my plans -- but a couple of cross-country trips on that carrier that ended up being a very mixed bag (either it was wonderful or it sucked -- little "middle ground") has led me to utilize local commutes and/or Amtrak California (in-state subsidized service) -- which mostly doesn't suck!   But if you ever have the opportunity to take the Cascade service (Eugene-Seattle-Vancouver) do so; it's not bad (the wreck a couple of years back notwithstanding -- but they tend not to make the same mistake twice when it comes to safety issues).   
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JasonOfORoads

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Re: New Blog Post: Orphaned HCRH Segment near Shellrock Mountain
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2019, 03:00:39 AM »

If it rolls across the face of the earth it's of interest to me.  Was equally a roadgeek and "railhead" in my youth; the former always stayed with me, while the latter was largely confined to model RR's and, later, rail photography.   In my middle years I started taking Amtrak whenever it fit my plans -- but a couple of cross-country trips on that carrier that ended up being a very mixed bag (either it was wonderful or it sucked -- little "middle ground") has led me to utilize local commutes and/or Amtrak California (in-state subsidized service) -- which mostly doesn't suck!   But if you ever have the opportunity to take the Cascade service (Eugene-Seattle-Vancouver) do so; it's not bad (the wreck a couple of years back notwithstanding -- but they tend not to make the same mistake twice when it comes to safety issues).   

I took the train a few times between Portland and Tacoma when I was in college. Also one time in high school my class took the train from Portland to Seattle and back for some Model Congress AP Government extracurricular. I'm sure I took the Cascades trains for some of those trips (this was about 20 years ago). If they only ran from Eugene to Vancouver BC, then they were likely the trains that were on-time most frequently. One time I took a train that had apparently originated in LA, and it was five hours late due to all the delays. Amtrak really needs its own high speed rail line in the corridor. I'd visit Seattle or Eugene a lot more often, and could even see my relatives up in Vancouver if I get my passport renewed.

Speaking of rail lines, I also walked along the railroad grade as part of the trip to the Shellrock Mountain segment. The two coolest things about it:



These were taken looking eastbound down the line. The first says "5082" and the other says "5104". They occurred at culverts which drain into the Columbia. They were distanced about 2/10-mile from each other, so they were likely mileposts of some sort. I didn't really see anything else along the line.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2019, 03:04:04 AM by JasonOfORoads »
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sparker

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Re: New Blog Post: Orphaned HCRH Segment near Shellrock Mountain
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2019, 06:13:06 PM »

Since that line has since its original construction in the 1880's been principally owned by Union Pacific, that sign would mean that it indicates milepost 510.4 or alternately 508.2 from the eastern point of what was at the time of signage the operating division of the railroad.  The discrepancy likely is a result of the line being shortened somewhere between Pocatello, ID and Portland -- most likely on the section climbing up and down the Blue Mountains between Pendleton and La Grange; there have been several line revisions in that area to lower grades or improve curvature since the line's inception.  About 2 miles of revision in a line that's about 530 miles long and was first built 135 years ago is actually quite commonplace.  The "508.2" sign, although itself a rust bucket (not uncommon in the Gorge!),  looks to be the newer of the two -- indicating that the line was shortened rather than lengthened for the revision.
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JasonOfORoads

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Re: New Blog Post: Orphaned HCRH Segment near Shellrock Mountain
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2019, 02:59:55 AM »

Since that line has since its original construction in the 1880's been principally owned by Union Pacific, that sign would mean that it indicates milepost 510.4 or alternately 508.2 from the eastern point of what was at the time of signage the operating division of the railroad.  The discrepancy likely is a result of the line being shortened somewhere between Pocatello, ID and Portland -- most likely on the section climbing up and down the Blue Mountains between Pendleton and La Grange; there have been several line revisions in that area to lower grades or improve curvature since the line's inception.  About 2 miles of revision in a line that's about 530 miles long and was first built 135 years ago is actually quite commonplace.  The "508.2" sign, although itself a rust bucket (not uncommon in the Gorge!),  looks to be the newer of the two -- indicating that the line was shortened rather than lengthened for the revision.

I actually believe that they're milepost 50.82 and 51.04, not milepost 508.2 and 510.4. I say that for several reasons:
  • According to this map:



    the 5104 milepost was found to the east of the 5082 milepost. If the mileage was being counted "from the eastern point of ... the operating division of the railroad" (that is, the eastern terminus) then 5104 should be to the west of 5082. That would instead indicate a route lengthening of approximately 2.4 miles, making the 5082 mileage like ODOT's Z-mileage or WSDOT's B-mileage.
  • These things were pretty tiny. I'm talking no taller than 15 inches. The numbers themselves were maybe 2 or 2Ĺ" square, making these useless for navigation at typical train speeds, even back then.
  • The numbers were only posted at intersections with culverts.
  • This line was originally constructed by the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company, which was based out of Portland. Therefore, it isn't unreasonable to assume that milepost 0 on this line was in Portland.
  • The numbers were only posted on one side, both visible travelling eastbound -- away from Portland.
  • It wasn't a full-fledged UP line until 1936. By that time, it was likely too well-established of a line to be re-mileposted.
  • To this day, milepost 0 on the line is still in Portland. GSV shows that MP 1 is in Sullivan's Gulch in Portland, MP 30 is near Multnomah Falls, and MP 32 is near Horsetail Falls.

To me, these seem more like mileposts for maintenance purposes than navigation based on their size, position, direction and location.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2019, 03:02:14 AM by JasonOfORoads »
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Re: New Blog Post: Orphaned HCRH Segment near Shellrock Mountain
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2019, 03:49:07 AM »

^^^^^^^^^
You may well be correct -- OR&N was a separate corporate entity until the UP Depression-era reorganization -- although it had been a UP subsidiary from the beginning.  Normal UP policy was to sign divisions east-to-west in deference to their easternmost historic point of Omaha (then as now corporate HQ).  But their other subsidiary (Long Beach, CA to SLC -- the Los Angeles and Salt Lake, which wasn't fully incorporated into UP until the 1950's to take advantage of CA tax codes) -- also had their "point zero" at the Pacific Coast in San Pedro, CA.   So the Portland line is likely configured in the same manner.  And you're also correct that the mileposting is for maintenance rather than navigation purposes -- although RR crews can generally ascertain just where they are along the line by the numbers attached to the trackside "block" signals -- which are usually signed in the same fashion as the smaller mileposts.  This is something that can be verified in the field -- just locate a signal in the vicinity; if its number is roughly similar to that of the mileposts, then that is indicative of the milepost methodology. 
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