The Cascade Scenic Railway is a non-profit
corportion dedicated to bringing passenger excursion service on the 32
mile short line that is currently lease-operated by the
Willamette Valley Railroad. While the entire line connects the
communities of Woodburn, Mt. Angel, Silverton, Central Howell, Geer,
Macleay, Shaw Aumsville and Stayton, initial service is planned for the
Woodburn-Mt.Angel-Silverton portion of the line.
Although communities in the Willamette Valley
no longer rely on rail for their vitality, the lure of the railway
still remains. It attracts hobbyists with a love of engines
and of America's by-gone romance with steam, and appeals to tourists
who want to get out of their cars to appreciate the beauty of
valley. And, the practicality of using rail for transporting
goods is regaining a foothold in the economy.
Until recently, these interests remained active but separate.
However, in 1999, a group spearheaded by Marion County Commissioner
Patti Milne, first came together to consider the future of the line
between Woodburn, Salem and Stayton.
It was clear that the potential for the railway was tremendous, but it
was equally clear that portions of the line could disappear forever as
they fell into long term disuse, and as right-of-ways were being
relinquished. The loose knit group included representatives from every
community along the line, railway enthusiasts, chambers of commerce,
city, county and state officials, the media, the current operator of
the line (Willamette Valley Railroad), and tourism groups. Over
the course of several months, they gradually honed the focus and goals,
and eventually emerged as a fully fledged non-profit
organization. The vision of Cascade Scenic Railway, Inc. is to
restore rail service, providing more jobs and economic diversity for
our region, improving the livability of our communities.
The line currently serves freight clients, but requires track and bed
improvements for excursion passenger service and competitive freight
service. CSR, Inc. entered into an exclusive agreement with WVRR
to operate passenger service on the line, and has taken the first steps
to restore the railroad.
Two barriers need to be overcome before excursion service can be
1) Union Pacific, the current owner of the
rail line, has determined that it must sell the line before
passenger service can be allowed. The current lease with WVRR permits
freight operations only. WVRR is in negotiations with UP to purchase
the line this summer.
2) While the line is in good condition and
has been continually upgraded the past several years, some portions
will require additional track and tie work before passenger service can
be allowed under state and federal law. This work, a large portion of
which needs to happen between Woodburn and Mt. Angel, is estimated to
cost up to $900,000.