Crews have cleared damage after accidentAfter a mishap that blocked the Lewis and Clark Explorer Train last weekend, the railroad line at Clatskanie is repaired and back in service.

Repair crews from Portland and Western Railroad fixed damage to the tracks caused when a loaded freight train backed onto an open drawbridge over the Clatskanie River Sept. 2, dumping one loaded car into the river and derailing another.

The mishap closed the line and canceled all four days' service for the Explorer Train, which carries passengers between Portland and Astoria Fridays through Mondays. The train is scheduled to run this weekend.

A crane was first brought in to unload the lumber from the car in the river, then remove the car itself, before repair crews began work. The accident damaged about 40 feet of the trestle leading to the bridge, which required the replacement of pilings and ties, but the drawbridge itself was undamaged, according to Paul Zalec of Pacific and Western, which owns the rail right-of-way and operates the Explorer Train for the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The train had taken on a load of lumber at the nearby Stimson Lumber Co. mill when the accident occurred. The mishap is still under investigation, Zalec said.

With the Explorer Train's run canceled, weekend ticketholders were offered the option of taking a bus to and from Astoria, postponing their trips or canceling. Just a handful used the bus service on Friday.

According to Susan Trabucco, one of the Explorer Train organizers, the train is almost completely booked for the upcoming weekend, with only a few seats available for the final weekend Sept. 17-20.

The train will return next year for another four-month run, but support for the service after that is still uncertain. The number of passengers this year was down by about 17 percent from last year's numbers before last weekend's cancellation.

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