Drive along Highways 47 and 26 between Banks and Buxton recently and notice heavy equipment working on the site of the proposed Salmonberry Trail?
That's because the tracks are coming out.
A&K Railroad Materials is the company pulling the tracks out, a job that started earlier this month.
Some of the ties and rail could be reused, finding their way into other lines across the U.S.
Some may simply be melted down for scrap; the rail is old, placed there when Teddy Roosevelt was still president, and back then, the nickel content was higher, making it a valuable metal to be reclaimed today, said John Vogler, Salmonberry Trail Foundation secretary and trail clearing coordinator in June during a site visit.
“It’s like a several-ton doorstop,” Vogler explained, describing the rail salvage process and equipment. “They hook it with chains to a medium size backhoe, and they put the wedge down at the end of the project, and the wedge goes into the rail ballast,” he explained.
The rail, ties, and two feet of ballast is wedged right out of the ground, though it’s not all that simple: Some of the infrastructure must be cut out manually.
Once the rail is gone, if funding apparates, it could pave the way for trail to be built on the Washington County side, offering tantalizing trail loops in the area.
"This eagerly anticipated section of the trail will serve as a vital link connecting the Banks-Vernonia State Trail and the sprawling L.L. Stub Stewart State Park," the Salmonberry Trail Foundation said in an email. "It's a connection that promises to enhance the accessibility and convenience of our beloved trail, offering visitors a seamless experience amidst the natural beauty of Oregon's outdoors."
Rail salvage had originally been scheduled to begin in August, but according to Salmonberry Trail Foundation spokesperson Gavin Mahaley, the rail salvage company was held up in a different job in Washington.