Astoria & Columbia River RY 1895-1911
Created 3/25/11
Back To Clatsop County
Back To Columbia County
St. Helens:
Columbia City:
Deer Island:
      This particular line first saw a chance at life in the late 1870's when Henry Villard took control of the Northern
Pacific and began building an extension of the Puget Sound branch south from Goble to Portland. Southbound trains
would catch the ferry at Kalama over to Goble, and then ride the rails into Portland. In October of 1883, the first freight
train traversed this route, and passenger trains following within two weeks. Villard then sent surveyors to locate a route
along the rest of the Columbia to Astoria. However, in 1884, Villard's empire collapsed and to further steps were taken.
   Wanting to compete with Portland for a viable port, the citizens of Astoria formed the Astoria & South Coast Railway
in August of 1888. Their plan was two phases: The first was to build a line south from Astoria to Seaside. The second
was to then continue to build southeasterly to the Hillboro Branch.  Work began in the end of 1888 on the south side of
Youngs Bay, progressing south,  and by spring of 1889 the first half mile of track was laid to Skipanon. In June, 1889,
William Reid became president of the railroad and changed the name to The Astoria & South Coast Railway. He also
began the effort to construct the line to the Hillsboro Branch and Willamette Valley in earnest. In July of 1890, the line
was complete from the south side of Youngs Bay to Seaside. However, freight and passenger trains did not  operate
until July of 1891. With monies expended, the line was sold at foreclosure in February of 1892. It should be noted here
that the proposed route of the second phase would eventually be the mainline south of Seaside of Crown Willamette,
and of which HWY 26 also uses.
   In March of 1892 the company was reorganized by the new owners into the Astoria and Portland Railway. Plans were
also changed. Instead of building southeast, south of seaside, the line would build southeasterly along the southwest
part of Youngs Bay and follow the Lewis and Clark River, and onto Hillsboro. Work began boring the 1100ft summit
tunnel, but once again the money ran out. It should be noted that this proposed route would eventually be used by the
Lewis and Clark railway, aka Crown Willamette Paper Company.
    The Seashore Railway was formed to take over operations of the A&P Ry, in May of 1893. This company operated
the line between Youngs Bay and Seaside until early 1895. While in control, the Seashore Railway made no effort to
expand rails in any direction.
    In April, 1895 A.B. Hammond organized the Astoria & Columbia River Railway to take over operations. Hammond's
idea was to follow the Columbia River to Goble and connect with the Northern Pacific there. He also proposed building
a branch northwest from Warrenton. In July and August, 1896, the branch from Warrenton to Flavel and the drawspan
across Youngs Bay were completed respectively. Again, money was running low, so Hammond enlisted the aid of T.H.
Hubbard and C.P. Huntington to continue with construction. Trackage rights between Goble and Portland were secured
in October of 1896 with the Northern Pacific, so that trains could run unabated from Astoria to Portland. The line was
completed to Goble in April of 1898, with traffic beginning in May of that year. The Flavel branch was extended to
Hammond in July of 1898, and on to Fort Stevens in September of 1899. In  early 1906, surveying work began for a
route south from Seaside that would connect to Tillamook. The cost of building this route was found to be prohibitive,
but the line was extended a little farther south from Seaside to Holladay in June of 1907.
      After finding the results of the survey, Hammond, Huntington, and Hubbard considered selling the line, and made a
purchase agreement with James Hill in December of 1906. In 1908, the line was connected to the Spokane, Portland
and Seattle by the drawbridge across the Columbia. In February of 1911 the line was officially sold to the Spokane,
Portland, and Seattle. The SP&S would continue to operate the line until the merger into Burlington Northern in 1970.
Northern Pacific(Goble-Portland) 1883-1970
Astoria & South Coast Railway 1888-1892
Astoria & Portland Railway 1892-1893
Seashore Railway 1893-1895
Spokane, Portland, & Seattle 1911-1970
Burlington Northern 1970-
Portland & Western         -Present
The station at St. Helens(below) is used as the Chamber of Commerce today. When the line was built, the depot was
located 1/10th of a mile to the south and was called Houlton. In 1916, the Houlton name was dropped and the station
was moved to its present location at the corner of Columbia Boulevard and Milton Way.(1/22/11)
Here are views looking at the spot where a short section of track used to be located for a
local engine to be parked. This was back when the depot was still being used by the
Looking south along the line from Columbia Boulevard.(1/22/11)
This view is looking east from Old Mill Town Road, at the start of the Westport yards. If you notice in the
foreground are some long ties that are left over from the time that there used to be a third yard track
here. (1/22/11)
These two views are looking west from the same location. The third track would have been alongside the
row of evergreens, where the gravel road is. Note the pile of rails lying beside the parked cars. With the
current economic situation in 2011, the only traffic west of here is to the paper mill at Wauna. All available
space from here out is mostly used to store piggyback cars, as on the siding. The old loading docks
would have been to the immediate right out of the photo.(1/22/11)
From what I can gather, this building used to be part of a creamery. As you can see, at one
time there was a siding that ran alongside it for loading cars. This building is on the east
side of Old Mill Town Road, which back in the day paralleled the old railroad spur to the
Westport Mill.(1/22/11)
This view is looking east at the Westport yards from Front Road. Note the sign on the right hand side of
the picture. The third track would have ended in this vicinity, before the mainline crosses Plymouth
The town itself has declined a little bit since the closure of the mill here. However, there are people who commute to
Wauna that live here. Although not part of the railroad, The pictures below show part of the town along Front Road,
including some of the old company houses, an old store, the old bridge across Plymouth Creek, and two shots of the
old hotel.(1/22/11)
These three views, approximately 2 miles south of Brownsmead show some
building, partly a boat house, on Aldrich Point Road, near the intersection of
Sylvandale Lane.(1/22/11)
These four views show derelict houses along Aldrich Road. The
Brownsmead area has come under hard times in the last couple
of decades with people leaving to more urban areas, creating
scenes like these.(1/22/11)
This picture was taken about a mile and a half northeast of Brownsmead, where Aldrich Point Road
crosses the line. The view is looking NE at a throughcut that has been dug out once, and is covered
again. The hillside above this is nothing but wet goo that continues to travel down onto the tracks and
road. Just past this is a boat launch used by a lot of fisherman.(1/22/11)
These two views are from the same location as above, looking SW. As stated above, except
for trestles and crossings, the entire line past Wauna is nothing but a parking lot for
piggyback cars.(1/22/11)
This view is looking NE at the town site of Brownsmead, including the station, grange hall, and school.
The town of Brownsmead is located at the intersection of Fish Lane, Radat Road, Brownsmead Dike
Road, and Leino Lane.(1/22/11)
In the pictures below is the station at Brownsmead.  I know that Brownsmead in its heyday would not have required
much, as this looks like a combination station. It does appear that some locals are trying to preserve the station as best
as they can. It would be great if they succeed.(1/22/11)
Behind the station are what appears to be the remnants of a water tower that
used to be here.(1/22/11)
Looking NE from where Brownsmead Dike Road crosses the tracks. Thats Leino lane at the
Looking SW from the same location as above. Note from the three pictures how high the grade sits.
Although difficult, a spur could have come off of the main here, but I'm just not sure.(1/22/11)
These two pictures show piling still sitting in Brownsmead Slough alongside Leino Lane, and
some old logs in there as well. I'm sure this is a hold over from the logging railroad days and
the booming grounds.(1/22/11)
Old barn, silo, and feed area just to the NW of the grange hall.(1/22/11)
I believe this is the old Brownsmead school. As you can see, it currently serves as a private
The grange hall at