Signals for the Oregon Slough Drawbridge and North Portland Jct. indicate stop. This is one of the rare quiet moments on BNSF’s Columbia River Drawbridge in Vancouver, Wa. It seems the bridge is either closed because a train is crossing or open for river traffic. On December 21, 2010 shortly before 8PM everything is quiet ahead of an eastbound manifest and Amtrak 509.
While my recent visit to Central Montana was more family oriented I still had a goal to get over to the Central Montana Railroad’s Judith River trestle. There’s just something about seeing bent steel that just couldn’t keep me away! Fortunately my brother and sister-in-law wanted to see some sights so I dragged them out to Ware to have a look at the damage.
At the north end of the bridge you can easily see where the Judith River left its banks and did the damage. When I rode the dinner train the Judith was confined to the east end of the trestle. However with the high water the oxbow just upstream of the bridge was ‘straight lined’ and that meant trouble for the footing.
I haven’t heard any news yet on when or if the bridge will be repaired. Based on the Lobato Trestle experience this repair will likely be in the millions of dollars to repair. I’m sure there are lots of considerations political and financial involved so we’ll likely have to wait a bit for a final decision.
In the meantime it will be interesting to see what happens with the various pieces of equipment the CMR has. When I passed through Denton I saw a good sized string of GATX bottom dump hoppers. I suppose that CMR was storing those. The bridge is between them and the BNSF interchange so it will be interesting to see when and how they get out of town. The Charlie Russell Chew Choo cars are all sitting at Kingston Jct. south of the trestle and all dinner trains are cancelled through July. I don’t believe CMR has a locomotive down there so they too appear to be isolated. I didn’t see anything on the tracks from Arrow Creek (station) through Square Butte to Geraldine.
In the mean time if you want to visit keep in mind that CMR is fairly serious about trespassers on the bridge. Sure this is pretty much in the middle of nowhere but if you are on the bridge it is pretty obvious you are on the bridge.
Good luck CMR.
7/31/2011 Update – It appears the Charlie Russell Choo Chew is making long term plans to operate from a different location. According to this article they are planning to move the cars to Ware and operate out of there on what appears to be a permanent basis.
The north border of Clark County Washington is formed by the Lewis River. The Lewis River isn’t much when compared to the mighty Columbia but as a major tributary it had some status a navigable waterway. These days though it is primarily a haven for recreational boaters and fisherman. BNSF crosses the river on a truss bridge made of 5 spans including one which was once a center swing span. Trains today cross the 102 year old bridge with no fan fare. Freights like UP’s M-HKSE (Hinkle-Seattle above) roll across at 60 m.p.h. while Amtrak (below) speeds across at 75 m.p.h. A simple transportation link for Clark County.
The first part of July has be quite busy for me and my family. Thanks to a vacation out at the coast, a picnic, and other miscellaneous activities I’ve been tied up with non-railfan activities which has limited my available time to write up blog posts. The good news is I’ll have a few more railfan activities though August and September so my posts should be more regular.
In the mean time here’s a couple of photos of an empty grain train from Rivergate crossing the Columbia Draw.
I want to issue a 6″ correction to my June 13th post about high water on the Columbia River. I said…
Looking at the photos closely in February there were 13 1/2 courses on the pier between the cap and the water. Today there were only 9. Estimating a course at 18″ puts the river nearly 7′ higher than in February.
After measuring the courses on one of the piers next to 8th Street today I found out they are each 24″ tall which means the water was closer to 9′ higher than in February.