WHEELER - The biggest, most visible damage in Tillamook County was the Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad, which buckled like a soft stick of licorice. About 25 miles of the line were severely damaged..
At least $20 million damage forced Port officials to curtail outbound shipments of lumber and inbound shipments of grain for dairy farmers.
No rail cars can come in or go out, as the photograph on this page attests.
Loten Hooley, president of the Port's board, was among those pressing for action Saturday.
Port Director Robert H. Van Borssum said the section in Salmonberry Canyon east of Wheeler was worst hit.
"It's quite a substantial section that has been blown out," said Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., shortly after a helicopter tour of the area. "It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say the jobs potentially lost could approach 1,000. That's a lot of jobs in our state, and the federal government needs to pull out all the stops to get this infrastructure restored."
The Port of Tillamook Bay Railroad operates 95 miles of track that stretches from Tillamook into the western suburbs of Portland, where the line intersects with major north-south rail lines. The route includes 17 metal bridges, several tunnels and a number of wooden bridges.
The Port's railroad is the major shipping lifeline for Tillamook County's two major lumber mills operated by Stimson Lumber and Hampton Affiliates. The timber business, alone, sends approximately 250 cars loaded with finished product on its way to market each month. While the railroad is out of operation, this could mean an additional 750 to 1,000 truckloads each month will need to be sent to market over local roadways, increasing shipping costs significantly to Tillamook County industries, said Van Borssum.
In addition, from six to eight railcars of various grains for the production of dairy feed come into Tillamook County each week.
"The Port railroad has been the primary means of grain delivery for the production of high-protein feeds for the Tillamook County dairy industry," Van Borssum said.
The railroad runs through Tillamook, Garibaldi, Rockaway Beach and Wheeler and Nehalem before heading over the Coast Range into the Portland area rail interchange, where locally produced commodities are then redistributed to other rail carriers and shipped around the United States.
The Port of Tillamook Bay also operates an industrial park, airport and an alternative energy bio-gas digester at its 1,600-acre site two miles south of Tillamook on U.S. Highway 101.
The Associated Press contributed to this report