2014 - Putting the “Creek” Back into Willow Creek Railroad
It was an invention that changed the world and catapulted the United States into the financial and industrial giant it is today – the iron horse.
However, nearly 60% of all rails laid in the United States have been torn up or abandoned. For every rail that is scrapped, another link to our history is lost.
That is where Willow Creek Railroad comes into play – we attempt to keep the history alive – if only on a smaller scale…
It all started in the mid 1970’s. A small railroad was built buy a few people who held the same interests – 1/8th scale live steam. It was only a 600 foot loop in an open grassy field with no trees or landscaping. At that time it was affectionately called the WAPI Railroad – named after the organization that owned the land.
A few years went by and in the early 1980’s the railroad was allowed to expand from that 600’ loop to a more substantial 1500’ double loop. Trees were planted, flower beds made and tended and a small creek and waterfall was built in the middle of the layout – it had three small bridges that spanned the creek and everyone riding was ecstatic to be going over water! At about the same time the WAPI Railroad was allowed to become its own club – separate from Western Antique Powerland Inc. (WAPI) and a name was needed for this new club. Since willows were most of the trees that were planted at that time, someone came up with a name for the creek and the railroad – Willow Creek Railroad – the name stuck.
Membership continued to grow and it was time for the club to become official – in 1996 work was started to turn the club into a non-profit and negotiations with WAPI began again for possible track expansion. After much work the new official Willow Creek Railroad was granted its 501(c)3 status as well as granted permission for an expansion. Unfortunately the creek was in the way of that expansion and it was filled in and covered up. The expansion was started in 1999 and completed in 2001 with all volunteer labor and some donated materials and equipment. There was now over 5000 feet of track in three loops but it was lacking the creek that was the namesake. Everyone wanted to put the creek back into Willow Creek but it would have to come at a later date as other projects were deemed much more important than a lowly waterfall and creek.
It has been over 10 years and now is the time. Work has been started. One of our members designed a 15 foot long double track bridge to be put in place not far from where the original bridges stood. Talks were held with Chemeketa Community College to make the bridge building one of their welding class projects – they were excited to have this practical project for the students. When the bridge is complete all involved parties will be invited to see what their project was all about. Basic layout plans have been penned for where the waterfall will be placed with a “lake” for the bridge to cross over and a creek to flow from one side of the layout to the other.
With the bridge nearing completion we are looking at finding assistance to finish the bridge and place it on location as well as working with a local landscape & water feature designer/builder to create our waterfall and creek – it has been far too long to have gone without our namesake. It will be a great opportunity for them to be involved and promote their business with this signature project. An added bonus would be if the process could also become an education tool and receive support from manufactures.
The bridge is complete and in place. The Lake and stream have been dug out. Several "aged" rocks have been donated to be used for creek banks and/or waterfall. Hopefully soon the plan will be in place for the water feature and it can be completed by late Spring 2014 in time for Summer operating season. The concept is for the waterfall to really give riders the feel of some serious water movement and to also act a visual block so the bridge will not be seen from the station loading area.
Car Barn Project (Completed 2004)
Here are some pictures of the McCready Locomotive & Car Works.
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Station Cover Project (Completed 2009)
Here are some pictures of the Station Cover. Thank you to all our donors!
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To all of our sponsors, donors, and volunteers who made these projects possible...