Astoria RR

Astoria RailRoad

A S T O R I A   R A I L R O A D

In 1890, the Astoria and South Coast Railway linked Astoria to its growing neighbors to the south, including the coastal resort communities of Warrenton and Seaside.

By 1898, a local industrialist named A.B. Hammond had built 50 miles of track along the Columbia River connecting Astoria with the tiny town of Goble and, more importantly, the Northern Pacific Railroad. The Astoria & Columbia River Railroad thrived for years and caught the attention of railroad magnet Jim Hill, owner and builder of the Great Northern Railroad.

Hill bought the A&CRR; in 1907 – along with Northern Pacific’s tracks between Goble and Portland – so his company would have water-level access to the Pacific Ocean. Dubbed the Spokane, Portland & Seattle, the line followed the Cascade Gorge and then switched sides to the south shore of Vancouver for the final leg to Astoria. Hill bought two large and fast steamships to provide trans-Pacific service from the West Coast. The steamers linked up with the SP&S; railroad at Flavel (now present-day Warrenton) just a few miles west of Astoria. Brochures from the old SP&S; run bragged about the scenery along the line, including views of Mount St. Helens, solid rock tunnels and the wide sandy beaches around Seaside. Portland families often escaped the Willamette Valley in the summer by moving, frequently by train, to the coast. Another regular feature on the line were the so-called “Daddy Trains,” which shuttled working fathers back and forth on the weekends between Portland and the coast.

For generations the railroad played an important role, delivering people and goods between Astoria and Portland – and beyond. But freight and passenger service dried up in the last few decades under economic strains. The line, though, is showing new signs of life. In 1995 (double check), the 90-mile stretch of railroad between Portland and Astoria was purchased by Portland &Western; Railroad. A landslide near Brownsmead closed the rail line but plans are afoot to restore the railroad and make freight and passenger service a regular part of life again on the North Coast.

As Astoria and other local communities prepare to celebrate the Lewis and Clark bicentennial, the historic railroad will also be a major point of interest for locals and visitors alike.

Through its work, the Astoria Railroad Preservation Association is hoping that the joy of trains and railroading will be remembered and celebrated by all who come to Astoria looking at the history of those who made this place such an important and cherished American city.

Learn about the history of the Astoria Railroad.

Astoria Railroad Preservation Association
P.O. Box 541
446 W. Marine Dr.
Astoria, Oregon 97103
(503) 325-5323
e-mail: [email protected]

An Educational Non-Profit Corporation
Dedicated to Promoting Public Awareness of Railroad History
Through the Preservation and Operation of Vintage Railway Equipment.