Beginning in the late-1800s, logging trains worked
in remote forested areas bringing logs to rivers and
the Coos Bay, Oregon, harbor. Coal moved by rail
from mines in the region to sailing ships and later
steam ships for export to San Francisco. Coos Bayís
maritime commerce has been an anchor for employment
and stability for generations of families in the
region for more than 100 years.
Ultimately, the building of the Coos Bay rail line
created more opportunity. Products moved by rail
from Oregon's Willamette Valley and Roseburg to Coos
Bay for export. Rail moved products that came to
Coos Bay by ship and from local manufacturers to
markets across North America.
This 134-mile rail line has supported Oregonís
economic vitality, providing businesses with direct,
efficient and cost-effective access to regional,
national and global markets for generations. To this
day, rail remains the most efficient, cost-effective
and environmentally sound way to move freight via
Then came September 2007. Following decades of
neglect and underinvestment, Central Oregon &
Pacific Railroad and its out-of-state hedge fund
owners and management closed the rail line with
one dayís notice to shippers.
investors wanted to tear up the line and sell it
for scrap. They did not see the economic and
societal value of maintaining freight rail
service. The immediate economic impacts of this
closure on south coast communities, including
Douglas County communities, was severe.
Recognizing the severe impact the rail line
closure was having on local business and
families, the Oregon International Port of Coos
Bay reached out to community members and
Following community and regional discussions,
the Port met with state and elected officials
and developed an action plan. The Port
spearheaded a legal effort to acquire the
railroad and reopen this shipping option.
Acquiring the railroad was a lengthy process
that was successful due to the unified effort of
regional businesses and state and federal
The Port filed a feeder line application with
Surface Transportation Board (STB), resulting in
the railroad immediately filing an action to
abandon the line.
The Port spent one year and $1.5 million in
legal fees pursuing the application and
defending against abandonment.
The Port of Coos Bay acquired the
freight rail line in 2009-10, following an STB decision.
sale totaled $16.6 million, with the Port utilizing a
$4.6 million state loan and $12 million reallocated from
the Coos Bay Rail Bridge repair fund.
In 2010, the Port received a $7.8 million ConnectOregon
III grant and a $13.5 million Transportation
Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) II
grant to begin rehabilitation of the rail line. In all,
the Port has raised $31 million for the effort to repair trestles,
bridges, rail, ties and ballast. Once this current phase
of work is
completed, the rail line will have been
restored to a mix of Track Classifications 2 (25 mph)
and 3 (40 mph).
Today, service is restored and rail shipments interchange
at Eugene, Oregon, with
the Union Pacific Railroad, and other regional shortline
rail operations. The rail line is operating as the
Coos Bay Rail Link - CBR, and serves the Coos County,
western Douglas County and western Lane County region of
southwest Oregon, linking the Coos Bay harbor to the North American rail