Thursday, January 24, 2008

Espee's Natron Cutoff #2

Southern Pacific Railroad, Natron Cutoff, Willamette Pass, Cruzatte, MP 545.4, June 1971. Located about 2/3rds the way up (southbound) Willamette Pass is the former station site named after a near-sighted private in the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery, Pierre Cruzatte. This account explains how dangerous this fellow proved to be, almost killing Meriwether Lewis in 1806!

A tiny pinpoint of light indicates an approaching trio of SD45’s gasping for air in run 8. When these photos were taken 1971, logging clear cuts provided wide vistas of trains snaking over the Pass. Access to these areas was made possible by the Forest Service haul roads – narrow gravel roads created with sight distance turnouts, and not for the faint of heart during logging operations. I only visited this area on weekends to avoid conflicts.

The arrow points to the 50, 000 gallon water tank on the slope above the roadbed I have no idea if it is still standing, but it was listed as a historical landmark. The elevation at this point is 4,072 feet.

My wife and I spent many hours exploring the maze of haul roads, enjoying picnics with the sounds of working locomotives filling the canyons all afternoon. On our first exploration, my wife had not realized that the helpers would be manned.

After the head end cleared, she resumed sunbathing — topless. An appreciative helper crew gave her a big wave and tattoo on the horn, as they roared past!

Twin SD45 helpers dive into Tunnel 5, pushing and shoving the final 8 miles to the Cascade Summit at 4,885 feet! (1,489 meters.)

See Also: Natron Cutoff  #1

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