The History
Of The
Mount Hood Railroad
-A Proud 74 Year History-


Running from the Palouse near Spokane to the fertile Willamette Valley, the model Mount Hood Railroad serves an area rich in timber and agricultural products. Grain filled boxcars flow from the rich Palouse to the terminals in Portland. Local trains haul loads of logs, veneer and lumber for the timber industry, and the large papermill in North Powder is hungry for woodchips, as it produces reams of paper. A steady stream of logs, lumber and woodchips comes down the Estacada branchline to points across the system. To the east, at Spokane, the Mount Hood interchanges with the Great Northern, the Northern Pacific, the Spokane, Portland and Seattle, and the Milwaukee Road. Outside Clackamas, the mainline continues heading east towards the Cascades, while a secondary main heads south to Eugene and interchange with the SP. Passenger service is provided by the Mount Hood's premier train, "The Pioneer", while a secondary train provides for local passengers and express traffic.
The Mount Hood Railroad was formed in 1937 to take over the operations of the former Clackamas Eastern, a Southern Pacific subsidiary that ran east from Clackamas, Oregon into the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. The Mount Hood took over operations on the branch, which SP had deemed unprofitable. Upon taking over the line, the first thing that the new Mount Hood did was to upgrade the existing mainline with 115-pound rail. While this was going on, the Mount Hood sent survey crews into the mountains to plot an east-west route to the Snake River where a connection could be built with the Union Pacific and the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway. The plan was to establish a by-pass for the congested Portland area terminal. Construction began on the new line at Bridgeport, ID with one crew working northwest to a connection with the Spokane, Porland and Seattle, the Great Northern, the Northern Pacific & the Milwaukee Road at Spokane, and another crew working west. At the same time a crew began working east out of Riveston, the eastern end of the original branch. Mount Hood crews worked hard for 3 years, completing the new line on Sept. 23, 1940. The Mount Hood prospered and grew during the 1940's and the 1950's. With business booming, the railroad would occasionally find itself short on motive power. Quite often, lease power could be found on Mount Hood's trains. The 1960's saw the Mount Hood focus its efforts on new motive power and new freight equipment. During the 1960's, the railroad purchased 15 GP35's and 20 SD45's from EMD. Also purchased were 4 EMD SW1500's to replace aging ALCO switchers. Freight equipment purchases included several groups of new 50' boxcars, a small group of 25 50' covered gondolas, and a large group of 40' boxcars refurbished for grain service. As the Mount Hood heads into the 1970's,the future looks bright. New locomotive orders include 10 SD40's from EMD, 6 U30C's from GE, and 5 SDP40's from EMD for passenger service. This should enable the retirement of the remaining F units. A rebuilding program has begun on the railroad's GP7's, which should give them a spot on the Mount Hood's roster for another 10-15 years. With traffic levels at an all-time high, the Mount Hood looks to remain a force in the Pacific Northwest for the foreseeable future.