CORP Before the Storm

travel back to 1999 ¦ photos by frank keller
[alternate: open all images in a seperate window]


In the last year or so, the Central Oregon & Pacific has been hit hard. Operating the original SP mainline over the Siskiyou Range between Oregon & California, the line boasts stiff 3% gradients, large steel bridges subject to harsh coastal sea air, and a long timber lined tunnel, and does all this in the midst of forest fire country. As such, natural disaster has never been a stranger.

When the Siskiyou Tunnel caught fire and subsequently collapsed, it shut the hill down, forcing the majority of traffic northwards through the Eugene gateway. CORP, and it's parent company, RailAmerica, have pledged to rebuild the tunnel and have it reopened by late spring, however, an air of skepticism hangs overhead, while CORPfans everywhere wait for the Siskiyou snows to melt and construction to begin. Additional plagues of backed up trains and mudslides have only exacerbated the situation for the railroad.

But in 1999, there was no such uncertainty. The Medford Hauler still drug it's long consist up over the hill and into California each day, it's water car spraying down the ballast to prevent wildfires. Wig-wags and semaphores were still in abundance. All was right with the world. The following pictures by Frank Keller exhibit a window into that world, not that long ago, and yet all too far in the past, before the storm.


the coos bay hauler ...departing eugene...
...and at finn.

the medford hauler steinman... siskiyou summit ...
...the water tank surpresses fires... bailey...
...and taking the siding at hornbrook.

weed hauler mink...
...and at ager...
...and york.

Colorado Springs resident Frank Keller, in addition to photographing the MRL and before that the Rio Grande, occasionally makes it further west. Frank is one of the founding members of the Rio Grande Modeling & Historical Society, and can be reached at This is the first appearance of his work in NWOR.

Have a question or opinion on this story?
Discuss it at

Back Home
This site is kindly hosted by