Facebook Page
Cochran to Banks

Cochran (mp 800.0) east
MapBlast Map!
  Brought to you by MapBlast!   (Click on map to navigate)
Turn off of Highway 26 onto Timber Rd, and drive south three miles to the cozy little hamlet of Timber. Just inside of town, take a right on Cochran Rd., and make the six mile drive up to where the road crosses the tracks as Cochran, the highest point on the line’s crossing of the Coast Range.

The shots here are tremendous. Look to the east, and the tracks crest the summit in a shot that can be compressed into a pretty one with a telephoto lens. Look west, and the tracks crawl uphill towards you. Just a short distance west, and the tracks make a shallow “S” curve that may be a good shot as well.

Cochran is a good starting point for short hikes west towards the tunnels and trestles along the line. There is plenty of parking here, and grade clearances are nice and safe.

If you are trying to shoot an uphill train, you will hear it well before you see it. (Like a half hour once at Cochran. Down hill is another story, as those trains can be pretty sneaky. Either way, use caution. I would hate for someone to get nailed and be found clutching copies of these pages.

The map shows Cochran road. Cochran is marked with the plus sign on the left side of the map. Cochran follows the valley down towards Timber. There is limited access, with one good clearing that is shown about 1/3 of the way in on the map (Where the tracks and road are closest), and a logging road crossing a little further down. For reference, I have shot a westbound at that clearing, and made it up to Cochran before the train did. But, like Lower Nehalem River Road, Cochran Road leaves a little to be desired in the condition dpeartment. It's mainly dirt with a little gravel. I've never seen it impassable, but I'm sure it gets bad during the winter rains. This is one of the few places on the line that you will encounter snow in the winter.

Timber (mp 793.1)
MapBlast Map!
  Brought to you by MapBlast!   (Click on map to navigate)
Instead of turning onto Cochran Road, stay on Timber Road as it climbs the hill and crosses the tracks. There is a good pull-off spot here, and the crossing is punctuated by an old wig-wag signal. Good to see that there are still a few around.

East of the crossing is an RV community of workers for some of the contractors that are doing work on the line. That is the former site of the Timber yard, and the spot closest to the tracks used to be a turntable. Now, though, it's all gravel, with hardly a sign of its former glory.

As the map shows, the tracks make a wide (a few miles) sweeping "S" curve out of Timber going east. The tracks again come near the road about a mile south of Timber, but the area is overgrown with trees and such, and any good shots would require encroaching on private property - not something this website condones without permission.

Timber to Scofield
MapBlast Map!
  Brought to you by MapBlast!   (Click on map to navigate)
There is plenty to feature on the railroad between Timber and the former township of Scofield. The problem is that it isn't accessable by anybody who isn't up to a good walk.

Drive a fair distance beyond Timber to Strassel Road. The tracks come close about three miles down. Before then, you can turn onto Ridge road. The tracls cross under Ridge Road (and the associated ridge) through the first of the tunnels on the line. Again, it's anybody's guess as to where the tunnel is, or how good of a shot it is.

I've driven Strassel Road once, and wasn't impressed with the looks of the only shot available. The road does connect into Highway 26 at Staley's Junction, about a mile and a half east of where the tracks cross over the highway. As a footnote, I saw an access road just to the west of the railroad overpass during my last visit, but I din't have time to investigate and see what kind of shot there was.

Scofield to Buxton (mp 781.2)
MapBlast Map! To get to Scofield proper, you will have to head east from Staley's Junction on Highway 26 about 250 yards to Highway 47, the Nehalem Highway. On the way, you will pass the siding at Buxton, where the logging train quite frequently ties up. It's not uncommon to see a locomotive or two here as well.

The tracks stay to the right (east) of the road, and are fairly visible although there aren't many good shots to be had here. About two miles off the road, the tracks make a majestic crossing of the west fork of Dairy Creek, and the highway, on a tall wood trestle. You'll find a shot from the east side of the trestle on the photos of the month for July. There is a plank walkway on the second level of the bents, which is accessable by scrambling up the berm betweem the road and river. It's not the most sturdy — in fact, it's downright scary. When I crossed it, the plank was sagging deeply underneath my weight, and I spent most of the time clinging to the safety rope for dear life. Take this one at your own risk.

Just past the trestle, you can hang a left on Nowakowski Road, then turn again on Scofield Road. The tracks cross the road twice, then wind away to cross Cummings Creek three more times on their way west towards Timber. There isn't much access beyond the two road crossings unless you want to hike it.

  Brought to you by MapBlast!   (Click on map to navigate)

Manning to Banks (mp 774.7)
MapBlast Map!
  Brought to you by MapBlast!   (Click on map to navigate)
After leaving Buxton, the tracks follow Highway 26 through Manning and down towards Banks. It's slow going here, so watch for other motorists.

In Manning, the BN's Vernonia Branch used to split off and head up to its namesake town. Those rails are all gone now, but remants and traces still remain for the casual looker.

In contrast to the scenic, curving rails with high trestles, grades and tunnels, this portion of the line is remarkably flat, and fairly suburban by comparison.

The rails cross under highway 26 at the same spot that the road to Banks splits off and heads South. Sell road crosses back under the tracks and doubles back along the tracks towards Manning.

It's not uncommon to find the locomotives for the hill job tied up on the long tangent of track heading into Banks, as the area near the depot in Banks is being rehabilitated by the Portland and Western RR.

Banks (mp 774.7)
MapBlast Map!
  Brought to you by MapBlast!   (Click on map to navigate)
As the last bastion of sprawling metropolis, Banks marks the transition point from the busy, fast paced Portland lifestyle and the quiet serenity of the coastal mountains. The town sits in the elbow of the divergence of Highway 26 to Seaside and Canon Beach, and Highway 6 to Tillamook.

The Port of Tillamook Bay enters the town from the northeast, along the Nehalem Highway, one of the most pronounced tangents of track and road along the line. The road breaks away from the rails at Banks Road.

Banks lumber, one of the largest shippers on the railroad, sits just beyond Banks Rd., as does the former SP depot, and a small yard. The railroad crossings at Sellers Road and Banks Road — only about 20 yards apart — are guarded by twin wig-wag signals.

This whole area is now leased by the Portland and Western Railroad, and is in a state of transition. The P&W is upgrading the line from Banks to Schefflin to handle large rock trains that should soon be rolling over the freshly reopened Cornelius Pass route, and into Banks along the former BN nee SP&S line through North Plains.

As a result, trains are now tying up further up the line near Crossman Place, a private road crossing, rather than at the former depot as was the case. Line, crossing and yard upgrades in the immediate future mean that the wig-wags’ days are numbered. Wither the poor magnetic flagman.

At Banks, the POTB interchanges to the P&W, and its freight makes its way from the salt-swept coast to the outside world.

Back to the Port of Tillamook Bay Trackside Guide