Saturday, April 5, 2008

Espee's Natron Cutoff - Big Time Trouble!

Natron Cutoff, April, 2008. Got a call today from an old friend down in Portland, who shares my interest in railroading.

In the course of the conversation, he asked me if I had heard of the massive slide that severed the Nartron Cutoff! Of course I had not heard of the slide, and was astounded at what I uncovered! (Excuse the pun!)

Union Pacific’s North-South (former SP) major artery between Oregon and California, carrying up to 15 freights plus Amtrak’s Coast Starlight through the Cascade Mountains has been shut down big time time since January!

On January 19th 2008, more than 2.3 million cubic yards of mud and debris, containing an estimated 700,000 board feet of timber slide across the Union Pacific’s Nartron Cutoff, not once, but twice!

The slide occurred south of the horseshoe curve at Fields, cutting through the upper level track, roaring downhill and severing the line again at the bottom of the horseshoe curve.

Electronic detection equipment alerted dispatchers of the breach, who shut the line down in time to prevent any trains from being involved.

I drew a yellow line to indicate the horseshoe curve, which because of the orientation of the ariel photo, I had to abnormally squinch the curve, but you get the idea. The arrow points south to Cruziatte, which I described in Narton #2.

Shortly after the slide,
KEZI-TV Eugene reported on the initial impact of the slide, which of course has proven to be overly optimistic!

The US Forest Service who is responsible for this land mass, released a detailed description of the slide, which has taken on the name
Coyote Mountain Slide.

There is strong evidence to suggest the possible
cause of this massive landslide. Click on the photos for larger views of each.

Here is Union Pacific's official press release on the incident.

Of course, as in any mountain operation, there is always the danger of slides, but this area is criss-crossed with logging roads and clear cuts, which when added to the record snow fall this past winter increased the chances of slides. Here is a set of photos taken by hikers, of an
old train wreck deemed too difficult or too expensive to salvage.

This story from the
LA Times touches on deeper details of the massive clean-up operation, and the absolute BOOM to the tiny town of Oakridge, including the only Laundromat in town!

So, where are we now almost four months later?

The Natron Cutoff is still shut down, as reported
last week (March 29th) in the Eugene Register-Guard. Espee running on Union Pacific up the Columbia River Gorge, through Bend, and through Salt Lake City, a two day detour!

There was a time when the Espee operated from Eugene to Black Butte over the
Siskiyou Line. However, after the more efficient – and shorter by 25 miles Natron Cutoff had established itself, the Siskiyou Line was sold off to Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad (CORP) in 1994.

In 2003, so-called
Tunnel 13 was partially destroyed by fire, and reopened in 2005. However, the latest news is that the line will be abandoned.

See also: Natron Cutoff #1, Natron Cutoff #2.

1 Comments - Click here:

Anonymous said...

Currently there are plans to try to upgrade the Siskiyou line to current operating standards and reopen the line south of Medford to Red Bluff.

Post a Comment

"Comment" is for sharing information related to this article. "Anonymous" comments are not published.