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Tillamook to Batterson

Tillamook Blimp Hangars
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The Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad’s shops are located two miles South of town, just behind historic Tillamook Blimp Hangar B. That building, which was erected in 1942 to house the U.S. Navy's ZP33 Blimp Squadron, is now the home of the Tillamook Air Museum.

The hangar is significant because it is the largest free-standing wooden structure in the world. Engulfing more than six football fields, in its heyday it held all eight of the massive K-class blimps that were used by the Navy to patrol the northern Pacific Coast during World War II.

There is a simple shop building here, where the railroad performs running repairs and inspections. A few locomotives can usualy be found here, as well as extra cars for the Trask River Lumber Company mill, which operates behind the hangar.

The remnants of Hangar A sit just southeast of the shop. In the past, the Trask mill was located inside, as well as a passenger car rebuilding firm. In August 1992, while it was being used to store hay, the building caught fire, collapsing within an hour. All that remains today is the foundation, and the massive concrete pylons that supported the big rolling doors on either end.

The former USN spur line that comprised the original POTB heads North from the hangars into Tillamook proper, crossing an ancient truss bridge over the Trask River on its way to the old Southern Pacific Tillamook station.

Tillamook Station (mp 855.8)
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The now-abandoned Tillamook depot marks the historic beginning of the SP’s Tillamook branch. In later years, the depot was host to the Oregon Coastal Express, and Oregon Mini Express passenger services. Now, it sits forlorn at trackside in disrepair, with the widows boarded up, and the roof sagging slightly.

Across the tracks from the depot sits a far more important feature on the line - the Hampton Lumber Company’s Tillamook mill, one of the largest shippers on the line. There also was a wye at this location.

Plenty of time is spent switching the Hampton mill, and a regular outbound flow of loaded centerbeam bulkhead flats keeps the railroad healthy. From here, the line winds North across State Highway 17, past the Tillamook Cheese Factory and under Highway 101 at Miami on its way to Garibaldi.

The track through Tillamook is largely blocked by private land after it crosses Highway 17, but there are a few grade crossings near the cheese factory.

From Miami, the tracks are close to the highway all the way through Bay City to Garibaldi. There is a low wooden trestle near Juno, and the tracks again dart under Hwy 101 just North of Bay City. Just outside Garibaldi, the tracks cross Hwy 101 at grade.

Garibaldi (mp 845.7)
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Trains usually stop at Garibaldi to switch Northwest Hardwoods on the North side of town. There is a small park that provides access to the Coast Guard’s Tillamook Bay Lifesaving Station just past the mill, and the dyke there provides some good train-watching (for at least a few minutes while the mill is switched.) The City of Garibaldi has former a Rayonier 2-8-2, a passenger car and a wooden caboose on display in the center of town. They are clearly visible just to the west of the highway.

After leaving town, the tracks break away from the protection of Tillamook Bay, and follow the coast North past the rock formation known localy as the Three Hopes.

Barview (mp 843.8) to Rockaway
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Though there is no business for the railroad in Barview anymore, the spot is noteworthy because of the location of the Three Hopes just to the South of town, and some great reflecting pools to the North.

From Barview, the rails follow Hwy. 101 closely through Rockaway Beach.

The rails stay to the West of Highway 101 as they wind along the Oregon coast towards Wheeler. The railroad maintains a fairly flat profile while the road climbs over a few heavily wooded hills along the eight mile stretch.

There are some fine views to be had as the tracks break away from the Pacific Ocean and head along the shores of Nehalem Bay.

Wheeler (mp 833.6)
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Once home to a sprawling lumber mill, Wheeler’s economy is now more attuned to the flocks of tourists that head towards the ocean, and only a small passenger shelter has prevented the railroad from becoming a footnote in the town’s history.

From Wheeler, visitors can charter a fishing boat, rent a kayak or horse, or (in summer months) board one of the POTB’s irregular passenger trains for a ride to Batterson. Excursions have also been run South to Garibaldi.

The tracks pass under Hwy. 101 again before entering Wheeler, then head inland towards Mohler.

Mohler (mp 831.2)
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Just after the tracks cross under Hwy. 101 at Wheeler, turn right onto Highway 53, towards Mohler.

The tracks climb a tree-lined hill at Mohler, almost out of view to the East of the road.

The tracks break away from the highway here, and can be seen crossing a spindly steel truss bridge over Foley Creek in the distance. Turn right again onto Foley Creek Road to rejoin the tracks.

Foss Road
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After following Foley Creek Road on the Western side, the tracks cross at grade and follow Foss Road east towards Batterson.

If you cross the tracks, you've gone too far! Foley Creek road is more or less the "back road" to Tillamook.

As the tracks follow Foss Road, there are plenty of views, both slightly elevated, and at grade.

By now, it is apparent that you have left the coastal climate, and the land takes on a more distinctly forrested look. Also on the way out is civilization, as Wheeler was the last town that the railroad passes through before Timber, almost 40 miles distant.

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Batterson is the theoretical "halfway" point on the line. Trains from Tillamook stop here to interchange cars with the hill job, which ties up for the night here.

There is a large rock quarry here that sees no rail service. If there are locomotives laying over, they are usually tied up on the west side of Batterson's lengthy siding.

There is also a short maintenance of way spur, which sometimes sees a few cars of work equipment if it is in use.

From Batterson, the relative flat coastal terrain begins to succumb to the tough grades of the coast range.

Back to the Port of Tillamook Bay Trackside Guide