Nehalem Divide is the most famous logging railroad tunnel in Columbia County, but it wasn’t the largest. That honor belongs to Kerry Tunnel, a landmark so grown over and remote that few residents even know it exists. Both entrances to the tunnel were blown over 80 years ago to keep people from going inside, and since then the forest has reclaimed them. But with the help of Brian McCamish’s Abandoned Railroad website, we went in search of this forgotten piece of history.
Our first trip was done on a beautiful January day, on logging company land in the hills a few miles south of Kerry and Westport, quite close to the Clatsop County border.
Matt and I had a vague idea of where the tunnel entrances were and spent most of the day tramping across densely forested hillsides. We found the railway bed leading into the northern entrance, but didn’t locate the actual place where the railroad entered the mountain. Our highlight was Matt finding a shed elk antler.
On the way out we stopped by the smaller and easier to reach Westport Tunnel. This ancient tunnel dates to the 1880s, and was originally built for ox teams dragging logs and only later widened for a railway line. It was abandoned around 1915 and is now mostly backfilled.
Once we got home we poured carefully over Brian McCamish’s Kerry site, specifically the maps of the railway line with tunnel entrances and his pictures of the Kerry Tunnel, both from around 1916 (when it was in operation) and 2002 (when Brian made the his visit to the south end of the tunnel). Feeling better prepared, we returned in March and found both entrances this time…..or what was left of them.
How we got to the tunnel and what we found there is a tale better told via video. It shows our journey along with better views of the flattened bed, the landslides covering both entrances, and sinkholes where the tunnel has collapsed above them. We also share an extended story of the history of the tunnel, using information and pictures graciously granted with permission from Brian McCamish, whose research into the tunnel has been amazing. So far as we know we were the first people in 20 years to visit the south end of the tunnel remnants.
We hope you like the video. Thanks for taking a look!