Freight train accident forces closure of tracks; buses will route passengers until damage is assessedThe Lewis and Clark Explorer Train is canceled today and Saturday, and may be shut down longer, because of Thursday's accident in Clatskanie that sent two loaded rail cars off the tracks.

A train departing from Stimson Lumber Company at about 4:30 p.m. backed onto an open drawbridge over the Clatskanie River, sending a car loaded with lumber into the river and causing another car to derail.

There were no injuries, but the mishap may have caused some damage to the tracks, according to an official from Portland and Western Railroad, which owns the railroad right-of-way.

In place of the canceled Explorer Train, the Oregon Department of Transportation is providing bus service between Portland and Astoria on the regular train schedule, according to ODOT spokesman Mac McGowan.

The Explorer Train normally runs between Linnton Station in Portland and Astoria Friday through Monday.

Passengers with reserved tickets will be given the choice of taking the bus, booking their trips for another day, or getting a refund, McGowan said. Only eight people with tickets chose to take the bus this morning.

According to Paul Zalec of Pacific and Western, Thursday's accident occurred when a P&W crew switching cars at Stimson Lumber Company at Clatskanie were putting cars on the main track toward Astoria when they inadvertently pushed a flat car loaded with lumber into the open draw of the bridge. The car fell into the river, and a second car ended up derailed - but still on the bridge.

McGowan said crews were busy today installing a platform for a crane that will fish the first car out of the river. After that's accomplished the tracks and bridge will be assessed for damage.

According to Zalec, it was likely that the trestle sustained some damage from the wheels of the heavily loaded car running on the cross ties. Early reports, indicated that the bridge's steel turn span itself was not damaged, but that had not yet been confirmed, he said.

As of Thursday, 112 people had tickets for today's Portland-to-Astoria leg on the Explorer Train and 68 for the return trip. For Saturday, 154 had booked the westbound train and 119 the eastbound leg.

The train leaves Portland in the morning and arrives in Astoria at about noon, then leaves Astoria four hours later and returns to Portland at about 9 p.m.


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