Sunday, January 9, 2022

Riding the Siskiyou Line East out of Ashland, Oregon - July 1972


Ashland engine terminal the day before our epic ride over the Siskiyou Line.

As if by magic the next morning the SLE appears with the class SD45, 8800 no less.

     Ascending Wolf Creek Loop. This is where the line leaves the Rogue River drainage and                                   enters the Umpqua watershed via Cow Creek Canyon.

The narrow confines of Cow Creek Canyon, just the river, the railroad, and a dirt road. The brown foliage is the result of the indiscriminate spraying of herbicide along the right of way, and next to a river no less. This practice was eventually forbidden by law.

Climbing Rice Hill.

One of the problems with life is that one's peak experiences tend to happen when one is young and invincible. My friend Harvey Smith and I had had big plans for the Summer of 1972, and by golly we lived up to our expectations. Our ride over the Siskiyou Line capped a circumnavigation of the State of Oregon via the Oregon Trunk to Bend. A BN freight to Klamath Falls, then a harrowing trip to Dunsmuir back over the SP. We made the trip to Ashland either by thumbing, or Greyhound, hey it was 50 years ago!

We rode in an empty boxcar from Ashland to Medford, then we almost got hosed when the entire train was set out in Medford Yard. We had to scramble to catch up to the consist being picked up for the rest of the way to Eugene. The good thing was we were able to snag a loaded chip car, our preferred mode of transport. More switching was done at Grants Pass, and the rest of the trip was uneventful except for a little punk teenager aiming his 22 rifle at us from his trackside backyard! We stared him down, and I am still here.


  1. On April 20, 1996 I rode a "High Iron Travel" passenger special over that line from Springfield Jct. to Medford. This was when CORP was running the show but before G&W took over. It's a spectacular line. I've heard the "Shasta Daylight" detoured that way, although I've never seen any photos.

  2. Wow, was living in Portland then, and did not know about the special. Have heard about the Shasta Daylight detour too, but have no additional info.


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