The last operational logging railroad in the continental US is about to cease operations.
The Simpson Timber Co. has decided to get out of the lumber mill business.
The family will retain their timberlands under the Green Diamond identity.
The Simpson Timber Co. railroad in the Shelton, WA area has been around for 100 years.
I first started chasing it in the early 1970's when it ran from Shelton to the Grisdale dry sort.
About the mid-70's the line from Mill 5 (Matlock) to the dry sort was abandoned. Since then Simpson has run "water wood", which is timber that had been barged into Shelton, out to Mill 5 (which is a stud mill) with green studs coming back into the Shelton mill on the water front for kiln drying and planing.
Two years ago, as a result of an accident that left most of Shelton without power for a day, Simpson ceased operations out to Mill 5.
Since then operations have been limited to shuffling common carrier bulkhead flatcars between the water front mill, Park Street Yard, and Knight's Yard (1/2 block from my house).
Simpson has sold all of its mills.
They have retained ownership of the "railroad properties", probably because the purchaser of the Shelton mills (Sierra Pacific) doesn't want them.
Simpson doesn't seem to know what they are going to do with them, but it is a sure bet they will not continue railroad operations.
One of my inside sources says that, following the above referenced accident, the Feds (OSHA?) identified about $1.2 million in repairs to the track and bridges between Knight's Yard and Mill 5 that had to be done before operations could continue.
The mill employees were given a 60-day notice, but the word is that mill operations will shut down no later than the end of June and possibly earlier.
Sierra Pacific has stated that they will raze the old water front mill and build a new, state-of-the-art mill on that site.
The new mill is slated to start operations sometime in 2017.
Personally, I don't think they can get the permitting done by then.
No word on the fate of Mill 5.
This is a difficult time for our little town, and sad news for railfans.
There is a wealth of information on the railroad on the internet.
Just Google 'Simpson Timber Company Railroad'.
Well, the last operational logging railroad in the US is pretty much officially dead.
The Simpson Timber Company Railroad that ran from the waterfront in downtown Shelton, Washington out to Mill 5 near Matlock was the last.
When the Simpson mills were sold to Sierra Pacific last year, the railroad ceased operation.
However, there was hope that it would be revived as a tourist line.
It appears that is not to be.
The right-of-way inside the City of Shelton is to be deeded to the City.
The right-of-way in Mason County is to be turned over to the Rails to Trails folks.
I don't know what is going to happen to the equipment and rolling stock.
I expect it will be auctioned off.
That sucks, Reg.
Not that I was very surprised to hear this, though.
I never chased the Simpson once, and of course now regret that (especially as I live near Centralia, which is pretty close by).
Like many, it didn't occur to me that literally overnight, it'd be gone like that.