Last North American logging railway closes

THE Englewood logging railway operated by timber firm Western Forest Products in the north of Canada’s Vancouver Island closed on November 7, 2017.

The line was the last of hundreds of railways still in operation that were built to transport timber in both Canada and the USA, with several having been preserved as heritage or tourist lines, especially in the USA.

The Englewood railway had been in use for exactly 100 years, opening at Beaver Cove in 1917 during the First World War when demand for Canadian timber was intense.

In 2006 Canfor sold the line and its associated timber business to Western Forest Products. Two of the Englewood Railway locos – 304 (ex Coos Bay Lumber [Labrador] EMD La Grange, USA 19663/September 1954) and 301 (GMD London, Ontario A830/March 1956) are seen in the last days of Canfor operation, near Beaver Cove, on May 16, 2005. KEITH FENDER
The railway enabled timber from the interior to be brought to the coast from where it could be processed and floated across to the mainland for export. Over the next 40 years the line was extended several times further south, reaching the village of Woss. There were several timber trestle viaducts on the 90km long line, all of which had been rebuilt as steel viaducts by the time the line closed.

A fatal accident caused by a runaway log train that left three employees dead in April 2017 hastened the end of the railway as operations ceased afterwards. In future timber will be moved by truck.

The railway was owned by Canadian Forest Products (Canfor) from 1944 onwards, and had four EMD SW1200 Bo-Bo diesels. Three were supplied new – as SW1200RS locos with dynamic braking – by EMD in Canada from 1956-59 to replace steam; the fourth – and earlier (1954) US-built example – was bought second hand.

Two of the line’s steam locos have survived and are plinthed at Beaver Cove and Woss.

Read more News and Features in February’s issue of The RM – on sale now!

Enjoy more of The Railway Magazine reading every month. Click here to subscribe.