Beginning in the 1850s, politicians and business leaders from both east and west advocated railroads to span the continent. Boosters believed trains would secure America's destiny as a nation from sea to sea.
Real estate developers knew trains from Portland would bring people and profits to Tillamook County. When they learned in 1905 about plans for tracks, they began platting lots along the ocean from Neahkahnie near Nehalem Bay to Bayocean on Tillamook Bay.
Finally trains could depart Portland for Tillamook.
Feeder lines took loggers into the woods and brought logs out. The Markham and Callow line ran west of the North Fork of the Nehalem River from about MP 11 on today's Hwy 53 to tidewater near the old Aldervale cheese factory.
From the beginning, trees, rocks and floods interupted service.
In 1869, rails finally linked California with the midwest and eastern states. Portland, Seattle, Tacoma and other cities in the northwest sought their own rail service to promote prestige and profit.
Tracks serving the Nehalem Bay area followed the Salmonberry River west from Portland, then south from Mohler through Wheeler, Rockaway and Garibaldi, to Tillamook.
The first train reached Tillamook in November, 1911.
For many years, trains would stop for locals hitching rides to fish up the Salmonberry.
Damage by flooding in February 1996 required extensive repairs.
In 1883, rails connected Portland with Chicago and points east. This scene captures the excitement. The masts of ships locate the busy station near the river to ensure Portland's place as a major Pacific port.
Construction began in 1905 and continued for six years.
Mohler was the first station the train reached after leaving the coast range mountains to serve the Nehalem Bay area.
Commuter service from Wheeler to Tillamook proved immediately popular. Travel by auto or horse required the long journey via Miami/Foley Road.
Flooding struck the line again in December, 2007. This image shows the mouth of the Salmonberry River where it enters the Nehalem. The railroad bridge crosses the Nehalem River. The washed out road bridge used to cross the Salmonberry on the road connecting Elsie with Mohler.
During the late 1800s, trains helped make Portland the largest and fastest growing city in the northwest.
The route required dozens of tressles and tunnels.
The station at Wheeler served the lumber mill and the growing town.
Washouts caused frequent mishaps in the early days.
Repairs following the December 2007 storm would cost more than anyone could afford. Authorities at the Port of Tillamook decided not to repair the line.
The 1890s brought rails to Astoria, Seaside and Newport on the Oregon coast. Summer resorts attracted thousands of visitors. Coastal real estate prices doubled, then doubled again.
Crews worked constantly to keep the tracks clear.
In addition to passengers, trains served busy lumber mills in Wheeler, Brighton, Garibaldi and Tillamook.
The Port of Tillamook took over railroad operations in 1996. The engine painted dairy colors became a familiar sight along the line.