Stencil on the side of a BN caboose at East Lewiston

Monday, June 27, 2011

Camas Prairie train operations part 4: Hauling logs to the Lewiston mill

The Headquarters Logger and the Night Logger, trains 885 and 886

By the late 1960's, the Camas Prairie Railroad was largely an empties in and loads out railroad.   There were some inbound loads, primarily to support the massive Potlatch paper and tissue mills at Lewiston, but the vast majority of loaded cars (called commercials by the railroad) left the Camas Prairie Railroad, to locations across the country.  The exception was the movement of saw logs to the sawmill at Lewiston.
The fourth subdivision, a 40-mile line, ran from Orofino to Headquarters.  The line traversed an uphill ruling 2.2% grade for the first 28 miles, climbing right out of Orofino.  The grade leveled out at Nelson, just west of Jaype.  From Jaype to Revling the line was relatively flat before ascending another 4 miles to the aptly named Summit.  From Summit, the line descended the final 6 miles down a 2.2% grade into Headquarters.

Potlatch Forests Clearwater sawmill at Lewiston received most of its saw logs from the drainages along the north fork and middle fork of the Clearwater River.  About half the logs that supplied the Lewiston mill came from the spring log drive that originated high up along the north fork of the Clearwater river, some 100 miles from Lewiston.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Camas Prairie train operations part 3: Along the Clearwater River

The Kamiah Local, trains 881 and 882

The first subdivision, from Lewiston to Stites, saw quite a bit of train traffic in 1967.   The Camas Prairie Railroad operated as many as seven trains east of Lewiston.  Locals operated both directions between Lewiston and Kamiah (pronounced Kam-ee-eye). 

The first subdivision is a water level route, with gentle grades, following the Clearwater River.  The line crossed the Clearwater River twice before reaching Stites, just east of Spalding and again, just west of Kamiah.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Camas Prairie train operations part 2: The Camas Prairie

The Grangeville Local, trains 857 and 858

The building of the Second Subdivision, from Spalding to Grangeville, led to the creation of the Camas Prairie Railroad. One of its most iconic features was the route through Lapwai Canyon.  This line, with its many bridges, tunnels and severe curves (the curve across Half-moon bridge was 17 degrees!), was one of the railroad’s many scenic marvels. The purpose of building the line through the rugged Lapwai and Rock Creek canyons was the tapping of the prairie’s rich and expansive grain crops.  Reaching the prairie required the railroad to climb almost 2000’ feet in 14 miles, with a ruling grade of 3%!